Client FAQ's - Financial Statements

Sandra Mendez is a Senior Paralegal at DHHW.  She has worked with Dragga, Hannon, Hessler & Wills since 2012.


A financial statement, in sum, is a monthly overview of your expenses, income and assets and liabilities. You may have completed some version of one when you applied for a loan or a credit card. The Court’s version may look a little different and two forms are available from which to choose. One is known as the Short-Form Financial Statement, and the other one, not surprisingly, is known as the Long-Form Financial Statement. Alas, you cannot just choose the version you prefer to complete.  The circumstances of your case determine which version applies to your case.

Client FAQ's – Interrogatories

Laura Holt is a Paralegal at DHHW.  She joined Dragga, Hannon, Hessler, & Wills, LLP in 2014 and has worked with the firm as a Paralegal since 2015.

In a contested case, one portion of the case is dedicated to discovery.  Discovery is the gathering and exchange of information (for example facts, information, and documents) to understand each party’s position and develop evidence in the case.  One discovery tool often used are Interrogatories. Interrogatories are written questions to the opposing party that must be answered in writing and under oath. This means the answers must be truthful and accurate, as if the client is testifying in court.

Representing Children in Contested Custody Cases

Maryland recognizes three types of attorneys who can be appointed to represent children in contested custody, access/visitation/parenting time, and domestic violence cases.  All of these roles require that the attorney be appointed by court order to represent the child client.

Child Privilege Attorney

This is the narrowest role.  A Child Privilege Attorney (“CPA”) is charged with determining whether the child’s privilege or confidentiality with a mental health professional (such as, psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker/LCSW, licensed professional counselor, or other licensed mental health provider) should remain intact or be waived.  If privilege is not waived, a mental health professional will likely be prevented, or at least very limited, from testifying, disclosing his/her file, and sharing information about the therapy.  If privilege is waived, then the mental health professional can testify, disclose his/her file, and share such information.  Pursuant to Nagle v. Hooks, 296 Md. 123 (1983), parents in a contested custody case lose the right to decide whether or not their child(ren)’s privilege should remain intact or be waived, and so an attorney is appointed to make that decision.  In sum, the CPA is a gatekeeper.  A CPA may notify the court of his/her waiver position in a written report but does not testify.

What to Expect at Your Scheduling Hearing – Part 2

Ok, so now you’ve made it to the courtroom.  What next?

After your case is called by the clerk, you will approach the appropriate table (either Plaintiff or Defendant) and wait for the Magistrate to address you.  You will identify yourself for the record when prompted, by stating your name and confirming that you are the Plaintiff or Defendant, and then await the Magistrate’s instructions.

What to Expect at Your Scheduling Hearing – Part 1

You’ve now received in the mail a “Notice of Scheduling Hearing and Order of Court”.  It Orders you to appear in court for a Scheduling Hearing before a Family Division Magistrate on a date and time certain.  What should you expect?  How, if at all, should you prepare? 

Generally speaking, the Scheduling Hearing is your and the Court’s opportunity to:

  • Identify the issues in dispute in the case;
  • Initiate court-sponsored services such as mediation/alternative dispute resolution or custody-related services (e.g. court custody evaluations; custody mediation; attorneys for children); and
  • Develop a schedule of future hearing dates and filing and discovery deadlines that will govern the progression of your case.

Alimony Guidelines – What Are They and Are They Useful?

Alimony (or “spousal support”) is a periodic maintenance payment that a spouse or former spouse pays to the other after the spouses separate or divorce. Generally, the purpose of alimony is to create economic fairness between spouses during the separation and after the marriage ends. Alimony awards in Maryland are governed by Md. Code Ann., Fam. Law Title 11.

There are three types of alimony:

  1. Alimony pendente lite –for a limited time period, while the divorce case is pending and until the divorce is finalized
  2. Term Alimony –  time limited alimony, after the divorce, to enable a dependent spouse the time to financially support themselves.
  3. Indefinite Alimony – alimony for an indefinite amount of time, when the dependent spouse cannot become self-supporting and/or the parties’ standards of living after the divorce will be unconscionably disparate (extremely different).

Therefore, any alimony claim has three components: 1) whether alimony should be paid; 2) the amount of any alimony payment; and, 3) the duration of any alimony payments.

Amanda C. Smith Becomes Associated with DHHW

The Law firm of Dragga, Hannon, Hessler & Wills, L.L.P. takes pleasure in announcing that on January 10, 2017, Amanda C. Smith has become associated with the firm.  

Amanda’s practice has been focused on family and other civil litigation cases from the time she was admitted to the bar. Prior to joining Dragga, Hannon, Hessler, & Wills, she worked as an associate attorney with another Montgomery County law firm where she developed her passion for family law cases and her appreciation for the opportunity to guide clients through one of the most difficult and emotionally challenging times in their lives. Her background in the field of Psychology has earned her a unique insight that serves her clients well. She strives to educate and empower families at every step of the legal process to ensure that their diverse needs are met and their desired goals are achieved.  

Heather Collier and Erik Arena Recently Spoke at Part 3 of the Program on Alimony and Child Support-Related Tax Issues

On January 19, 2017, Heather Collier, Erik Arena, and tax attorney Eric Rollinger of Stein, Sperling, Bennett, De Jong, Driscoll, PC, spoke before the Family Law Section of the Bar Association for Montgomery County, Maryland, on part 3 of their 3-part series of Programs on tax issues, entitled: “Alimony and Child Support Tax Issues--The Top 5 Things Divorce Lawyers Need to Know”.  The program was well attended by local family law attorneys and covered several tax issues related to alimony, child support, and the interplay between the two, which should be on every family law attorney’s radar when structuring or advocating for a combined domestic support arrangement in their client’s best interests.  Both Heather and Erik were pleased to share with their fellow colleagues their knowledge and insights.  

Heather Collier is a Partner at Dragga, Hannon, Hessler & Wills, LLP with twelve years' experience in family law and divorce matters.

Erik Arena is a Partner at Dragga, Hannon, Hessler & Wills, LLP with twelve years’ experience in family law and divorce matters.

Erik P. Arena Becomes Partner at DHHW

The Law Firm of Dragga, Hannon, Hessler & Wills, L.L.P. takes pleasure in announcing that on January 1, 2017, Erik P. Arena has become a Partner.

Erik Arena practices family law exclusively and has done so since June of 2005, when he completed his judicial clerkship with the Honorable Dennis M. McHugh of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland. He joined Dragga, Hannon, Hessler & Wills, LLP in May 2011. Erik’s practice includes representing clients in all aspects of family law, including adoptions, pre- and post-nuptial agreements, child custody and paternity matters, child support actions, domestic violence and peace order actions, and divorce matters, including spousal support/alimony and the identification, classification, valuation, and division of marital and non-marital property. Erik’s hallmarks are his creativity and assertiveness-- irrespective of the forum (e.g. negotiation, mediation, or litigation), he is known for cultivating innovative and cost-effective solutions to each family’s unique circumstances.  

Property Related Tax Issues in Divorce

On January 19, 2017, Heather CollierErik 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, for part 3, the final part of their 3-part series of Programs on tax issues, entitled: “Property Related Tax Issues in Divorce.”   This program will cover a number of tax issues related to the transfer, division and equitable distribution of property incident to divorce and the challenges that arise during a separation and divorce regarding past, present, and future income tax return filings, all of which should be on a family law attorney’s mind when structuring a settlement agreement or advocating for a particular property division before the court.  Heather and Erik look forward to sharing their insights with their fellow colleagues in January. 


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