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

On October 20, 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 part 2 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”.  This program will cover a number of 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 are excited to share their insights with their fellow colleagues in October. 

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

Erik Arena is an Associate Attorney at Dragga, Hannon, Hessler & Wills, LLP with eleven years’ experience in family law and divorce matters.

Vincent Wills to Moderate ESI Seminar for Maryland State Bar Association

The Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA) is presenting a seminar on Electronically Stored Information (ESI) and what attorneys need to know about this developing and ever-changing area of evidence and discovery.  The program, being offered on September 9th in Columbia, will provide the basics of electronic devices (such as bits/bytes, hardware, software, iPads, etc.) and how that information is used in e-discovery.  The course will go further to help attorneys determine their duties at the initial client consultation, tips, tricks and traps in capturing ESI, when to hire a forensic expert, the legal responsibilities of both the requesting and responding party, how to review and analyze ESI and the admissibility of ESI evidence in court.  

Resources for How to Tell the Children About the Separation

When parents separate and/or divorce, it can be difficult to know how to tell the children in age appropriate ways while feeling prepared to answer any questions children may have.  There are many resources and tools to help.

Meeting with a mental health professional (often a social worker) ahead of time is helpful to develop a plan of how, when, and what will be said, as well as who will be present.  Parents who want to tell the children together can develop a “shared narrative” for the children, so both parents and children are on the same page.  Working with a mental health professional provides age appropriate guidance about how much to share, what questions will likely be asked, and how to answer them.  There are many mental health professionals who provide such services in this area and the attorneys at DHHW can point you in the direction of professionals experienced with this.

Capital Loss Carry Forwards in Maryland Divorce

When property is sold for less than the purchase price, this may result in a capital loss that can be used to offset certain types of income on future income tax returns.  If not used all in one tax year, the capital loss may carry forward to be used in future tax years.  In a 2015 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals decided that a capital loss carry forward, that results from the sale of marital property, is also marital property.  Marital property is property acquired during the marriage, with some exceptions.

Joint Legal Custody and Tie-Breaking Provisions

On July 11, 2016, the Court of Appeals affirmed the use of tie-breaking provisions “under appropriate circumstances and with careful consideration articulated on the record” in cases where the parties share joint legal custody but lack the ability to effectively communicate or cooperate together in matters pertaining to their children.  See Santo v. Santo. 

Maryland’s Return of the de facto Parent

On July 7, 2016, the Court of Appeals issued its much awaited decision, Conover v. Conover regarding non-biological, non-adoptive parents and how to decide cases regarding their custody and parenting time with children with whom they have a parent-like relationship.  This marks the return of the de facto parent to Maryland.

Lindsay Parvis elected to MSBA Board of Governors

On June 18, 2016, Lindsay Parvis was elected to the MSBA’s Board of Governors at the Joint Bench Bar Conference in Ocean City, Maryland. Lindsay will serve a 2-year term, representing Montgomery County, Maryland.

The Board of Governors directs the affairs of the Maryland State Bar Association. It consists of the officers (President, President Elect, Treasurer, and Secretary), Immediate Past President, the MSBA’s delegate to the American Bar Association, Chair of the Young Lawyers Section, and those elected to the Board to represent different geographic districts of the State.

Lindsay is the outgoing Co-Chair of the Legislative Committee of the MSBA’s Family & Juvenile Law Section and outgoing Membership Co-Chair of the Montgomery County Inns of Court.

2016 Family Law Legislative Wrap Up

Volume 3

The 2016 Maryland General Assembly session saw lots of activity with little family law legislation passed. Of the bills discussed my two prior posts about family law legislation – Volume 1 and Volume 2 – only 2 passed, both of which address corroboration of the grounds for divorce. Effective October 1, 2016, corroborating testimony will no longer be required for the court to grant a divorce. Under current law (Family Law Article §7-101(a)), the court may not enter a judgment of absolute divorce on the party’s uncorroborated testimony. Also effective October 1, 2016, Family Law Article §8-104 will be eliminated. §8-104 is a vestige of the old ground for divorce, “voluntary separation” and allowed a separation agreement to be corroboration that the separation was voluntary if the agreement met certain requirements. “Voluntary separation” was revised in 2011 to “1-year separation”, eliminating the requirements that the separation be “mutual and voluntary” and “without expectation of reconciliation”.

American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Maryland, Virginia & District of Columbia Joint Chapter Spring Retreat 2016

On May 14, 2016, Patrick W. Dragga, Kevin Hessler, and Vincent M. Wills attended the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Maryland, Virginia & District of Columbia Joint Chapter Spring Retreat in Cambridge, Maryland. The topic of the retreat was Relocation Issues in Custody Disputes. Vincent M. Wills and Kathleen Dumais presented part of the program, specifically addressing relocation discussions with Clients. The other presenters were the Hon. Cynthia Callahan, who offered a Judicial Perspective on application of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and Shannon Hines, Esquire, who discussed the Role of the State Department and Available Resources.

Heather Collier - Incoming President of the Montgomery County Chapter of the Women’s Bar Association

Congratulations to Heather Collier on being the Incoming President of the Montgomery County Chapter of the WBA for the 2016 to 2017 year. Heather will take over from Past-President Kathryn McDonough in June, 2016. The Montgomery County Chapter of the Women’s Bar Association is very active in the community. The chapter hosts several events throughout the year, including a Judicial Reception for our Circuit Court judges and court personnel, and the Fall Forum, an event designed to provide life coaching to teenage girls in our local high schools. The MCWBA Chapter puts on a Triennial auction to support the Chapter and provide charitable donations to local organizations. Heather Collier Co-Chaired the Auction Committee for six years, along with Lili Khozeimeh, the Adoption/Guardianship Case Manager at the Circuit Court for Montgomery County, MD Family Division Services, ending their tenure with the enormously successful March 5, 2016 Auction held in Silver Spring.


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