Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Coming up in October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. There are a number of programs available to help victims of domestic violence, including Family Justice Centers in both Montgomery and Prince George’s County. In Maryland, a victim of abuse can obtain a protective order 24 hours a day from the District Court Commissioner. This would be an interim order, which would require a hearing for a temporary order shortly thereafter. To obtain a final protective order, the petitioner must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that one or more specified acts of violence were committed.

It is very important to have all the witnesses and evidence, like photographs, available for the hearing. Having an attorney at the final protective order hearing can help to ensure that the evidence is admissible, in other words, that the judge can properly consider it. This can be tricky to do without an attorney. If you are the Respondent, who is accused of committing an act of violence, it is also vital to have representation. There is not much time to prepare, and the consequences can be quite severe as it can impact custody, financial support and even who will be permitted to live in the home.

For many victims of domestic violence, obtaining a final protective order is really the first step in the process, which may also involve filing for divorce, custody or financial support depending on the circumstances. Any order you get will eventually expire, so you will want to seek more permanent relief before that happens.

For more information on Family Law, please contact Heather L. Sunderman at (301) 664-7710 or hlsunderman@mirskylawgroup.com.

 Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or to provide legal advice. Laws differ by state and jurisdiction. The information on this blog may not apply to every reader. You should not take any legal action based upon the information contained on this blog without first seeking professional counsel. Your use of the blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Mirsky Law Group, LLC.

Avoiding Bad Divorce Settlements

You probably already know that the vast majority of family law issues are settled before trial. Sometimes that is a fairly quick process when the issues or assets are limited, and on the other hand, it could be a multi-year process assisted by attorneys, mediators, financial advisors, accountants, and other professionals.

It is quite common for one or both of the spouses to wonder if they reached the elusive “good deal.”  It is also common to have regrets, whether well-founded or simply “buyer’s remorse.” However, it is extremely difficult and unlikely to have an agreement set aside.

Here are my suggestions and traps for the unwary:

  1. You are entitled to information about your spouse’s assets, but the time to pursue that is before you sign the agreement. If you choose to skip that part, you may end up regretting it!
  2. Many people forget to address gains and losses for retirement accounts between the valuation date and the date the account is actually segregated. Be sure you understand how this will be addressed.
  3. Remember that provisions regarding children (child support, custody, visitation) can always be modified by the court if it is warranted. The court is always the last word when children are involved.
  4. Typically, your agreement is final once signed, even if you aren’t divorced yet. Take your time and carefully consider the provisions.
  5. ALWAYS talk to an attorney experienced in family law before signing an agreement!

For more information on family law, please contact Heather L. Sunderman at (301) 664-7710 or hlsunderman@mirskylawgroup.com.

 Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or to provide legal advice. Laws differ by state and jurisdiction. The information on this blog may not apply to every reader. You should not take any legal action based upon the information contained on this blog without first seeking professional counsel. Your use of the blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Mirsky Law Group, LLC.

Can I get my child a passport?

Typically, both parents must appear for a child to get a passport (along with the necessary proof of citizenship, photos, application and fee.) If both parents don’t apply together in person, one parent may sign the consent before a notary and provide to the parent who will be applying. Quite simple, unless the parents do not agree on whether the child will receive a passport, who will hold onto the passport and when travel overseas will be permitted.

What if you can’t get the other parent’s consent? There is a form you can use in such exigent circumstances, and be sure to attach any relevant court orders. The order should state the parent can obtain a passport, as opposed to just having sole legal custody. It is also possible to have the passport held in the court’s Registry for good cause. You should also review your custody order or parenting plan to be sure you are in compliance if you are required to provide advance notice or itineraries to the other parent. Questions about traveling with your child overseas and other travel restrictions? Call today, well before your planned and much-needed vacation!

For more information on family law, please contact Heather L. Sunderman at (301) 664-7710 or hlsunderman@mirskylawgroup.com.

 Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or to provide legal advice. Laws differ by state and jurisdiction. The information on this blog may not apply to every reader. You should not take any legal action based upon the information contained on this blog without first seeking professional counsel. Your use of the blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Mirsky Law Group, LLC.

Divorce in the DMV

The Washington DC metro area is a curious creature. Generally, it includes Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia, but it’s not unheard of for people to commute here from their homes in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Delaware (as Joe Biden did during his time in Washington). While these are all separate jurisdictions, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia (“the DMV”) do share a similar culture.    The area is notorious for its high cost of living, including high real estate costs. Opportunities in government, lobbying, education and technology brings in some of the smartest and highly educated people in the country. As a result, there are “transplants” here from all over the U.S. and countries from around the world.

What does this mean for family law in the Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia? It can be trickier to determine the proper venue, particularly when there are child custody or child support issues. Military members may not actually be domiciled in the area, their duty station does not necessarily determine their legal domicile. Additionally, families moving into and out of the DC metro region have additional challenges in having out of state orders enforced, or may find they have to return to the old jurisdiction to change a custody or visitation schedule in some circumstances. Employees with security clearances need to be especially careful in divorce situations, as failures to pay debts can negatively affect their clearances. These are just a few examples to show that DC metro families need experienced counsel to help navigate their family law issues.

For more information on family law, please contact Heather L. Sunderman at (301) 664-7710 or hlsunderman@mirskylawgroup.com.

 Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or to provide legal advice. Laws differ by state and jurisdiction. The information on this blog may not apply to every reader. You should not take any legal action based upon the information contained on this blog without first seeking professional counsel. Your use of the blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Mirsky Law Group, LLC.

What Will 2017 Bring to Family Law?

As with other areas of the law, family law is regularly changing to keep up with new developments in families’ needs. The trend in the last few years in family law is to streamline and simplify the grounds for divorce.

When I first began practicing law in Maryland, there was a two year waiting period of continuous separation before filing a divorce if you and your spouse didn’t agree to separate. On top of that, it is not unusual for the divorce to take a year to be final if the parties didn’t agree on the financial issues of the divorce. In the last few years, that waiting period was reduced to one year, and there has even been a new mutual consent ground for divorce which does not require separation. (Other conditions apply, of course!)

New this year is the removal of the requirement for corroboration of the grounds for divorce. In the past, even amicable divorcing couples had to be sure to bring someone to court with them who also had knowledge of the grounds for divorce, whether it was separation, adultery, etc. It required another adult to make themselves available, take time off work and to publicly state details of the couples’ private life.

What will 2017 bring? Possibly an expansion of the mutual consent divorce availability, stay tuned for updates from Maryland’s General Assembly.   – Heather L. Sunderman

For more information on Family Law, please contact Heather L. Sunderman at (301) 664-7710 or hlsunderman@mirskylawgroup.com.

Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or to provide legal advice. Laws differ by state and jurisdiction. The information on this blog may not apply to every reader. You should not take any legal action based upon the information contained on this blog without first seeking professional counsel. Your use of the blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Mirsky Law Group, LLC.

 

What is Therapeutic Visitation?

You may have heard reports about the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie divorce and custody case. News sources have reported about domestic violence allegations against Brad Pitt. And it appears that the parties’ negotiated agreement includes therapeutic visitation for Pitt. Therapeutic visitation can be ordered when there is estrangement or alienation between the child and a parent. There are many different reasons why this can happen: parental interference, abuse or other mental health issues which cause the child to refuse visitation. The child may be justified in his mistrust, or may have had an unreasonable reaction to a parent. Regardless of parental fault, the courts must deal with the situation as it is, and attempts to repair the broken relationship must be made. Visitation sessions may then take place with a mental health professional. These are very difficult situations and typically would require counsel for both parents and navigating the reunification process. The cost can also be substantial as the court may be scheduling intermittent hearings during this process as well as the cost of having an expert mental health professional working with the family. The court may also order psychological examinations of the parents and/or child in these cases.

-Heather L. Sunderman, Esq.

Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or to provide legal advice. Laws differ by state and jurisdiction. The information on this blog may not apply to every reader. You should not take any legal action based upon the information contained on this blog without first seeking professional counsel. Your use of the blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Mirsky Law Group, LLC.

Re-Visiting The Visitation Schedule

By now, just about everyone is Maryland has heard about (and has opinions about) moving the start of the school year to after Labor Day. If you are a separated parent, this change can wreak havoc on your access schedule. If the schedule change results in shorter or fewer school holidays, it would particularly impact parents who live out of state. This is because it is common for parents who live out of state to sometimes have more of those times with the children due to the difficulties of travel. In other words, if your kids live in Bethesda and you live in Bismarck, you probably can’t take advantage of the typical school night dinner visit, but you may have more of the three-day weekends or more time in the summer. Family law attorneys are typically intimately familiar with the school calendar, and we tend to make assumptions about what the future years’ calendars will look like.

What if your visitation schedule doesn’t work anymore? First, check your agreement and/or order. You may be required to attempt to mediate a potential conflict before returning to court. It’s also a good idea to be flexible and attempt to work out an amicable arrangement with the other parent.

-Heather L. Sunderman ©

Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended for informational purposes only. It is not intended to solicit business or to provide legal advice. Laws differ by state and jurisdiction. The information on this blog may not apply to every reader. You should not take any legal action based upon the information contained on this blog without first seeking professional counsel. Your use of the blog does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and Mirsky Law Group, LLC.