Articles Posted in Case Summaries

As a spouse going through a divorce, you’ll face many choices. You may elect to resolve all your issues via a negotiated settlement, all via a trial, or some in each of those two settings. As is true in any negotiation setting, it is exceptionally important to understand when you have a complete agreement, when you have a partial agreement, and when, under the terms of the law, you have no binding agreement at all (even if you and your spouse seemed to reach some consensuses during the conference.) To understand what your legal rights and options are, be sure to get skillful advice from an experienced Maryland divorce lawyer.

Although the central issue driving a recent divorce case from Prince George’s County was child custody, the lessons it teaches are universal across many family law disputes.

A.W. and B.W.’s was a short-term marriage. They wed in 2014, had a child in 2018, and the wife filed for divorce in 2020. In early April 2021, the court convened a remote settlement conference over Zoom.

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While divorce trials are matters where the focus falls heavily on the facts in evidence, Maryland still has numerous procedural rules that govern. A spouse’s failure to comply with them can have a very harmful impact on that spouse’s ability to litigate her case before the court. Procedural issues are one area where a skillful Maryland divorce lawyer can be greatly helpful, ensuring that you are fully compliant with all the procedural rules as well as the procedural orders the court issues.

A divorce case from Prince George’s County shows exactly how damaging procedural errors can be.

The spouses in the case married in 2013 and separated in 2019. The wife worked for the federal government, but she also had her own business that, in 2016, transitioned to focus primarily on nutritional supplements. That transition was a success and the wife’s business experienced substantial growth during the spouses’ marriage.

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In elementary school math class, students begin learning about the “order of operations.” This concept governs the sequence in which to complete various mathematical operations in pursuit of the correct solution. In divorce law, we have something similar. Maryland divorce law lays out a specific sequence of mathematical steps to use in calculating the marital and non-marital interests in a property. These computations — and the correct performance of them — can have a major impact on the outcome of your divorce. To make sure you are getting a fair judgment, you need to ensure the court has all the relevant facts. An experienced Maryland divorce lawyer often can provide essential assistance in doing that.

Just like how solving a math equation without following the order-of-operations rules will result in a wrong answer, doing the mathematical steps for calculating marital interest in the wrong order similarly will yield an errant result… one that’s subject to reversal on appeal.

The recent divorce of one Calvert County couple is a good example. J.S. and H.S. married in the summer of 2014. Five months earlier, the husband had purchased a six-bedroom home for $450,000, paying $160,000 down.

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Many people in this state make their living working jobs in which all (or most) of their earnings come from commission payments. These include insurance agents, financial advisors, brokers, real estate agents, and sales representatives. The overall annual incomes of workers paid on commission — much like the incomes of self-employed people — can fluctuate substantially and can be very challenging to prove when you’re going through a divorce and needing to seek an award of alimony. When you’re facing serious hurdles regarding proving your spouse’s income, an experienced Maryland alimony lawyer can provide essential aid.

Cases where a payor spouse is paid entirely (or predominantly) on commission — or is self-employed — are ones where figuring out that spouse’s actual “income” figure can be extraordinarily difficult.

L.Z.P. was one of those people facing these complexities in her Anne Arundel County divorce case. She earned a fixed salary while her husband was paid 100% on commission.

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People who try to litigate their divorce actions without the aid of a knowledgeable Maryland divorce lawyer can fall victim to many potential pitfalls. A recent case originating in Baltimore County, while not a divorce action, nevertheless contains some very valuable lessons for people considering litigating a divorce without counsel.

The dispute pitted a landlord against his former tenant. The landlord’s lawsuit alleged that the tenant owed more than $17,000 in unpaid rent and compensation for property damage. The tenant received her copy of the court papers (which included the landlord’s complaint and a court summons) on Dec. 20, 2020.

The tenant didn’t hire a lawyer. On Jan. 6, 2021, she filed a document with the trial court that she called a “Late Defense,” even though the document was, in fact, not late. She’d made a critical error, though: she neglected to include a “Certificate of Service,” which is a mandatory component of all valid court complaints and responses.

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Going through a divorce is almost always a stressful time. That stress is even worse if you’re a divorcing spouse with no income and no ability to secure employment right away. When that happens to you, the law has options, such as rehabilitative alimony. A skilled Maryland divorce lawyer can help you collect and present the proof you need to get the alimony you deserve.

Earlier this month, this blog looked at a divorce situation where a spouse presented evidence of her husband’s misconduct that “contributed to the estrangement of the parties,” and parlayed that into a successful outcome regarding the monetary award the court ordered.

The case from earlier this month involved a husband who sought (and paid for) intimate pictures of women who were not his wife. While misconduct of a personal/intimate nature (such as the above example) may be what most readily comes to mind when it comes to spousal misconduct affecting the outcome of your divorce judgment, the alimony case we highlight today shows that there is actually a variety of spousal bad actions that can strengthen your divorce case.

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Here in Maryland, you have multiple avenues for seeking a divorce. You can pursue a “no-fault” divorce, provided you and your spouse have been separated for at least 12 months. Alternately, Maryland law recognizes six other causes for granting an absolute divorce, each of which revolves around the other spouse’s fault. Whether you’re proceeding with a no-fault divorce or a divorce based on your spouse’s fault, a skilled Maryland divorce lawyer can help you accomplish your goals more fully.

Obviously, if you’re pursuing a “fault” divorce based on your spouse’s adultery, you’re going to need proof of his/her bad conduct. In Maryland, you don’t have to present evidence of actual coupling between your spouse and a paramour; you simply have to establish that your spouse had both the “disposition” and the “opportunity” to cheat.

However, as a recent divorce case from Howard County shows, proof of your spouse’s marital misconduct can be beneficial to your case, even if you’re proceeding with a no-fault divorce.

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A skilled Maryland divorce lawyer can provide crucial assistance in most divorce cases. However, there are some types of cases where the aid of knowledgeable legal counsel is especially crucial, and that includes matters that span across multiple jurisdictions.

For one couple in Baltimore County, their divorce spanned multiple countries. The husband was a dual citizen of the United States and Nigeria. The couple married in the Nigerian capital in 2003 but relocated to Pikesville the next year, where they remained until their separation in 2019.

The wife filed her Maryland divorce petition in late May 2021. Three months later, the husband asked the judge to dismiss the petition. The reason? The husband had already filed a divorce petition in Nigeria in October 2020.

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If you have an alimony obligation and your ex-spouse is seeking to have you held in contempt of court, this is a very serious matter that you should treat accordingly. If a court declares you in contempt, you could be ordered to pay fines or even jailed. This requires serious countermeasures, including retaining the services of an experienced Maryland family law attorney.

P.R. was a Montgomery County husband facing that type of potential legal consequence. He and his wife divorced in May 2017. Three months prior, the spouses signed a marital settlement agreement that called for the husband to pay the wife non-modifiable alimony for a period of 10 years.

In 2020, the spouses became embroiled in a dispute over $6,350 in court-ordered attorney’s fees that the wife owed the husband. The husband took that $6,350 out of his alimony payments over a period of nine months.

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Unpaid alimony matters are intensely fact-driven, meaning that your case can be much more successful if your judge has all the facts and is presented with all the circumstances regarding your ex-spouse’s non-compliance. If your ex-spouse isn’t living up to their alimony obligations, you can (and should) seek relief from the courts. And you should act promptly in contacting a knowledgeable Maryland unpaid alimony lawyer about protecting your rights.

The alimony case of F.S. and S.M. was a dispute that involved a large sum of unpaid alimony. The spouses, who divorced after 30 years of marriage, worked out a property settlement agreement that included an alimony provision. The agreement set the initial alimony amount at $1,500 but said that, if the wife no longer lived in the marital home, the amount of alimony was $3,250 per month.

The wife moved out in September 2016.

In December 2019, the wife asked the court to find the husband in contempt because he had not paid his alimony. Before the trial judge, the husband argued that he never agreed to anything regarding alimony in the separation agreement. After the hearing, the court concluded that the husband was in contempt, having never paid any alimony. The court set the husband’s unpaid alimony amount at $130,750.

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