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Thyden Gross and Callahan LLPCounselors and Attorneys at Law



Maryland Divorce Legal Crier

News and comments about divorce, child support, child custody, alimony, equitable property distribution, father’s rights, mother’s rights, family law, laws on divorce and other legal information in Maryland.

Breakup Songs We Wish We’d Written

February 20th, 2015



Rip Chords (1963)

We’ve been going steady
And you’ve been making me cry
Now it’s your turn, baby
So I’m saying bye-bye

Gone, gone, gone
My baby’s gone, gone, gone
Yes, she’s gone (gone, gone, gone)
Yes, she’s gone (gone, gone, gone)
Whoa, she’s gone

Oh yeah, she’s gone, gone, gone
My baby’s gone, gone, gone
Where’d she go
I wanna know

Oh tell me why
She said bye-bye
And made me cry
I wonder why

She was the only one
Now she’s gone
And I’m the lonely one

My baby’s gone, gone, gone
My baby’s gone, gone, gone
Yes, she’s gone (gone, gone, gone)
Yes, she’s gone (gone, gone, gone)
Whoa, she’s gone

Just let her go, go, go
Let her go, go, go
No, no, no (go, go, go)
No, no, no (go, go, go)
No, no, no (go, go, go)

[repeat "no no no" several times]

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Breach of Promise to Marry

February 19th, 2015

Professor April Domino looked over her horn-rimmed glasses at her Domestic Relations class.  She wore navy pants and jacket with a bright red silk blouse.  She used the Socratic Method, which is the classic law school process of teaching by asking questions.

“Amanda!” she called out, picking a student at random off the seating chart.  “Your client calls you and says her fiancé has called off the wedding and taken her engagement ring.  She has spent a fortune on the caterer and has had to go to therapy for the trauma.  Can you sue him?”

“Yes,” Amanda answers.  “Sue him for damages for breach of a promise to marry.”

“Congratulations, Amanda, you’ve just lost your first case!  To find out why, read Section 3-102 of the Maryland Family Law Article.

Embarrassed in front of her classmates, Amanda went to the library and pulled the book from the shelf.  She turned to Section 3-102 and read:

3-102. Action for breach of promise to marry.

(a)  In general.- Unless the individual is pregnant, an individual:

(1) has no cause of action for breach of promise to marry; and

(2) may not bring an action for breach of promise to marry regardless of where the cause of action arose.

Amanda decided she liked domestic relations and she vowed to make an A in that class.

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Pre-Divorce Checklist

February 6th, 2015

The family law attorneys of Gower & Bluck put together this helpful infographic of ten things you need to do before you file for divorce.

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Depreciation as Income

February 4th, 2015

In the Mumma case, the wife called the court’s attention to the depreciation deduction that the Husband was taking for his business.  She pointed out that depreciation is a non-cash flow event and so the money is available to the Husband.

The argument on the other side is that equipment really does wear out and needs to be replaced eventually.  When it does, it will take cash flow to purchase new equipment.

Taking a look at the Maryland Child Support Guidelines in Section 12-201 of the Family Law Article, we see that income from self employment means gross receipts mine ordinary and necessary expenses.

However, the statute goes on to say that ordinary and necessary expenses do not include accelerated depreciation, investment tax credits, or any other expenses the court determines in not appropriate to subtract.

So what about straight line depreciation?  Does the fact that the law expressly disqualifies accelerated depreciation but not straight line depreciation mean you get to deduct it from income?  Or does the catch-all provision at the end allow the court to decide?  In the cases I have tried, the trial judges have included straight line depreciation as income.

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Loans as Income

January 29th, 2015

The IRS does not consider a loan to be income.

But if you own your own business, you can manipulate your income.  So if someone owes you $50,000 for goods and services, you don’t bill them until next year.  You have your business borrow $50,000 from the bank, using your $50,000 accounts receivable as collateral.  Then your business loans $50,000 to you for your living expenses.

Is your income zero or $50,000?

It’s a situation where you will want to have an accountant as an expert witness.  And even then, the accountants for each side will have conflicting opinions.  I’ve had cases where the judge decided to include loans as income.

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Inheritance as Income

January 28th, 2015

Leroy and Mynell Gassaway married in 1952.  They separated in 1979.

In their DC divorce, the trial court divided marital property upon consideration of the fact that Leroy’s mother owned a house and that Leroy was the only heir and would inherit the property.  After all, “opportunities for the future acquisition of assets” is one of the factors a judge must consider in dividing martial property.

On appeal, however, the court said this was not an equitable way to divide property.

In Mumma v. Mumma, 280 A.2d 73, 76 (D.C. 1971), this court ruled that gifts to the husband from his parents could not be considered in determining his income for purposes of computing his alimony obligation, presumably, because any expectation of gifts is inherently speculative and thus could not be counted upon as a predictable portion of the husband’s annual financial return.  Accord Scott v. Scott, 645 S.W. 2d 193, 198 (Mo. Ct. App. 1982) (despite history of gifts to wife from parents, court property declined to consider “such an uncertain source of funds as future gifts” in computing her alimony award).  The same reasoning is applicable to anticipated gifts of real property or other assets, e.g., though inheritance.

The court recognized decisions from some courts ruling otherwise, but rejected this approach as “mischievous”.

– Gassaway v. Gassaway, 489 A.2d 1073 (D.C. 1985)

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Are Gifts Income?

January 27th, 2015

Albert  Mumma married Jean in 1952 and they had three children together.   Albert supported the family as an architect.  He had an office in Georgetown.  In 1968 the parties had a violent altercation and they decided to divorce.

The judge awarded $200 a month in alimony and $500 a month in child support to Jean, plus attorney fees and costs.  Albert appealed complaining that he was ordered to pay support of $8,400 a year, while his income was only $9,422 in 1968 and $12,726  in 1969.   Jean countered that, among other things, he received gifts from his parents.

The DC Court of Appeals reversed the trial court, holding that “gifts do not constitute income” and suggested that Albert’s income tax returns would be an appropriate guide to his actual income in the absence of affirmative evidence otherwise.

Mumma v. Mumma, 280 A.2d 73 (1971)

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Ringing in the New Year

December 31st, 2014

These celebrities are ringing in the New Year with a divorce:

Chris Rock, 49, comedian and actor, filed for divorce from Malaak Compton-Rock, 45, after 19 years of marriage.  The couple has two daughters, ages 12 and 10.

Giada De Laurentiis, 44, celebrity chef, announced on her Facebook page that she is ending her marriage with fashion designer Todd Thompson.  They have been married 11 years and have one six year old daughter.

Actor, Jeremy Renner, 43, and his wife, Sonni Pacheco, 23, model and actress, are headed for divorce after 10 months of marriage. They have a 21 month old daughter.

What else will 2015 bring?

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Free Online Pet Nup

December 30th, 2014

Pets can become an issue in a divorce.  Although the parties may treat their pets like children and argue over custody and visitation, the courts do not.  The law views pets as personal propety like a chair or a lamp.

After losing a dog in a divorce, an English lawyer, Vanessa Lloyd Platt, created a “Pet Nup” which sets forth the agreement of the parties with respect to their pets.

You can view and download the Pet Nup for free, but remember it would have to be modified for Maryland, Virginia or DC.

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Would You Want to Date a Lawyer?

December 22nd, 2014

Lawyers came in dead last in popularity in a recent survey by Special Counsel.

They asked people which of the professions would you most want to date?

The results:

  • Doctor (30%)
  • Teacher  (27%)
  • Firefighter (12%)
  • Police Officer (10%)
  • Lawyer (8%)

The survey sample was 1,007 people.

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