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Most contested divorces are fact-intensive. They revolve around who did or didn’t do something, when a spouse purchased an asset (and what assets were used to make that purchase,) the amount of money a spouse did or did not earn, and so forth. However, issues of law can also impact your divorce case, and a substantial change in the law can significantly influence how your divorce case is litigated. That’s one of the many places where having an experienced and diligent Maryland divorce attorney can benefit you, as your legal advocate will be up on the new laws and what you’ll need to succeed.

One of the bigger changes in Maryland law in 2020 was not something specific to divorce law. Maryland’s highest court, in a ruling related to a personal injury case about lead paint exposure, announced that Maryland was adopting a new standard for deciding whether or not expert testimony is admissible. That standard, called the Daubert standard (based upon the 1993 U.S. Supreme Court case of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals) lays out several criteria a judge should use to decide whether an expert’s evidence should be admitted or excluded.

At this point, you may find yourself thinking, what does this have to do with my divorce case? Aren’t experts usually just a part of criminal cases, malpractice cases and personal injury lawsuits?

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In a divorce where there are no minor children, possibly the biggest single thing that you’ll need to address is the marital home. One spouse may desire to stay in the home, but that can be challenging if the home isn’t paid off. Certainly, you don’t want to be liable for a mortgage loan securing a home that the court distributed to your ex-spouse. These things point out an important fact: in a divorce, it’s not just getting the assets you deserve, it also about escaping liabilities that you shouldn’t have. When it comes to doing these things, a skilled Maryland divorce attorney can help you protect yourself.

The courts, as we can see in a recent divorce case from Howard County, have substantial discretion in customizing an order dividing up a divorcing couple’s property and debts. The judge is free to award the marital home to one spouse but also to command that spouse, if the house is not paid off, to refinance or otherwise remove the other spouse’s name from the mortgage loan on the property.

So, what happens if s/he gets the house but then doesn’t refinance it? Typically, the court will, within its order, provide specific instructions about the refinancing. The order will give her a deadline by which s/he has to get your name off the loan, and will state what happens if s/he doesn’t act or doesn’t get the task completed by the deadline.

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Finding out well after you’re divorced that your ex-spouse hid substantial marital wealth and assets during the divorce process is undeniably frustrating and infuriating. It is, however, also potentially the basis for legal action. Depending on the details of your divorce (such as whether you created a marital settlement agreement) and the kind of financial malfeasance in which your ex-spouse engaged, you may possibly be able to reopen your divorce or, alternately, you may be able to seek recovery based upon your spouse’s breach of your marital settlement agreement. To learn more about your options, speak to an experienced Maryland divorce attorney right away.

A recent case from Baltimore County offers a view into what a spouse can sometimes do in that kind of situation. In this case, the CEO of a candy equipment supplier and his wife divorced in 2006. A dozen years later, the wife asked the judge to vacate that 2006 divorce judgment.

The husband, according to the wife, had engaged in fraud, concealing certain marital assets during the negotiation of the couple’s property settlement agreement. That fraud, according to the wife, had the effect of altering those negotiations and the outcome of the agreement.

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A prolific writer, director and producer of Hollywood films and TV shows who died in 2006 is credited with originating a now-popular catchphrase that one should “never assume” because of the potential perils that await those that do. That good advice can apply to family law. There may be certain things that you think you know about Maryland family law. Sometimes, though, what you think you know is wrong. You are better off not assuming. Instead, consult an experienced Maryland family law attorney and get the knowledgeable answers you need.

One popular assumption relates to child support, That general assumptions says that, in cases where one parent has primary physical and sole legal custody of the children, either the other parent will be the one paying child support or neither parent will be paying child support.

That is not always the way thing really work, though, as a recent child support case from Montgomery County demonstrates. The father in the case was an executive vice president for a trade organization and, at the time of the divorce, made roughly $1.3 million per year, with a bonus of $250,000. The mother had spent much of the marriage as stay-at-home mom but was a certified teacher. She was making $50,000 per year in a teaching position at the time of the divorce.

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When you and your spouse divorce and you two share minor children, the issue of child support will probably be one of the most important items you’ll work through. It will also be one of the areas where it’s vital to have a skilled Maryland family law attorney by your side. Here in Maryland, as elsewhere, there are a set of statutory “guidelines” that steer the court’s process of determining the proper amount of child support that a supporting parent should pay. What follows here is a brief “Q and A” to give you some greater insight into the child support guidelines process.

Q. Is the use of the guidelines mandatory?

A. As a very recent child support case from Charles County noted, while the law does not require a judge to use the guidelines, it does strongly favor the use of the guidelines to calculate child support. There is something the law calls a “rebuttable presumption” in favor of following the guidelines, meaning that the law presumes that the guidelines-dictated amount is correct, but that the presumption can be defeated if you have enough evidence in your specific case to show that the guidelines shouldn’t be followed.

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Roughly 25 years ago, a popular musician had a successful song entitled “Ironic” that, in part, discussed life events that were really bad timing – like winning the lottery and dying the next day. Pop music aside, the reality is that, sometimes, major events in one’s life sometimes can have peculiar timing, such as receiving a large influx of wealth shortly after you divorce. This kind of scenario may find you fighting to keep all of your wealth, including keeping your ex-spouse from getting an upsized amount of alimony. When it comes to protecting your assets in a divorce, make sure you have a skilled Maryland divorce attorney by your side.

The divorce case of R.T. and M.T. was one of those situations. In the divorce, the couple agreed on many issues, but were far apart on alimony. The trial court ultimately ordered the husband to pay the wife $1,800 per month for 72 months as rehabilitative alimony.

A scant three days after the judge signed that order, the husband received a large year-end bonus from his employer in the amount of $73,195. As soon as she learned about the order, the wife went back to court seeking an order modifying alimony. The trial judge, however, denied the wife’s request to modify the alimony award and that denial was upheld on appeal.

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Any time you are going through a divorce is a good time to retain the services of an experienced Maryland family law attorney. However, if your divorce case involves facts or issues that are particularly complex or unique, then you have an especially high need for skillful legal representation, who will guide you through the process and keep that unusual element from harming you.

There are lots of ways a case can take a turn into the realm of the “unusual.” Take for example, this dispute from Anne Arundel County. The husband, T.K., and the wife, W.R., married in 2003. Thirteen years later, the wife died. Those facts weren’t unusual. What was unusual was that, at no point during those 13 years did the couple ever get a marriage license. The two of them signed a document they entitled a “Marriage Agreement” and they went through a marriage ceremony in an Annapolis Anglican church officiated by an ordained minister, but the marriage license was a step that was never completed.

This absence of a marriage license was eventually at the center of a legal dispute and forced the Maryland Court of Appeals to answer a critical question: is a marriage in which the spouse never obtained a license valid in Maryland?

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When you have to go to court in a divorce or child-related case, there are countless reasons why it pays to have quality legal representation from a skilled Maryland family law attorney. One of these comes up when something happens that causes you to question, “Can the judge really do that?”

If you have no counsel, you may be inclined simply to accept it, because the judge is the judge after all, and (you assume) can mostly do what he/she wants, right? On the other hand, an experienced attorney knows there are limits to a judge’s power in making his/her orders, knows when the judge has overstepped and knows what to do when that takes place.

Here’s an example of how it can happen. A recent case heard by the Court of Special Appeals pitted a father against a mother on the issue of child custody. The parents had engaged in “nearly continuous litigation” for almost a decade. After a five-day trial in 2018, the trial judge hearing the parents’ case ordered the parents to complete two mediation sessions before either could file any future motions for modification of custody.

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As anyone with children knows, the relationships you have with your children are about much more than just shared DNA. Just because a child you’re raising is not “yours” in the biological sense does not diminish the bond you share, the responsibility you feel for her well-being or the value that your care provides to her. Recognizing that, the law in Maryland allows people who are not biological parents to go to court and, if they have the right evidence, demonstrate that they are something that the law calls a “de facto” parent, which gives them an equal footing with that child’s other legal parents. If you are raising a child that is not biologically yours, you need the right Maryland family law attorney when it comes time to make those kinds of “de facto parent” arguments and protect your relationship in a court of law.

Some of Maryland’s earliest cases establishing de facto parenthood related to same-sex couples with children, especially those who were not married and where only one parent had a biological tie to the child. As the law has recognized, however, de facto parenthood extends to more than just families involving gay or lesbian parents.

Take, for example, this case from Prince George’s County. In the case, the two children were the biological offspring of D.D., the father, and E.N., the mother. The parents lived together until the father was imprisoned for drug crimes.

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Most people know that a parent who owes child support owes that obligation until the child turns 18 (or 19 if the child turned 18 while still in high school,) unless a court order terminates that obligation at some earlier point. Many families in which one parent owes an obligation of support may experience substantial life changes during those years and, sometimes, those changes may occur when the child is 17. In those situations, you may wonder, what can I do if I can’t get a court date before the child’s 18th birthday? Fortunately, the mere fact that your child turned 18 before your court hearing does not automatically deny you the right to get a modification that relates to the support you paid before the child turned 18. To make sure that you are approaching your case properly to get what you deserve, be sure you have obtained legal representation from a knowledgeable Maryland family law attorney.

A recent case that originated in Montgomery County offers an example of what a supporting parent can do. The parents, Y.B. and M.K., were married for two months when the wife filed for divorce. On Aug. 24, 2001, M.K. gave birth to the couple’s only child, a son. By the fall of 2018, the father had sole legal and physical custody of the son, and the mother paid child support.

In November 2018, the son began living outside the father’s home, staying with various friends. The mother, in turn, went to court in early 2019 to seek a modification of child custody and her child support obligation. However, the case did not come for a hearing right away and, in fact, when the son turned 18 in August 2019, the case was still pending.

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