Archives for Washington DC Divorce Lawyer

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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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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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 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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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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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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SAME SEX COMMON LAW MARRIAGE AND PERSONAL JURISDICTION

The DC Court of Appeals in Spellman v. Kelly, decided in July 2016, while addressing personal jurisdiction validated in essence validity of a common law marriage claim. Factually, Mr. Spellman and Mr. Kelly, who both lived in the District, met in 1988 and began dating.  On or about 1998, the two decided to live together and to hold themselves out as partners. Kelly also owned a home in Delaware, where he and Spellman stayed on the weekends and over the holidays.  After Kelly retired in 2006, he began spending more of his time at his Delaware home although continued consulting
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