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Maryland Divorce Legal Crier

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Archive for September, 2014

Maryland Lowers Proof Required in Domestic Violence Cases

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

by Nelson Garcia

Effective October 1, 2014, Maryland will become the last state in the nation to relax the burden of proof required for victims of domestic violence to obtain a final court order for protection from domestic violence. Maryland law for many years has required that in order to grant a final protective order a judge must find by “clear and convincing evidence” that the respondent has committed one of several prohibited acts against the petitioner. As of October 1st, Maryland will finally join other states that utilize the “preponderance of the evidence” standard in determining whether to grant or extend a final protective order (Fam. Law Art., Sec. 4-506 (c)(1)(ii)).

A “burden of proof” is the duty or obligation a person has in a court proceeding to prove their case. There are several different burdens of proof that are used in various court proceedings.

The most well-known standard is guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” used in criminal cases. This standard essentially means that if the jury has no doubt as to the defendant’s guilt or if their only doubts are unreasonable, then the burden has been met.

The “preponderance of the evidence” standard, applicable in most civil cases, is the lowest burden of proof one must meet, requiring just enough evidence to establish that a fact is more likely true than not true, or more probable than not (in other words greater than 50%, however slightly over 50% that might be, or enough to “tip the balance”).

The current “clear and convincing” standard lies somewhere between the above two, requiring less than would be required for “beyond a reasonable doubt” and more than “preponderance of the evidence,” although there must be a high probability that something is true in order to meet this burden.

As examples, in situations of ongoing manipulation/control by one party over the other and threats may not be construed as a danger to someone’s safety under the clear and convincing evidence standard, but could be under the preponderance of the evidence standard, allowing a Judge to more easily find that such has caused the victim reasonable fear of serious imminent bodily harm, which is one of the enumerated prohibited acts in the Maryland domestic violence statute.

Remedies available when a final protective order is granted include that an abuser cease all contact with the victim, to stay out of his or her house, temporarily relinquish custody of any children the two share and surrender all firearms.

Celebrity Divorce News

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

If you have been “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” on television, you will be interested to know that Kris Jenner filed divorce papers against Bruce Jenner yesterday in Los Angeles Superior Court, citing irreconcilable differences.

The couple have been married for 23 years.  It is the third marriage for Bruce and the second for Kris.  They had no prenuptial agreement.

The split appears to be amicable and the parties have agreed on joint physical and legal custody of their only child who is still a minor, Kylie Jenner.  Neither is asking for alimony.

Doctor Loses License for Failure to Pay Child Support

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

The Maryland Board of Physicians has suspended the medical license of Rockville eye surgeon, Michael Duplessie, for failure to pay child support.

Duplessie, however, has left the country and opened an office in Kuwait.

Duplessie owes more than $100,000 in past due child support.  The mother has several judgments against him.

The Board says it has used its power to suspend a medical license in only four other cases.

Husband Jailed for Hiding Assets in Divorce

Thursday, September 11th, 2014

Promising that his wife would not get anything from him in his divorce, including child support, Steven K. Zinnel, 50, of California, filed bankruptcy in 2005.  He also asked the FBI to investigate his wife.

That backfired when investigators learned that Zinnel himself was hiding millions of dollars of business and real estate assets in other people’s names.

Federal officials said he was a narcissist and accused him of fraud on both the bankruptcy and family courts.  He was sentenced to 17 years and eight months in prison, fined $500,000 and forced to forfeit $2.8 million in assets.

Honey Maid Ad Targets Blended Families

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Honey Maid, which makes those delicious graham-crackers, is celebrating families that have been reconfigured by divorce.

The company’s new advertising campaign is intended to send a message that: “Just because a family has broken up doesn’t mean they are broken.”

Gary Osifhin, a marketing director with Honey Maid’s parent company, Mondelez International, points out that one in ten of the 73 million children in America live with a step-parent.  And 42% of American adults are part of a blended family.

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