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A New Year – a New Legislative Session!

Volume 2

Since Lindsay Parvis's February 5, 2016 legislative update, many more family bills have been introduced this session. Of note:

HB259: Family Law – Child Support – Custody and Visitation Determinations

Bill: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2016RS/bills/hb/hb0259F.pdf

Synopsis: Requiring the court, in any case in which the court determines child support, to also consider custody and visitation of the child; and requiring the Child Support Enforcement Administration to refer the parties to the court for purposes of considering custody and visitation of the child when the Administration establishes a child support obligation.

HB271: Child Support – Extraordinary Medical Expenses

Bill: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2016RS/bills/hb/hb0271F.pdf

Synopsis: Altering the definition of "extraordinary medical expenses" under the child support guidelines.

SB358: Family Law – Divorce on Grounds of Mutual Consent – Parties with Minor Children

Bill: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2016RS/bills/sb/sb0358F.pdf

Synopsis: Authorizing a court to decree an absolute divorce on the grounds of mutual consent if the parties have minor children, under specified circumstances; requiring a specified settlement agreement to provide for the care, custody, access, and support of minor or dependent children; requiring specified parties
to attach a completed child support guidelines worksheet to a specified settlement agreement; etc.

SB359: Family Law – Divorce – Corroboration of Testimony and Filing Procedures

Bill: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2016RS/bills/sb/sb0359F.pdf

Synopsis: Repealing the prohibition on a court entering a decree of divorce on the uncorroborated testimony of the party seeking the divorce; requiring parties to jointly file a complaint for absolute divorce in order to initiate proceedings for an absolute divorce on the grounds of mutual consent; and requiring the Court of Appeals, by rule, to establish a specified joint complaint form and procedures for filing specified joint complaints.

HB421/SB1019: Family Law – Grandparent Visitation

Bill: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2016RS/bills/hb/hb0421F.pdf

Synopsis: Altering the circumstances under which an equity court may grant visitation rights to a grandparent of a child.

Vincent M. Wills published in the Maryland State Bar Association’s February Bar Bulletin

The Maryland State Bar Association’s February Bar Bulletin featured an article by Vince Wills titled,
“Hot Tips in Family Law”. Vince’s article appears below and can also be viewed on the MSBA’s website (http://www.msba.org/Bar_Bulletin/2016/01_-_January/Hot_Tips_in_Family_Law.aspx):

Hot off the press, here are some 'hot tips' in light of recent Rule changes and caselaw:

1. Effective January 1, 2016, section (b)(b)(A)(iv) is added to Maryland Rule 5-803 pertaining to hearsay exceptions where the unavailability of the declarant is not required. The change adds a new exception under paragraph (b) (8) - Public Records and Reports. The change permits the court, at a final protective order hearing, to accept the factual findings reported to a court pursuant to Family Law 4-505 (report of local department pertaining to abuse of a child or vulnerable adult), provided that the parties have had a fair opportunity to review the report. The committee note states that the court may be required to continue the final protective order hearing to provide the parties a fair opportunity to review the report
and to prepare for the hearing.

2. Effective January 1, 2016, Maryland Rule 9-205.3 goes into effect. This Rule pertains to the appointment or approval of a person to perform an assessment in a case that involves child custody or visitation.
Assessment includes a custody evaluation, home study, mental health evaluation, and a specific issue evaluation. The Rule sets requirements for custody evaluators, establishes mandatory elements that a custody evaluation must have, and contains requirements for the court order appointing or approving a person to perform a custody evaluation. The Rule further requires the custody evaluator to prepare a report, which may be oral, made on the record at a pretrial or settlement conference, or written. The Rule further sets parameters for copying and/or dissemination of the report. The Rule provides that the
court may receive access to a report only if the report has been admitted into evidence. (There are exceptions for access to the report upon stipulation of the parties or to a settlement judge or magistrate.) Finally, there are provisions pertaining to discovery, subpoena, and admission of the report without the presence of the assessor. The Rule also dictates that the Court is required to establish a maximum fee schedule for custody evaluations.

A New Year – a New Legislative Session!

Volume 1

January 13, 2016 ushered in the new legislative session. Lindsay Parvis is the Co-Chair of the Legislative Committee for the Family and Juvenile Law Section of the MSBA. Below are some of the noteworthy family law bills pending this session:

HB191: Child Support – Adjusted Actual Income – Multifamily Adjustment

Bill: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2016RS/bills/hb/hb0191F.pdf

Synopsis: Altering the definition of "adjusted actual income" under the State child support guidelines; providing for the calculation of a specified allowance required to be deducted from adjusted actual income under the child support guidelines; requiring that the amount of a specified allowance be subtracted from a parent's actual income before the court determines the amount of a child support award; etc.

HB259: Family Law – Child Support – Custody and Visitation Determinations

Bill: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2016RS/bills/hb/hb0259F.pdf

Synopsis: Requiring the court, in any case in which the court determines child support, to also consider custody and visitation of the child; and requiring the Child Support Enforcement Administration to refer the parties to the court for purposes of considering custody and visitation of the child when the Administration
establishes a child support obligation.

Lindsay Parvis testifies at the Maryland General Assembly

On February 4, 2016, Lindsay Parvis testified on behalf of the Family & Juvenile Law Section of the MSBA at a House Judiciary Committee Hearing in support of the following bills:

HB191: Child Support – Adjusted Actual Income – Multifamily Adjustment

Bill: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2016RS/bills/hb/hb0191F.pdf

Synopsis: Altering the definition of "adjusted actual income" under the State child support guidelines;
providing for the calculation of a specified allowance required to be deducted from adjusted actual income under the child support guidelines; requiring that the amount of a specified allowance be subtracted from a parent's actual income before the court determines the amount of a child support award; etc.

For a video of Ms. Parvis’s testimony, please click the following link: http://mgahouse.maryland.gov/mga/play/2efc791a-0652-47c8-a5dd-97f10fa9bb9f/?catalog/03e481c7-8a42-4438-a7da-93ff74bdaa4c

HB155: Criminal Law – Stalking and Harassment

Bill: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/2016RS/bills/hb/hb0155F.pdf

Synopsis: Repealing the requirement that specified conduct be malicious in order to be prohibited conduct applicable to crimes related to stalking, harassment, and misuse of electronic communications or interactive computer services; and prohibiting a person from engaging in a course of conduct where the person intends to cause or knows or reasonably should have known that the conduct would cause serious emotional distress to another.

Vincent M. Wills to speak at the MSBA’s 2016 Hot Tips in Family Law CLE

Vincent M. Wills, a parter at the law firm, will speak at the MSBA’s 2016 Hot Tips in Family Law CLE scheduled for February 4, 2016 from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel in Columbia, MD. Vince’s presentation concerns “Electronically Stored Information (ESI) – What family law practitioners should know”. For more information about this continuing legal education program, please visit the MSBA’s website.

MSBA Website

Lindsay Parvis co-authors article published in Maryland Association for Justice’s Trial Reporter

P. Lindsay Parvis, a partner in the firm, along with Heather Sweren, a partner at Brodsky Renehan Pearlstein & Bouquet, Chartered, recently authored an article titled “Developments in Family Law in 2015” published in the Winter 2015 publication of the Maryland Association for Justice’s Trial Reporter. Highlights of the article include a discussion of family law legislation and rules of civil procedure that went into effect in 2015, new rules going into effect in 2016, and appellate and attorney general opinions issued in 2015.

To read the full article, please click the following link:

Trial Reporter Article

Heather Collier and Erik Arena Speaking on Child-Related Tax Issues

On February 25, 2016, Heather Collier, Erik Arena, and tax attorney Eric Rollinger of Stein, Sperling, Bennett, De Jong, Driscoll, PC, will be speaking before the Family Law Section of the Bar Association for Montgomery County, Maryland, on the topic: “Child-related Tax Issues—What are they and what do you do with them?” This program will cover a number of tax issues related to filing status(es), dependency exemptions, and related tax credits and deductions, which should be on every family law attorney’s radar as a part of any case involving children. Both Heather and Erik are excited to share their knowledge and insights with their fellow colleagues in February.

Attorneys at DHHW named in Super Lawyers Magazine

Patrick W. Dragga, Jeffrey Hannon, Kevin G. Hessler, Vincent M. Wills, Lindsay Parvis, Heather Collier, and Erik P. Arena were each named as a 2016 Maryland Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers Magazine. The Super
Lawyers selection process is based on peer nominations, third-party independent research conducted across 12 different categories by an attorney-led research team, and a peer review by those attorneys who received the highest total ratings in each practice area. Only 5% of the lawyers practicing in the State of Maryland are named to the Super Lawyers list.

Patrick W. Dragga was also named as one of the 2016 Maryland “Top 100” lawyers by Super Lawyers Magazine.

Please click on the link below for the full article:

http://digital.superlawyers.com/superlawyers/mdslrs16?pg=2#pg2

What’s in a name?

Volume 1

If requested in a divorce, a spouse will be restored to his or her given birth name or any other former name the party wishes to use.  This name restoration cannot be stopped by the ex-spouse, nor can an ex-spouse require it of the other.  There are two conditions that must be met:

1)  the current name was taken upon the marriage at issue and the party no long wishes to use it; and,

2) the request for restoration to a former name is not for any fraudulent, immoral, or illegal purpose.

The request can be made in a complaint or counterclaim, in an answer, or in person at the divorce hearing or trial.  It is a formal name change, which will allows the party to update his or her driver’s license, social security card, and accounts with a copy of the judgment of absolute divorce stating the restored name.  This does not, however, allow a party to take an entirely new name.

This process is streamlined when compared with going through a separate action to change one’s name.  This streamlined process is only available when a divorce is granted and must occur at the time of the divorce.  If not, a party will need to file a separate petition for name change in order to change his or her name afterward.

The decision to resume one’s former name – or not – at the time of the divorce is a personal one.  It can be influenced by attachment to the married versus family names, children with the same last name, among other reasons.  Fortunately, if one does not resume a former name at the divorce, one can do so after the fact, although more steps, time, and expense are involved.

Continue to Volume 2 of What's in a Name?

By: P. Lindsay Parvis

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