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“We will reserve our comments for the court.”  – Lois Finkelstein in “NBA Star Bosh Bashed in Suit for Child Support” by Caryn Tamber of The Daily Record, March 26, 2009.

James J. Gross was interviewed by KMOX Radio on “Divorce in a Recession”, March 2, 2009.

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.

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

Twist on Father’s Rights

Pasqualino Cornelio of Toronto, Canada, married Anciolina Cornelio and they had twins.  They separated in 1998 and Pasqualino began making child support payments.

Recently, Anciolina sought to reduce his time with the twins and increase his child support.  Pasqualino retaliated by have a DNA test.  Guess what.  He was not the biological father of the twins.

Pasqualino claimed he was the victim of misrepresentation and fraud.  He demanded termination of child support and reimbursement of the tens of thousands of dollars he has paid over the years.

But there was no other father to step in and take his place.  “Ms. Cornelio denies knowledge of who the twins’ biological father might be,” the Judge said. “In fact, she claims to have no memory of an extramarital affair preceding their birth, which she attributes to the medication she was taking at the time.”

So, the court decided that because Pasqualino “was the only father the twins knew during the course of the marriage,” he could neither stop paying child support nor recover past child support. His father’s rights remained intact.

“While the failure of Ms. Cornelio to disclose to her husband the fact that she had an extramarital affair and that the twins might not be his biological children may well have been a moral wrong against Mr. Cornelio, it is a wrong that does not afford him a legal remedy to recover child support he has already paid, and that does not permit him to stop paying child support,” wrote Judge Katherine van Rensburg on Dec. 22, 2008.

Source:  National Post

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.

Fathers will ask me from time to time how they can monitor their child support payments to make sure the money will be used for the children’s expenses and not the mother’s expenses.  Is it a father’s right to know?

Some of the money would have to be allocated to common expenses like rent, utilities, food and transportation.  Others would be direct expenses like clothing.  It seems to me that this would be an accounting nightmare so I recommend against it.

Some fathers want me to raise the issue with the court.  I tell them about the equitable doctrine of “De minimis non curat lex” (“The law does not bother with trifles”).  Judges are barely keeping up with the cases they have, and simply don’t have the time or inclination to monitor monthly expenditures in a child support case.

The court will take action if a child is being neglected, typically by changing custody.  But short of that, mothers do not have to report how child support is spent.  For a mother’s perspective on this, see this article by Christina Rowe.

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.

Uncontested divorces in Maryland are heard by a Family Law Master.  The Plaintiff needs to appear in court to testify.  The Defendant need only appear if it is what he or she wants to do.  Here’s a checklist of things you need for an uncontested divorce hearing:

  • Report of Absolute Divorce or Annulment of Marriage (the Blue Form)
  • Separation Agreement
  • A Copy of Your Marriage Certificate
  • Child Support Guidelines Worksheet
  • Corroborating Witness and Witness Information Form
  • Submission to Judgment

While many clients think the trial resolves everything, most lawyers know that is not the case.  If the mother of your children was difficult before the trial, the trial is not going to make her into a different person.   She will still be difficult, you will have disputes regarding the children and you will need to resolve them somehow.

The court has the power to enforce its orders or the agreement of the parties.  So the court can order a mother to allow visitation or can order a father to pay child support.  However, the court will only do this if one of the parties asks it to do so by filing a petition.  The other party will then have an opportunity to respond and a hearing to present their side to the judge.

It is always better to resolve disputes yourselves if possible.   If you have a settlement agreement, you can include a provision that disputes will be submitted to mediation before taking the other party back to court.

You can also include a Parenting Coordinator in an agreement.  This would be someone that the parties can take their disputes to and let them make a decision.  This is less costly and time consuming than litigation.

If you cannot resolve your dispute through one of these methods, then you must go back to court and ask the judge to decide.  In some cases, it may be like trying your case all over again.  In addition to resolving post-trial disputes, the court has the power to modify legal custody, physical custody, timesharing and child support after the trial, if circumstances change and the modification would be in the best interests of the child.

Many clients ask about getting an online divorce.  I have seen a couple of on line agreements that weren’t filled out properly by the clients.  And I have seen one for Washington, DC, where the on line form terminated child support at age 18.  DC law provides for child support until age 21.

Now comes news of the State Attorney General’s Office for Washington State closing down Online Divorce, a Delaware Company.  According to Hector Castro at SeattlePI.Com, the company charged $249 for a divorce and claimed that its staff included “divorce specialists.”

But after complaints from customers that they couldn’t get services or refunds, the state began investigating and found that the company was providing paralegal services without attorney oversight, a violation of state law.  The company ceased doing business in Washington state and at last report is looking for an attorney.