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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 June, 2006

Cads, Cheaters, Bounders and No-Good Run Arounders

Friday, June 30th, 2006

Todd Hollis of Pittsburgh is suing Tasha Josephs for defamation after several women posted comments about him on a website called Dontdatehimgirl.com according to this article on Wired News.

Hollis, an attorney himself, says the website does not have safeguards to ensure the truthfulness of the items posted.

Josephs says it is a cost-effective weapon in the war on cheating men. The website says Dontdateherman.com is coming soon.

Your Divorce Information Is Online

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

CNN reports that it is easy to get someone else’s social security number and other private information on the Internet. One reason for this is that the courthouse is putting the information online.

Divorce records have always been open for public inspection, but you had to go to the courthouse to look at them. Now you may be able to read your neighbor’s divorce files on your computer from the comfort of your own home. Divorce files may contain financial statements, social security numbers, tax returns, medical reports and other information we usually think of as private.

Now Maryland is providing free access to District and Circuit Courts, except for the Circuit Courts of Montgomery County and Prince George’s County, but these will be online soon.

You can see the names of the parties, lawyers, case number, court, type of case, caption and filing date. Next, the court will be adding an index of all pleadings and orders in the case. Eventually, I expect it will be like the D.C. federal court where you can actually see a copy of the pleadings and orders.

You can ask that the court close the record or protect certain documents in your case, but the court must decide whether to do that in each case. So far in my cases, one judge permitted it and one did not.

Writ of Ne Exeat

Sunday, June 25th, 2006

Sometimes, I feel like an old-time lawyer.

I filed a Petition for a Writ of Ne Exeat last week. I was trying to stop the mother from taking a child out of the country before the court could hear a Motion to Modify Custody.

The judge and opposing counsel had never heard of a Writ of Ne Exeat. It is from the common law and was a way for the court to stop somebody from leaving the jurisdiction of the court before the court could decide something. It usually was invoked when trying to collect a debt to keep the debtor from absconding.

The Maryland Constitution gives the residents of Maryland all the rights of common law including the right to petition for a Writ of Ne Exeat. However, as opposing counsel correctly noted, the court said in Jackson v. Jackson, that the writ should not be granted lightly because it restricts a person’s constitutional right to travel freely. And it should only be applied in cases of child support and alimony.

I do not agree that the writ should be limited only to cases of child support and alimony, but there is some support for this proposition in the Maryland rules. Old Rule 72d actually provided for a Writ of Ne Exeat, provided it was supported by a proper affidavit, for cases involving alimony and child support. Rule 72 has now been incorporated into new Rule 9-201 through 9-203 which is all about financial statements in alimony and child support cases.

But the new rule omits any mention of a Writ of Ne Exeat!

The judge granted my petition, and ordered the mother not to remove the child from the jurisdiction until further order of the court. However the judge’s order starts like this, “The court having considered Plaintiff’s petition in the nature of a request for an injunction”.

So I guess I will put my Writ of Ne Exeat in the archive of old-time lawyering and next time ask for an injunction like the new young modern lawyers do. It just doesn’t sound as good though.

What Is Fair?

Tuesday, June 13th, 2006

A lot of times clients will ask me if I think their settlement proposals are fair. I tell them that fair is not the question. Fair afterall is one of those words that means different things to different people. What may seem fair to me or you might seem unfair to your spouse.

There are only two doors out of a divorce. Either (1) the two of you agree or (2) the judge decides. That doesn’t keep people from looking for door number three however. The one called (3) what I think is fair (what I want).

While you certainly should know what you want, you also have to know your BATNA. BATNA is “best alternative to a negotiated agreement.” And in divorce law, your BATNA is what the judge might do.

So ultimately the choice is not between what you want and what you can get your spouse to agree to. The choice is between what you might get in court and what you can get your spouse to agree to.

Law Firm Receives Quality of Life Award

Friday, June 2nd, 2006

The Bar Association of the District of Columbia (BADC) has awarded Thyden Gross & Callahan its prestigious Constance L. Belfiore Quality of Life Award in the small law firm category. This award is given annually to law firms that provide exceptional personal and professional quality of life to their members and employees. The award recognizes Thyden Gross & Callahan for providing an outstanding quality of life to its members, including both attorneys and staff. This is the first time the award has been given to a Maryland law firm.

“We always knew that Thyden Gross & Callahan was a great place to work and now the secret is out. We enjoy our work helping our clients solve problems. We treat everyone with respect and enjoy working with each other,” said James J. Gross, managing partner of Thyden Gross & Callahan.

Among Thyden Gross & Callahan’s policies contributing to the award are a friendly work atmosphere that concentrates on solving client problems rather than billable hours. While the firm is profitable and expanding, billable hours are established as goals and not mandatory. Management is by consensus and every partner vote has been unanimous. Lawyers are trained and encouraged to market their services. The employees and staff are able to have a balanced work and personal life.

“Thyden Gross & Callahan impressed the award committee with its unique and cooperative approach to practicing law. It is able to maintain a friendly, small town philosophy, in a large metropolitan area,” said Constance L. Belfiore, past president of the BADC and for whom the award is named.

The award was presented at the BADC annual luncheon, on June 1, 2006, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.

 
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