Archives for Washington DC Divorce Lawyer

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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WAIVER OF RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS: ENFORCEMENT OF POST NUPTIAL AGREEMENT: DC DIVORCE

The Court of Appeals in Oshinaike v. Oshinaike, addressed spousal claim on a retirement account where there existed already a post martial agreement on that very subject. Specifically, on appeal Marcia Oshinaike sought review of the trial court’s ruling that her former husband (Solomon Oshinaike), did not expressly waive his rights with respect to her foreign service retirement benefits and thus was entitled to portions of that retirement benefit. Oshinaikes were married in 1989. After Ms. Oshinaike joined the State Department as a Foreign Service officer parties executed a post marital agreement expressly stating that: Mr. Oshinaike waives all rights
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COMMUNITY CARETAKING DOCTRINE: RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION

The Court of Appeals in McGlenn v. U.S., decided on July 19, 2019, expanded and defined “community caretaking doctrine” in holding that an arrest and seizure of the defendant was justified. A 911 call reported assault in progress and upon arriving at the scene the Officers came in contact with the defendant outside a housing complex.  Defendant appeared intoxicated and under the influence of illegal substances mainly PCP. It was determined quickly by the Officers that McGlenn had not assaulted anyone inside the complex and was only acting erratically.  Defendant’s mother residing there had originated the 911 call. The trial
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CHILD CUSTODY ORDER CHANGE DURING CIVIL CONTEMPT HEARING: RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION

The Court of Appeals in Cheek v. Edwards decided on September 5, 2019, reversed and remanded a change of custody order in the midst of a civil contempt hearing. After holding a custody hearing, the trial court had decided and ordered shared physical and legal custody among parents even after considering the allegation of domestic violence.  But before issuance of a final order, the mother-Edwards filed a civil contempt motion alleging that the father had violated the order against not assault, stalking and harassment in being arrested for domestic violence and assault against her. The trial court while addressing the
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RECOVERING ATTORNEY FEES IN FAMILY CASES: RECENT COURT OF APPEALS DECISION

The Court of Appeals in Khawam v. Wolfe decided on August 22, 2019, delineated all legal theories available to recover attorney’s fees in a child custody and by extension in relating family matters. Here, Wolfe moved to recover attorney’s fees ($700K) against Khawam for a rather protracted and vexatious litigation and under three theories: Common law theory of “necessaries” which permits an award of attorney’s fees in a child-custody case if the court finds that engaging an attorney was necessary to protect the interests of the child; The “bad faith” exception which permits recovering fees against a party who has
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LEGAL ELEMENTS FOR CHILD’S NAME CHANGE PETITION AFTER DC DIVORCE

The Court of Appeals in Melbourne v. Taylor[1], analyzed and opined on the legal standard for a parent to change the child’s name after separation and divorce. The general legal standard for a name change petition by either parents after separation or divorce is the best interests of the child criteria as listed in defined in the legal custody statute § 16-831: The child’s need for continuity of care and caretakers, and for timely integration into a stable and permanent home, taking into account the differences in the development and the concept of time of children of different ages; The
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APPELLATE PROCESS IN THE FAMILY CASES

In most family cases, the litigation does not and should not end by the Associate Judge or the Magistrate Judge’s final ruling. As these cases are not jury demandable, often times the assigned Judge may issue multiple rulings, including final decree of divorce, division of property, alimony and child support as well as the physical and legal custody of the children.  Significant and life altering decisions and all by a single Judge who may be subjectively objective. And although most family judges are experienced, fair and equitable in dispensing decisions well supported in fact and law – there are cases
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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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