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Congratulations to Patrick W. Dragga and Erik P. Arena for their Recent Recognition in Bethesda Magazine Article Entitled “Untying the Knot – The Bethesda Area’s Top Divorce Attorneys”

The partners, associates, and staff at Dragga, Hannon & Wills, LLP, wish to congratulate Patrick W. Dragga and Erik P. Arena for their recent recognition in the July/August 2017 Bethesda Magazine article entitled “Untying the Knot – The Bethesda Area’s Top Divorce Attorneys”.  Patrick was recognized as one of Bethesda and Rockville’s top divorce lawyers, who “remains one of the most popular and effective divorce lawyers in Rockville”.  Erik was recognized as one of the 10 “Rising Stars” under age 40 in the field of family law, and described as “fearless in the courtroom and a formidable advocate”.  It is our sincere pleasure to congratulate Pat and Erik on their well-deserved recognition as some of the area’s finest family law advocates. 

What Is Non-Marital Property and Why Should I Care?

Non-marital property consists of (a) the property you owned prior to your marriage; (b) the property you acquired during your marriage by inheritance or gift from third parties (not your spouse); and (c) any property directly traceable to any of the above sources. See Md. Code Ann. Family Law § 8-201(e)(3). In a divorce action, each party gets to keep their non-marital property, provided they are able to prove that such property was directly acquired via one of the three above-listed sources.  This is where the proverbial plot thickens, particularly in long-term marriages. 

How many people keep records verifying their acquisition of jewelry or a baseball card collection that they purchased 20 or more years ago?  How many people keep evidence confirming their receipt of funds from a deceased relative’s estate or life insurance policy?  How many people maintain statements dating back to the date of marriage for their existing 401(k) plans?  In my experience, most do not.  And most banks only keep records dating back seven years, further complicating the proof recovery problem. 

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.

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. 

“Heather Collier and Erik Arena Recently Spoke at Program 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, spoke 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”.  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 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.

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.

Heather Collier and Erik Arena Recently Spoke at Program 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, spoke 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?” The program was well attended by local family law attorneys and covered a number of tax issues related to filing status(es), dependency exemptions, and child-related tax credits and deductions. Both Heather and Erik were pleased to share with their fellow colleagues their knowledge and insights concerning how these
issues are frequently addressed in settlement negotiations and at trial.

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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.