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Steven J. Gaba
Phone: 301-738-7770

Bethesda MD Family Law Blog

NBA's Blake Griffin and former fiancee resolve custody dispute

Most in Rockville might assume that child custody cases are always part of larger divorce proceedings involving feuding spouses upset at each other over issues other than who gets primary custody of the kids. Yet it should be remembered that custody proceedings can also take place between unmarried couples. Some might assume that such couples bring less "baggage" into such matters, yet the fact that a couple never married does not mean that they love their kids any less than any other parent (and, by extension, will not exert the same amount of effort in fighting for what they believe to be their kids' best interests). Still, in such cases, just as it is with married parents, unwed couples are encouraged to work through custody disputes amicably. 

If reports are to be believed, then Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin and the mother of his two children have shown that this is indeed possible. Recent reports about the couple's child custody and support proceedings were met with a rebuttal issued by the pair themselves. They claim that rather than being forced to follow a set child support obligation mandated by the court, they have reached an amicable co-parenting plan on their own. The couple was engaged at one point, but never married. 

What is Maryland's standard for determining incapacitation?

Bringing up the issue of adult guardianship is never easy, yet there may reach a point where circumstances dictate that your loved one have someone who is specifically assigned to see to his or her well-being. He or she might not necessarily agree with your assessment, but that is understandable given the hesitancy that anyone would experience at the thought of surrendering important personal powers and authorities to someone else. If, however, he or she continues to refuse such care, you may be forced to take matters into your own hands. 

Section 13-705 of Maryland's Estates and Trusts Code says that you (or any other interested party) may petition the court to have an ailing loved one be declared incapacitated. The state's standard for defining incapacitation is one lacking the ability to make or communicate responsible decisions regrading the provision of his or her own care due to any of the following reasons: 

  • Mental disability 
  • Disease
  • Habitual drunkeness
  • Drug addiction

What is alternative dispute resolution?

There are many different terms you may hear in the course of the divorce process in Maryland. While you probably know and understand terms such as custody, parenting plan and asset division, other terms may be unfamiliar. One example is alternative dispute resolution. Someone may suggest you use ADR in your divorce. It helps to understand the term so you know if it is something worth considering.

The U.S. Department of Labor explains that alternative dispute resolution is not just restricted to a divorce situation. It can actually be used in a variety of different legal situations. ADR is basically where a legal situation is kept out of court by using a neutral party to act as the middleman in resolving the issue at hand.

How are assets divided during a divorce?

If you’re in the midst of a divorce in Maryland, you may have concerns about how your assets will be divided. This process can include many different factors, from when property was acquired to how property is categorized. Forbes explains some general information on how property and assets are commonly divided (although it can depend on your specific situation).

What Is Separate Property?

Is it OK for you to move away with your kids?

Divorce is meant to bring about the end of any strife that exists between a couple. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. When putting more distance between yourself and your ex-spouse is not helping to ease the tension between you, you might then view relocating to a different area (or another state altogether) as the logical next step. Yet is that even an option when the two of you have children together? 

It is, but only if you follow the right course of action. According to Section 9-106 of the Family Code of Maryland, that starts by notifying the court of your intention to move at least 90 days prior to relocating with your kids. The court will then review you case to determine whether or not you should be required to make your ex-spouse aware of your intentions. While the court recognizes the advantage of your kids having the influence of both of their parents in their lives, it is also understood that certain situations (such as were abuse may have occurred) may make keeping him or her out of the loop the best option. If, however, you are mandated to inform him or her of your plans, he or she then has 20 days to contest them. If he or she does, and expedited hearing will be schedule to review the matter (and revise your custody agreement, if necessary). 

Tax considerations for alimony payments

When getting divorced, spouses in Maryland who may end up paying spousal support to their former partners will need to understand the potential ramifications of this agreement. The financial implications of paying alimony is about a lot more than how much money goes out of one's bank account every month. As with other elements of a divorce agreement, there are tax consequences associated with these payments.

Exactly how taxes will be assessed on alimony payments is about to undergo a major shift in the United States. As explained by the Internal Revenue Service, for many decades now the person who has received spousal support has paid the income tax on that money. At the same time, the spouse who has made alimony payments has been able to deduct the amount from their individual tax returns. This has served as some form of consolation to payers of alimony over the years.

Detailing the priorities of appointment for guardianship

No one in Rockville wants to contemplate being in a position where adequately caring for oneself becomes an impossibility. Yet countless clients come to members of our team here at Steven J. Gaba concerned that their loved ones lack the capacity to do just that. If you share the same fear, then you are likely in a tough spot. Your concerns over your family member or friend's safety may be in conflict with the thought of having a guardian assigned to him or her. That fear likely comes from the assumption that such a guardian is likely to be a stranger. 

That does not have to be the case. In fact, the state has created a defined list of priorities when it comes to selecting a guardian for an adult ward. According to the General Assembly of Maryland, these are: 

  • Any person, committee or organization nominated by your loved one him or herself (provided that he or she had the capacity to understand such a decision at the time it was made)
  • Any health care agent chosen by your loved one
  • His or her spouse
  • His or her parents
  • Any person designated to be your loved one's guardian in his or her will
  • His or her children

Mediation may not work for every case

The benefits of seeking an alternative dispute resolution through mediation to end a marriage have been detailed on this blog in the past. This does not mean, however, that mediation is the best option for every case. The individual circumstances of one's divorce may dictate that it be best resolved in a courtroom under the supervision of a judge and other court officials. 

Just exactly what are these circumstances? The most obvious are cases involving abuse. Domestic violence is one of the most common contributors to divorce, and its after-effects can often be felt during divorce proceedings. Maintaining a calm, non-threatening environment is of vital importance when going through divorce-related issues. Such an environment is most easily attained in court. Indeed, the American Bar Association says mediation should never be recommended in cases involving domestic violence. 

Is there an easy way to tackle property division?

When couples in Maryland decide that it's time to split, they will soon have to decide how they want to split the things they've accumulated, too. Steven J. Gaba is here to help if you find yourself struggling with property division.

Unfortunately, there is no "easy" way to handle property division. Unless you and your ex-partner agree on every single asset you jointly owned, there are bound to be some conflict and difficulties along the way.

Custody dispute involving NBA player ends amicably

Many in Rockville may have a preconceived notion of how the typical child custody case plays out: A couple initially disagrees over custody, they argue their case before a judge (launching accusations and allegations at the other), and in the end, the judge typically sides with the mother. That assumption may actually be quite outdated, as today's family courts try to place the welfare of the children involved in such cases above all else. In many situations, the outcome may be quite different than what most might expect. 

Take the recent case of a professional basketball and his custody dispute with his former girlfriend. Their custody dispute may have begun as many others so, with her alleging that he took their boys from her home in Michigan back to his in Texas without her consent, and him accusing her of partying and constantly leaving the kids with others. However, the two seem to have been able to set aside their differences and come at an agreement that by all accounts appears to be logical and amicable. 

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