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.
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.
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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?
Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland Announces “One Judge One Family” Case Assignments starting January 1, 2016
Currently, the majority of Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland cases can lack continuity in the court because multiple judges may hear and decide different portions of the case. The One Judge One Family (1F1J) initiative identifies high conflict and complex cases that would benefit from being assigned to one judge. A 1F1J case assignment will pull in all cases between the parties/involving the same child(ren), such as divorce, custody, child support, guardianship of a minor, domestic violence, and juvenile matters, to be handled by one team. The team will consist of one judge, one magistrate, and one case manager.
Two rules of civil procedure will go into effect January 1, 2016 that directly impact family law matters.
The first - 5-803 – Hearsay Exceptions: Unavailability of Declarant Not Required – applies in domestic violence protective order cases in which a court referred the case for a child protective services (CPS) investigation. Specifically 5-803(b)(8)(A)(iv) regards admissibility, at a final protective order hearing, of factual findings reported to a court in a CPS report, provided the parties have had a fair opportunity to review the report. It is the current practice in such situations for CPS to prepare and submit the report to the court, for the parties/their attorneys to review the report at court the day of the final protective order hearing, and for CPS not to send the investigator to court as a witness. The lack of witness could result in a CPS report not being admitted. The addition of this new rule will allow the CPS report to be received into evidence in the absence of a live witness from CPS.
Kevin G. Hessler will be presenting at a CLE entitled “The Monetary Award: Practice Tips and Avoiding Pitfalls” to be held on December 2, 2015 at the Bar Association of Montgomery County Building in Rockville, Maryland.
For more information on the CLE or to register online, visit the link below:
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As of October 1, 2015 there is a new ground for absolute divorce in Maryland.
Parties can now obtain an absolute divorce based on mutual consent if the parties do not have minor children in common, the parties submit to the court a written and signed settlement agreement resolving the parties’ alimony and property rights and neither party files a pleading to set aside the settlement agreement prior to the divorce hearing. Both parties must appear before the court at the absolute divorce hearing.
Process for filing for Divorce based on Mutual Consent in Montgomery County:
When filing for divorce based on Mutual Consent, the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland is requiring that the written and signed settlement agreement be submitted with the complaint and that the following new Joint Request for Uncontested Divorce Hearing form (exclusively for Mutual Consent grounds) be filed:
Vincent M. Wills, a partner of the firm, recently completed his year long term (2014-2015) as chair of the Family and Juvenile Law Section for the Maryland State Bar Association. During his time as president, Mr. Wills was involved in planning Continuing Legal Education seminars to be offered by the Section, the 2014-2015 legislative session and the planning for a new initiative called “Family Law for the Public.” Mr. Wills wrapped up his year as president by speaking to the Family and Juvenile Law Section for the Maryland State Bar Association at the annual bar convention in Ocean City, MD.