Today and everyday at Hess Family Law we are grateful for our wonderful clients and friends. We wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving.
For those of our clients and friends who are newly separated or divorced, the holidays can be a difficult time. We wish you well as you embark on establishing new holiday traditions. If you are looking for tips and inspiration please read Thanksgiving Tips for the Newly Separated, and/or Surviving the Holidays Part 2: Thanksgiving.
In October, Governor Larry Hogan elevated Judge Jeanne E. Cho from the District Court where she has been a Judge since 2012 to the Circuit Court. The governor also appointed Debra L. Dwyer to the Circuit Court. Judge Cho and Judge Dwyer fill vacancies created by the legislature. The Montgomery County Circuit Court now has 24 Judges.
The Montgomery County Circuit Court also has five Family Law Magistrates, formerly called Family Law Masters. Family Law Magistrates hear evidence and make proposed findings and recommendations to a Judge. If neither party takes exceptions to the Magistrates recommendations then the Magistrates recommendations are incorporated into a court order signed by a Judge. If one or both parties take exceptions (exceptions are similar to an appeal) within 10 days of the recommendations of the Magistrate, then a Judge will review the transcript, and may hear from the parties and or take additional testimony/evidence. The Judge must use then his or her own independent judgment to decide the outcome.
Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, and Your Divorce via Time. This article reminds parties that no matter your financial status it is of the upmost importance to be specific when setting forth terms in an agreement. Alimony provisions should be specific regarding payment of taxes and receipt of deductions including payments made to third parties.
In a Divorce, Who Gets Custody of Electronic Data? The Lawyersvia New York Times. A good reminder that you should assume anything you put in a text, email or on social media will show up in court. And, if you have multiple devices that sync, if you leave one device unprotected other persons may gain access to your text, email and other information that you wanted to keep private.
3 Tips For Getting Along With Your Ex-In-Laws via Pop Sugar. Great tips for getting along with your for in-laws any time of the year but especially during the holiday season.
Rarely, if ever, should joint legal custody be awarded if the parents cannot effectively communicate with each other concerning the best interest of the child, unless there is a strong potential for effective communication in the future. The Court of Appeals in 1986 in the case of Taylor v. Taylor determined that the capacity of parents to communicate and reach shared decisions affecting the child's welfare to clearly be the most important factor in the determination of whether an award of joint legal custody (and also relevant to shared physical custody) is appropriate.
Recently, in an unreported 2016 case, Santo v. Santo, the Court of Appeals affirmed a Circuit Court decision awarding joint legal custody to parents who could not effectively communicate. The Santo case is the rare case in which the Court determined that joint legal custody was in the best interest of the children even though the parents could not effectively communicate with one another. Joint custody was necessary so that both parents would remain informed and the children would have an opportunity to have a relationship with both parents. The Court also held that no one major factor, such as ability to communicate, is more important than any of the other factors that are considered by the Court when making an award of joint custody.
In order for joint custody to work when the parents were not able to effectively communicate to make shared decisions the Santo Court assigned final decision-making authority to each of the parents. In the event the parents were not able to reach shared decisions Mr. Santo was given final decision-making authority regarding education, religion and medical issues while Ms. Santo was given final decision-making authority regarding the children's therapist. In Santo, the Court of Appeals affirmed that trial courts in Maryland are authorized to use final decision-making provisions in joint custody determinations.