DC PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS: RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS: ERISA

The Court of Appeals in Critchell v. Critchell addressed to what extent the federal law and regulation would impact the State contract law pertaining to prenuptial agreements. In a dispute over distribution of husband’s pension fund, the trial judge in the case had ruled that the ERISA pre-empted the District of Columbia’s marital property law and ordered an equal distribution of the husband’s pension fund. The Court of Appeals disagreed. The prenuptial agreement between the parties had a clause specifically addressing retirement accounts in a broad language, specifically the clause stated: Each party shall, during his or her lifetime, keep
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LEGAL STANDARD TO EXTEND A CIVIL PROTECTION ORDER: RECENT COURT OF APPEALS CASE

The Court of Appeals in RAMIREZ v. SALVATERRA, decided on July 23, 2020, assessed, analyzed and further provided legal guidelines for extending a Civil Protection Order (CPO) for more than a year. As a summary, the Intrafamily Offenses Act codified in D.C. Code §§ 16-1001–1006, created a civil mechanism for addressing violence within families, that is, an imaginative and progressive system that was designed to promote prevention and treatment over punishment.  As such, the DC Courts have a wider range of dispositional powers than criminal courts to issue CPOs that enjoin future actions and provide for counseling and mental health
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GRANT OF ATTORNEY’S FEES IN DC DIVORCE ACTION — DECONSTRUCTED

The DC Court of Appeals in McClintic v. McClintic, addressed and analyzed in details when it is appropriate for the trial court in divorce litigation to award attorney’s fees. Factually, parties unable to settle after more than a year and extensive mediation proceeded to trial with the trial court ultimately granting the divorce, dividing the marital property, and awarding the couple joint legal and physical custody of their three children. Subsequently, both parties sought to recover attorney’s fees, each arguing that the other had made the litigation burdensome and oppressive. Mrs. McClintic argued that Mr. McClintic’s systemically and throughout the
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DC DIVORCE RESIDENCY REQUIRMENTS

Before an action for divorce in the District can be filed, the residency requirements must be met.  Generally, the DC Court will have jurisdiction to hearing the matter if the following criteria are met: Specifically, no action for divorce or legal separation shall be maintainable unless one of the parties to the marriage has been a bona fide resident of the District of Columbia for at least 6 months next preceding the commencement of the action. However, an action for divorce or legal separation by persons of the same gender, even if neither party to the marriage is a bona
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RECENT DC COURT OF APPEALS: RULE 16 VIOLATION: DC ASSAULT

The Court of Askew v. U.S., decided on July 2, 2020, addressed to what extent the government must preserve criminal evidence for discovery purposes. Askew was convicted on four counts of assault of police officers and on appeal challenged the government’s lack of both preserving and producing material evidence. Specifically, Askew argued that the trial court erred when it declined to sanction the government for violating Rule 16 by failing to preserve and produce: Surveillance footage from the rotating MPD-operated video camera located near where he was arrested, Footage from any video cameras located inside the police station where Mr.
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DC DIVORCE NOTICE OF APPEAL & APPELLATE PROCEDURE

The Court of Appeals on June 18, 2020, denied and dismissed notice of appeal from a final decree and judgment of divorce in Deloatch v. Deloatch as filed untimely. Procedurally, the trial court had issued a judgment of absolute divorce settling various claims between Dwight G. Deloatch and his former wife, Robin Sessoms-Deloatch, in May 2015 and had denied motion to vacate the judgment on March 30, 2016. Subsequently in January 2020, Mr. Deloatch filed an appeal from the underlying judgment. The Court of Appeals issued an order directing him to show cause why the appeal should not be dismissed
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PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS, INHERITANCE & ESTATE PLANNING:

The premarital agreements if properly executed and carefully crafted and detailed, can essentially override the statutorily granted inheritance rights by the State.  A significant and an advantageous legal strategy rarely used. Generally, a surviving spouse is entitled to what the spouse’s will or last testament directs and provides. However, under the DC Statute, the surviving spouse may elect to forego the will and select Statutory rights.   That is, the surviving spouse may elect to renunciate the will by specifically stating and filing with probate that: I surviving spouse or surviving domestic partner of late of, deceased, renounce and quit all
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RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION: 4TH AMENDMENT VIOLATION | SEARCH & SEIZURE

The Court of Appeals in U.S. v. Bumphaus, decided on May 21, 2020, affirmed the trial court in suppressing the evidence obtained through illegal search and seizure. Based on confidential tip that the defendant possessed illegal weapons, his car was stopped and before the officers had a chance to search the vehicle Bumphus locked the car and released keys to another individual who left the scene. Thus, the officers towed the vehicle in order to obtain a search warrant to break into the car and search for weapons.  The search warrant for the car however was not issued until four
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VOLUNTARY RELINQUISHMENT OF PARENTAL RIGHTS & DC CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATIONS

Although the District provides statutory provisions as listed below for voluntary relinquishment of parental rights, in most cases, such does not subrogate child support obligations. There are generally two ways for parental rights to be terminated or relinquished, either by the application of the two listed provisions below, which together allow a natural parent to voluntary relinquish rights to the Child and Family Services (CFSA), or via a court order terminating parental rights. § 4–1451.05. Parental rights § 4–1406. Parental rights; termination or relinquishment; vesting in agencies or Mayor; exercise in adoption proceedings. Voluntary relinquishment generally applies to a newborn
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MOST RECENT DC SUPERIOR COURT ORDER PERTAINING TO DRB & FAMILY MATTERS:

SUPERIOR COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA FAMILY DIVISION DOMESTIC RELATIONS BRANCH On May 14, 2020, the Chief Judge of the Superior Court issued an order further altering court operations in light of the current coronavirus pandemic. All in- person hearing and trial dates for Domestic Relations* matters set for June 1 through June 19, 2020 are VACATED. You are receiving this notice because you have a Domestic Relations matter with a court date during that period. You do not need to come to court on the June date, and your matter will not be dismissed. We will provide you
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