Articles Posted in Case Summaries

One of the most difficult situations within Maryland family law is parental child abuse. A 2012 appellate case dealt with the question of a child abuse charge against a father. In the case, the department of social services received a report that a father had held one of his two children by the arm to make sure he finished eating spaghetti with mushrooms.

When the mother, who shared custody with the father, came to pick up the kids, she saw there were bruises on her son’s neck and a scratch under his chin. She took him to a pediatrician who reported the possible abuse to the department of social services. The police investigated and the son told them that the father had grabbed him by the neck and pulled him down.

The investigation led to a social worker finding that indicated child abuse. The father provided a substantially similar account as the son and the mother. Under Maryland law, child abuse is the physical or mental injury of a child by a parent who has care, custody or responsibility for supervising a child such that the child’s health or welfare may be harmed. Continue reading →

In Maryland, there are two statutory schemes that govern whether paternity testing should occur. One of them, the Paternity subtitle of the Family Law Article, describes procedures that allow the state to establish paternity and require fathers to pay child support.

Under this section, there is a presumption that a child is the child of the man to whom the mother was married when he or she was conceived. This presumption can be rebutted. The mother, father or child can be required to take a blood or genetic test to see if the person being claimed to be the father may be excluded.

The Estates and Trusts Article presumes that the child born or conceived during a couple’s marriage is the legitimate child of each spouse. The purpose of the presumption is to reduce the cost of administering an estate. The trial court has the discretion to decide whether testing requested by a motion is in the child’s best interests or not. Continue reading →

Recently, our office assisted a client in drafting and finalizing a prenuptial agreement between him and his fiancée.   While our office has drafted prenuptial agreements and voluntary separation agreements for many of our clients, this client’s situation was a bit unusual.  He needed the agreement negotiated and signed within a few days because he and his fiancée were planning to get married in less than two weeks.

Our client’s family had been encouraging him to speak with an attorney about drafting a prenuptial agreement for several months, but our client waited until just before his wedding to finally seek legal advice.  Once he came in for his initial consultation, our office strongly advised him that his family was right – he should enter into a prenuptial agreement with his fiancée to ensure all his rights were protected if they were to ever divorce.

Our client earned a substantial yearly income working for the government.  Additionally, he owned his own business in Washington DC, had a substantial retirement account, owned several automobiles, and had almost no debt to his name.   In contrast, his fiancée was in the US on a student visa, she was not employed, she had several student loans, and she owned no property other than one automobile which was over a decade old.

Recently, our office assisted a Dad who wanted to obtain sole residential and sole legal custody of his two young children.  He was a young father, only 21 years old, but he had already demonstrated a level a maturity of someone much older.  He had been taking care of the children for about a year with little to no support or even contact from the children’s mother.

The Dad, acting on his own without the assistance of an attorney, filed for custody with the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, MD.  When he filed for custody, he never anticipated that the children’s mother would fight him. However, that is exactly what happened.  After being served, the children’s mother hired an attorney, who immediately opposed the Dad’s request for sole custody and filed for joint custody on the mother’s behalf.

By the time the Dad had saved a little money to hire an attorney and had sought assistance from our experienced family law attorneys, the custody merits trial was less than one week away.  The Dad came to our office petrified and nervous that he was going to lose custody of his children.  He believed that the Court would favor the mother solely because she was the mother and she would automatically get joint custody even if that wasn’t in the best interest of the children.

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