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Divorce Lawyers

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.

Archive for August, 2007

End of Summer Means More Divorces

Friday, August 31st, 2007

The end of summer means more divorces according to this story by United Press International, rivaled only by Christmas and New Year’s as a peak time for ending marriages.

“You know the phone is going to start ringing like crazy that time of year,” says Gaetano Ferro of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

One reason, say divorce lawyers, is that couples want to take it easy in the summer and wait until family vacations are over and the school year has begun before filing for divorce.

Will I Lose the Marital Home if I Leave?

Friday, August 31st, 2007

Maryland Courts can order the sale of a jointly held residence or, in certain circumstances, the transfer of title from one party to the other.

The court can also make a marital award to adjust the equities in the distribution of marital property. In doing so the court must consider several factors.

But nowhere does Maryland law say that the party leaving the home loses any rights to it.

Still we recommend a move-out agreement if at all possible so there will be no question about it later.

Lawyer Fees Hit (Gasp!) $1000 an Hour

Thursday, August 30th, 2007

If you think your divorce lawyer is costing you a lot of money, note that lawyers at some of New York’s law firms are now billing $1,000 an hour, according to Debra Cassens Weiss in the American Bar Association Journal.

The Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog has proclaimed these lawyers members of the Thousand-Dollar Bar.

Mike Dillon, general counsel for Sun Microsystems Inc., told the Wall Street Journal “One thousand dollars for very seasoned lawyers who can solve complex problems doesn’t seem to be inappropriate.” After all, we pay sports figures and actors more than that per hour.

Four Way Meetings

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

If you had to identify, in one word, the reason why the human race has not achieved, and never will achieve, its full potential, that word would be “meetings” – Dave Barry

A lawyer on the other side calls me and says he wants to have a four way meeting. That means a meeting with both clients and both lawyers present.

I say, “Sure, what’s the agenda?”

There is a long pause.

My background is in business. Two companies don’t usually send their lawyers and representatives to a meeting and sit around and say, “So what should we talk about?”

One company prepares a request for proposals with detailed scope of work and specifications.

The other company responds with a proposal containing terms and conditions.

The first company then replies with objections.

The purpose of the meeting is to address the objections only.

So for a divorce, before the four way meeting, I say first exchange information and documents, use that to prepare a Settlement Notebook, propose a settlement in writing, and make a counteroffer. Then deal only with the areas of disagreement at the four way meeting.

And I tell my clients to write down before the meeting what they want, what they will accept, and what they will walk away from. Then put those items in order of priority. Show them to me so that you and your lawyer will act as a team at the four way meeting.

To have a four way meeting before you do these things, could result in a settlement that you are not happy with, but more likely will not result in any settlement and cost you money in legal fees.

Get the Facts First

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

We have a saying at TGC, which is “Get the facts first.” A lawyer likes to jump into a case and start solving problems and applying the law. But facts are important and the law has to be applied to the correct facts in order to solve a legal problem.

That’s why the first thing we do is interview you about the facts of your case. We gather, for example, facts like the names, ages and addresses of the parties. Is this the first marriage for both? Is there a prenup? Date and place of marriage. Date of separation. Children’s names and birthdates. Then the financial details. And so on.

We use these facts in the settlement negotiations, the settlement agreement, the complaint, discovery and the trial.

You can start this yourself. Start gathering up copies of those statements for the mortgage, bank accounts, credit cards and pension plans. Be your own private investigator. Organize everything in a Settlement Notebook.

Knowledge is power, and the more facts you know, the more power you have in your divorce.

Hijacked by Emotion

Monday, August 20th, 2007

By Jill H. Breslau, Mediator

Why do we do crazy things during a divorce? Why did Britney Spears shave her head? Why did Alex Baldwin yell at his daughter?

People in divorce can be especially vulnerable to what some psychologists call emotional hijacking. When an emotional hijacking occurs, you are at the mercy of strong feelings that blind you to reason and make you capable of actions you would never, in your right mind, imagine. These emotions are intense, immediate, and overwhelming.

Reason and objectivity have long been regarded as fundamental to good decision-making. In the divorce process, you are often encouraged to put your emotions aside and think clearly. Sometimes you can. Sometimes your distress is so acute that you act in ways that are self-defeating at best, tragic at worst.

Emotions can actually be helpful to you. Recent research suggests that people who lack the ability to integrate emotion into their decisions make poor choices, because it is the emotional element that adds discernment to a decision. Emotions seem to be involved in the signals that tell you whether something is right or wrong for you—regardless of whether it is rationally smart or legally permissible. If you agree to something that you haven’t emotionally come to terms with, you may find yourself experiencing a backlash of regret, resentment, or second-guessing.

There are several strategies for remaining in control of your emotions and your choices. Having a trusted friend, therapist, clergy person—a trusted advisor of some sort—will help, if you share your real feelings and give them permission to tell you if they think you’re going off the track. A meditation practice is invaluable, because it supports the part of you that is capable of calm observation. Maintaining close bonds with family and friends helps compensate for the emotional frayed edges that come from ending your marriage. Take care of yourself emotionally by continuing as much that is familiar as possible in your schedule and contacts.

It is challenging to stay emotionally healthy during divorce—those intense emotions are ready to sweep you away. But attending to the healthy emotions that give you stability and comfort will help you to maintain balance, to make decisions that are both rationally and emotionally intelligent.

God Meant Adam to Pay Alimony to Eve Not Steve

Friday, August 17th, 2007

Lawrence Roach, 48, of Largo, Florida, was married to Julia Roach for 18 years before they got divorced. He was ordered to pay her alimony until her death or remarriage.

But then Julia decided to undergo transgender surgery and become a man. Her name is now Julio Roberto Silverwolf.

Roach petitioned the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court for Pinnelas County to terminate alimony. He argued that it would be illegal for him to marry a man, so he why should he be required to pay alimony to a man. He also argued that the court should consider the sex change as the equivalent of the death of his ex-wife.

Judge Jack R. St. Arnold ruled against Roach, finding that gender was maintained for life and that Florida law did not recognize Silverwolf as a man. The case is on appeal.

$1.5 Million for a Dozen Roses

Wednesday, August 15th, 2007

Leroy Greer of Houston, Texas, was in the middle of his divorce, and thought he had reached a settlement with his wife, according to this story by WMAQ TV. Then he called 1-800-FLOWERS and ordered a dozen roses to be sent to his girlfriend.

The flower company sent a thank you note to his home – which his wife received. She called the company and asked for a receipt and they sent it to her.

Now the wife is asking for twice the amount of money as she wanted before. Greer, who says the florist promised not to send mail to his home, has filed suit seeking $1.5 million in damages for breach of contract.

The florist said “We are not responsible for an individual’s personal conduct.” I would translate that as, “Don’t blame us because you were having an extra-marital affair and got caught.”

Commission for Women Appoints Nelson Garcia

Monday, August 13th, 2007

Nelson Garcia, an attorney with the law firm of Thyden Gross and Callahan, LLP, has been appointed as a new Commissioner for the Montgomery County Maryland Commission for Women. The County Executive Isiah Leggett has appointed Mr. Garcia, along with other Commissioners, to serve a 3-year term.

Mr. Garcia, a resident of Gaithersburg, has volunteered for several years at the Commission for Women’s Counseling and Career Center.

Mr. Garcia also volunteers in free legal clinics at a number of organizations including CASA de Maryland in domestic violence, child custody and divorce matters. He received his J.D. from Boston College Law School and his B.A. in English and Business co-majors from Florida State University. He is a member of the Maryland and District of Columbia Bar and is currently Secretary of the Maryland Hispanic Bar Association and a member of its Legislative Committee.

New Law Allows Court to Transfer Marital Home

Friday, August 10th, 2007

By Nelson Garcia

Before a new law in October of last year, a Maryland divorce court could not transfer title to the marital home. In a divorce, the court could only order the parties to sell the marital home and divide the net proceeds equally.

The court usually appointed a trustee to hire a real estate agent and sell the house. If one party wanted to buy the other out, the could do it by agreement, but if there was no agreement the only choice was to sell to a third party or buy the house from the trustee after the divorce.

An amendment to Section 8-205 of the Family Law Article of the Maryland Code gives the court the power to transfer ownership of real property from one party to another in absolute divorce cases filed after October 1, 2006; provided certain conditions are met:

1. The real property must be marital property and jointly owned by the parties (to be marital it must have been acquired during the marriage and not acquired by inheritance or gift from a third party; acquisition of the property with pre-marital funds may also preclude finding that the property is marital); and

2. The real property must have been used as the principal residence of the parties when they lived together; and

If those conditions are met, then the court can transfer ownership from one spouse to the other if the mortgage lender consents and the spouse getting the house obtains a release from the mortgage lender for the other spouse.

Alternatively, the court can issue an order authorizing one spouse to buy out the other on specified terms and conditions.

The court can still order the sale of the property to a third party. And the new law does not apply to limited divorces. Maryland now joins Virginia and DC courts, which also have the power to transfer title to real property in a divorce.

Strategy tip: If you still have a divorce case pending that was filed before October 1, 2006, and want to take advantage of the new law, you may be able to dismiss your case and refile it now.

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