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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 ‘Property’ Category

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.

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.

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)

Free Online Pet Nup

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Pets can become an issue in a divorce.  Although the parties may treat their pets like children and argue over custody and visitation, the courts do not.  The law views pets as personal propety like a chair or a lamp.

After losing a dog in a divorce, an English lawyer, Vanessa Lloyd Platt, created a “Pet Nup” which sets forth the agreement of the parties with respect to their pets.

You can view and download the Pet Nup for free, but remember it would have to be modified for Maryland, Virginia or DC.

When Even a Billion Dollars Is Not Enough

Friday, November 14th, 2014

Sue Ann Ham was awarded nearly a billion dollars in her divorce from energy tycoon Harold Hamm in Oklahoma.

But her attorney says that’s less than 6 percent of the couple’s estimated $18 billion wealth.

She is planning to appeal.   More.

Legal Fees

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Divorce lawyer Morris Green answered his phone on the second ring as was his custom.

“Morris!,” said the angry voice on the other end, “This is Ivana Copernica.  I’m calling you about your client, Stanton Fields.  Did you know that he has taken $10,000 out of his pension plan?”

“Yes, I did know,” Green replied calmly.

“He can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s marital property and my client did not agree,” said Ivana.

“I don’t think that your client’s consent is required.  Marital funds are expended by one party or the other in almost every divorce.  Unless they have separate property, that’s how they pay their living expenses.”

“What did he spend $10,000 on?” inquired Ivana.

“Why, his legal fees, of course.”

“Legal fees are not a marital expense.  That is a dissipation of marital assets and we’re going to ask the court to make him put those fees back in the pension account,” snapped Ivana.

“Before you do that, Ivana, better read the Allison case.  I’ll email it to you.  Let me read you the holding.  ‘We hold that when, as here, a spouse uses marital property to pay his or her own reasonable attorney’s fees, such expenditures do not constitute dissipation of marital assets.’”

Allison v. Allison, 160 Md. App. 331, 864 A.2d 191 (2004)

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.

Contribution to Mortgage Payments

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Roger Broseus, Ph.D. married Isadel Broseus in 1970.  They had a child in 1981.  They jointly owned a three-bedroom house in Gaithersburg.  In 1985 Roger took the minor child and left the martial home.  He obtained custody of the child and use and possession of the family home and moved back in.  Isadel was forced to leave and rent an efficiency apartment.  Her car was repossessed for failure to make payments.

Roger made the mortgage payments on the house during the four years between separation and divorce.  Roger asked the court to order isadel to reimburse him for a portion of these payments claiming the right of contribution.

The trial court denied his claim and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals affirmed, for these reasons:

  1. Roger’s payments on the house were for the support of his wife and child.
  2. He had the use of the premises without having to pay rent.
  3. He took the tax deductions for the house.
  4. It was unreasonable for him to believe his wife would be able to contribute in view of her financial situation.
  5. Most importantly, he used his income to make the payments, which income was martial property.

The court said contribution is not a matter of right and is within the sound discretion of the trial court.

Broesus v. Broseus 370 A2d 874 (Md.App. 1970)

Using Bitcoin to Hide Assets

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Bitcoin, a digital currency, can be used to hide assets in a divorce, warns Jane Croft in the Financial Times.  Dishonest spouses are failing to disclose Bitcoin investments.  Unlike bank accounts or stock, it is harder to link Bitcoin investments to a particular person. There are also online forum discussions on how to use Bitcoin to hide wealth. Divorce lawyers are starting to add questions about digital currencies to their discovery requests.

 
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