Maryland Divorce Cases

Children

A patient or his authorized representative has a privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent a witness from disclosing, communications relating to diagnosis or treatment of the patient’s mental or emotional disorder. When the patient is a minor is too young to personally exercise the privilege, the court must appoint a guardian to act for the child. The guardian must be guided by what is in the best interests of the child. The parents, jointly or individually, may neither agree nor refuse to waive the privilege on the child’s behalf.Nagle v. Hooks, 296 Md. 123, 460 A.2d 49 (1983).

“Legal custody” carries with it the right and obligation to make long range decisions involving education, religious training, discipline, medical care, and other matters of major significance concerning the child’s life and welfare. “Joint legal custody” means that both parents have an equal voice in making those decisions, and neither parent’s rights are superior to the other. “Physical custody” means the right and obligation to provide a home for the child and to make the day-to-day decisions required during the time the child is actually with the parent having such custody. “Joint physical custody” is in reality “shared” or “divided” custody. Shared physical custody may, but need not, be on a 50/50 basis. In any child custody case, the paramount concern is the best interest of the child.Taylor v. Taylor, 306 Md. 290, 508 A.2d 964. (1986).

Neither parent may be given preference in a child custody proceeding solely because of his or her sex.Giffin v. Crane, 351 Md. 133, 716 A.2d 1029 (1998).

A father’s obligation to support his child is imposed by law and cannot be bargained away or waived. Any provision of an agreement for the child may be disregarded by a court, which can increase or decrease an allowance for support.Zouck v. Zouck, 204 Md. 285, 105 A.2d 214 (1954).

Unless there is additional supporting evidence, a court may not find that a party who invokes the Fifth Amendment privilege against self incrimination is failing to disclose the full amount of the party’s income. Neither may the court find that such a party is engaged in voluntary impoverishment.Long v. Long, 141 Md. App. 341, 785 A.2d 818 (2001).

Property

When spouses are not living together as husband and wife, the amounts paid by one of them to preserve jointly owned property should be reimbursed from the proceeds of the sale of the property before the any remaining proceeds are divided between the two of them. When spouses are living together as husband and wife, the any such amount paid by one of them is presumed to be a gift to the other and is not deducted from the sale proceeds.

Crawford v. Crawford, 293 Md. 307; 443 A.2d 599 (1982)

A court may award one spouse a fixed percentage of any future payments the other spouse receives under a pension plan, payable as, if, and when any amounts are actually paid out under the plan.

Bangs v. Bangs, 59 Md. App. 350, 475 A.2d 1214 (1984).

Divorce

A limited divorce is a divorce from bed and board. The parties may live separately but they are still married.

Atkinson v. Atkinson, 13 Md. 65, 281 A.2d 407 (1971).

A court may grant a limited divorce on the grounds of desertion or constructive desertion and may decide issues of custody and visitation even if the parties continue to live under the same roof. The party seeking the limited divorce, however, must be able to prove that the husband and wife live in separate bedrooms and without cohabitation.

Ricketts v. Ricketts, 393 Md. 479; 903 A.2d 857 (2006).

Adultery

Disposition on the part of the defendant and the paramour to commit adultery and an opportunity to commit the offense must be shown to prove adultery by circumstantial evidence.

Breault v. Breault, 250 Md. 173, 242 A.2d 116 (1968).