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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 ‘jurisdiction’

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.

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.

Shopping for a Courthouse

Friday, May 7th, 2010

by Michael F. Callahan

We practice family law mostly in the Washington, DC commuting area, which includes DC Superior Court and the County Circuit Courts of the nearby Maryland and Virginia suburbs.  Divorce jurisdiction depends on a party’s residence at the time the court case is filed.  And divorce usually involves at least one party moving from the marital residence (more about that later).   So often there are at least two choices for filing the case even without any planning regarding where to file.

You may have read or heard that the basic law of divorce — grounds, property distribution, spousal support, child custody and child support — is similar in each of the three local jurisdictions.  Why then think about shopping around for a divorce court?

There are clear differences between the jurisdictions in certain aspects of the law.  Because of one of these clear differences, the most important issues in your case might be decided differently in each of the three jurisdictions.  It might be decided much differently (and better for you) in say, Virginia, than it would be in Maryland or the District of Columbia.  Armed with this knowledge before you move, since you’re moving anyway, maybe you’d decide to move to an apartment in Arlington for a while instead of one in Bethesda.

Next time, I’ll discuss how and when to pick the court for your divorce and how to put your choice into action.  In coming weeks, we’ll discuss the various differences in the laws that can result in big differences in the outcome of a particular case.

Residency When Grounds for Divorce Occur in MD

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

In the Fletcher case, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals had to decide whether there was a residency requirement in a case where the grounds for divorce arose within the state.

The court discussed the statutory history and case law and decided as follows:

1.  If grounds for divorce occur within the state, there does not have to be one year of residency, but

2.  at least one of the parties must live in Maryland when the complaint is filed for the court to have jurisdiction over the divorce.

The court then turned its attention to the facts.  Louis had moved to Maryland from Virginia after his wife separated from him and hit a lottery jackpot.  He filed for divorce in Maryland, then she filed in Virginia.  The Maryland court said that Louis was not a bona fide resident because he was just after the lottery money, and it dismissed Louis’s case for lack of jurisdiction.

But the Maryland appeals court said that even if Louis had moved to Maryland to take advantage of its more favorable divorce laws, motive is not an issue in determining whether he was a bona fide resident or not.  The question is not why he moved here but whether he moved here and if he intends to stay.  The court said this was to be determined by such factors as where he lives, where he votes, where he pays taxes, where he receives mail, where his personal belongs are, his current driver’s license, and where he banks.

Therefore, with all due respect to Virginia, the court found that Maryland did have jurisdiction over the divorce and Louis was allowed to proceed with his divorce in Maryland.

Fletcher v. Fletcher, 95 Md. App. 114; 619 A2d 561 (1993)

Maryland Residency Requirements

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009

Louis and Charlotte Fletcher lived in Virginia for most of their marriage.  But when Charlotte left Louis she bought a lottery ticket and won $7,000,000.

Marital property is determined at the time of separation in Virginia, but at the time of divorce in Maryland.

So Louis moved to Maryland and filed for divorce, alleging that Charlotte had committed adultery in a condo she had purchased in Ocean City Maryland.

Two months later Charlotte filed for divorce in Virginia and moved to dismiss the Maryland case for lack of jurisdiction.  The judge decided that Louis moved to Maryland because of the lottery ticket, so he wasn’t a bona fide resident, and besides he hadn’t been here for a year before filing his complaint.  Therefore he dismissed the Maryland case.  Louis appealed.

The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland took a look at Section 7-101(a) of the Family Law Article of the Maryland Code, which provides:

“If the grounds for divorce occurred outside of this State, a party may not apply for a divorce unless 1 of the parties has resided in this State for at least 1 year before the application is filed.”

Does that mean the opposite is true as well?  That is, if the grounds for divorce occur inside Maryland, as the adultery in this case, a one year residence is not required?  Is any residence required?

The answers tomorrow.

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