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Thyden Gross and Callahan LLPCounselors and Attorneys at Law

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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, 2010

Maryland Child Support Bill Goes to Reconciliation

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Senate Bill

The Senate passed a bill by a vote of 44 to 2 that would increase Maryland Child Support Guidelines for the first time in more than two decades, increase the matrix from a combined gross income of $10,000 to $30,000, effective October 1, 2010, and permit recalculation of past child support awards if the new law would make a substantial difference in payments.

House Bill

On Saturday, the House voted 114 to 25 to pass its own revision to the guidelines.  The differences are that the combine gross income is capped at $15,000, the changes would not take effect until October 1 of 2011 and the new guidelines by themselves would not be a reason to recalculate past child support.

The bills will now go to conference to reconcile these differences.

Why Jacqueline Getty Needs $500,000 a Month in Alimony

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Jacqueline Getty married Gordon Peter Getty Jr., heir to the Getty fortune, in 2000.  TMZ reports that she has filed for divorce in Los Angelas seeking $539,201 per month in alimony to maintain the lifestyle she had while married, which included, among other things:

— $300,000 to $500,000 per year for clothing
— $50,000 for Halloween parties
— expensive jewelry including 5 carat diamond earrings
— $40,000 for birthday parties
— trips to the private Getty compound in Hawaii 3-4 times a year
— trips on the Getty private jet (Boeing 737)
— a one million dollar bed

As for Gordon’s ability to pay, Jacqueline says he would go on several trips a year without a suitcase and buy a whole new wardrobe when he arrived.

Substance, Processes, and Values in Divorce

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

by Jill H. Breslau

Substance

When clients talk to me about divorce, their focus is usually on the substance, that is, the decisions that have to be made on issues like legal and physical custody of their children, child support, alimony, and how to divide their property.  It is, of course, critically important to make thoughtful and reasonable decisions on these topics.  If both parties can make them together, a judge won’t have to make them instead.  But what is the process for making these reasonable and thoughtful decisions?

Processes

  • Litigation. If you go to a lawyer, the idea may naturally be that you will litigate your divorce.  This means filing a complaint in court, going through all the procedures for discovery to find out what your spouse earns, spends, owns, and owes, and finally providing all that information to a judge, who makes the decisions.  However, there are other processes that people don’t always consider.
  • Mediation. Mediation is a process in which both parties sit down with a neutral mediator who facilitates their discussion.  If they reach an agreement, the mediator may draft an agreement for them, or they may ask one lawyer to draft the agreement and one to review it.  Then their agreement forms the basic guidelines that they will be governed by post-divorce.
  • Collaborative Law. Another process is collaborative law, in which both parties have lawyers and everyone agrees to engage in problem-solving, rather than in litigation.  They may also choose to have a financial neutral, who helps figure out the best financial options for the family, or psychologists who act as coaches to help them manage their emotions during a trying time, or a child specialist to assist them in making decisions for their children.

Values

These three processes, litigation, mediation, and collaboration, are all accepted by the legal system.  How do you choose?  Well, your choice will depend on several factors.  Your spouse’s willingness to engage in mediation or collaboration is fundamental, so if your spouse is determined to litigate, you can’t force another process.  Your finances may impact your decision.  But one element that influences your decision, often without being explicitly stated, is your own value system.  Are you naturally a fighter, and do you believe that divorce is a battle to be won?  Are you naturally a peacemaker, and do you believe in the possibility of cooperation and healing?  And if you are a little bit of both, what process will best help you build a foundation for your future?  Thinking about your values and hopes is important in divorce.  You can’t control how your spouse feels, but you can stay aware of the values that drive your own decisions and try to have a divorce that is consistent with who you are.

The Divorce Lawyer’s Handbook for Staying Married

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

CHAPTER FIVE – GIVE AWARDS

“Bought dollar-store motivational stickers (“Great!” “Super Work”) to adorn the best of tonight’s pile of graded homework. Actually got the idea from my graduate school professor, who proved that one is never too old to get excited about a colorful “Awesome Job!” sticker.”  – Dr. Sara Romeyn

Hey, I want a sticker, too!  We all do.  Our inner child never tires of approval and a gold star.  Doesn’t it make you feel good to be acknowledged for something you did?

All to often we get criticism instead.  For some reason, it is easier to criticize than to praise.  Criticism comes naturally when we are upset or angry.  Praise has to be planned and takes some extra energy.

Make a decision to give your significant other an award today.  It can be a flower, a compliment or even an Awesome Job sticker.  Let him or her know how much you appreciate them.

Marrying Judge Faces Heat

Friday, March 19th, 2010

In November of last year, Frederick Wood, 29, of Maryland, was involved in a domestic altercation with his 27 year old girlfriend.  The police report noted extensive injuries to her.

Wood was charged with second-degree assault, a misdemeanor.  His case came to trial on March 10 before Judge Darrell Russell, Jr., District Court Judge for Baltimore County, Maryland.

When the case was called, Wood’s attorney asked that the trial be taken off the calendar because the couple intended to marry.  The wife could then invoke spousal privilege which would prevent her from testifying against her husband and the case would be dismissed.

The judge refused but he did declare a break in the trial that day so they could obtain a marriage license.  When they returned to the courtroom with the license, Judge Russell married them in his chambers.  He found the defendant not guilty.

Judge Russell has been reassigned to chambers by the Chief Judge, and the House of Ruth said it  intends to make a complaint to the Maryland Commission on Judicial Disabilities.

Additional Coverage:

Maryland Daily Record
11 News I-Team
WPTZ.com
ABA Journal

Man Wins Lottery Day After Divorce

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

I couldn’t make up a better story than this news report at the Times of India.  Kevin Halstead, a 50 year old British bus driver, had a divorce that dragged on for two years.  When it was finally settled, he went out and got drunk with a group of his friends.

The next day, he decided he would use his last quid (about a buck fifty) to buy a lottery ticket.   On Sunday when he got up, he checked the morning paper and, you guessed it, he won.  His prize was 1.15 million pounds (that’s $1,773,990).

His wife Helen took the news well.  “We’ve been separated a long time. We are the best of friends. In fact, we get on better now than when we were married,” she said.  “It couldn’t have happened to a nicer bloke. I wish him all the luck in the world – he deserves it.”

What Would You Do with a $54.5 Million Divorce Settlement?

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Heather Mills got that much in her divorce settlement with Sir Paul McCartney in 2008.

“Most of it’s been given to charity, gone into ethical businesses or paid for a couple of properties for my daughter’s future security,” said Mills in an interview on Shrink Wrap.

DigitalSpy.com reports the money has all been spent.  It only took two years to spend it.  I wonder how long it took McCartney to earn it?

Divorcing a Sociopath

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

Lawyer Nancy R. Van Tine sets forth the DSMIV definition of a sociopath on her blog, Massachusetts Divorce Law Monitor.  She says that about 4% of the population fits this description.  Divorce is hard enough with sane people.  Imagine litigating a divorce with a sociopath who is deceitful, aggressive, irritable and remorseless, among other things.  Sounds like your ex?

Lawmakers Vote on New Child Support Bill

Friday, March 12th, 2010

A Maryland bill to revise the state’s twenty year old Child Support Guidelines has passed in the  Senate by a vote of 43-2, and is up for a vote today in the House Legislative Subcommittee.   A similar bill died in committee last year.

The new guidelines would go up to a combined gross income of $30,000 a month instead of the current level of $10,000 a month.  They would also increase child support payments from the non-custodial parent.

Some lawmakers are asking, however, whether it is a good time to increase child support payments in the middle of a recession.  Since Maryland uses a shared income model, proponents note that the custodial parent is already paying increased costs and the new guidelines would only cause them to be shared more fairly.  The new guidelines would apply to new cases and cases where parents ask the court for a modification.

Read more.

The Unhappiness Gap

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

A recent study concludes that a happiness gap between spouses is a harbinger of divorce.  It goes further to state that the odds of divorce increase if the wife is unhappier than the husband, because women file more divorces than men.  Here are my two best tips for managing unhappiness, in marriage or divorce.

1.  Make a Grateful List.  It is easy to look at the glass half full.  It is human nature to always want more than we have.  And your brain will keep pumping out negative thoughts as long as you dwell on what you don’t have instead of what you do have.  An antidote for this is to write down all the things in your life that you are grateful for.  Read this list out loud every morning.

2.  Keep a Good Things Notebook.  Get a small spiral notebook.  At the end of each day, write down all the good things that happened to you that day.  Someone smiled at you or complimented your outfit.  Keep it simple and short.  Try to find at least five things a day.

Leave a comment if you try these ideas and let us know if they work for you.

 
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