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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 March, 2008

2008 Super Lawyers

Friday, March 28th, 2008

THYDEN GROSS AND CALLAHAN LLP is pleased to announce that partners, James J. Gross, Michael F. Callahan and Lois R. Finklestein, have been selected as Maryland Super Lawyers and District of Columbia Super Lawyers for 2008.

The Super Lawyers selection process includes peer nominations, a blue ribbon panel review and independent research.

Only five percent of attorneys are selected each year.

Play the McCartney vs Mills Divorce Game

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

If you are feeling deprived because the divorce battle between Paul McCartney and Heather Mills is over, you are in luck.

Dave Parrack at Tech.Blorge.Com directs our attention to Splash and Grab, a free computer game at where you can participate virtually in all the action with the ex-Beatle and the ex-model and their lawyers.

You also get a chance to participate, if only virtually, in the $48.6 million award to Ms. Mills. In the game you throw cups of water at McCartney and his lawyer, Fiona Shackleton, who keep popping up in various places in the courtroom.

Your award keeps growing as you hit your targets unless you happen to hit the judge by mistake.

Don’t Try Your Divorce Case in Letters (Six Mistakes Lawyers Make)

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

You should see some of the mail I get from other divorce lawyers. If you are going to write me a letter, try to avoid these six mistakes that lawyers make.

1. Don’t be a bully. I’ve been doing this for over thirty years and I have been around the block. You are not going to scare me into doing something my client doesn’t want to do. Does that ever work for you? Sometimes I think you are writing this letter to your client to show them how tough you are. Next time, maybe you should just copy me.

2. Don’t be rude. I have had lawyers call my clients liars, bounders, philanderers, gold diggers, no good run-arounders and worse. Here’s a newsflash for you. People are more likely to negotiate favorably with someone they like than someone they don’t like. Didn’t your mother ever tell you that you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar? Or if you’ve got something bad to say about somebody, don’t say it? Instead of calling my client a liar, why not say my client is mistaken?

3. Keep your ego in check. A new client has brought me the file from her former lawyer’s office. It is three inches of letters between counsel. No settlement offer. No complaint for divorce. Just letters mostly about who is returning calls and who is not. The client has paid thousands of dollars for this contest of egos between lawyers.

4. Don’t tell me what the judge is going to do. We both know that you don’t know and I don’t know. I’ve won cases I should have lost and I’ve lost cases I should have won. A divorce case is like a football, in that it takes funny bounces, and you don’t always know where it is going to end up. Unless you have a crystal ball that is less cloudy than mine, don’t give me your predictions. That is like getting the critic’s review before the performance.

5. Let me have your proposal or your specific objections to mine. It is not helpful to tell me that your client rejects my settlement without giving me a counter. Then I have to write back and ask you for your specific objections. I am not going to bid against myself so don’t ask me to make a more “reasonable” proposal. When I get a letter, as I did recently, that starts out, “Jim, you’ve got to be kidding,” I stop reading. So if you have anything you want to say, say it before you write that sentence to me.

6. Don’t try your case in letters. I get long letters from lawyers telling me why their client is right and my client is wrong. That’s because lawyers are taught in law school that people will change their minds if you only talk long enough and persuasively enough to them. It takes a long time for lawyers to unlearn what they learned in law school and to learn how to practice law. People are not persuaded by argument. They are persuaded by asking questions and meeting their needs and interests. So most of my letters are one page or less. Sometimes once sentence, like “We do not agree with your letter.” We try our cases in court. Not in letters.

Divorce Quote

Monday, March 24th, 2008

“I could have told her the trouble was probably blonde.”

— Davin, in The Big Dream, by John Kessel

11 Reasons a Divorce Agreement Is Better Than a Divorce Trial

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

When clients tell me they want a Divorce, I usually tell them what they really want is a Divorce Agreement, also called a Separation Agreement or Marital Settlement Agreement, for the following reasons.

1. Residency. Before you can even file a Divorce Complaint, one spouse has to be a resident for a year in Maryland or, if the grounds for Divorce arose in Maryland then one spouse has to be a resident at the time of filing. It’s six months in Virginia and DC. There is no residency requirement for a Divorce Agreement.

2. Grounds. You have to have Grounds, or reasons for a divorce, before you can file a Divorce Complaint. But you can have a Divorce Agreement even if you don’t have grounds for Divorce yet.

3. Separation. No-fault Divorces require a period of Separation first. You can have a Divorce Agreement even if you are still living together.

4. Cost. A Divorce Trial can cost $20,000 or more. You can get a Divorce Agreement for $5,000 or less.

5. Time. It might be a year or more before you have a Divorce Trial, and that’s after you file your Divorce Complaint. You can have a Divorce Agreement today.

6. Trial. The actual Divorce Trial itself can last a day or a couple of weeks. But if you have a Divorce Agreement, then an Uncontested Divorce Hearing takes about 20 minutes.

7. Limitations. A Divorce Court Judge has certain limitations in what he or she can order placed in the Divorce Law by the Legislature. You are not restricted by these Divorce Laws in a Divorce Agreement.

8. Detail. A Divorce Decree might be a page or two and leave many questions unanswered. But a Divorce Agreement can be as long as you want and cover every detail.

9. Control. In a Divorce Trial, a Divorce Judge will make the decisions for you, and he or she is a stranger to your marriage. You can control the outcome with a Divorce Agreement.

10. Privacy. A Divorce Trial is public and some of the information about your divorce is available on the Internet. A Divorce Agreement can be kept confidential.

11. Appeals. Your spouse can appeal a Divorce Trial, but not a Divorce Agreement.

In fact a Divorce Agreement can give you almost everything a Divorce Trial can give you, except an order dividing pension plans (“QDRO”) and the right to remarry. A Divorce Trial is the course of last resort, only when you and your spouse cannot reach a Divorce Agreement.

Marriage Mentors

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

?Before you make an appointment to see me, your friendly neighborhood divorce lawyer, you might want to try a marriage mentor.

Mike and Harriet McManus of Potomac, Maryland, have been married 42 years. The are marriage mentors expert at teaching skills to divorce-proof a marriage.

In 1996, Mike and Harriet co-founded a non-profit corporation called Marriage Savers, Inc. The goal is to push down divorce and cohabitation rates and raise marriage rates.

The key strategy is for local clergy to adopt a Community Marriage Policy. Mike McManus describes the policy as follows, “They will work together across denominational lines to build kind of a compact, a covenant, that they will not do anymore quickie weddings, that they will require couples to go through serious preparation.” Marriage Savers then trains clergy and Mentor Couples in participating churches to help other couples save marriages.

Marriage mentors seems like a great idea to me. They don’t teach you the skills in school that you need for a good marriage.

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