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Thyden Gross and Callahan LLPCounselors and Attorneys at Law

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Archive for December, 2009

Court Denies Recovery of Madoff Funds from Ex

Monday, December 28th, 2009

New York City lawyer, Steven Simkin, paid his ex-wife, Laura Blank, 2.7 million dollars for her half of their investment with Bernard Madoff’s fund as a result of their marital settlement agreement.

When Simkin found out the fund was worthless earlier this year, he sued his ex to get the money back, claiming there was a “mutual mistake of fact” which gave his ex a windfall.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Saralee Evans refused to set aside the agreement and dismissed Simkin’s lawsuit.

Read more.

Facebook Made Me Do It

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

The Telegraph in the U.K. reports that one in five divorce petitions filed by Divorce-Online contain references to Facebook.

The divorce lawyers claim that social websites like Facebook fuel divorces because they tempt people to cheat on their spouses.  They cite inappropriate sexual chats or flirty emals and messages discovered by suspicious spouses.

JR Raphael at PC World sees it differently.  The problem is not Facebook he says.  The problem is cheating spouses.  Facebook is only the medium.

Conjugal Kindness

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Elliott Aronson and Youdita Aronson married in 1981.  They had two children.  He owned a medical services business and she owned a travel agency.

However, in 1992, Youdita discovered that Elliott was having an affair with one of his employees, Ms. Stella Natarova.  Elliott admitted the adultery.  Youdita said she would forgive him if he agreed to fire Stella and never see her again.

Elliott agreed.  But in June 1993, Youdita found some checks to Ms. Natarova from Elliott’s business in his briefcase.  And in September 1993, she discovered that Elliott had bought a condo in Baltimore without telling her.  That was the final straw.  Elliott and Youdita entered into a Separation Agreement, Elliott left the home, and Youdita filed for divorce based on adultery.

Elliott raised the defense of condonation.  “Condonation is, of course, forgiveness with an implied condition that the marital offenses shall not be repeated and that the party offended shall be treated with conjugal kindness and on breach of this condition, the right to remedy for former injuries revives.” Cullotta, 193 Md. at 383.

The judge agreed with Elliott and denied the divorce on grounds of adultery, but granted it on the basis of one year mutual and voluntary separation with the intent of ending the marriage.  The Court of Appeals reversed and said the judge got it backwards.

First, the Separation Agreement indicated the parties did not separate with the intent of ending their marriage, but with the intent of repairing it, so the divorce could not be granted on separation grounds.

Second, F.L. § 7-103(d) provides: “Condonation is not an absolute bar to a decree of an absolute divorce on the ground of adultery, but is a factor to be considered by the court in determining whether the divorce should be decreed.”  Therefore, the Court of Appeals sent the case back to the trial judge to decide whether Youdita could get her divorce on grounds of adultery in spite of her condonation.

Aronson v. Aronson, 115 Md. App. 78, 691 A.2d 785 (1997).

All I Want for Christmas Is a Divorce

Friday, December 18th, 2009

If you don’t know what to get that person who has everything this year, a London law firm is offering a gift certificate for a half hour consultation with a divorce lawyer.  The cost is $125 pounds (about $200).

The firm, Lloyd Platt & Company, says demand for the certficates is soaring, with 60 sold so far, and the firm is swamped with inquiries about this “must have” Christmas gift.

Source:  MSNBC

Divorce Quotes

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009
Sometimes I wonder if men and women really suit each other. Perhaps they should live next door & just visit now and then.
– Katharine Hepburn

Lawyer Baby (A Christmas Song)

Monday, December 14th, 2009

(To the tune of “Santa Baby” by Joan Javits)

Lawyer baby, just slip a complaint across your desk, for me
So I can get my divorce quickly
Lawyer baby, so hurry file the complaint today

Lawyer baby, a ’54 convertible too, light blue,
And half the other property
Lawyer baby, so hurry file the complaint today

Think of all the fun I’ve missed,
Think of all the fellows that I haven’t kissed
Next year I could be just as good
With everything on my divorce list

Lawyer baby, I want a yacht and really that’s not a lot
Been an angel all year
Lawyer baby, so hurry file the complaint today

Lawyer honey, one little thing I really need, the deed
To a platinum mine,
Lawyer baby, so hurry file the complaint today

Lawyer cutie, and fill my stocking with a duplex and cheques,
Sign your x on the line
Lawyer cutie, and hurry file the complaint today

Come and let me pay your fee,
With the cash you will collect for me
I really do believe in you,
Let’s see you get me alimony

Lawyer baby, forgot to mention one little thing, a ring,
I don’t mean on the phone,
Lawyer baby, so hurry file the complaint today

Hurry file the complaint today
Hurry, today.

New Website for Ex’s

Friday, December 11th, 2009

My pal and super real estate broker, Harlene Cohen Bernstein, has written an article about her adventures with avaricious divorce attorneys and what she did about it.

The article is called “Up Against the Wall” and it’s posted on a new website, Exon/Exoff.

The site is for and about “ex’s”.  It says if you have an ex, then you are an ex.  There are other articles, a forum for discussion, and resources for health, counseling, real estate, financial and legal services.  Check it out.

Every Dog that Barks

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

I posted this quote by Winston Churchill some time ago:

“You will never get to the end of the journey if you stop to shy a stone at every dog that barks.”

I get to use it on divorce clients from time to time.  A divorce has a beginning, middle and end.  The beginning is fact gathering, settlement proposal, complaint, answer, countercomplaint and answer to countercomplaint.  The middle is discovery and mediation.  The end is settlement or trial.

But there are many details along the way.  And in a divorce, control, anger, revenge, and sadness are all swirling around to cloud good judgment.  So some clients tend to get bogged down in the small stuff.  They fixate on something that is a detour from their main objectives of getting divorced  from their spouse, providing for their children and untangling their finances.

I have had clients get stuck on furniture, used automobiles, jewelry, whether visitation will be on Tuesday or Thursday, something their spouse or the other lawyer said, and lots of other things that will give rise to argument.

The problem with this is they end of spending all of their time, effort and legal fees at the beginning or middle of their case and have nothing left at the finish line.  So my advice is try to keep things in perspective.  The end of your journey is a settlement or a divorce decree.  Remember that, along the way, you don’t have to throw a stone at every dog that barks.

Using Stipulations in Your Divorce

Monday, December 7th, 2009

Stipulations are a frequently overlooked tool that can be useful in a divorce case.  They are asked for in the Pre-Trial Statement, but in the rush to get everything ready for trial, the usual answer under “Stipulations Requested” is “none”.

Stipulations are simply written statements of fact, agreed to by both parties, that are submitted to the judge at the beginning of the trial.  They can then be used as evidence in your case.

One benefit of stipulation is to save time in your trial.  You don’t have to put on witnesses to testify to the facts that are stipulated.  If you are paying a lawyer by the minute, that can be helpful.  They also educate the judge quickly about your case and provide a reference that the judge can have handy at the bench during the trial.

Facts that are easy to agree on include the names of the parties, their ages, the duration of their marriage, and the children’s names and birth dates.

It may be harder to agree on facts like the jobs, income, assets, liabilities and health of the parties.  But any of these issues that can be stipulated to, ought to be.

Divorce Quotes

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

As more women come forward in the Tiger Wood’s  scandal, it brings this quote to mind.

“He’s a hard dog to keep on the porch.”

– Virginia Clinton (Bill Clinton’s mother)

 
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