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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 the ‘Finances’ Category

Going Broke on a Million a Year

Wednesday, April 25th, 2018

by James J. Gross

It is a lament divorce judges frequently hear.  Since alimony and child support are based on income, you can’t blame the judges for being somewhat cynical.  It is a law of the Universe.  Income decreases in the year of divorce.

But what if you make a million dollars a year?  Carol Rose, estranged spouse of former baseball star, Pete Rose, says that Pete makes at least $100,000 a month signing autographs and making personal appearances.  However, according to Carol, he has spent most of it on high stakes gambling and still owes significant amounts to the casinos and the IRS.

Carol is asking the court to compel Pete to reveal the full details of his finances in their divorce.

Will Shoes Make the Difference in this Divorce?

Thursday, December 10th, 2015

I think my wife has a lot of shoes. But it is nowhere near Tracey Hejailan’s 80 pairs in one of her multiple walk-in closets in a house in Monte Carlo. She is divorcing her husband, multimillionaire, Maurice Amon, in New York, where the couple also has a home.

But Amon claims the shoes are evidence that the couple actually lives in Monaco.

The difference could be worth tens of millions because New York divorce law is based on shared martial property while Monaco divorce law is based on which spouse has legal title. At issue is the art collection, which includes a Basquiat and a Warhol.

Maryland Alimony Factor #6

Tuesday, October 6th, 2015

The sixth factor the court has to consider in determining the amount and duration of alimony is “the circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the parties.” MD Family Law Article 11-106(6).

But can adultery after separation contribute to the estrangement of the parties? Nan Willoughby married Robert Willoughby in 1928.  They had a stormy marriage for several years and Nan moved out in 1966 filing for divorce based on constructive desertion. Robert then moved in with another woman and Nan filed a supplemental complaint for adultery.

The trial judge found that the husband’s adultery was the fault that destroyed the home. The husband appealed arguing that the home had been destroyed with the separation of the parties some time before.

The Maryland Court of Appeals disagreed with the husband finding that:

Appellant wishes to isolate one point in time and determine the ‘fault which destroyed the home’ as of that time. We think the concept is broader than this, and permits the trial judge properly to consider all of the circumstances resulting in the destruction of the marriage, including the conduct and acts of the parties both prior and subsequent to actual physical separation.

Willoughby v. Willoughby, 256 Md. 590 (1970)

Can Alimony Be Longer Than The Marriage?

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Dr. Murray Malin, an anesthesiologist, was 38 when he met Marcie Minenberg, 27. She went to law school but did not pass the bar exam and was working in a jewelry store. They wed, had one child, and divorced in Maryland after three years of marriage. At the time of trial, Murray had stopped practicing as a doctor due to a drug addiction.

The trial court awarded Marcie alimony of $3,500 a month, non-taxable to her, for five years. Murray appealed arguing that (1) the court could not award alimony that was non-taxable and (2) the court could not award alimony for longer than the marriage.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals agreed with Murray that the only alimony a court can award is taxable alimony. Parties can make alimony non-taxable, but only by agreement.

As for the length of alimony, the appeals court said there was no law against alimony that lasts longer than the marriage.

Malin v. Mininberg, 153 Md. App. 358, 837 A.2d 178 (2003)

The Tale of the Two Kayaks and Other Divorce Trainwrecks

Wednesday, June 24th, 2015

We went to a birthday party for one of our neighbors last night. Sooner or later at parties, people around me start telling me their divorce trainwreck stories.

One woman told me about how she and her ex fought over who would get the two kayaks.

“Why didn’t you take one and let your ex take one?” I asked.
“They were a matched pair.”
“ So,” I said, “Just buy another matched pair.”
“They were hand-made and unique.”

It ended up that the husband bought the wife’s kayak for $750.

More divorce trainwreck stories.

Breach of Promise to Marry

Thursday, February 19th, 2015

Professor April Domino looked over her horn-rimmed glasses at her Domestic Relations class.  She wore navy pants and jacket with a bright red silk blouse.  She used the Socratic Method, which is the classic law school process of teaching by asking questions.

“Amanda!” she called out, picking a student at random off the seating chart.  “Your client calls you and says her fiancé has called off the wedding and taken her engagement ring.  She has spent a fortune on the caterer and has had to go to therapy for the trauma.  Can you sue him?”

“Yes,” Amanda answers.  “Sue him for damages for breach of a promise to marry.”

“Congratulations, Amanda, you’ve just lost your first case!  To find out why, read Section 3-102 of the Maryland Family Law Article.

Embarrassed in front of her classmates, Amanda went to the library and pulled the book from the shelf.  She turned to Section 3-102 and read:

3-102. Action for breach of promise to marry.

(a)  In general.- Unless the individual is pregnant, an individual:

(1) has no cause of action for breach of promise to marry; and

(2) may not bring an action for breach of promise to marry regardless of where the cause of action arose.

Amanda decided she liked domestic relations and she vowed to make an A in that class.

Pre-Divorce Checklist

Friday, February 6th, 2015

The family law attorneys of Gower & Bluck put together this helpful infographic of ten things you need to do before you file for divorce.

Loans as Income

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

The IRS does not consider a loan to be income.

But if you own your own business, you can manipulate your income.  So if someone owes you $50,000 for goods and services, you don’t bill them until next year.  You have your business borrow $50,000 from the bank, using your $50,000 accounts receivable as collateral.  Then your business loans $50,000 to you for your living expenses.

Is your income zero or $50,000?

It’s a situation where you will want to have an accountant as an expert witness.  And even then, the accountants for each side will have conflicting opinions.  I’ve had cases where the judge decided to include loans as income.

Inheritance as Income

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Leroy and Mynell Gassaway married in 1952.  They separated in 1979.

In their DC divorce, the trial court divided marital property upon consideration of the fact that Leroy’s mother owned a house and that Leroy was the only heir and would inherit the property.  After all, “opportunities for the future acquisition of assets” is one of the factors a judge must consider in dividing martial property.

On appeal, however, the court said this was not an equitable way to divide property.

In Mumma v. Mumma, 280 A.2d 73, 76 (D.C. 1971), this court ruled that gifts to the husband from his parents could not be considered in determining his income for purposes of computing his alimony obligation, presumably, because any expectation of gifts is inherently speculative and thus could not be counted upon as a predictable portion of the husband’s annual financial return.  Accord Scott v. Scott, 645 S.W. 2d 193, 198 (Mo. Ct. App. 1982) (despite history of gifts to wife from parents, court property declined to consider “such an uncertain source of funds as future gifts” in computing her alimony award).  The same reasoning is applicable to anticipated gifts of real property or other assets, e.g., though inheritance.

The court recognized decisions from some courts ruling otherwise, but rejected this approach as “mischievous”.

— Gassaway v. Gassaway, 489 A.2d 1073 (D.C. 1985)

Are Gifts Income?

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

Albert  Mumma married Jean in 1952 and they had three children together.   Albert supported the family as an architect.  He had an office in Georgetown.  In 1968 the parties had a violent altercation and they decided to divorce.

The judge awarded $200 a month in alimony and $500 a month in child support to Jean, plus attorney fees and costs.  Albert appealed complaining that he was ordered to pay support of $8,400 a year, while his income was only $9,422 in 1968 and $12,726  in 1969.   Jean countered that, among other things, he received gifts from his parents.

The DC Court of Appeals reversed the trial court, holding that “gifts do not constitute income” and suggested that Albert’s income tax returns would be an appropriate guide to his actual income in the absence of affirmative evidence otherwise.

Mumma v. Mumma, 280 A.2d 73 (1971)

 
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