Archives for Family Law

AWARD OF LEGAL FEES IN CIVIL PROTECTION ORDER (CPO) CASES: LOWER STANDARD

The Court of Appeals in Cave v. Scheulov, addressed and defined parameters in awarding attorney’s fees in Civil Protection Order (CPO) cases. Specifically, Cave had filed a Petition for a CPO against her husband of thirteen years alleging physical abuse and assault, which was granted by the court. Her claim for legal fees however was denied as the trial court had required that she first prove that the litigation was oppressive, burdensome or in bath faith as a condition precedent to awarding legal fees or before considering all other elements and factors. Traditionally and particularly in divorce cases, the court has
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INTERSECTION OF DIVORCE, CHILD CUSTODY AND NEGLECT PETITION

The DC Court of Appeals in K.H. v. R.H., considered application of a complex legal standard while reconciling a divorce, neglect as well as third party custody filing. Mr. H. and Mrs. H. were divorced and under the terms of their divorce decree, Mrs. H. was granted custody of their minor children.   Subsequent to the divorce, and while Mrs. H. was involved in another relationship, a neglect proceeding was brought against her and she was adjudicated neglectful.  Mr. H. thereafter initiated a third-party custody filing to gain custody of the child who was deemed neglected.  It is noteworthy that Mr.
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EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF PROPERTY | MUST BE EQUITABLY ASSESSED

The Court of Appeals in Murphy v. Murphy, defined what constitutes an equitable distributing of property that is changing in value. The appellant had argued that the trial court had not property and timely assessed the value of the martial home before issuing a distribution order and during a divorce proceeding, namely that: A steep decline in value of the marital property before the court’s order of disposition prevented the distribution from being “equitable, just, and reasonable” as required by statute, The trial court erred in making its property distribution by failing to credit appellant for his mortgage payments, and
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INCONVENIENT DIVORCE: FORUM NON CONVENIENS

The DC Court of Appeals in Davis v. Davis, explained and expounded on the doctrine of forum non conveniens in conjunction with a divorce action. Appellant Mr. Davis, filed for divorce in the District after meeting only the six months residency requirement all while his wife, child as well as all of their joint properties were located in Mississippi. Davis sought only a divorce decree without adjudication of property or distribution and argued that the DC divorce statute allows for issuance of a final decree without any disposition of marital property. Ms. Davis opposed the DC divorce petition arguing: She
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DEPRESSION & AWARD OF ALIMONY

The DC Court of Appeals in Lake v. Lake, focused on two specific elements in award of alimony dispute: The metal health influence over earning capacity, and The expected future investment income. Generally, the trial court has sole discretion in awarding alimony and as such balances, inter alia, the following elements among parties in awarding alimony to one side or the other: The duration of the marriage, The ages and health of the parties, Their respective financial positions, both past and prospective, Property ownership, The needs of the requesting spouse and the other spouse’s ability to contribute thereto, and The
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CIVIL PROTECTION ORDERS & MARTIAL PROPERTY

The Court of Appeals in Araya v. Keleta, expanded the meaning of the marital property in the context of Civil Protection Orders and related filings. In the case, wife-Keleta had filed a petition against husband-Araya alleging physical abuse and requesting a stay away order from the husband and from the marital home, which the trial court granted. On Appeal, Araya argued that as the home in question was not in fact a martial property, the judicial officer was precluded from ordering him to stay away from such dwelling.  In short, the judicial officer had no authority to preclude him from
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ALIMONY & CHILD SUPPORT: IMPUTED INCOME: DIVORCE

The DC Court of Appeals in Saxon v. Zirkle, imputed income during the divorce proceedings for voluntary unemployment. Specifically, the trial court had granted parties absolute divorce while denying Ms. Saxon’s request for alimony and instead imputed income on her for unemployment, awarded the parties joint legal custody of their child, as well as modified Mr. Zirkle’s child-support obligations based on the imputed income. On appeal, Saxon challenged to the trial court’s decision to impute $24,000 in income to her in determining alimony and child support calculations. The issue of imputation of income arose during the alimony proceedings.  Based on
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DISSIPATED AND SPENT MARTIAL PROPERTY STILL SUBJECT TO EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF ASSETS

The Court of Appeals in Herron v. Johnson, expounded on the equitable distribution of marital property that has been dissipated. Dissipation of martial property is generally defined as where one spouse uses marital property for his own benefit and for a purpose unrelated to the marriage at a time when the marriage is undergoing an irreconcilable breakdown. Here, the trial court had determined that the pension funds accumulated during the marriage and used by one spouse and spent and dissipated during the marriage is no longer a property for the court to factor in with regards to the equitable distribution
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EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION OF PROPERTY AFTER SEPARATION: LEGAL CRITERIA

The DC Court of Appeals in Gail v. Sherman, specifically addressed division of property created after separation and the formula used by the court to equitably distribute such property. Sherman had appealed the trial court decision granting her a sum of $40,000 for her equitable portion of the value of AutoBody that her husband Sherman had created after the couple had separated. Factually, parties had a business jointly owned and operated during their marriage called FuelLine and after separation both had agreed and via an agreement to bring that business to closure.   Sherman thereafter started a new similar business referred
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DIVISION OF PROPERTY AND RESIDENCY REQUIREMENT: DIVORCE

The DC Court of Appeals in ABULQASIM v. MAHMOUD, reviewed the lower court decision pertaining to appellant’s claim that the trial court: Lacked subject-matter jurisdiction over the matter because neither party had been a bona fide resident of the District of Columbia for at least six months prior to appellant’s filing of the divorce action; Abused discretion in admitting hearsay testimony regarding an email, not introduced into evidence, that alleged appellant was having an extramarital affair; and Erred in including a number of items appellant asserts were his separate property in the distribution of marital property. Factually, appellant Abulqsim sought
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