Sometimes, family law can present challenging factual issues for the courts. In deciding custody and visitation matters regarding three young children recently, the courts were handed evidence of two parents who had numerous flaws and weaknesses as caregivers. The maternal grandparents, however, offered a degree of stability that the parents’ homes had each allegedly lacked previously. Nevertheless, and despite the grandparents’ close involvement with the children in the past, they were not entitled to any court-ordered visitation, according to a recent Court of Special Appeals decision. The ruling is very instructive on the issue of grandparent visitation rights. If the parents are fit (as the trial court found both parents in this case to be), they have a fundamental constitutional right to control whom their children visit, including the grandparents.
When it comes to family law, especially as it relates to children, one of the things for which the courts strive is stability. To achieve that end, the law makes it very difficult to modify a child support obligation once a court order is in place. This is done to ensure the stability and ongoing proper support of that child. However, when a supporting parent does experience a major change, such as a dramatic reduction in income, the law does create a path to obtaining a reduction. That’s what happened in a recent Court of Special Appeals ruling, in which the court upheld a trial judge’s decision to reduce a father’s support amount in the wake of his job loss and massive decline in income.
For some families, one of the greatest challenges is achieving a successful and workable arrangement regarding child custody and visitation. For some parents, an unfavorable ruling in their visitation case may create a temptation to ignore parts of the court’s orders. While both parents should always strive to work cooperatively for the good of their child and obey orders issued by the courts, it is nevertheless important to know what a trial judge can and cannot do if one parent violates an order. In a case that originated in Montgomery County, a mother found herself in contempt for violating a visitation order. A recent ruling by the Court of Special Appeals threw out the punishment against the mother because the contempt order did not give the mother an avenue through she could immediately “purge” the contempt charge and avoid the sanction of lost visitation time with the child.
For many people, the loss of a job and subsequent unemployment can be a stressful time. This can become even more so if your ex-spouse is seeking to make you pay child support commensurate with an income that you don’t make. In one recent case, an out-of-work science professor made the ill-advised decision to represent himself in court, leading to a trial court decision that imputed an income of $95,000 to the unemployed man and a Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruling upholding the lower court’s judgment.
For many people, the issue of mental illness is a part of their lives and an ongoing battle. When a person with mental illness is also a parent, the issues become that much more complicated, especially when it comes to child custody and visitation litigation. A recent ruling by the Court of Special Appeals highlights the important concept that a parent’s improving or declining mental health may constitute the sort of material change of circumstances required to modify an existing order of custody and visitation.
The case regarding the custody of, and visitation with, one little boy from Western Maryland has touched upon some of the most visible social issues of today. What it also did, following a recent ruling by Maryland’s highest court, was re-establish the existence of a “de facto parent” doctrine and to give these de facto parents certain rights with regard to the children that they helped nurture and raise. The high court’s ruling has been praised as an important victory for gay and lesbian individuals with children.
A recent ruling by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals decided a case involving an unfortunately common scenario in family law cases involving custody and visitation, in which one parent claims she seeks only to protect her children from unsafe and unhealthy material and behaviors, while the other parent claims he is a fit and loving parent entitled to contact with his children. In these cases, one vital element of success is getting all of your evidence on the record. In this recent case, the mother was unable to admit into evidence her statements about the “sexually precocious” language the children used because her statements were inadmissible hearsay.
Child custody cases’ resolutions are often the result of the specific facts unique to each case. In addition to being fact-intensive, these cases may also become very legally complicated when the residences of the family members involved span state lines. In one such case recently decided by the Maryland Court of Appeals, a Maryland father was unable to pursue a modification to his custody and visitation arrangement because the specific facts in his case indicated that the mother and children no longer had sufficient minimum contacts with Maryland, meaning that Maryland courts no longer had “continuing, exclusive jurisdiction” over the case.
There are many factors that go into a Maryland alimony case. Courts must make decisions regarding recipient spouses’ needs, as well as paying spouses’ abilities to pay. Sometimes, these cases are made more complex when the recipient spouse hasn’t been in the workforce for years, or has a medical condition that limits her ability to work. In the case of one Bel Air couple, the Court of Special Appeals recently upheld a ruling that imputed an income of more than $20,000 to the wife, a stay-at-home-mom and cancer survivor. The wife lost this part of her appeal because the evidence before the trial court did not demonstrate that she was unable to work.
The couple in the case, Mark St. Cyr and Lauren St. Cyr, married in 1994. A year later, the wife delivered the couple’s first child and quit her $45,000-per-year assistant branch manager position to raise the daughter. The couple had two more children, in 1997 and 1999. The wife stayed at home, raising all three of the children. In 2009, doctors diagnosed the wife with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The wife underwent chemotherapy and bone marrow extraction, and her cancer eventually went into remission.
The Maryland Family Law Code makes clear that parents are responsible for their child’s support, including their care, nurture, welfare, and education. While this may seem like a straightforward and reasonable legal concept, there are instances in which an alleged parent challenges this obligation or attempts to avoid the support obligation altogether. Local state agencies and courts work to ensure that a parent who is legally obligated to support a child actually fulfills that responsibility. In many divorce cases, a judge will require one party to pay monthly child support. To be sure that your financial interests are adequately protected upon separation from your spouse, you are encouraged to consult with an experienced Maryland family law attorney as soon as possible.
In a lengthy and complicated divorce case, the husband sought to avoid responsibility for child support by contending that he was not the father of a child conceived via in vitro fertilization under the plain meaning of Maryland’s artificial insemination statute. Specifically, the father alleged that the law does not encompass the process of in vitro fertilization from a donated egg and sperm, in which the child conceived and born bears no genetic connection to either of the parties.