Skip to content
  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • Washington, D.C.

Divorce Lawyers

Thyden Gross and Callahan LLPCounselors and Attorneys at Law



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.

Posts Tagged ‘Custody’

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.

Paternity Tests Ordered in Cleveland Kidnapping

Friday, May 10th, 2013

Police have ordered DNA tests to determine whether Ariel Castro is the father of Amanda Berry’s 6 year old daughter.  He is accused of kidnapping and raping Berry and two other women and holding them captive in his Cleveland home for years.

Many will find it hard to believe that a person convicted of such awful crimes would be able to assert any parental rights such as custody and visitation.

But Maryland, DC and Virginia are among the majority of jurisdictions that do not have laws terminating parental rights upon conviction of rape of the birth mother. So is Ohio.  If Castro sues for custody and visitation, the judge will have to decide based on what’s in the best interest of the child.

Adultery No Bar to Custody

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

In 1978, Robert Swain divorced Nancy Swain because of her adultery.  She did not deny it.  In fact, she was living in an apartment with another man she intended to marry.

What Robert objected to was the order giving Nancy custody of their minor daughter.  His position was that exposure to an adulterous relationship inevitably causes detriment to the morals and welfare of a child of impressionable years.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals disagreed.  It said there are no presumptions that adultery makes you an unfit parent.  Adultery is relevant only as if it actually affects the child’s welfare.  There is no presumption of harm.  Adultery will not tip the balance against a parent in a custody case.

Swain v.  Swain, 43 Md. App. 622; 406 A.2d 680 (1979)

Tax Planning for Divorce (Part 2-Exemptions for Dependents)

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Guest Post By John Ellsworth, Esq

You can continue to claim your child as a dependent on your tax return if the divorce decree names you as the custodial parent. This is a very important rule for you to memorize.

If the decree is silent on that point, you would still be considered the custodial parent — and thus eligible for the exemption — if your child lived with you for a longer period of time during the year than with your ex. So if the child lives more than half the year with you, and your decree doesn’t mention who gets the exemption, then you get it.

Please keep in mind that it’s possible for the noncustodial parent to claim the exemption if the custodial parent signs a waiver pledging that he or she won’t claim it.

Who Gets Rover?

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

by Jill H. Breslau

“He might be cute and he might be furry, but he’s still property.” — Trial judge in a New Jersey divorce case


Reported cases may not reveal the degree to which pet disputes are part of divorce.  But consider these statistics.  Approximately one of every two marriages in the United States ends in divorce every year.  Of divorcing people, thirty percent own at least one dog and thirty-four percent own at least one cat.

Although people often consider their pets to be their children, or at least, like children, the law generally doesn’t see it that way.  When you divorce, your dog or cat is considered personal property.  Courts ordinarily will not arrange a schedule for access with a pet.  As a Pennsylvania judge stated, “Appellant is seeking an arrangement analogous, in law, to a visitation schedule for a table or a lamp.”

While this perception may be distressing—after all, our pets are sentient beings; they express love and loyalty, and we love them, too–some commentators think dealing with pets as property is less complicated and frustrating than accomplishing good outcomes by using a child custody model, which refers to the “best interest of the child,” as the standard.

Courts can determine who will own a pet, not only by considering who paid for the pet, but who has cared for it, walked and fed it, trained it and spent time with it.  And divorce courts have stated that one goal is to make sure that a family pet will be kept safe and free from abuse and abandonment.

On the other hand, a New Jersey court, while declaring that pets are not children, and adhering to the notion that there is no “best interest of the dog” standard, has ordered that a separating couple alternate possession of their dog on a regular basis. This outcome suggests that, at least in New Jersey, a court can order “shared possession” of a pet—as long as it isn’t called “custody.”

And here in Maryland, the St. Mary’s County Circuit Court ordered a husband and wife to rotate custody of their dog every six months.  But this is the exception and not the rule.

Adultery No Bar to Custody

Friday, October 23rd, 2009

Mary Louise Davis married John Franklin Davis, Jr. in 1958.  Sixteen years and three children later, Mrs. Davis, together with her six-year-old daughter Leigh, left the marital home and moved into an apartment.  Mr. Davis filed for divorce in Maryland on the ground of his wife’s adultery, and asked for custody of the children.

Judge Latham, after a custody investigation and a hearing, awarded custody of Leigh to the mother.  The father appealed to the Court of Special Appeals, which reversed the judge.  The Court said the father should have custody of Leigh because the mother had failed to show repentance for her adultery.

The mother appealed to the Court of Appeals.  The Court of Appeals held:

“Whereas the fact of adultery may be a relevant consideration in child custody awards, no presumption of unfitness on the part of the adulterous parent arises from it; rather it should be weighed, along with all other pertinent factors, only insofar as it affects the child’s welfare.”

The Court said the primary determination was the best interest of the child.  In determining this, Judge Latham had taken into account that Leigh had been living with her mother alone for the past two years and was adjusted to this arrangement; that she was doing well in school and was adequately provided for at home; that even though Mrs. Davis had engaged in adulterous conduct in the past, there was no  showing that it had ever deleteriously affected Leigh; and that Mrs. Davis had engaged in no sexual misconduct since February 1975.

So Leigh got to stay with her mother.

Davis v. Davis, 280 Md. 119; 372 A.2d 231 (1977)

Garcia to Present Divorce Seminar in Spanish

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Nelson A. Garcia will present Divorce Legal Seminar in Spanish at the Commission for Women’s Counseling and Career Center in Rockville Maryland on October 13, 2009, from 6:00 to 9:00 pm.  This seminar will help you to learn the different aspects of the process of separation and divorce. You will learn how to choose an attorney, how property is distributed, and how to get a restraining order, in case of domestic violence. How to obtain custody and alimony for your children will also be discussed. At the end of the session, you will have the opportunity to ask questions.  The cost is $30.  Here is the seminar announcement in Spanish.



Martes, 13 de Octubre, 2009, 6-9 pm

Este seminario, presentado en español, le ayudará a conocer los diferentes aspectos del proceso de separación y divorcio. Se discutirá cómo escoger un abogado, cómo conseguir separación de bienes y la forma de obtener una orden de protección en casos de violencia doméstica. También se discutirá cómo obtener la custodia de sus hijos y asistencia para su manutención. Al cierre de la sesión, habrá oportunidad para preguntas y respuestas.  Costo: $30

Nelson A. García, a family law attorney in the firm of Thyden Gross and Callahan, LLP has volunteered for several years at the Commission for Women as a presenter.  Mr. Garcia also volunteers in free legal clinics at a number of organizations including CASA de Maryland in domestic violence, child custody and divorce matters.  He received his J.D. from Boston College Law School and his B.A. in English and Business co-majors from Florida State University.  He is a member of the Maryland and District of Columbia Bar and is currently Secretary of the Maryland Hispanic Bar Association and a member of its Legislative Committee.

Notice of Intent to Relocate with Children

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

Section 9-106 of the Family Law Article of the Maryland Code provides that the Court may, in any custody or visitation proceeding, include a notice provision for intent to relocate in its order.  It is not automatic.  You have to ask for it.

The provision is so that the non-custodial parent has a chance to go to court and seek a change in custody or visitation.

The problem up to now has been that the notice period is 45 days and that has not been enough time to obtain a hearing date.  So the move usually has already happened by the time you get in front of a judge.  The home has been sold.  The kids have been enrolled in a new school.

So Section 9-106 has been revised, effective October 1 of this year, to provide for a 90 day notice period.  And if you file a petition within 20 days of receiving notice, the court will give you an expedited hearing.

Two More Ways to Leave Your Lover

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

Paul Simon, in his famous song, told us there must be fifty ways to leave your lover. I wonder if he counted the two new ways we saw on television this week:

1.  Use Your Reality TV Show.

Monday night, John and Kate Gosselin announced their separation and intention to divorce on cable tv.  This came amid months of tabloid speculation concerning extramarital affairs.  The show got its highest ratings ever.  The parties say they are going to split custody of their eight children equally.  The children will stay in the house and the parties will alternate living there in what is called a nesting arrangement.

2.  Call a Press Conference.

On Wednesday, Mark Sanford, 49, governor of South Carolina, held a news conference and announced that he had been unfaithful to his wife.  He had been missing for several days and told his staff that he was going hiking on the Appalachian Trail.  However, a newspaper report confronted him in Atlanta getting off a plan arriving from Buenos Aires, Argentina.  His public confession came just before the newspaper broke the story of his mistress in Argentina.

Modern Day Ending for Fairy Tale

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

The prince ran off with his secretary.  The princess sued him for divorce based on adultery and desertion.   She got custody, child support, alimony, lawyer fees, the castle and half the kingdom.  And then they lived happily ever after.

© 2018 Thyden Gross and Callahan LLP. All rights reserved.