PRESUMPTION OF JOINT LEGAL AND PHYSICAL CUSTODY & EVIDENCE OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

The DC caselaw as well as the Statutory language both are consistent on equality among parents when it comes to granting physical and legal custody and the presumption is well rooted. Courts have generally held that: it is a “Constitutional principle, rooted in the Due Process Clause, that the right to presumptive custody of a fit, unwed, noncustodial father who has grasped the opportunity to be involved in his child’s life can be overridden only by a showing by clear and convincing evidence that it is in the best interest of the child to be placed with someone else. The
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DISTRIBUTION OF RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS AFTER MARRIAGE: DC COURT OF APPEALS

The Court of Appeals in Reed v. Rowe decided on November 15, 2018, addressed how a sole retirement account would be dispersed after a marriage to the surviving spouse. The Reeds were married on August 6, 2011. Prior to the marriage and for over fifteen years Mr. Reed held a sole retirement account designating his sister Ms. Rowe as the sole survivor. Shortly after the marriage, the trial court found that the couple initiated a joint account and commingled funds to and from the account. This was not though the retirement account subject of the litigation. There was some evidence
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RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION: CONSTITUTIONALITY OF CHILDREN’S REMOVAL

The Court of Appeals in J.C. v. D.C. decided on December 27, 2018, addressed and analyzed the District’s CFSA (Child and Family Services) policy of removal of the children from parental home based on medical report of possible abuse and began the process of scrutinizing the constitutionality of such removals and the limits thereof. Factually, the parent (J.C.), had brought her child (8 months old) to the Children’s Medical Center for vomiting, retching, and acting uncharacteristically irritable. The child was diagnosed with old and new bleeding in the front left region of her head (subdural hematoma), along with “retinal hemorrhages”
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DC DIVORCE AND AWARD OF ALIMONY — HOW AND HOW MUCH AWARDED …

In a divorce proceeding involving legal determination of the child support, and alimony obligations, the court will reach a global ruling while considering compelling elements enumerated in the Statute pertaining specifically to alimony but the decision will not be in vacuum. The Statute specifically provides order of alimony when “just and proper” factoring the listed legal elements that the court balances as well as all the relevant factors necessary for a fair and equitable award: (1) ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting; (2) time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient education or training
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CONSTITUTIONALITY OF THE STALKING STATUTE: RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION

The Court of Appeals in Beachum v. US decided on December 20, 2018, analyzed and ruled on whether the DC Stalking Statute as written was constitutional. Section 22-3133 (a)(3) in pertinent parts provides that: It is unlawful for a person to purposefully engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific individual . . . [t]hat the person should have known would cause a reasonable person in the individual’s circumstances to: (A) Fear for his or her safety or the safety of another person; (B) Feel seriously alarmed, disturbed, or frightened; or (C) Suffer emotional distress. The appellant argued
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RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION: REVERSAL DUE TO ERROR IN LAW

The Court of Appeals in Solon v. US decided on November 29, 2018, reversed a disorderly conduct conviction as it disagreed but the trial court’s statutory interpretation. Solon had intermingled with the Climate Movement March carrying signs in support of the administration and generally causing agitation and stir among the demonstrators. She was ultimately put under arrest and charged with disorderly conduct as well as two assault charges again two individuals. The DC disorderly conduct statute (D.C. Code § 22-1321 (a)(1) provides: in any place open to the general public, . . . it is unlawful for a person to
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DC CHILD CUSTODY JURISDICTION & VARIATIONS

Generally the DC Courts are inclined to confer and extend jurisdiction to litigants rather than declining it. This blog details some of original, continuing, and non-conventional child custody jurisdictional parameters and scope. Initial child-custody jurisdiction District has jurisdiction to make an initial child-custody determination under one of the three criteria: 1 )  The District is the home state of the child on the date of the commencement of the proceeding, or was the home state of the child within 6 months before the commencement of the proceeding and if the child is currently absent from the District, a parent or
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REVERSAL DUE TO FAULTY JURY INTRUCTIONS: RECENT DC COURT OF APPEALS DECISION:

The Court of Appeals in Coley v. U.S., decided on November 15, 2018, reversed several felony convictions due to faulty jury instructions by the trial judge. Initially during the jury polling, one of jurors expressed disagreement with the verdict, which was announced to be unanimous. The trial judge appropriately at that time instructed the jury as such and according to the Jury Instruction 2.603: “[I]n the poll of the jury, it’s become apparent that you may not have reached a unanimous verdict. Now, for this reason I’m going to ask you to return to the jury room for further consideration
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TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER (TRO) v. TEMPORARY PROTECTION ORDER (TPO): DC FAMILY LAWYER

Although the Temporary Restraining Orders (TRO) and the Temporary Civil Protection Orders (TPO) sound similar, the eligibility, process and enforceability of the orders are vastly different. To be eligible to file for TPO/CPO one must meet either the interpersonal violence, intimate partner violence, or the intrafamily violence criteria. Interpersonal violence is defined as an act or a criminal offense that is committed or threatened to be committed upon a person: With whom the offender shares or has shared a mutual residence; or Who is or was married to, in a domestic partnership with, divorced or separated from, or in a
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CRIMINAL & CIVIL CONTEMPT IN DC: DC FAMILY LAWYER

The contempt powers of the court are divided into both criminal and civil contempt. Generally criminal contempt is reserved where there is willful and blatant violation of court order where as the civil contempt is reserved for non-compliance or neglect of a court order. In another word: Criminal contempt is a violation of the law, a public wrong which is punishable by fine or imprisonment or both. And the Civil contempt: is a sanction imposed by the court to enforce compliance with a court order or to compensate a party for losses or damages caused by noncompliance with a court
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