Archives for Uncategorized

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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PROPERTY DISTRIBUTION IN LIEU OF ALIMONY HELD TO BE VALID

In Sudderth v. Sudderth, the DC Court of Appeals addressed whether it was appropriate to award property in lieu of alimony. On appeal, Mrs. Sudderth’s claimed that the trial court had erred in distributing marital property in lieu of alimony without first calculating the amount and duration of alimony to be distributed. In short, the Court of Appeals held that there are no restraints on the trial court’s ability to award marital property in lieu of alimony, and also it is not an abuse of discretion when a trial court denies a request for alimony and yet awards marital property. Thus,
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COMMINGLED PROPERTY DEEMED TO BE A MARITAL PROPERTY

The Court of Appeals in Araya v. Keleta, specifically addressed the issue of commingled property during the marriage as well as addressing child custody, support and alimony. After a five-year marriage, husband filed for divorce seeking physical custody of their three children as well as seeking distribution of marital assets and dispensing of alimony. The trial court after extensive litigation awarded physical custody to the mother with the father having a visitation schedule, as well as distributing the marital home in its entirety to the wife and awarding significant alimony and child support to the wife. The Court of Appeals
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DC DIVORCE DURING THE PANDEMIC : ABC7 INTERVIEW

Divorce during COVID: D.C. attorneys see uptick in cases of couples wanting to separate by Daniel Miller, ABC7 Saturday, October 17th 2020 AA FILE PHOTO: The D.C. area has seen a rise in divorce cases during COVID-19 as local attorneys share their legal expertise on factors that lead couples to opt for separation. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images) WASHINGTON (ABC7) — The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a tremendous amount of stress on married couples in the D.C. area as they attempt to adapt to this new normal. Isolation, stress, and balancing work, finances, and family has become so overwhelming for some that
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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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DC SUPERIOR COURT CASE HEARING DIRECTIVE & SCHEDULE AS OF 3/15

The court has posted a detailed plan for adjustments in operations for all  case types on its website in light of the current public health emergency.  For  more information, counsel and parties are asked to review the plan. The court is limiting the matters it will hear before May 1, 2020.  A  summary of the plan is as follows: The court is not closing and is open for all new filings and  pleadings in any Division.  Electronic filing will continue. All jury trials in progress shall proceed as scheduled – jurors in  those trials should report. New jury trials in criminal cases including those with detained defendants are deferred until at least March 30 and may be  extended beyond then – all persons summoned for jury duty  from March 16‐27 should not come to the courthouse. The court will only hear emergency matters in the Civil, Family Court, Probate and Tax Divisions and Auditor Master – in  general all other matters are continued but counsel and  parties should review the plan to be certain. All evictions including those involving foreclosed homeowners  are stayed. All Stay Away Orders and all Protection Orders in Domestic  Violence cases are extended until May 1.  Petitioners seeking  new protection orders will have access to the court processes. The court will conduct hearings in the following matters in  criminal cases: Drug Court and Mental Health Community Court Extradition matters Presentment of indictments and other grand jury  matters : Presentments, arraignments, preliminary hearings  and status hearings for detained defendants  Pretrial and Probation show cause hearings   Motions to review conditions of release The Family Court will conduct hearings in the following  matters: Juvenile cases: initial hearings, trials with detained  respondents, petition for writ of habeas corpus and  JBDP and HOPE court hearings for detained  respondents. Mental Health Commission hearings for inpatient  respondents Mental Health (MHE) Probable Cause hearings Abuse and Neglect Cases: New removals/initial  hearings and all trials to achieve permanency, unless  continued by consent of all parties.  The Marriage Bureau will be open to issue marriage licenses. Wedding  ceremonies previously scheduled will go forward, please limit the  numbers of attendees.  If you wish to reschedule your ceremony, please  contact the Marriage Bureau at 202‐879‐1212 .  No additional weddings  will be scheduled. FOR MORE DETAILED AND UP TO DATE INFORMATION: DC SUPERIOR COURT
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DC CIVIL PROTECTION HEARINGS/TRIAL AND DISCOVERY

The Civil Protection filing and litigation although has an expansive reach in enforcing a range of orders, has a limited scope with regards to witness statement under the Jencks Act and generally discovery before the hearing. Moreover, the threshold burden of proof is rather low.  Specifically, the Statute provides: If, after hearing, the judicial officer finds that there is good cause to believe the respondent has committed or threatened to commit a criminal offense against the petitioner or against petitioner’s animal or an animal in petitioner’s household, the judicial officer may issue a protection order that: Directs the respondent to
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UNSEAL ADOPTION RECORDS: DC COURT OF APPEALS

The Court of Appeals in In re G.D.L., decided on January 2, 2020, addressed the legal criteria to have the adoption records unsealed. The appellant who was no longer a minor sought a court order release of his adoption records, original birth certificate, and biological parental information. The trial court in balancing all interests  involved in deciding the motion for disclosure ordered to protect G.D.L.’s birth father’s information and directed the child-placement agency to give G.D.L. redacted copies of the original birth certificate and adoption records.  The biological mother’s information was already known to the appellant and not subject of
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UNLAWFUL DISCLOSURE OF SEXUAL IMAGES:

The Court of Appeals in Roberts v. U.S., decided on September 26, 2019, reversed multiple unlawful-disclosure convictions due to erroneous jury instructions. The unlawful disclosure, a relatively new statute in DC renders unlawful disclosure of certain graphic photographic or video materials.  In this day and age of electronic capture, transfer of data and images, the statute has become more and more relevant and applicable. Specifically, the unlawful-disclosure statute provides in pertinent parts that it shall be unlawful for a person to knowingly disclose one or more sexual images of another identified or identifiable person when: The person depicted did not
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DC DUI RECENT CASELAW: WITHDRAW GUILTY PLEA

The Court of Appeals in Maddux v. D.C, decided on July 25, 2019, considered whether the defendant should be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea to DUI after sentencing. Before sentencing the burden on the defendant is “a fair and just reason” while after sentencing the burden elevated to “to correct manifest injustice, that is, justice demands withdrawal in the circumstances of the individual case. Maddux’s central argument was that the Magistrate Judge pushed and coerced plea bargaining by threatening to detain him pending trial and pre-trial while making clear he would be treated as a first-time offender with a
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