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Did you know that the well-traveled idea that ostriches bury their heads in the ground to hide from danger is actually totally false? Rather than just hiding and doing nothing, ostriches are actually hard at work when they put their heads in the ground. What they’re really doing, as opposed to just averting their eyes and ears from the threat outside, is diligently tending to their eggs that they’ve nested inside that hole in the ground.

When it comes to your child support obligation case, be like the real ostrich, not the mythical ostrich. Be pro-active; don’t hide from your problems. Simply sticking your head in the sand, so to speak, and pretending like your problems don’t exist is a bad idea. In a contempt case against you based on your back-owed child support, it is a terrible idea. You can lose your right to make arguments about what your child support payments should be going forward, you can have your wages garnished, you can lose your passport and you can potentially lose your freedom (and be thrown in jail.) Instead of that, reach out to an experienced family law attorney and find out what you can do to benefit yourself and your family.

D.G. was a father who had a back-owed child support problem. He was a professional basketball player who had a child with M.G., a woman who lived in Howard County. D.G. agreed in 2014 to pay the mother $4,000 in child support.

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In life, everyone makes mistakes, sometimes. Some of those mistakes happen within the confines of your family law case and, if that happens, the consequences can be severe. Even if you have made significant mistakes in your case, it is still imperative that you don’t give up and that you continue aggressively to fight for your relationship with your children. The law in Maryland may give you more options than you might have thought. Contact an experienced family law attorney to find out what paths may be available for you.

So, what do we mean by mistakes? As an example, let’s look at the case of C.K.N., a Montgomery County mom and Cameroonian immigrant going through a custody battle with her child’s father, E.L. A custody case, like other civil law cases, has a “discovery phase,” where each side has the opportunity ask the other side to respond to certain questions (called “interrogatories”) and to turn over copies of certain documents (called “requests for production.”)

One of the reasons it is so important to have a skilled family law attorney representing you during every phase of your case is that failure to follow certain rules, including discovery rules, can lead to severe punishments. In C.K.N.’s case, she failed to respond to certain discovery requests on time, so the judge punished her by imposing severe restrictions on what she could argue at her hearing and what evidence she could present in her custody case.

In many different types of legal or business settings, one receives the advice to “get it in writing.” Why is that? It’s because a written document carries much more weight as evidence in court than oral testimony about the contents of an oral contract. Getting “it in writing” has the potential to help either side or both sides. Additionally, thanks to something within the law called the “Statute of Frauds,” a failure to get it in writing can cost you dearly when it comes to many types of agreements.

What does this mean to you if you’re going through a divorce? It means that, whether you are creating a new marital settlement agreement or modifying an existing one, it pays to get it in written down. It also pays to have an experienced Maryland family law attorney on your side.

For an example of this concept, look at this recent ruling and you can see why it is so important to get it in writing. In 2010, A.M. and R.H. agreed to the terms of a marital settlement agreement. The agreement called for the husband to buy out the wife’s ownership interest in the couple’s marital home and for the wife, after getting paid, to relinquish her ownership rights to the property.

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When you’re going through a divorce, there are many things that may concern you, especially if you make a substantially larger income than your spouse. Obviously, one of those things is your spouse seeking alimony for a long duration, perhaps even indefinite alimony. However, there are some things you can do that will limit the amount of alimony the judge will order – or perhaps even allow you to avoid an alimony obligation entirely. To best protect yourself from an excessively large alimony obligation, be sure you have representation from an experienced Maryland family law attorney every step of the way.

A recent case involving a Montgomery County couple shows the way one wife achieved this goal. The wife was a medical doctor employed by the FDA, making around $180,000-200,000 per year. The husband never made even ½ that amount and, at the time of the couple’s divorce, alleged that he made “a mere $30,000” per year. The husband alleged that he had made multiple attempts to secure full-time employment, but had failed each time. He also asserted that his monthly expenses exceeded what he was making by several thousand dollars per month.

Based on those numbers, you might expect that the husband would receive a significant amount of alimony, mightn’t you? However, in this case, the trial judge ordered the wife to pay zero in alimony and that ruling stood up on appeal. How did the wife achieve this success? She did it by producing her own evidence that cast doubt on the credibility of the story that the husband provided to the courts.

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Everyone assumes they know certain things about family law cases. For example, when you share custody of your children with your ex-spouse, and your ex-spouse has the children the majority of the time, many people might assume that either you are paying child support to your ex-spouse or that neither parent is paying support.

Did you know that this does not necessarily have to be the case? In some situations, based on what you make and what your ex-spouse makes, your ex-spouse may actually be the one to pay support, even though the children reside with you less than 50% of the time. This just goes to show that you should never assume when it comes to the law. Instead, contact an experienced Maryland family law attorney to get the facts.

As an example of how this can happen, there’s the case of N.K. and M.B. N.K., the mother, made $108,000 annually as a physician. Initially, the father made $130,000 annually and paid the mother $1,432 a month in child support. The father had the children for 128 overnights, and the children stayed with the mother the remaining 65% of the time.

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An old saying by English author Alexander Pope theorizes that “a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.” In few places is that more true than in the law. Too many times, non-lawyers sincerely believe that they can pursue their case successfully on their own. They think that, by spending a little time with the Google or Bing search engines, they can equip themselves adequately to act as their own attorney in their Maryland family law dispute.

Very often, they are mistaken. The consequence of that mistake is often losing a case that, with the aid of skilled lawyer, might have possibly ended more favorably. With something as precious and valuable as your family at stake, why would you chance losing due to some statutory technicality, filing deadline or nuance of caselaw that you’d overlooked? Your family is too important, which is why you should be sure you retain a knowledgeable Maryland family law attorney to handle your case.

How can your case go very wrong on your own? A recent dispute addressed by the Court of Special Appeals offers a useful example. O.K. was a father in a dispute with E.L., his children’s mother. On a temporary basis, the court gave the mother sole legal and physical custody.

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Whether your spouse is making a claim for alimony, a claim that you dissipated assets, or both, it is important to know that there are certain expectations the law has of her, and certain things she must prove to the court, before she can be entitled to a ruling in her favor. In other words, there is an opportunity for you to oppose these legal arguments successfully by persuading the court that your ex-spouse has failed to meet her burden of proof. To be sure you have the resources you need on your side to win these kinds of legal battles, be sure you have an experienced Maryland alimony / spousal support attorney on your side.

In a divorce case, a claim for alimony is one of the most common issues that may arise, as a spouse who has historically earned less and continues to have a smaller income very commonly will seek a sum of alimony as part of the divorce judgment. While less common that alimony, a spouse’s “dissipation” of assets is another common claim. This means that one spouse allegedly used marital funds for the divorce for some purpose other than marital need. If, for example, you used marital assets to buy an expensive car for your child from a previous marriage, then that could constitute dissipation of assets.

The recent case of two spouses from Frederick County, M.B. and J.B., is helpful in shining light on certain requirements for each of these types of claims. J.B., the wife, sought rehabilitative alimony. For a spouse to be entitled to an award of rehabilitative alimony, she must demonstrate to the trial court that the award will facilitate her rehabilitating herself into a self-supporting divorced individual. Your spouse, if she contends that she needs additional education or professional training, must indicate exactly what education/training is needed and exactly how that would allow her to find “suitable employment.”

When it comes to setting up a child custody schedule in Maryland as part of a divorce, small differences have the potential to have massive impacts. A difference of just a few overnights can greatly alter what will owe in child support. Potentially, one or two extra overnights may mean owing hundreds, or even thousands, less in child support every month if those extra nights give you shared custody. In other words, it pays to exercise great care when it comes to a custody schedule in a marital settlement agreement. And it pays to have an experienced Maryland child support lawyer on your side who knows this and other nuances of the law keenly well, to get you the best outcome possible.

So, how can just a slight alteration of a custody schedule make such a big difference in child support? As a recent case illustrated, the key lies in Maryland’s definition of shared custody versus sole custody. In this state, the dividing line is 35%, or roughly 128 overnights. If you have fewer than that, then the other parent has sole physical custody. If you have more than that, then you and the children’s other parent have shared physical custody.

That recent case involved a father who had visitation on alternating weekends, alternating Wednesday evenings, some federal holidays and part of the summer break. He was also required to pay $2,620 per month in child support but later asked the judge to reduce his obligation. He argued that his support obligation was being calculated as if the mother had sole physical custody but, based on the number of overnights the children had with him, the parents shared joint physical custody.

The days and weeks that immediately follow the breakup of your marriage can be an incredibly trying time. You may feel hurt, confused, angry, frightened, overwhelmed, betrayed and a host of other emotions. You’ve experienced a great trauma, and like anyone living through that kind of pain, you may not be at your best in terms of decision-making. That includes making decisions like signing a marital settlement agreement. This is just one reason among the many why it pays to have a skilled Maryland divorce attorney on your side. You can trust your attorney to handle your legal affairs while you concentrate on managing your life.

Even if you’ve not heeded that advice, have made a bad decision by signing a bad settlement agreement without consulting an attorney, and later come to conclude that were taken advantage of, you still may have options. As one recent case illustrated, depending on just how extremely one-sided your marital settlement agreement was, you may be able to get it invalidated as ‘unconscionable’ under Maryland law.

In the recent case, the husband, G., and the wife, J., were married for six years when they separated in early 2015. Only a few days after the pair parted ways, the husband gave the wife a proposed marital settlement agreement, which the husband’s attorney had drafted. The agreement gave the husband the marital home, two rental properties, two cars, two motorcycles and all of the retirement accounts. The wife got a one-time payment of $7,000. Additionally, the agreement stated that the wife forever waived her right ever to pursue an alimony claim, either rehabilitative or permanent.

When your marriage comes to an end, there are many things that must be resolved, one of which is custody of the children. In the past, you may have worked full-time outside the home to provide for the family financially while your spouse was a stay-at-home caregiver. Just because your spouse was the primary caregiver prior to the marriage’s end, that does not automatically mean that she is legally entitled to be the primary physical custodian after the divorce. The court must decide custody based on the best interest of the children and there is large list of legal factors the judge must look at, with past arrangements being only one factor among many.

In other words, if you desire to be your children’s primary physical custodian, do not despair just because your ex was a stay-at-home parent prior to the divorce. Instead, consult with an experienced Maryland family law attorney and learn more about how to pursue your goals in your case.

As an example of a case where the “stay-at-home” parent didn’t receive primary physical custody after the divorce, there’s the case of A.P. and J.P., who began divorce proceedings in 2017. The husband had been an active member of the U.S. Navy for more than a decade. The wife was very briefly employed during that time, but mostly stayed home to care for the children.

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