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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 January, 2009

Unconscionable Disparity

Friday, January 30th, 2009

In Lee v. Andochick, discussed in “Going Broke on 1.76 Million a Year”, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed a $10,000 a month alimony award because the numbers just didn’t add up.  But the Court also found the trial judge erred in awarding indefinite alimony on the basis of unconscionable disparity.

Section 11-106(c)(2) of the Maryland Family Law Article provides that alimony may be awarded indefinitely if the court finds that even after the party seeking alimony will have made as much progress of  becoming self-supporting as can reasonably be expected, the respective standards of living of the parties will be unconscionably disparate.

Mr. Lee made $1,760,282 and Dr. Andochick made $267,000 in 2006.  But the appeals court said a disparity in income is not the same as a disparity in standards of living.

Dr. Andochick, the court said, did not explain or prove how her standard of living would be unconscionably disparate from Mr.  Lee’s if she did not receive alimony.  The court also said the trial judge did not discuss his analysis of why the respective standards of living of the parties would be unconscionably disparate.  Therefore the case was sent back to the trial judge to make further findings.

Best Divorce Lawyer’s Card

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Divorce the House Then the Spouse

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009

A big mistake that a lot of people make in divorce is trying to keep the house according to an article by Lew Sichelman in the Chicago Tribune.  Indeed in Maryland the court can grant use and possession of the family residence for up to three years from the date of divorce to the parent who gets custody of the minor children.  In other words, keep the kids, keep the house.

But Kelly Lise Murray, lawyer and real estate agent in Nashville, says if you must keep the house, you should obtain an appraisal, a third-party inspection, a termite inspection, and a title search for hidden liens.  Murray also says you should consider the true cost of home ownership, which may include things like lawn care, homeowner’s association fees, replacement of appliances, maintenance and upkeep.

Murray says people tend to underestimate the “ghosts” that go along with keeping the house. The place is often so filled with memories, both good and bad, she says, that “it’s not the family home anymore. It’s a huge lodestone.  If you’re still linked through the house, then you’re not really divorced.”

Divorce Expo

Monday, January 26th, 2009

Some people find themselves untying the knot with relish, says David Mejias, a divorce lawyer in Glen Cove, New York, in this Newsday article by Laura Albanese.  He says divorce is losing much of its stigma.

So Mejias is organizing a Divorce Expo on March 24 on the golf course in Port Washington, New York.  The event, which will be free to the public, will feature hundreds of vendors and consultants, from therapists to plastic surgeons.  Dr. Stephen Greenberg, for example, a plastic surgeon in Woodbury, New York provides custom divorce packages for botox, tummy tucks, breast augmentation, and those nips that people reentering the dating scene might want.

Mejias expects to attract around 300 people.

Going Broke on $1.76 Million a Year

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

If you think that money buys happiness, or a little more money will solve your problems, I can assure you that more money will bring a whole new set of problems into your life.

Just ask Keith Lee and Lori Andochick of Frederick County, Maryland, who married in 1993, separated in 2004 and were divorced in 2007.   As a partner in the investment firm of Brown Capital of Baltimore, Maryland, Mr. Lee made $1,760,282 in 2006.  Dr. Andochick, a dentist, made $267,000 that year.

The Court awarded Dr. Andochick $10,000 a month in spousal support, $15,000 a month in child support for their two children, $2,200 a month in other costs for the children, a monetary award payable at $250,000 a year for five years and attorney fees.

Mr. Lee appealed the alimony award.  The Court of Special Appeals reversed the case.  The Court calculated the annual numbers on Mr. Lee like this:

Gross Income                         $1,760.282
Less Taxes                                ($762,282)
Less Debt Obligations             ($636,588)
Child Support and Alimony*  ($278,400)
Monetary Award                      ($250,000)

Total                                         ($166,988)

In other words, Mr. Lee would have had to borrow about $167,000 a year just to make ends meet and even then he would have nothing left over for food and personal expenses.  The Appeals Court found that the trial judge “did not do the math”.

* see comments

Two Stories

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

Story #1.  A young man learns that a woman he is dating is pregnant.  Although he is not in love with her, he marries her because that is the right thing to do.  He manages to complete college and finds a job with the government.  Although he is a good provider for his family, his wife constantly berates him, argues with him, criticizes him, and withholds marital relations from him.  He tries to talk to her about their marital strife, and asks her to go to marital counseling,  but it is hopeless.  In desperation, he seeks solace elsewhere and begins a relationship with another woman.  He and the other woman are truly in love and he has a child with the other woman.  He takes on a second job to support his child from the second relationship.  He tries hard not to disrupt his marriage but after several years of trying, he cannot take it any more, and asks his wife for a divorce.  He is the father and sole support of two young children and he should not be punished for trying to do the right thing.

Story #2.  A young man learns that a woman he is dating is pregnant.  He marries her.  He then begins a life of deceit.  Although he has a child with her, he cheats on her.  He goes away on trips, seldom spends time with his wife and child, and finally impregnates another woman.  He begins a double life with his married family and his girlfriend and child on the side.  He takes money from his married family to support his girlfriend.  After several years, his wife finally discovers his infidelity and files for divorce.  This man is a liar and a coward and has dissipated his families marital assets.

If you were the judge, how would you divide assets and determine support in these two cases?  Would it be different in each case?

The interesting thing is that both scenarios are the same case.  The first is the story told by the husband’s attorney and the second is the story told by the wife’s attorney.  Which story will the judge buy into?  The judge will make a decision because that is what we pay the judges to do.  But real life is not always so black and white as the judge’s final order is.  There are always shades of gray and some truth in both stories.

Divorce Quotes

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

“By all means marry; if you get a good wife, you’ll be happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.”

Socrates

Don’t Buy Maryland Divorce Forms Online

Monday, January 12th, 2009

Courthouses in South Carolina have been rejecting divorces filed on forms downloaded form A Divorce Fast, which people paid $500 to download.  The firm was not licensed to practice law in South Carolina and the forms did not comply with state law.

People were left without their money or their divorce.  The bar association referred victims to the Attorney General’s office, which settled with the owner of A Divorce Fast.  Six people have gotten refunds so far according to The Sun News.

I checked and found A Divorce Fast is still selling forms for divorces in various states online “starting as low as $199″.  It says it will not be responsible for any outcome but does offer a money back guarantee.

However, I also found this site called LawonLineInc Revealed, which states that it is dedicated to all those who have purchased unsatisfactory products or services from Lawonlineinc.comm, North American Legal Services, Domestic Solutions Legal Centres, A Divorce On Line, or A Divorce Fast.

These sites all appear to be owned and operated by Mr. Norman Shelly Hernick (alias Nick Shelly).  It says that Mr. Shelly has been convicted of unlawfully practicing as, and impersonating, a lawyer.

By the way, forms for Maryland, DC and Virginia divorces are all available free of charge at our website.

Husband Wants His Kidney Back from Wife

Thursday, January 8th, 2009

Dr. Richard Batista, a surgeon in New York, met his wife, Dawnell Batista, when he was working in a hospital and she was training to be a nurse.  They married in 1991 and had three children together.

In 2001, Dawnell needed a kidney transplant.  Richard donated one of his.

A couple of years later, Richard claims Dawnell started an extramarital affair.  She sued for divorce in 2005 and they have been battling it out since then.

Richard, apparently frustrated by a lack of progress in the negotiations, held a press conference and demanded his wife return his kidney.  Alternatively, he will agree to settle for $1.5 million in compensation for his loss.

New York divorce attorneys don’t give him good odds of winning this one.

Source: USA Today

January Top Month for Divorces

Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

January is usually the month when the most divorces are filed during the year.

“It may be because the holidays are over or that people want a fresh start at the New Year,” says Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a family therapist in California.

Some people want to get through the holidays with a minimum of disruption to the families. Others are hoping their partner will change.  When nothing happens at the end of the old year or start of the new year, they view divorce as the solution.

Dr. Goldsmith has good advice on breaking the news to the children, gently and slowly.  He also tells you not to beat yourself up too much with would-a, could-a and should-a during the difficult divorce process.

“There may not be a perfect moment,” he says.

If you have tried counseling, communicating, and compromising, divorce may be your next best option.

 
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