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Divorce Lawyers

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 August, 2012

First Meeting with Divorce Lawyer

Friday, August 31st, 2012

“What should I bring to our first meeting?” the caller said.

I said, “Bring yourself and what’s inside your head.”

At the initial conference, I usually go through a list of questions to obtain data about the parties and their children, date of marriage, date and circumstances of separation, financial information and objectives.  I also answer questions, which are usually about the process and legal fees.  The whole thing takes about an hour.

In case you want to bring some papers with you, attorney Judith H. Blumeno has compiled the following list:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Tax returns
  • Pay stubs
  • Car loans
  • Mortgage information
  • Prenuptial agreements
  • Bank account statements
  • Statements for credit card accounts
  • Deeds

We can complete the first meeting without these documents.   So don’t feel like you have to find all or any of them before you make the appointment!

The Shadow Lawyer

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

Spare me the shadow lawyer.  That’s the friend of my client who works in a big securities firm downtown and has lunch with him every week.  They discuss his divorce that I am handling.

The shadow lawyer has all the answers and nothing I do is right.  He is the Monday morning quarterback who has never set foot in a courthouse.  He goads my client who then insists I take actions that don’t help his case.

This lawyer is not on the field of play.  He does not know divorce law.  He is not trying the case and he is not facing the judge.  Talk is cheap and it is easy to give advice on someone else’s case when they are doing the work and you are having lunch.  I am dealing with the shadow lawyer indirectly through my client.  This is a very poor way to run a lawsuit.

The case is over.  My client has a good result.  He does not appreciate or even know that he has dodged a bullet.  It could have been much worse.  I present my final bill.  The shadow lawyer decides that I have overcharged on an easy case and he could have achieved much more for less.  I wonder to myself, if the shadow lawyer is so good, why didn’t my client hire him instead of me?

The Butler Did It

Friday, August 24th, 2012

I like authors like John LeCarre who let you figure out what happened instead of telling you what happened.  It is even more delicious when it takes a while to figure it out.  My twelve year old had to tell me what the clue was about Robin in the Dark Knight Batman movie.  I missed it entirely.

I like to think judges are the same as I am.  They don’t want to be told what to think in a pleading or an argument.  They want to form their own opinions.  So when I write a pleading, I try to lead, but not push, the judge to the conclusion I want.

I read that Hemingway was sparse with adjectives.  Yesterday I reviewed a divorce pleading that said our client married her spouse in perfectly good fath.  I deleted “perfectly”.  What is the difference between marrying in good faith and perfectly good faith?

Sometimes there is a reason for an adjective in the law.  Indefinite alimony can be granted in Maryland when the spouses have “unconscionably” disparate incomes.  I understand that means there has to be a big difference, not just a little difference.

Some adjectives are harder to grasp.  Cases can be reversed on appeal when the trial judge is “clearly” erroneous.  Why can’t the judge be reversed just for making an error?  If the error is not clear, does that mean the appeals court can’t tell if an error has been made or not?

So I say write with as few adjectives as possible and let the judge decide on his or her own whether something is patently false, obviously wrong, or woefully inadequate.

Why Hiring a Lawyer is Important Even in an Uncontested Divorce

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Guest Article by Myburgh Law P.C.

During an uncontested New York divorce, many couples feel the understandable desire to speed things along as quickly as possible. It’s common to fall into the trap of thinking that, because the dissolution of the marriage is quick and uncontested, they will not need the services of a lawyer. While it is true that an uncontested marital dissolution will enable both parties to go their separate ways much more quickly, there are both long term and short term reasons why hiring a qualified New York attorney is important even in an uncontested divorce.

As part of the process, both parties will have to come to a marital settlement agreement, also known as a stipulation of settlement. If there are children involved, a parenting plan has to be agreed upon as well. Thus, a mutual agreement must be reached on terms such as child custody, where the child will reside, child support, spousal support, division of debt and division of assets. Marital settlement agreements and parenting plans can quickly become confusing to someone who does not have training in family law. A lawyer with experience in family law will ensure that their client understands the terms they are agreeing to and will work to make sure that their client’s wishes are fairly represented in the final agreement.

While some people may feel that they are able to represent their own needs in an uncontested situation, it is easy to underestimate the emotional toll that the dissolution of the marriage can have. Increased levels of stress and frustration often occur during the negotiation process. While these reactions are to be expected, they sometimes prevent individuals from making decisions which are best for the long term. A momentary rash desire to just have the process be over can result in life-long consequences when it comes to assets such as retirement savings, pensions, investments, houses, and 401ks. An attorney can look after these interests for their client without the added emotional turmoil often felt by the client.

Additionally, not all uncontested divorces remain that way through the entire legal process. Unfortunately, some parties will begin negotiations and realize that they simply did not agree on as much as they previously believed they did. Child custody arrangements are often a major point of contention between the parties, as is debt division. If the negotiations do take a turn towards contested territory, it’s good to have an attorney present to help one navigate through the much trickier legal issues surrounding this type of marital dissolution.

However, the proceedings may go just as smoothly as expected. Yet if one partner has a lawyer present, the one without legal representation may feel exposed or resentful without proper counsel. In such situations, both parties having an attorney to represent them promotes an atmosphere of equality and cooperation that is necessary for a successful negotiation.

Ultimately, a divorce is a life-altering event whether it is contested or uncontested. While the dissolving of a marriage will rarely be entirely pleasant, having the proper representation can be the deciding factor in how smoothly the process will go. Having a comparatively quick, hassle-free dissolution of marriage is very possible, and choosing to use the services of an attorney familiar with all aspects of family law is the best way to reach that goal.

Celebrities Have Trouble Paying Divorce Bills Too

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

“Marvin worked really hard on getting those papers filed overnight for Givens and was very upset she fired him and never paid him the $15,000,” says Marcella Mitchelson.

Marcella is the widow of celebrity lawyer Marvin Mitchelson who prepared divorce pleadings for Robin Givens when she was married to Mike Tyson from 1988 to 1989.

Raoul Felder, the attorney who took over Given’s divorce case, says “That was 24 years ago.”  He denies that anything is due.

Meanwhile, Craig Gordon, obtained a judgment against Kim Kardashian and her ex-husband Damon Thomas ten years ago for procedures totaling $1,675.73, but now $3,320.48 with interest.

Kardashian says it is her ex-husband’s bill, but Gordon has filed a lien on anything Kardashian recovers from her divorce from Kris Humphries.

Divorce Quotes

Friday, August 17th, 2012

This one is from @dickprice on Twitter.com:

“The difference between a divorce and a legal separation is that a legal separation gives a husband time to hide his money.” -Johnny Carson

159 Document Requests

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

As usual, the young associate attorneys were lined up at Jensen’s door with their questions as soon as he came to work in the morning.  At 64, Jensen was the law firm’s senior divorce attorney.  He kept his door open and he liked helping the less experienced lawyers learn the ropes.

“Opposing counsel sent 159 document requests,” said Paul, first in line, “and the client wants to know why I only sent 20.  Should I send another request so that I have one more than the other side?”

“That’s ridiculous,” said Jensen fiddling with the chain of his pocket watch.  “We’re practicing law here, not counting document requests.  If you used our standard requests, you have covered everything.  They are written in a concise and elegant way to ask for all documents that are necessary in a divorce case.  I’m sure that opposing counsel’s list is superfluous, duplicative, and overlapping.  Many of your responses will be that no such documents exist.”

“Isn’t opposing counsel being unethical then?” Paul asked.

“Not at all,” said Jensen.  “The discovery rules don’t put a limit on document requests like they do on interrogatories.  So lawyers are free to ask for as many as they can think of and clients, who don’t know any better, are impressed.  And once you’ve copied somebody’s 159 requests into your computer, it’s easy to do it in the next case simply by pushing a button.”

“So why don’t we do that?” Paul asked.

“Because our job is not to see who can have the most document requests, but to get the documents that we need for the case, and help our clients.  And your job is not to make more document requests, but to educate our client.”

Billionaire Divorce Stats

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Fewer than 100 people on the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans have been married more than once.

Fewer than 20 are on a third wife.

The four-wife club has a mere 6 members.

Most billionaires who divorce tend to remarry women close to their own age.

Stats From Forbes.Com

Child Custody Mediation Restored

Monday, August 13th, 2012

Funds have been found for the custody mediation program sponsored by the Circuit Court of Montgomery County, Maryland, halted earlier this year for budget reasons.  It will be restored in September on an interim basis.  The court may order parties to mediate in cases involving contested residential custody of children.

Plans call for a single three-hour session in the courthouse. Unlike the previous program, mediators will be selected from the community, not court employees.

A work group is being formed to consider options and models used by other courts for custody mediation and to make recommendations.

In Rem and In Personam Jurisdiction

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

In rem jurisdiction means jurisdiction over the thing.  The courts of Maryland can decide the marital status of the residents of Maryland and so they have in rem jurisdiction to grant a divorce.

However, to order the payment of money, such as alimony, child support, counsel fees or a marital award, the court must have in personam jurisdiction, or jurisdiction over the person.

The court has in personam jurisdiction over any defendant who lives, works or is served within the state.  But what about a person who does not meet these requirements?

The court can still assert in personam jurisdiction if certain conditions are met under CJP Section 6-103.1 of the Maryland Code:

(a) Maryland must be the matrimonial domicile of the couple immediately before separation; or

(b) There is a written agreement to pay alimony, child support or counsel fees signed by one of the parties in Maryland; or

(c) There is an obligation to pay alimony, child support or counsel fees that arose out of the laws of the State of Maryland.

 
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