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Archive for February, 2010

Community

Friday, February 26th, 2010

Last night my wife and I went to a music recital at our son’s elementary school.  Our son is learning to play the saxophone.  By happenstance, I sat down between my wife and another lady who lives and sells real estate in our neighborhood.

There were a few minutes before the concert started so the women talked across.  The conversation was small talk.  I tried to tune most of it out.  But I heard that her cat and our cat have the same illness.  She was the agent for friends of ours trying to purchase a house in the neighborhood.  She knew all about the new house built next door to ours.  I was glad when the recital finally started.

But this morning I had a strange feeling.  I felt a sense of belonging, a sense of neighborhood, a sense of community.  It is comforting to know that we share common experiences with our fellow human beings.

People going through a divorce are frequently cut off from their usual community activities.  They may be too depressed or too embarrassed to see people they know.  Men especially tend to try to solve problems by themselves in isolation.  But divorce is a problem that is too big for one person to solve.  It is very important for anyone going through divorce or separation to reach out for support to friends, relatives, religious leaders, therapists or support groups.  We all need a community.

New Bill Would Shorten Maryland Separation Periods

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said we have a great experiment going on with the laws in the different states in the U.S.  We can see which ones work best.

Arizona is trying to decide whether or not to increase the time of separation in that state from two months to six months.

Meanwhile, Maryland Senator Zirkin  has introduced Senate Bill 577 that would reduce the time from one year to six months for a voluntary separation in Maryland.  The period for involuntary separation would change from two years to one year.  If it passes, the bill would be effective for divorces filed after October 1, 2010.

This would bring Maryland in line with the separation period required in its neighboring jurisdictions, Virginia and DC.

Immediate Sanctions

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

Caroline fidgeted uncomfortably in the worn leather client chair in Art’s cluttered lawyer’s office.  “Why do we have to send him discovery anyway?”

“Well, the purpose of discovery is to avoid surprises at trial and encourage settlement,” replied Art making a steeple with his hands.  “For this reason, the scope of discovery, as set forth in MD Rule 2-402 is very broad.  We sent your husband written interrogatories and a request for documents, which are among the methods allowed by MD Rule 2-401.”

“But he hasn’t responded,” complained Caroline, brushing her dark blonde hair out of her eyes, as she reached into her purse for a cigarette and lighter.

Art silently decided not to tell his client it was a non-smoking building.  He pushed his half empty cup toward her for an ashtray.  It was cold anyway, he thought to himself.  “Yes,” he said.  “But he has 30 days, plus 3 since discovery was mailed, to either answer, object or file a motion for a protective order under MD Rule 2-403.”

“What if he doesn’t give us all we asked for?”  Caroline blew a long puff of smoke into the atmosphere of Art’s office, which was crowded with knicknacks, bric-a-bracs, bibolots, and memorabilia from past cases,  accumulated over his long career.

Art took off his silver, wire framed glasses and began to clean them with his handkerchief.  “If he fails to respond sufficiently, then I must first make good faith attempts to settle the discovery dispute with his counsel under MD Rule 2-431.  If that doesn’t work, I file a motion for an order compelling discovery under MD Rule 2-432.  If he still doesn’t respond, then I can ask for sanctions or ask for a contempt order under MD Rule 2-433.  And if he doesn’t respond at all, I can skip the order compelling discovery and ask for immediate sanctions under MD Rule 2-433.”

“And what are sanctions?” asked Caroline arching her eyebrows that looked like the tops of two question marks.

“The court can strike his pleadings, prohibit him from testifying, keep him from offering exhibits or witnesses or proof of anything that would contradict your claims or support his claims, and order him to pay your legal fees for his failure to comply with discovery.”

“Good, I like that,” said Caroline, tossing the last of her lit cigarette, as though she wished it was her soon to be ex-husband, in Art’s coffee cup where it sizzled as she walked out of his office.

Decisions

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

by Jill H. Breslau

I never imagined that I’d be suggesting that a retreat is like a divorce, but it is, in more than one way.  It is a time when ordinary life, life as you know it, is suspended for a while, as you make decisions about how you would like things to be in the future.

The decisions you eventually make are not necessarily the same decisions you would make on Day 1.  I began my retreat, for example thinking about what was not working in my life and determined to root out whatever character flaws perpetuated my problems.  By the end of the retreat, my focus had shifted from pinning down my failures to owning my strengths—a welcome transformation.

If I had made a decision for my future based on my thoughts at the end of Day 1, I would have felt fearful, self-blaming, and full of disappointment.  In giving myself time to engage in the retreat process—not unlike a divorce process—I emerged in a clearer, more confident mood.       Yes, there are some decisions you have to make right now.  And there are emergency situations in which delay is not appropriate.  But generally, it helps if you can maintain the status quo to the greatest extent possible and give yourself time for the big decisions.  Then, as the process unfolds, you can move forward into your future, making choices with more clarity and confidence.

Using “We” May Be Key to Happy Marriage

Friday, February 5th, 2010

UC Berkeley scientists have discovered that couples who use pronouns like “we”, “us” and “our” in their conversations are happier and have healthier relationships than couples who use “I” and “you”.

The researchers analyzed the speech patterns of couples while they talked about disagreements in their marriages.  Couples who used “I” and “you” tended to be more stressed, less close and unhappy.

The study concluded the reason for this is that successful couples have a sense of unity with each other.  This helps them resolve conflicts, grow closer together and have more positive behavior toward each other.

Emerald Catron at lemmondrop.com, however, finds referring to yourself as “we” rather annoying if you’re not the Queen of England.

Can We Leave Out the Fidelity Part

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford asked to skip the part about marital fidelity in his wedding vows 20 years ago Jenny Sanford told Barbara Walters in an interview to be aired on ABC News Friday night at 10:00 p.m.  Ms Sanford’s book “Stay True” will be released the same day.

“It bothered me to some extent,” said the estranged first lady, “but . . . we were very young; we were in love.  I questioned it, but I got past it . . . along with other doubts that I had.”

Ms. Sanford found out about her husband’s affair and has filed for divorce.  The governor told several different versions of his whereabouts until The Columbia State newspaper confronted him with emails between him and his Argentine lover.

Why do obviously smart women like Ms. Sanford and Ms. Edwards not discover their husband’s affairs earlier?  It’s a case of Deceiver and Denier.  The Deceiver is not ready to leave the marriage, so when the Denier asks questions like, “What’s wrong?” the Deceiver replies, “Nothing”.  The Denier wants to believe it.  Infidelity is not a concept that is possible in the Denier’s universe.  So he or she is blinded to the clues that are left by the Deceiver.

Read more at IslandPacket.com.

Hiring Private Eye Does Not Violate Protective Order

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

A wife filed to divorce her husband, in Orange County, New York on February 26, 2009.  The husband countered with an accusation of adultery.

On February 26, 2009, the wife obtained a protective order against her husband that required him to stay at least 1,000 feet away from her residence or the church where she worked, except for court-ordered visitation or church services.

In August 2009, the husband hired a private investigator, who followed the wife to a motel, where he recorded her encounter with a priest assigned to the church where she worked.  The husband told another priest about the affair and, at the request of the church, turned the recording over to church officials.

The wife was forced to resign.  She then accused the husband of violating the protective order and harassment.  The judge ruled against her finding that “The hiring of a professional licensed private investigator in a matrimonial action to gather evidence is for a proper and legitimate purpose.”  She also found that the husband had a legitimate and justifiable purpose in turning the recording over to church officials.  Anonymous v. Anonymous, Case No. IDV O5502-08-09A.

Read More at Law.Com.

Opposition Arises to New Maryland Divorce Grounds

Monday, February 1st, 2010

There is opposition today to Delegate Luiz Simmons’ move to modernize Maryland divorce law by adding a new ground for divorce.  The new ground would permit parties living together to get divorced if they have not had sex for a year.  Maryland’s no fault grounds, unlike Virginia and DC, require the parties to live under separate roofs for a year if they both agree or two years if they do not.  Delegate Ben Kramer is co-sponsoring the legislation and Senator Robert Zirkin is introducing a version in the Senate.

But Derek McCoy, president of the Association of Maryland Families is opposed.  “Lowering the divorce requirements — that’s a move in the wrong direction for the state.  We need to make it more challenging for divorces to occur,” McCoy is quoted as saying by Hayley Petersen in today’s Washington Examiner.

Meanwhile, unhappy couples still living together can avail themselves of Maryland’s fault grounds to obtain a divorce.  Cruelty, adultery and desertion for a year can occur while the parties are living together.

“The statutory term ‘desertion,’ as applied to husband and wife, means a cessation of the marital relation. And this doctrine is in accord with the general principles of the divorce law. We have seen that there may be a desertion although the parties live under the same roof. Desertion implies something more than merely ceasing to cohabit or live together; for, as applied to husband and wife, it means the ceasing to live together as husband and wife.” – Maryland Court of Appeals citing Divorce and Separation, by Nelson, in Fleegle v. Fleegle, 136 Md. 630, 634 (Md. 1920).

 
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