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Mr. and Mrs. Woodcock lived in Wicomico County, Maryland, until Mrs. Woodcock left the marital residence and moved to her parent’s home in Baltimore.  She filed for alimony in Baltimore claiming that Mr. Woodcock had forced her to move out.

Upon being served with the complaint, Mr. Woodcock filed his complaint for divorce based on desertion in Wicomico County and a motion to dismiss his wife’s suit in Baltimore for lack of jurisdiction.

The Baltimore judge said that the general rule in the statute is that a suit must be filed in the county where the defendant resides.  An exception to the general rule is a suit for divorce which may be brought in the county where either party resides.  When two courts have jurisdiction over a case, the first court keeps the case and a second court cannot interfere.  Since Mrs. Woodcock filed first, she should have won.

However, Mrs. Woodcock had filed a suit for alimony, not divorce, which fell within the general rule so it should have been filed in her husband’s county.  The Baltimore judge dismissed her complaint for alimony and gave her permission to refile an amended complaint for divorce, which she did.

The husband appealed and the Maryland Court of Appeals said slow down.  Since the first case for alimony was filed in the wrong county, it didn’t count.  That meant the Wicomico court had jurisdiction over the case when the husband filed for divorce there.  And the Baltimore court couldn’t get it back by an amendment to the alimony complaint.

Woodcock v. Woodcock, 169 Md. 40; 179 A. 826 (1935)

The prince ran off with his secretary.  The princess sued him for divorce based on adultery and desertion.   She got custody, child support, alimony, lawyer fees, the castle and half the kingdom.  And then they lived happily ever after.

In Lee v. Andochick, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed a $10,000 a month alimony award because the numbers just didn’t add up.  But the Court also found the trial judge erred in awarding indefinite alimony on the basis of unconscionable disparity.

Section 11-106(c)(2) of the Maryland Family Law Article provides that alimony may be awarded indefinitely if the court finds that even after the party seeking alimony will have made as much progress of  becoming self-supporting as can reasonably be expected, the respective standards of living of the parties will be unconscionably disparate.

Mr. Lee made $1,760,282 and Dr. Andochick made $267,000 in 2006.  But the appeals court said a disparity in income is not the same as a disparity in standards of living.

Dr. Andochick, the court said, did not explain or prove how her standard of living would be unconscionably disparate from Mr.  Lee’s if she did not receive alimony.  The court also said the trial judge did not discuss his analysis of why the respective standards of living of the parties would be unconscionably disparate.  Therefore the case was sent back to the trial judge to make further findings.

Money will bring a whole new set of problems into your life if you experience a divorce.

If you think that money buys happiness, or a little more money will solve your problems, I can assure you that more money will bring a whole new set of problems into your life if you experience a divorce.

Just ask Keith Lee and Lori Andochick of Frederick County, Maryland, who married in 1993, separated in 2004 and were divorced in 2007.   As a partner in the investment firm of Brown Capital of Baltimore, Maryland, Mr. Lee made $1,760,282 in 2006.  Dr. Andochick, a dentist, made $267,000 that year.

The Court awarded Dr. Andochick $10,000 a month in spousal support, $15,000 a month in child support for their two children, $2,200 a month in other costs for the children, a monetary award payable at $250,000 a year for five years and attorney fees.

Mr. Lee appealed the alimony award.  The Court of Special Appeals reversed the case.  The Court calculated the annual numbers on Mr. Lee like this:

Gross Income                         $1,760.282
Less Taxes                                ($762,282)
Less Debt Obligations             ($636,588)
Child Support and Alimony*  ($278,400)
Monetary Award                      ($250,000)

Total                                         ($166,988)

In other words, Mr. Lee would have had to borrow about $167,000 a year just to make ends meet and even then he would have nothing left over for food and personal expenses.  The Appeals Court found that the trial judge “did not do the math.”

* see comments

On the twelfth day of Christmas
The Good Court gave to me:
Twelve Years of Alimony
Eleven Grand for Attorneys
Ten Shares of Stock
Nine Options Vesting
Eight Years of Child Support
Seven Rooms of Furniture
Six Sets of China
Five Golden Rings
Four QDRO’s
Three Bank Accounts
Two Used Cars
and Half of the Remaining Equity.

This post was contributed by Kelly Kilpatrick, who writes on the subject of a police detective. She invites your feedback at kellykilpatrick24 at gmail dot com.

If you’ve seen someone go through a bitter divorce and the even uglier child custody battle, you’ll know that the courts are not generally favorable towards the father, especially when it comes to securing custody of the child. Some fathers are happy to wash their hands of the responsibility of child rearing, but others are left devastated when their spouse gets sole custody and they’re asked to pay child support and alimony too in some cases.

Most judges are predisposed to awarding custody to the mother, simply because she is the one who’s had more time with the child, especially if he or she is pretty young. When you’re on the verge of a divorce, it’s hard to be rational and think before you act. But when it comes to your children and the fact that a court is going to tell you how you’re going to be allowed to relate to them for the rest of your life, you must put your emotions aside and use your head alone to save yourself a whole lot of trouble.

The first thing to do is to make your divorce amicable; I know it’s the hardest thing to do, part on good terms with someone you don’t want to live the rest of your life with. But if you share children, it’s the mature thing to do. This has a host of advantages, especially to you as the father. You don’t say things you may regret later, things that if overheard by your youngster, could end up harming your reputation in his or her eyes. Remember, your child is likely to be influenced by your spouse, so it’s best to remain on cordial terms with her.

A friendly divorce also allows you both to save a ton of money – you can bypass the lawyers altogether, seek joint custody of your children and reach a mutually satisfactory amount for child support and alimony. Better still, you remain on good terms so that your children feel secure even though you’re divorced.

I know I’m painting a pretty rosy picture where your spouse agrees to an amicable divorce and joint custody, but it’s worth a try, for yourself and your children. Rather than assume that your spouse would never go along with your suggestions, and that she is out to hurt you, be gracious enough to give in once in a while. After all, you were in love with the woman once, and by being the bigger person, you save yourself an acrimonious divorce proceeding and a lot of money in the process. Your spouse may also feel the need to relent once she sees how reasonable you’re being, so go ahead, give it a try. You’ve nothing to lose (other than what you will even if you don’t try) if it doesn’t work out, and everything to gain if it does.