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Divorce Lawyers

Thyden Gross and Callahan LLPCounselors and Attorneys at Law

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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.

Archive for March, 2006

Scheduling Conferences

Friday, March 31st, 2006

In a contested divorce case, your first court appearance is likely to be the Scheduling Conference. This is conducted in the courtroom before a Family Law Master.

The purpose is to set various dates in your trial such as Discovery Cutoff and the Pre-Trial Hearing. And in fact, if you try to argue some point in your case, the Master will usually say “I am just setting dates”.

However, there is more than that to the Scheduling Conference. This is the time you have to ask for certain things in your case:

Pendente Lite Relief (Temporary Support, Attorneys Fees, Access, Use and Possession)
Attorney for the Children
Custody Evaluation or Assessment
Alternative Dispute Resolution

We will discuss these in more detail in future articles. But if you do not ask for them at the Scheduling Conference you may not get them later. At the end of the Scheduling Conference, the Maser’s clerk will hand you your Scheduling Order and related docments. Be sure to read them carefully before you leave the courtroom. If something you asked for is missing, now is the time to ask the Master to add it to the Order.

The One Hundred Ten Million Dollar Divorce

Thursday, March 30th, 2006

That’s what Ray and Deanna Vinson have spent on lawyers and private investigators in their lurid divorce trial in Missouri. They have no children but the fight is over their business, American Equity Mortgage, and their pet Spaniel, Bogey. The husband even put up his own web page about the divorce with pictures. After an eleven day trial, the judge has taken the case under advisement and will issue a decision soon.

Marriage on the Rebound Works

Wednesday, March 29th, 2006

If you are between marriages right now, you know the drill. Your friends are telling you “Don’t get married too soon.”

But Nicholas Wolfinger has completed a study indicating that the time between divorce and remarriage does not play a significant factor in the rate of separation and divorce for remarriages.

I once took a client from the third floor at the courthouse for his divorce to the second floor for his remarriage. (Note: If you do this, you and your ex need to waive your appeal rights for the divorce.)

It is ok to jump from the frying pan into the fire, but get a prenuptial agreement first.

Maryland Divorce Attorney a La Carte

Tuesday, March 28th, 2006

A lot of people try to avoid high legal fees by doing their divorces without lawyers.

It used to be that a lawyer took your case from beginning to end. Once signed on, they couldn’t get out of the case until the court released them or you fired them. So they asked for a pretty big advance fee or retainer.

Maryland law now permits a lawyer to limit the scope of their engagement. That means you can hire a lawyer for a particular task instead of the whole case. You can hire them as a consultant, or for a particular motion, or to appear with you at a hearing.

For the right case (one that does not have too many complications), this might be a way to keep your legal fees down.

Recording Telephone Calls

Monday, March 27th, 2006

It happens in divorce that one spouse will record another spouse without their knowledge or consent. Or bug their telephone to catch them talking with a lover. Or have a friend or a private investigator secretly listen in.

It is against federal law for a person to listen in on a conversation if they are not a party to the conversation or have prior consent from someone who is a party. It is a federal tort and a civil crime.

Some states have one party laws that let’s you record a telephone conversation if one party agrees. But Maryland is a two party state where both parties have to know that a conversation is being recorded.

And even if you get a taped conversation and don’t get in trouble with the law, it is not admissable in court in your divorce. So if you want to stay out of trouble and use your tape in court, use an answering machine or say at the begining of the call, “Hi, Honey, I’m taping this.”

Divorce Camp

Sunday, March 26th, 2006

Divorce is a very confusing and trying time. It can take an emotional as well as economic toll. You do not know the answers or even the right questions to ask. And there is not a lot of information out there. It is hard to find the right lawyer, financial planner or therapist experienced in divorce.

Sometimes it is unexpected. It can be paralyzing. Yet it comes at you like a rushing train and you must make quick decisions that will affect you and the children for years or else they will be made for you. Most people survive divorce, but it is not easy, and some people do not get over it.

Jennifer Morris is one who was able to turn her divorce (which she said was overwhelming) into something positive. She is putting together a divorce camp next weekend in Belle Plaine, Minnesota, where for $250 you can get lodging, meals and sessions with experts in all aspects of divorce. Learning about divorce is the best way to deal with it.

Revenge Decorating

Friday, March 24th, 2006

Now that you are divorced, is it time to paint your bachelor poolroom black?

Your husband hated floral prints but now you want your bedroom to look like a mini Versailles?

Revenge decorating may be part of the divorce healing process according to this article in the New York Times today by Jill Brooke.

Can I Date?

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

Maryland is a no-fault state, but that just means that it has both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. “Circumstances surrounding the estrangement of the parties” (why you split up) is one of the factors the court can consider in deciding alimony and property division.

If you start dating after separation, then it cannot be a factor in why you split up. However, your spouse may try to prove that the dating started before separation. Whether it did or did not, that means a lot of time, trouble and expense at trial. And the judge has no truth detector at the bench. I have heard judges say the parties spend 90% of their time at trial on fault and the judge gives it 10% consideration.

That’s why I tell my clients not to date. Of course, many of them do not listen to me. So I tell them to be discrete and remember that the guy next to your table at the restaurant may be a private eye with a video recorder hired by your spouse.

A Separation Agreement changes everything. Adultery is still adultery because you are married until you are divorced. But now it is adultery without legal consequence, because property and alimony are already determined. Adultery is immediate grounds for divorce, so it might speed up your divorce, but it will not change the agreement. So you are free to date, and live as though you were single, once the agreement is signed.

Maryland Court Records Are Online

Saturday, March 18th, 2006

It had to come to this sooner or later. Now you can look up your neighbor’s divorce files or check out your date or your babysitter online. Maryland Circuit Court and District Court records are posted on the Internet for all counties except Montgomery and Prince George’s and those counties will be added soon. Just type in the name at this website and you can see all civil, criminal and divorce records. I put in my name and see that I have handled 40 cases outside of Montgomery and PG Counties. Client names, opposing parties and whether I won or lost are there too.

Who Keeps the Engagement Ring?

Friday, March 17th, 2006

In a divorce, if the engagement ring was purchased before the marriage, then the wife keeps it as her pre-marital property. If it was acquired after the marriage, then it is marital property and the wife will still keep it but the court may consider its value in distributing the marital estate. If the parties do not marry, then the states are divided, but Maryland and the majority will probably consider it as a conditional gift that has to be returned.

 
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