Archives for Family Law

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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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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DC DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP v. MARRIAGE

In the District, there is a viable alternative to a legal marriage that allows for legalizing a relationship in order to share health and other benefits while maintaining financial independence: Domestic Partnership Registration. As registered domestic partners, family member benefits are conferred, such as hospital visitation, medical and family leave as well as extended government and private health insurance benefits for the partner. However, as partnership is not a marriage by definition and construction, as long as the parties’ financial commingling is minimal to none, then the financial burden of the equitable distribution of property, spousal support, and all other
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WASHINGTON DC DIVORCE & SEPARATION DURING THE PANDEMIC

It is undisputed that divorce and separation are hard in normal times but with COVID-19 and its prolonged societal effects, the process is even more complicated and difficult. The Courts now only hear and docket emergency family matters but in coming days they will become fully operational accepting divorce filings. During this period though much can be done to prepare for a divorce filing.  For those who are convinced that divorce is both unavoidable and inevitable, here are few logical and legal steps to follow to move closer to DC Divorce filing and finalization: As the DC Statute requires a
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CHILD CUSTODY ISSUES DURING THE PANDEMIC

District of Columbia along with majority of the States has a significant stay home order in place that limits all outdoor activities except those as defined as Essential Activities: Engaging in an activity or performing a task essential to an individual’s own health or safety, or to the health or safety of the individual’s family or household members, including pets.    Examples: Obtaining medical supplies or medication; visiting a health care professional; or obtaining supplies needed to work from home. Obtaining services or supplies for an individual’s own self or the individual’s family or household members; or delivering those services or supplies to others that are necessary to maintain the safety, sanitation, and operation of residences. Performing work providing essential products and services at an Essential Business or otherwise
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CHILD’S PREFERENCE IN CUSTODY LITIGATION: LEGAL ELEMENT

The Court of Appeals in DUGUMA v. AYALEW recently decided addressed the issue of preference of the children in a custody and divorce proceeding among parents. Appellant mother lost the custody trial with the court granting sole physical custody to the father and argued on appeal mainly:  That the trial court abused its discretion in refusing to grant her counsel’s request for a continuance,  That the court erred in failing to interview the children or appoint a guardian ad litem to determine the children’s wishes as to their custody and, That even aside from the absence of evidence as to
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DC PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS: FAQ

1) I have no assets or property now to protect or to designate, do I still need a prenuptial agreement? Yes, because not only prenuptial agreements protect assets and property before marriage, certain language can be drafted to protect future assets as potentially non-marital. 2) What are the common items prenuptial agreements protect? Assets and property, inheritance, retirement accounts, trust benefits and distributions,  business and partnership ownership to name a few. 3) How can one insure that the agreements drafted are enforceable? Premarital agreements are not enforceable if: Not voluntarily executed by both parties The agreement was unconscionable The unconscionability
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LEGAL CRITERIA FOR PENDENTE LITE ALIMONY

DC Code § 16–911, titled Pendente lite relief, allows for filing of a petition for support during the pendency of: A legal separation, Divorce; or The termination of a domestic partnership In such cases, the court may require one party after holding a hearing to make payment of: A pendente lite alimony, or Child support Health insurance coverage or Suit money, including counsel fees. The Court generally considers the same factors in awarding alimony to dispense Pendente lite alimony and support, that is: Ability of the party seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting; Time necessary for the party
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