Articles Posted in Marriage

Many states throughout the country have enacted “no fault” divorce laws, essentially permitting married couples to file for divorce without first citing specific grounds or satisfying other cumbersome requirements. Under Maryland law, however, spouses may only file for a “no fault” divorce after living apart for one full year, in separate homes. This is a requirement. Parties may file for divorce immediately if one can prove certain events including adultery, cruelty of treatment, and excessively vicious conduct.

According to an article published last year, the state of this current law can cause difficulties for couples hoping to dissolve their marriage. If you are experiencing a family law dispute of any kind, it is important to understand the extent of your rights under the circumstances. The best course of action is to contact an experienced Maryland family law attorney who would be up to date with the laws that could affect your case. Continue reading

In a 2010 case, a couple were cohabiting on a piece of real property, but were not married. They were romantically involved for 14 years and were engaged at one point, but postponed their wedding due to the plaintiff’s brother’s death. They lived with the plaintiff’s mother for about three years. During that time the defendant helped around the house and took care of the plaintiff’s brother. The plaintiff paid $600 in rent so that the defendant could save money for both of them and the defendant deposited the savings into a joint checking account that was in both of their names.

The pair decided to buy a house together in 1997. They found a house, and applied for a mortgage together. The plaintiff’s credit score kept them from qualifying for a loan jointly. The parties agreed to have the defendant to apply for a mortgage loan in his own name. He paid a down payment of $4500 from the joint checking account. The plaintiff paid him $3700 as a contribution towards the down payment.

The parties agreed the plaintiff couldn’t qualify for a mortgage so the parties would act as joint owners and she would pay him half of the mortgage and other expenses every month. They did not agree she was a tenant, but rather that she was a joint owner. The defendant promised that the plaintiff’s name would be put on the deed in the future and that they held the property in joint tenancy. Continue reading

Domestic violence is a more common problem than you might believe. 1.3 million American women are victims of physical assault by a sexual partner every year. Some of these physical assaults result in homicide. Not all victims are women, but about 85% are. Maryland courts take allegations of domestic violence into account when determining child custody. Often the abusers not only abuse their partners, but also abuse children in the house, triggering the cycle of intergenerational violence whereby male children grow up to abuse their own partners and children. Several measures were recently proposed in the Maryland General Assembly that are expected to increase victim protection in the domestic violence context.

One of the bills reduces the burden of proof required to get a protective order against the person allegedly committing the domestic violence. The burden of proof in Maryland to get such an order currently is “clear and convincing evidence.” This is a higher standard that any other state in the nation. This measure would lower the burden of proof to a “preponderance of the evidence.” State Senator Brian E. Frosh said this measure is the most important in the group of bills, explaining that the preponderance of the evidence standard is what’s used in almost other civil matters. The Maryland governor’s office found that 1777 protective orders out of 19,043 applications were denied based on the petitioner’s inability to met the high burden of proof.

Another bill calls for those who commit domestic violence in front of children to receive an additional five years in prison. About 70% of domestic violence incidents happen in front of children and can do serious damage to them psychologically. Vicki Sadehvandi, the executive director of Citizens Assisting and Sheltering the Abused (CASA) noted that “Witnessing the abuse creates ‘the cycle of abuse… Even if they escape physical injury, they suffer from mental injury/abuse.” Many who go on to commit acts of domestic violence were victims or witnesses to domestic violence when younger. The goal of the bill is to create a deterrent for the man people who perpetrate domestic violence repeatedly. Continue reading

In Tshiani v. Tshiani, a Maryland appellate court ruled on the question of whether the trial court was right to recognize a marriage that occurred in the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire (hereafter “Congo”). In that case, both the husband and wife were from the Congo.

The wife was 18 and her husband was 35 when they met. They married five months later. However, the husband was not actually present at the marriage because he was on assignment in a different country. His cousin stood in for him at the wedding. They followed the customs of the Congo.

After the wedding, they lived together in Virginia and then Maryland and represented themselves as husband and wife. They bought property in Maryland 1994 and had three kids. They renewed their vows later that year, obtaining a proof of marriage from the Congolese embassy. Continue reading

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