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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, 2010

Divorce in Maryland if No Sex for a Year

Friday, January 29th, 2010

“My husband and I have not been intimate for over a year,” Louise, an unhappily married woman tells Joe, a Maryland divorce lawyer, “and I want a divorce.”

“OK, any other woman in his life?” inquires Joe.

“No.”

“Hmmm, any domestic violence or threats?”

“No.”

“Then you’re going to have to move out of the house for a year before you can file a divorce complaint,” says Joe trying to push the box of tissues across his desk toward Louise unobtrusively.

“But we can’t afford that,” cries Louise reaching for the tissues, “There must be another way.”

Neighboring jurisdictions, DC and Virginia permit parties to be separated while living in the same house, but not Maryland.  In Maryland, spouses are required to live separate and apart under different roofs for one year if the both agree, and two years if they don’t.  This waiting period must occur before they can even file for divorce.  And the divorce might take a year or longer after that.  These are the no fault grounds.  Adultery and cruelty have no waiting period.

The purpose of this waiting period is to favor marriage over divorce and make sure the parties really, really want to be divorced and not married.  After all, sometimes people change their minds.  But the recession has forced many couples to live together in misery because they cannot afford to separate.

So Montgomery County Delegate Luiz Simmons, an attorney, will support legislation this year to add a new grounds for divorce in Maryland, according to this morning’s Frederick News Post.  If this law passes, couples who go a year without sex would be able to file for divorce.

How to Divorce Proof Your Business

Friday, January 15th, 2010

A study commissioned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company reveals that 60 percent of business owners do not have a plan in place to divorce-proof their companies.   According to PRNewswire.com, the study involved six focus groups and 518 business owners.

“If a company is owned by a couple, a divorce can paralyze the business and create divided allegiances among employees and customers,” said Beth Wood, VP of a Mass Mutual division. “It could also jeopardize a family’s wealth and the owners’ retirements,” she said. “Often, a divorce can force the owners to sell the business, with proceeds being divided by the parties involved.”

“When owners aren’t in business with their spouses, a divorce can still hurt the firm greatly, if an ex-spouse is awarded the business in a divorce settlement, throwing ownership and decision-making into doubt, and distracting employees,” Wood said.

MassMutual suggests the following ways to create a divorce-proof plan for your business:

* Buy-sell agreements that can be triggered by certain events, such as a divorce.
* Prenuptial agreements.
* Postnuptial agreements.
* Trusts.

Arguing About Money

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

A New York Times article reports new research from Utah State University shows that couples arguing about money at least once a week have a thirty percent higher chance of filing divorce.

In the study, sexual and financial issues were reported to cause arguments in marriages, but financial issues had the higher correlation to divorces.

The article suggested that couples should discuss the following financial issues with each other before they get married to avoid disagreements during the marriage:

* Individual financial past – how have you historically handled money?
* Who will be in control of joint finances in the marriage – who pays the bills?
* Credit history – do you have a good credit score? Have you always?
* How important is money – how rich do you want/hope to become?

Source: TotalDivorce.Com

Taking Care of Yourself During Divorce

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

by Jill H. Breslau

Separation and divorce are among the most stressful life transitions, and self care becomes crucial if you are going to handle the transition with clear focus and good judgment.

I encourage my divorce clients to take care of themselves.  Not just in the casual, “Okay, take care, bye” sense of it, but seriously.  So when a client says, “I’m in therapy,” or “I signed up for a membership at the gym,” I am delighted.  It is so helpful to have a safe place to talk and vent your feelings, and, of course, we know the importance of exercise, not only in promoting physical health but in generating those invaluable feelings of well-being.

As you might predict, I don’t always take my own advice.  But this year, I am.  I am headed out of town on a yoga retreat, which I hope will give me increased flexibility in all dimensions, mental as well as physical.  I want more creativity, more nimbleness of mind in coming up with potential win-win solutions.  I want more compassion when my clients and their spouses get into stuck places during divorce, and more patience with lawyers who only see divorce as a war, not as an opportunity to solve problems and build a different, but still respectful, relationship.

Recrimination

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Mr. and Mrs. Courson were married for less than a year when Mrs. Courson decided to leave him.  But after talking to her father-in-law, who was a marriage counselor, she had a change of heart.  The father-in-law told the husband that the wife wanted to reconcile but the husband flatly refused.  A child was born during the separation but the husband showed no interest in either the child or the wife.

He filed for divorce on grounds of desertion and she countersued for desertion.  The husband then hired a private detective to follow the wife for $25 a week.  The detective was able to surprise the wife and a male companion in a parked car in a wooden area near Loch Raven Dam in the early hours of the morning.  The trial court granted the husband an absolute divorce based on adultery.

The wife appealed and the Maryland Court of Appeals asked what effect was to be given to the fact that the husband had abandoned the wife, and therefore the husband was guilty of an offense which the statute says is a cause for divorce by the wife?

“Recrimination”, the Court of Appeals said, “is generally defined as a rule or doctrine which precludes one spouse from obtaining a divorce from the other, where the spouse seeking a divorce has himself or herself been guilty of conduct which would entitle the opposite spouse to a divorce.”  Based on the wife’s defense of recrimination, the Court reversed the trial judge and vacated the divorce.  Courson v. Courson, 208 Md. 171; 117 A.2d 850 (1955).

Postlogue:  In 1983, the Legislature decreed that recrimination no longer be a bar to divorce at Family Law Section 7-103(b), and it has no application in no-fault divorces.  But it still may be a factor to be considered by the court in cases involving adultery.

Pettifoggers and Flibbertigibbets

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

Every once in a while, I get to use the word pettifogger in a letter. A pettifogger is someone who likes to bicker or quibble over trifles or unimportant matters.

I was responding to one of those lawyers who is dead right on the law, but dead wrong on being sensible.  In the middle of mediation his client has taken a small and unnecessary action that is permitted by law, but which will torpedo the good faith environment required for successful conflict resolution.

Now I am looking for a chance to use flibbertigibbet, which means a chattering or flighty, light headed person or gossip.

 
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