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wallet moneyA popular science fiction movie contained an oft-quoted line that admonished against being someone who “deals in absolutes.” This is often good advice when it comes to many types of legal matters, including alimony cases. It is also why the answer you may get from your Maryland divorce attorney to your alimony question is, “It depends.” For example, many cases in which a supporting spouse qualifies for a modification of spousal support also involve the imposition of a retroactive modification, but not always. In one recent case, the husband qualified for a suspension of his spousal support obligation but not for a retroactive modification because his spending habits after his job ended belied an inability to meet his obligations.

Robert and Mary Ann were a Montgomery County couple who had divorced. As part of their divorce case, they had reached a marital settlement agreement in 2014. That agreement stated that the husband would pay the wife alimony for a limited duration of time.

In most situations, you can file a petition with a court to seek a modification of your alimony. In order to be eligible for a modification, you have to show the judge that you’ve experienced a substantial and material change in your circumstances. The law gives you, as two divorcing spouses, the right to include in your marital settlement agreement terms that state when, if ever, a supporting spouse is eligible to go to court and seek a modification.

birth certificateThe great English poet and playwright William Shakespeare asked, in his play Romeo and Juliet, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” While The Bard’s implication is that a name, by itself, means very little, it can be a very important thing in some family law cases. Whether you are involved in a name change contest or some other family law matter, you have certain rights, which your Maryland family law attorney can help you protect. In a recent case offering an example, a mother was able to get an order changing her son’s name reversed because the trial court didn’t follow the proper procedure.

Anne Marie gave birth to a son on Oct. 25, 2011. Anne Marie was not married. The father was not present at the birth, and no father was listed on the birth certificate. By December, Anne Marie filed a court action seeking genetic testing to establish paternity. Paternity was established the following May, and issues of custody, visitation, and child support were worked out.

In January 2014, the father asked the trial court to alter the child’s name. The son’s last name was that of the mother. The father requested that the court change the child’s last name from that of the mother to his last name. The trial court did not immediately rule on the request.

100 Dollar BillsIn a recent case from Montgomery County, the Court of Special Appeals was presented with a husband’s appeal of an alimony award that granted his ex-wife an indefinite award of five-figure-per-month alimony, even though the wife had a steady six-figure income. The alimony award survived the appeal because, even though the wife had a substantial and steady income, the disparity between the spouses’ respective incomes was so large that, without the award, the disparity would be “unconscionable.”

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sickThere are lots of things that could affect your child custody case. They could involve procedural issues, evidentiary issues, or complexities related to the law. Or they could involve finding yourself sick and unable to travel on the morning of your custody hearing. For one father who was in that position, and whose trial court judge opted to conduct the custody hearing without the father or counsel representing him, he was able to get that trial court’s order overturned on appeal. Under those exceptional circumstances, the father was entitled to a continuance postponing his case, according to a Court of Special Appeals ruling.

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calendarAs we have discussed in this blog before, succeeding in your family law case is about more than just the facts, the evidence, and the law. Having all of these things on your side won’t help you at all if you are not in compliance with rules of procedure. One recent example of this was a case originally from Montgomery County, where a husband received a very unfavorable outcome in his divorce case. Since the husband waited too long to file his appeal challenging the trial judge’s decisions, he lost without the Court of Special Appeals ever even considering the merits of his arguments.

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gavelOne of the many goals of family law cases is to create a degree of stability and finality in the decisions made by the courts. To this end, the law seeks to discourage parents or spouses from using different jurisdictions to re-litigate the same issues repeatedly. This was an issue in one recent Maryland case, in which the Court of Special Appeals upheld a trial court’s decision not to hear a visitation modification case because, according to the lower court, the issue had already been litigated completely elsewhere.

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schoolWhen it comes to the well-being of a child, most parents will do everything in their power to give their children the best of all available opportunities. This can be especially true when it comes to education. When where you live is the subject of a custody order or agreement, things can be more complicated. In one recent case involving a mother’s desire for her children to attend school in D.C., the Court of Special Appeals determined that the children’s “thriving” in school was not a material change of circumstances that allowed the courts to modify an existing custody agreement.

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birth certificateAn old adage warns the reader to “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” The adage is a reference to the notion that many outcomes, even ones we desire strongly, may come with unintended consequences. This arguably was the case for a Maryland mother who lost a custody case with the man she named as her child’s father on the child’s birth certificate. A recent ruling by the Court of Special Appeals upheld that custody determination, even in the absence of a paternity test.

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calendarWhen you go to court in your divorce case, you may think that the key in your case is your factual proof, whether it is proof related to the value or nature of your spouse’s and your assets, the amount of income your spouse and you make (for the purposes of alimony or child support), or how the court should adjudicate child custody and visitation. But there is much more to most cases, including complying with the procedural rules related to how you get your factual evidence before the court. Knowing how to submit evidence in a compliant manner, as well as knowing how to respond when your spouse doesn’t follow the rules, can be as important a part of your case as the facts themselves.

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walking to schoolIn a recent case involving two parents who disagreed regarding where their daughter should attend kindergarten, the outcome of the case is an important reminder of the importance of achieving success at the trial level, due to the deference given to trial courts in child custody cases. Despite finding that the child would derive some benefit from going to the school that would maintain continuity, the trial judge awarded tie-breaking authority on educational decisions to the mother, even though that inevitably meant that the child would attend the school that did not maintain continuity. Nevertheless, the Court of Special Appeals upheld the decision, concluding that the trial court’s decision was not so completely in defiance of logic and the facts of the case as to constitute an “abuse of discretion” and trigger a reversal.

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