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Divorce Lawyers

Thyden Gross and Callahan LLPCounselors and Attorneys at Law



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 May, 2010

If You’re Divorced Put a Ring On It

Friday, May 28th, 2010

divorce_rings_m“Tiger Woods’ Wife Spotted Ringless!” – recent tabloid headline

Now, there is no longer a need to go ringless if you are divorced or separated.  You can announce your new status with a divorce ring, writes Andrew Adam Newman in today’s New York Times.

Twice divorced jeweler, Harold Thompson, of Wilmington, N.C., sells divorce rings online at the D Jewelry Company.   His tag line is “Building self-esteem one person at a time.”  If you feel like you need to build some self-esteem, you can buy one of these rings for $200 to $500.

When Does Property Stop Being Marital?

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

by Michael F. Callahan

In last week’s blog on forum shopping, we saw that adultery on the part of the prospective alimony payee can have entirely different consequences in Virginia than in Maryland and the District of Columbia.  This week’s article concerns when the accumulation of marital property ends.  This is another area where Virginia law differs from the law of Maryland and of the District of Columbia.

When you are married, everything you acquire during the marriage is marital property unless it’s a gift or inheritance, proceeds of gift or inheritance, or excluded by a valid agreement.  In Virginia and Maryland but not in D.C, only gifts from third parties are excluded from marital property.  Whether something is marital property does not affect title to the property, transferability, right to possession or anything else.  It’s a concept that only matters at the time of divorce.  Marital property is what gets divided between the parties by their agreement or the judge’s order.

When does the accumulation of marital property end?  It starts at the time of the marriage.  When you return from the honeymoon and go to work the next Monday morning you are earning marital property – the stuff the divorce judge divides.  When is the first day you can go to work and earn separate non-marital property?  It depends on the jurisdiction.

(to be continued)

Lawyer Receives a Bill From Her Lawyer

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

by Lois R. Finkelstein

This is the second part of my experience as a lawyer hiring a lawyer.  Because I could never get through to my lawyer, I considered not paying his bills.  But Alan sent bills the same way he returned telephone calls, that is infrequently.

I only had a vague idea of what, if anything, I owed Alan.  I received bills in October, November and December.  However, once 2010 rolled around, I stopped receiving bills with any sort of regularity.  I’d walk to the mailbox slowly somewhere around the fifth of every month and heave a sigh whenever I opened the mailbox.  I wondered if this was the day that I’d be receiving a bill which reflected that Alan or someone in his office had actually worked on my case.

No bill in January and no return telephone call from Alan. No bill in February and no return telephone call from Alan.  And no bill or return telephone call from Alan in March, although I did receive a one-line email in March wishing me happy birthday.  Hurray! At least he hadn’t forgotten me completely and perhaps he actually worked on my case.

Finally, I received a bill in April.  The bill started with a carry-forward balance of $3,500.00 indicating that Alan or someone in his office had done some work on my case.  It was work that was not described in the bill and work that I knew nothing about!

As I looked at the detail of this bill more carefully, I saw something that left me flabbergasted.  Alan had billed me a tenth of an hour for e-mailing me birthday wishes!

(To be continued)

Robot Performs Wedding

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

A four foot robot named “I-Fairy”  performed a wedding ceremony in Tokyo according to CBS News.  The bride was Satoko Inoue, 36, who works at Kokoro Co., the company that manufacturers the robot.  The husband was Tomohiro Shibata, 42, a professor of robotics in Japan.

There were 50 guests.  The human controller of the robot stood behind a curtain typing commands into a computer.

One has to wonder.  Can the robot divorce lawyer be far behind?

Don’t Be Happier Than Your Wife

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Men who are unhappier than their wives have more enduring marriages, according to an article in the Daily Mail Reporter.

Economists at Deakin University in Australia researched tens of thousands of couples in Britain, Germany and Australia. Their conclusion was the happier a man was than his wife, the greater the chance that the wife would file for divorce.

So married men take note.  Don’t be happier than your wife.

Adultery a Bar to Alimony?

Friday, May 21st, 2010

by Michael F. Callahan

Last week we discussed how to pick a court in which to file your uncontested divorce case.  This is the first of several articles in which we’ll talk about circumstances in which a case would be decided differently depending on which local jurisdiction’s court hears the case.

There is no bar to alimony in the District of Columbia or Maryland for adultery.  Fault is only one of many factors that a court may consider in deciding whether to award alimony and, if so, how much and for how long.

However, in Virginia the court cannot award spousal support (alimony) at the conclusion of the divorce case from a spouse who has proven adultery of the other spouse as a ground for divorce, unless the court determines based on clear and convincing evidence that it would be a manifest injustice to deny support.

So there is more at stake when Virginia spouses, who suspect their spouses of cheating hire private detectives and snoop, electronically and otherwise.  This is because solid evidence of adultery strengthens the potential support paying spouse’s hand in negotiations and at trial.

It is necessary to find such evidence because you cannot rely on forcing your spouse to admit adultery by asking him or her under oath.  Adultery is a crime in Virginia, seldom prosecuted but still on the books.  Accordingly, your spouse can “take the fifth” when questioned about adultery.

Once adultery has been established, to overcome the adultery evidence and be awarded spousal support, the prospective support payee must establish by clear and convincing evidence that it would be a manifest injustice to deny support.   The statute provides that the court is to look at the spouses’ respective degrees of fault and relative economic circumstances.  So to prevail the adulterous support-seeking spouse needs to show (1) he or she  really needs support and the other spouse really can afford to pay, and (2) looking at the entire marriage and the conduct of both spouses, the other spouse’s conduct is really more culpable than the adultery of the spouse seeking support.  In short, it is very difficult burden.

If your spouse moves out of the Virginia marital house and into D.C. or Maryland, he or she may be forum shopping to avoid the Virginia adultery bar to alimony.  In that case you would be wise to file a divorce case in Virginia promptly.

When a Lawyer Hires a Lawyer

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

By Lois R. Finkelstein

I was wondering the other day what it would be like to come into my office as a client.  Many people have sat across the desk from me in the client chairs looking to me to solve their legal problems.  What are they thinking?  I got a view from the client’s chair myself when I had to hire my own attorney recently in connection with my mother’s estate.  The experience was eye opening, to say the least.

I called my attorney no fewer than five times over the past five months and never received a return telephone call.  I’d call his office, only to be put in touch with his trusty assistant, Janice, who sitting directly outside of his office would tell me in her oh-so-caring voice, “I’ll see if he’s in,” and promptly put me on hold.  As far as I know, the lawyer didn’t have a trap door under his desk from which he could escape.  And he only had one door to his office and there was no side door so he couldn’t sneak out without Janice noticing him.

Inevitably, Janice would return to the telephone and provide any one of a number of reasons why my lawyer, was unable to come to the telephone.  Depending on the day, he was (a) in a meeting, (b) on the telephone, (c) on a telephone conference call, (d) at breakfast, (e) at lunch or (f) simply not available.  Interestingly, Janice would alternate reasons that Alan couldn’t take the call in the same order each time I called.  I always wondered whether she kept a running list of excuses and ticked them off as she took various telephone calls.

At first I thought up various excuses as to why he wasn’t returning my calls.  But the more excuses I made for him, the worse I felt about him and wondered what horror had beset my case.  And the longer I went without hearing from him, the more I wanted to do something about it, like maybe refusing to pay his bill.  To be continued.

Country Songs We Wish We’d Written

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Sounds Like Life to Me

( Darryl Worley, Wynn Varble, Phil O’Donnell )

Got a call last night from an old friend’s wife
Said I hate to bother you
Johnny Ray fell off the wagon
He’s been gone all afternoon
I know my buddy so I drove to Skully’s
And found him at the bar
I say hey man, what’s going on
He said I don’t know where to start

Sarah’s old car’s about to fall apart
And the washer quit last week
We had to put momma in the nursing home
And the baby’s cutting teeth
I didn’t get much work this week
And I got bills to pay
I said I know this ain’t what you wanna hear
But it’s what I’m gonna say

Sounds like life to me it ain’t no fantasy
It’s just a common case of everyday reality
Man I know it’s tough but you gotta suck it up
To hear you talk you’re caught up in some tragedy
It sounds like life to me

Selecting the Right Court for Your Divorce

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

by Michael F. Callahan

Last week I discussed why in some cases it may pay to shop around for a court to hear your divorce case.  This week’s article is about how to do that.

Divorce jurisdiction is based on residency.  The circuit courts of Maryland have jurisdiction to hear and decide your divorce case if one of the parties has resided in Maryland for at least twelve months prior to the filing of the application for divorce, or if the grounds for divorce arose in Maryland.  The Maryland Court of Appeals has held that, even if jurisdiction is based on the grounds arising in Maryland, one of the parties still has to be a Maryland resident at the time the case is filed.

In Virginia, the circuit court can hear your divorce case if one of the parties has been a bona fide resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia for the six month period preceding the filing of the Complaint for Divorce.  A Virginia statute permits active military service men and women stationed or living in Virginia for six months to file for divorce in Virginia even if they are residents of another state under the usual rules for determining residency.

The Superior Court of the District of Columbia has jurisdiction to hear and decide your divorce case if you or your spouse are a resident of the District on the date the case is filed and during the six months preceding that date.  And D.C. treats a member of the armed forces of the United States who resides in the District for six months as a D.C. for divorce jurisdiction purposes.

A couple of observations are in order.  First, if your divorce case is all set to go, grounds for divorce exist, you have a written Agreement, and you are both moving out of state, you may want to file the case while one of you is still a resident of this state.  This is because there will almost certainly be a waiting period before you can file for divorce in the courts of the state to which you move or to which your spouse moves.  Keep in mind though that you’ll have to return to this state at least once to testify in the divorce proceeding.

Second, you can file for divorce in D.C. and Virginia after being a resident for six months.  The required separation period for a no-fault divorce is also six months in D.C., and in Virginia if you have a written separation agreement and there are no minor children of the marriage.  The required separation period is twelve months in Maryland.  So if your case is settled and you’re moving out, and you want to be divorced sooner rather than later, consider moving to D.C. or Virginia to expedite your divorce.

Lawyers as Peacemakers

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Our law firm is pleased to announce that the American Bar Association has published “The Illicit Relationship Between Lawyers and Emotion” by Jill H. Breslau as a chapter in its new book, “Lawyers as Peacemakers”.

Jill writes that while lawyers are trained to ignore emotions and use logic, facts and reason, this is like the captain of the Titanic seeing the tip of the iceberg and ignoring what’s under the water.  Emotions are hidden and mysterious structures that influence human behavior powerfully and profoundly.

The book is edited by J. Kim Wright and available at the ABA website.

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