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Glen Burnie Family Law Blog

Obtaining a business valuation for property division purposes

Many Maryland business owners who are considering divorce have serious concerns about how their business might be affected. Very often, people put everything they have into building their business from the ground up. They invest time, money and extraordinary effort to create a successful venture. When a divorce is on the horizon, the manner in which business assets will be handled during property division is a chief concern.

One of the first steps in determining how to divide business assets during divorce is to obtain a professional business valuation. The best way to approach this task is by hiring an independent financial expert who specializes in business valuation during divorce. That individual will have the skills and experience necessary to comb through financial records and assess current market conditions to reach a fair determination of value.

Couple facing pet care dispute after high asset divorce

When a Maryland couple decides to divorce, part of that process involves determining the structure of their financial obligations to one another. That might include matters of child support, alimony or other ongoing payments from one party to the other. In some cases, payments may be tied to the care of a pet, which can lead to a great deal of contention down the road. An example is found in a couple who may be headed back to court to argue the details of their high asset divorce settlement.

The center of the matter lies in the financial support for the couple's beloved English bulldog, named Lola. In the divorce agreement, the wife agreed to provide Lola's daily care. The husband agreed to pay the wife $200 per month to assist with that care, in addition to paying for all feeding costs and half of any veterinary care that Lola might need.

This bill could change one state's child custody approach

Maryland residents may be aware of the widespread shift toward equally divided custody of shared children. This child custody trend has been underway for some time, with various states around the nation considering and sometimes passing legislation that changes the way that family courts approach these cases. One state is currently considering a bill that would require judges to approach all child custody matters from the position that shared 50/50 custody is the preferred solution.

Many people strongly oppose this bill. They feel that child custody matters are best handled on an individual basis, with a judge who is empowered to make determinations based on the particulars of each individual case. They fear that forcing judges to begin from a position of 50/50 custody could lead to negative outcomes for families, especially those who are plagued by domestic violence.

A state tries new child custody approach to reunite families

When a parent is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, one of the biggest things that he or she stands to lose is parental rights. These types of child custody cases are among the most heart wrenching and difficult matters to come before family courts, in Maryland and across the nation. One state is working to find a way to reunite parents and children, and to combat the destruction of families that so often occurs when drug or alcohol addiction is a factor.

The program is known as "Best for Babies," but most people call it simply "Baby Court." The primary focus of the program is to help parents gain the addiction treatment they need and work toward reuniting with children who were removed from their care. The aim is to create a stable family unit that supports the needs of both parents and children.

Can parents lose child custody rights over IQ testing results?

Most Maryland parents assume that if they provide a safe and loving home for their kids, then their parental rights will never be challenged by the state. In fact, the vast majority of parents give absolutely no thought to having to battle the state for the right to raise their own child. In reality, however, there are cases in which parents have their rights stripped for reasons that are highly questionable to most. An example is found in a case where a couple has lost child custody rights to two children based on their perceived intelligence.

The case centers on a mother who tested at an IQ level of 72, which is considered extremely low. The father tested at an IQ level of just 66, which signifies a mild level of intellectual disability. Both of those scores are significantly lower than the average IQ for adults, which falls between 90 and 110.

Is it appropriate to include PTSD in child custody determinations

When Maryland parents face off over custody issues, things can quickly take a turn for the worse. Parents naturally want to spend time with their kids, and a divorce cuts into the available time for both parents. That can lead to lengthy battles in which any and every weakness is exposed, often past the boundaries of what is fair or reasonable. An example lies in a case where a father's post-traumatic stress disorder became the central focus of his child custody case.

The man served as a Marine in Iraq, and went through multiple traumatic incidents during his time in the service. He has since been diagnosed with PTSD and severe depression. He is currently receiving 100 percent disability from the V.A. For a period of time, he and his former wife shared custody of their three children, but their relationship has deteriorated in recent years.

When property division agreements require refinancing

One of the most emotionally charged aspects of a Maryland divorce is how to handle the disposition of the family home. Couples build a lifetime of memories in their home, and the house often represents far more than its value as a real estate investment. In many cases, one spouse desperately wants to hold onto the family home, and will negotiate the ability to do so as part of the property division settlement. That decision usually comes with the requirement that the property be refinanced solely in the name of the retaining spouse.

Accomplishing that requirement is often easier said than done. When a lender is faced with a refinancing request, the retaining spouse must be able to qualify for the new loan on his or her own, without factoring in the income, credit score or payment history of the other spouse. In the timeframe surrounding a divorce, many financial matters are often unsettled. This can make lenders nervous, and make it far more difficult for one spouse to refinance in his or her own name.

Research could help spouses feel better about divorce, alimony

For many Maryland spouses, living in an unhappy marriage has defined the past few years of their lives. It can be difficult to know when enough is enough, and when the best route to happiness lies in filing for divorce. Recent research suggests that divorce is now more socially acceptable than ever before. That could make it easier for spouses to reach a decision about filing for divorce and seeking alimony and/or child support.

According to researchers, more Americans find divorce "morally acceptable" than ever before. Those behind the study used data collected by Gallup's Values and Beliefs poll from 2017. The results show that while divorce has been accepted for many years now, 73 percent of this year's respondents feel that divorce is "morally acceptable." Some researchers believe that divorce has become less stigmatizing over the decades as people have come to understand more about the legal aspects of divorce. As with so many things, being able to understand the process makes something more familiar, and therefore easier to trust or accept.

One state compels collaboration in divorce, child custody cases

Family courts in Maryland and across the nation are overburdened by packed dockets, staffing challenges, cases that take far longer than anticipated and a limited number of hours in the workweek. In many parts of the nation, efforts are taken to reduce the stress that divorce and child custody cases place on the judicial system. One state has passed a new law that compels spouses to at least attempt a collaborative approach prior to coming before the courts.

Those who support the Collaborative Process Law believe that encouraging parties to work through their differences on their own, outside of court, can have positive outcomes for both families and the judicial system. It is hoped that attorneys in the state will strengthen their skills in collaboration, and will encourage their clients to make a sincere effort to resolve their divorce issues outside of court. Even in cases where the courts are asked to determine some aspects of a case, the couple could come in with an agreement in place on many issues. 

Good parenting could improve child custody outcomes

When it comes to a custody fight, Maryland parents are often inundated with unsolicited advice. Very often, those pieces of advice are simply too little, too late. The actions that parents take throughout the lives of their children are usually more important in a child custody case than anything that is said or done once the paperwork is filed. In many ways, the advice that can have the greatest impact during a divorce applies to the way that a parent behaves throughout the marriage.

Fortunately, the same actions that can bolster one's child custody rights are also the hallmarks of good parenting. For example, a parent will have a better shot at receiving substantial custody time if he or she was involved in the daily life of his or her child. Being a present and engaged parent is a great way to raise happy and healthy kids. It is also a good position to find oneself in if a divorce becomes a reality.