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Thyden Gross and Callahan LLPCounselors and Attorneys at Law

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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 September, 2007

The Case of the Disappearing Dough

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

?I knew she was trouble the minute she walked into my law office. For one thing, she starts crying as soon as she sits down.

“What can I do for you, ma’am,” I say as I push the box of tissues across the desk.

“My husband has a mistress,” she replies between sobs, “and he is spending all our savings on her. I have the credit card receipts. He is buying her jewelry, taking her out to fancy dinners and going on vacations with her. He has spent $50,000 on her.”

‘Well, we can file for divorce based on adultery,” I tell her. “And we can make a claim for dissipation.”

“What’s dissipation?” she says, her eyes lighting up.

I put on my air of authority and explain, “Well, the court can only divide up what’s there on the day of divorce, usually. But the law makes an exception when someone has dissipated marital assets.”

I pull up the case on my computer. It’s Jeffcoat v. Jeffcoat, 102 Md. App 301 (1994). I tell her, “Dissipation is one spouse’s expenditure of marital funds for (1) his or her own benefit for a purpose unrelated to the marriage at a time when the marriage is undergoing an lrreconcilable breakdown.”

“We got him!” she shouts. ‘That means I get my $50,000 back.” She’s not crying at all now.

“Not so fast,” I say. “First of all, the $50,000 is marital property, so your claim is only for a marital share of that, let’s call it $25,000. And there’s another condition.”

“What’s the other condition?” she asks me.

I read out loud from the Jeffcoat case, “and (2) for the principal purpose of removing the funds available for equitable distribution.”

“Well, of course, he’s removing the dough, isn’t he?”, she says. “He’s spending it on her, isn’t he? It’s disappearing from our savings account each month.”

“Ah,” I say. “The dough is disappearing alright. But, that’s not all we have to prove. Notice the case says it has to be for the principle purpose of removing the funds available to distribute. In other words, is he spending the dough on his girl friend because he wants to show her a swell time or is he doing it to hide the dough from the divorce court?”

“I see, it’s complicated,” she says, giving me her best smile. “Can you help me?”

“Maybe,” I say. “Let’s talk about my fee.”

Best Time of the Day to Get Married

Saturday, September 22nd, 2007

Always get married early in the morning. That way, if it doesn’t work out, you haven’t wasted a whole day.

Mickey Rooney

Unhappily Married Couple Finds Romance Online

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Every once in a while I hear about a true divorce story that is so good I wish I had made it up.

Sana Klaric, 27, and Adnan, 32, from Zenica, Bosnia, were unhappily married to each other. While the husband was at work, he went to an online chat forum and started talking to a woman named Sweetie. Meanwhile, the wife went to an internet cafe and started chatting to a man named Prince of Joy. They began telling each other about their marriage troubles, and soon both felt they had found a real soul mate.

“I thought I had found the love of my life. The way this Prince of Joy spoke to me, the things he wrote, the tenderness in every expression was something I had never had in my marriage,” said Sana. “It was amazing, we seemed to be stuck in the same kind of miserable marriages.”

“I was so happy to have found a woman who finally understood me,” said Adnan.

“We arranged to meet outside a shop and both of us would be carrying a single rose so we would know the other,” said Sana. “When I saw my husband there with the rose and it dawned on me what had happened I was shattered. I felt so betrayed. I was so angry.”

Now they are filing for divorce.

“To be honest I still find it hard to believe that the person, Sweetie, who wrote such wonderful things to me on the internet, is actually the same woman I married and who has not said a nice word to me for years,” said Adnan.

Maryland Court of Appeals Says No Gay Marriage

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007

Today, in a 4-3 decision, the Maryland Court of Appeals upheld a law that marriage in Maryland is a union between a man and a woman. The case was filed in 2004 by the ACLU on behalf of ten plaintiffs against court clerks who denied their same sex applications for marriage licenses.

In January of this year, Judge M. Brooke Murdock of the Baltimore Circuit Court ruled in their favor and found that the law defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman violated the state constitution which affords equal protection under the law.

Under Murdock’s ruling Maryland would have joined Massachusetts as the only state where gay marriage is legal. But the state appealed and Murdock’s ruling was stayed during the appeal so it never took effect. Same-sex marriage was legal for less than 24 hours last month in Iowa but the case was reversed. Ten other jurisdictions have spousal rights in some form for same-sex couples — California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

The Court of Appeals ruled that the state’s 1973 ban on gay marriage does not discriminate on the basis of gender and does not deny any fundamental rights guaranteed by the state constitution. The court also found that the state has a legitimate interest in promoting opposite-sex marriage.

Judge Glenn T. Harrell Jr. writing for the majority, said that denying same-sex couples the right to marry does not discriminate based on gender because the state law applies equally to men and women. The court said that Maryland’s Equal Rights Amendment, ratified in 1972, bans discrimination based on gender, but not on sexual orientation.

The court said that the state has an interest in promoting procreation and that the General Assembly “has not acted wholly unreasonably in granting recognition to the only relationship capable of bearing children traditionally within the marital unit.”

Gay rights activists vowed to fight on by introducing legislation. As the Court said, “Our opinion should by no means be read to imply that the General Assembly may not grant and recognize for homosexual persons civil unions or the right to marry a person of the same sex.”

Read more:

The Baltimore Sun
USA Today
Reuters
Associated Press
The 244 page decision (PDF)

Quote for the Day

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007
I’m living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be living apart.

ee cummings

A Divorce Coach for Free

Friday, September 7th, 2007

?A Divorce Coach can help you through the stress and emotional upheaval of a divorce. Divorce can be paralyzing. One lament I hear frequently is “I don’t know what to do first.” Coaches help you stay positive and make a plan so you can achieve your goals through effort and action.

The problem is that coaches cost money, usually hundreds of dollars a week, at a time when finances are especially difficult because of the expenses of a divorce.

Ureka! I have stumbled upon a free coach on the Internet. ToolstoLife.Com is a daily course of lectures, readings, affirmations, exercises, tips and checklists. There is a wealth of short videos, audios and written materials every day for 90 days.

It also has blogs which you can use as a personal diary. There is also a community of other users to use as your divorce support group. It is not specifically designed for divorce, but it will work just fine for that.

I’m going to encourage all my clients to try it. Leave a reply and let us know how it works in your divorce.

Calling Someone a Hillbilly is Not Grounds for Divorce

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

This 1960 case on Kevin Underhill’s Blog caught my eye because I am from Missouri. You can get a divorce in Missouri for “general indignities”, a term that means the same thing as “irreconcilable differences” in some states.

It seems that Mr. Moore filed for divorce against Mrs. Moore based on the following general indignities:

  • The turkey shoot
  • The houseboat incident
  • Another anti-fishing incident
  • Late return from Shrine parade
  • The pasture incident
  • The cow sales incidents
  • The quail hunting incident
  • The telephone incident
  • Calling his family “hillbillies”

The Trial Court granted the divorce but the Court of Appeals in Springfield reversed, addressing each of the above complaints. Regarding use of the term “hillbillies” the Court said that was usually meant as a compliment in Southern Missouri, adding:

An Ozark hillbilly is an individual who has learned the real luxury of doing without the entangling complications of things which the dependent and over-pressured city dweller is required to consider as necessities. The hillbilly foregoes the hard grandeur of high buildings and canyon streets in exchange for wooded hills and verdant valleys. In place of creeping traffic he accepts the rippling flow of the wandering stream. He does not hear the snarl of exhaust, the raucous braying of horns, and the sharp, strident babble of many tense voices. For him instead is the measured beat of the katydid, the lonesome, far-off complaining of the whippoorwill, perhaps even the sound of a falling acorn in the infinite peace of the quiet woods. The hillbilly is often not familiar with new models, soirees, and office politics. But he does have the time and surroundings conducive to sober reflection and honest thought, the opportunity to get closer to his God. No, in Southern Missouri the appellation ‘hillbilly’ is not generally an insult or an indignity; it is an expression of envy.

Moore v. Moore, 337 S.W.2d 781 (Mo. Ct. App. 1960) (PDF copy of opinion)

 
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