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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 January, 2011

Lowering Child Support Payments

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Like many people in today’s economy, James Knott’s income decreased from $69,000 to $25,000 a year when he was laid off in October of 1999.  Unfortunately for him, he had agreed by Consent Order to pay monthly child support for his daughter, Mallory, in the amount of $1,316 in his divorce the month before.

With his new income, James had $454 a month left after he paid his child support.  James moved to modify but the trial court upheld the amount.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals, in  Knott v. Knott, 146 Md. App. 232 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. 2002),  reversed saying that the test was what was in the child’s best interest.  It is usually difficult to convince a court that a decrease in child support is in the child’s best interest, but here the appeals court said:

“The court failed to assess the impact of the payments under the Consent Order on the financial resources of appellant and appellee, or on the needs of Mallory. This was reversible error.  The court should have applied the guidelines because they are presumptively correct as to the appellant’s child support obligation. See Md. Code (1984, 1999 Repl. Vol., 2001 Suppl), § 12-202(a)(2) of the Family Law Article.”

“It is not difficult,” Judge Green said, “for this court to see that requiring appellant to live on $454 per month, while requiring $1,216 per month in support of Mallory, may very well not be in her best interest.”

Changes

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

We like things to stay the same.  Change makes us uncomfortable.

But ever since the Big Bang, change has been constant.  Everything changes.  The green grass turns brown and dies.  Glass breaks.  Cars break down.  We lose things.  The universe expands.

People change.  We grow older.  We have kids.  We have careers.  We acquire assets.  Agendas change.  We get divorced.

Divorce creates huge changes.  You never thought your life would turn out like this.  But it did.  The secret to dealing with change is acceptance.  Everything changes.  That is what we call life.

When You Can’t Avoid a Trial

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Guest article by Diana Mercer, Esquire

If you know your settlement goals and priorities, you’ve had a thorough conversation with your lawyer about the range of settlement, and you’ve done some soul searching yet you simply can’t live with the most recent offers that are on the table, then a trial is your remaining option.

The good news is that few cases come to that point. About 95% of all divorce cases settle before you get to trial.  But it happens, and it’s serious business.  It’s time consuming, nerve-wracking, and incredibly expensive.  Back when I was a litigation attorney, I enjoyed going to trial because it gave me a chance to practice what I was trained to do in law school.  But I rarely encouraged clients to go to trial because even a mediocre settlement would likely net them more than a great judgment after a trial, taking into account the litigation costs, time away from work, and wear and tear on their soul.

Inappropriate or non-existent settlement offers are legitimate reasons to try your case. But be sure that’s really what you’re haggling over, and that these issues aren’t just red herrings.  If you want to go to trial to prove a point, to tell your story, or to seek justice or revenge on your spouse you’re going to be very disappointed.  Backlogged courts don’t have time for lengthy testimony, and as dramatic as your story may be to you, it’s much too similar to thousands of other divorce stories for many judges to sit up and take notice.

So understand your motivations.  Your lawyer is worried about your legal case, asset division, securing support for you, and your parenting plan if you have children.  As the client, however you may be feeling a great deal of stress, grief, loss and anger over the situation and it’s hard to think about your settlement in such nuts and bolts terms.  Conflict between you and your lawyer may happen while you’re processing the emotional divorce while the lawyer views this essentially as a business deal.

While for the divorcing spouses a trial is both an economic and psychological decision, understand that judges are mostly concerned with providing a reasonably fair allocation of income and assets based on the laws of your state. They are not concerned with unraveling every transaction between you and your spouse. Fault issues like endless arguments and hurtful words may be at the forefront of your mind, but will probably seem minor to the judge.  After all, you’re the 30th case he or she has seen today alone.

Don’t make the decision to try your case on moral grounds alone. This is essentially a business transaction, even if it doesn’t feel that way, and you need to decide how you can finalize your case in the least expensive (both in terms of money and wear and tear on you) way possible.  Don’t let your emotions get in the way of a good, solid business decision.

Preparing for a divorce trial

Forgiveness

 
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