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Divorce Roundtable

The Divorce Roundtable of Montgomery County is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the divorce process for Montgomery County area families, and especially children.  Formed in 1992, it is made up of judges, masters, court staff, mediators, therapists, attorneys, agency personnel, and collaborative professionals.  The Divorce Roundtable introduced, among many other court projects, the co-parenting skills training and court-sponsored custody mediation.  The organization also testifies on proposed family law related legislation. 

Several of our attorneys are current or former members of The Divorce Roundtable, including Kevin G. Hessler, P. Lindsay Parvis, and Jeff Hannon, who is the Past-Chair of the organization having served from 2009 - 2011.   During Jeff’s two-year tenure as Chair, he organized and presented two all day symposiums: Faces of Advocacy and Parenting Together After Separation. Lindsay has been an active member since 2014. 

Click here for helpful links from the Divorce Roundtable. 

Vince Wills Named as Family Law Practitioner of the Year

Congratulations to Vince Wills on being named the Family Law Practitioner of the Year by the Family Law Section of the Bar Association of Montgomery County!  This honor is given in recognition of his contributions and commitment to continuing legal education for lawyers.  The Section is hosting a celebratory event on June 19, 2017 honoring Vince.

Vince has been a partner in the firm since 2001, after joining Dragga & Callahan in 1996.  Since 1996, his practice has concentrated primarily on family law, and particularly on complex litigation and appellate matters.

Most recently, Vince co-chaired the 21st Annual Symposium on Family Law.  He was the Moderator for the Electronically Stored Information (ESI) seminar for the Maryland Bar Association, and co-presenter with Kathleen Dumais on the topic of discussing relocation in custody disputes for the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers of Maryland, Virginia, and DC Joint Chapter Spring Retreat.

Types of Evaluations in Custody Cases Volume 2: Private Custody Evaluations

In contested custody cases, there are many types of evaluations that the court can order or parties can agree to undergo in order to assess the fitness of the parents and the living and decision-making arrangements that suit the best interests of the children.  These fall into two broad categories:

  1. Evaluations performed by the Court and courthouse staff or contractors; and,
  2. Evaluations performed by private professionals.  There are many different types of evaluations performed by private professionals.  For example, private custody evaluations, psychological testing or evaluations, drug/substance/alcohol evaluations or assessments and testing, psychosexual risk assessments and other evaluations of alleged and convicted sexual offenders, and so on.

Types of Evaluations in Custody Cases Volume 1: Court Evaluations

In contested custody cases, there are many types of evaluations that the court can order or parties can agree to undergo in order to assess the fitness of the parents and the living and decision-making arrangements that suit the best interests of the children.  These fall into two broad categories:

  1. Evaluations performed by the Court and courthouse staff or contractors; and,
  2. Evaluations performed by private professionals.  There are many different types of evaluations performed by private professionals.  For example, private custody evaluations, psychological testing or evaluations, drug/substance/alcohol evaluations or assessments and testing, psychosexual risk assessments and other evaluations of alleged and convicted sexual offenders, and so on.

Take Your Child To Work

On Thursday, April 27th, Heather Collier, Chapter President, and Lindsay Parvis, a past president, attended the 20th Annual "Take Your Child To Work" Luncheon presented by the Montgomery County Chapter of the Women's Bar Association.   HeatherCollier welcomed more than 70 middle and high school students, their teachers, as well as Judges, Magistrates, and many lawyers from the Montgomery County legal community, to the event, which took place at the AMP by Strathmore.  The theme of this year's luncheon was "Count on Me." The luncheon provides an opportunity for the professionals who attend to spend a few hours as a role model for students who might not otherwise have access to professional women/men, many of whom have also overcome obstacles to achieve their dreams.  The program was moderated by Krystal Holland, Director of Training and Professional Development for the National Center for Children and Families and dedicated to the memory of Rebecca Nitkin, a long-time WBA member and strong supporter of the event. The featured speaker, Wendy Thompson-Marquez, President and CEO of EVS Communications, shared her own personal journey on the road to success, including the challenges, failures, and lessons she learned along the way while acquiring her education, her immigration status, her career, and a group of friends, family and colleagues she could "Count on."   

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Client FAQ's - Financial Statements

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

WHAT IS A FINANCIAL STATEMENT?

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.

Disclaimer

Transmission or viewing of this website is not intended to create, nor does it constitute, an attorney-client relationship between the viewer and Dragga, Hannon & Wills, LLP.

This web site has been created for general informational purposes only. You should not consider the contents of this website as legal advice or legal opinion. The material contained in this site is intended to be current, complete and up-to-date, but it is not promised or guaranteed to be so. Each case is different, and the past record of the Firm's successes, and those of its attorneys, is not a guarantee of a favorable result in any future case. We will, however, devote our full attention to your case. You should not act or rely on any information contained in this site without first seeking advice of counsel.

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This website is maintained at the offices of Dragga, Hannon & Wills, LLP in Rockville, Maryland. It is for general information purposes only, is not intended as advertising, and neither solicits business nor offers legal advice. Attorneys at Dragga, Hannon & Wills do not seek to practice law in any state, territory or foreign country where they are not authorized to do so. The attorney biography page indicates all states and districts in which our attorneys are licensed to practice. Please direct your comments and questions to our office at 301-340-9090.