Archives for Family Law

COMMON LAW MARRIAGE: LEGAL ELEMENTS: SAME SEX COUPLES: DC DIVORCE LAWYER

The Court of Appeals in Gill v. Nostrand, decided on April 25, 2019, defined and analyzed the legal elements for common law marriage pertaining to same sex couples. Here Gill moved for legal separation against Nostrand requesting alimony and division of property shortly after Nostrand legally married another partner. The trial court in short determined that the relationship did not meet the requisite requirements of common law marriage, the Court of Appeals with further detailed analysis affirmed. In its ruling, the Court held that a party in a same-sex relationship must be given the opportunity to prove a common law
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CONSTITUTIONAL CLAIMS ARISING OUT OF REMOVAL OF CHILDREN DUE TO NEGLECT

The DC Court of Appeals in J.C v. D.C., reversed and remanded some of the constitutional claims raised by the biological parents after the removal of their eight months old twins due to the allegations of abuse and neglect. Factually, the parents had taken one of the babies to the Children’s hospital due to excessive vomiting, retching, and general irritability.  At the hospital, the treating physician had diagnosed the child as suffering from “shaken baby syndrome” and the contacted Child Protection Services (“CPS”).  CPS thus removed also the twin baby from the home in the middle of the night and
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ANNULMENT IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: LEGAL ELEMENTS

In the District of Columbia, annulment of marriage has a limited scope. Specifically, marriage can only be annulled under the following circumstances: (1) where such marriage was contracted while either of the parties was previously married a former spouse living, unless the former marriage had been lawfully dissolved prior to the marriage. (2) where such marriage was contracted during the insanity of either party. If there is however voluntary cohabitation after the discovery of the insanity by either party – such may be ground for estoppel negating request for annulment. (3) where such marriage was procured by fraud or coercion:
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STOCK OPTIONS ORDINARY INCOME IN DC DIVORCE? DC RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION

The Court of Appeals in Crater v. Oliver decided on February 14, 2019, considered whether stock options would be an ordinary income for the purposes of dispensing alimony payments. Generally the court considered the following factors in the award of alimony: Ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting; Time necessary for the party seeking alimony to gain sufficient education or training to enable that party to secure suitable employment; Standard of living that the parties established during their marriage or domestic partnership, but giving consideration to the fact that there will be 2 households to
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COPARENTING: PROS & CONS & THE COPARENTING APPS

In an event of separation or divorce and when children are involved, it is imperative to create a detailed guideline for each parent to follow to minimize conflict and to maximize harmony and continuity in parenting. Thus, a detailed, focused separation agreement should be implemented providing visitation and custody schedule, medical and educational responsibilities, as well as holidays and summer calendar and also conflict resolution channels such as parenting coach or mediator to step in when needed to de-escalate conflict. Considering the best interests of the child as the paramount criteria and given the complexities and difficulties in single parenting
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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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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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