• What Are Some of the Common Issues in Child Custody Disputes?

    Establishing a child custody, child access, and visitation arrangement (often known as a Parenting Plan) does not need to be a contentious battle. Family mediation serving Anne Arundel County can help the parents reach solutions that work for both households. During mediation, the parents may be reminded that they must come to agreements that are for the child’s best interests, which may not necessarily serve the interests of both parents. The mediation process can help parents resolve a number of disputes. child custody

    Decisions for the Child’s Upbringing

    Legal custody refers to the parental right and responsibility to make major decisions on behalf of the child. These include decisions regarding the child’s education, health, religion/religious training, and welfare. During mediation, both parents can explain their preferences and goals for the child’s upbringing, and work toward solutions that benefit the child’s well-being. The parties can also define a dispute resolution agenda to help the parties work through future problems should one arise.

    Access to the Child

    A lawyer may recommend mediation for child custody disputes that involve access to the child. It is becoming more and more common for parties to share custody. Each family is different and there are various schedules such as “week on/week off”, 2/2/3, and many other alternative time sharing on 50/50 access. Even if the parents agree on the child’s primary residence, disputes may still arise regarding the parenting time or visitation schedule. For example, both parents may demand access to the child on holidays, birthdays, and weekends. Since ongoing access to both parents is generally beneficial for children, compromises often involve rotating weekends, holidays, and school vacations.

    Access to Information About the Child

    Mediation can help the parties think about and agree on how to exchange information about the childnre. Each parent should have unfettered access to school records, medical records, and similar information. In mediation, the parents can agree on appropriate methods of exchanging information and which information should be exchanged. This includes exchanging parent/teacher conferences, doctor’s appointments, report cards, interim reports, activity schedules, etc.

    Uniformity of the Homes

    Household uniformity is a crucial issue in child custody. Children need stability, regardless of whether are young, tweens, or teenagers. Children who are expected to follow two different sets of household rules, abide by different bedtimes and curfews, and meet two different standards of expectations can become confused, frustrated, resentful, and act out. Children who are in non-divorce homes are good at dividing and conquering parents. Children of divorce are better because parents may not have a good relationship. Mediation can help identify this issue so that the children know the parents are unified even if they are no longer together. By considering these issues during the Parenting Plan stage, the parties will

  • The Role of Mediation in Alimony Agreements

    Maryland circuit courts encourage the use of mediation to resolve matters pertaining to family law. Divorce mediation near Glen Burnie is often intended to reach agreements regarding child custody and visitation; however, it’s also a viable option for establishing alimony agreements. A mediator can provide mediation services to help parties establish three different types of alimony. mediation in alimony agreemnts

    The first type is alimony pendente lite, also known as temporary alimony. You and your spouse may agree to this type of alimony agreement to maintain the standard of living of both parties while the divorce is pending. It is not uncommon for parties who are unable to resolve all issues for a divorce to make temporary agreements pending the final resolution.

    Mediation can also be helpful for establishing an agreement for rehabilitative alimony. This is the most common type of alimony awarded. It is intended to support the spouse of lesser earning capacity or formal education to rehabilitate to help the parties eliminate disparity of income. Usually one spouse will pay the other spouse alimony for a set period of time to allow the other party to complete a degree or vocational training program, or to advance in the workforce.

    Less commonly, a spouse may enter into mediation with the goal of obtaining indefinite alimony, which has no distinct ending point. This situation usually occurs when one spouse is a substantial income earner while the other spouse will never be able to reach the same potential.

    By using mediation to resolve alimony issues, it gives the parties flexibility and control to resolve this issue which Court does not provide. In Maryland, the Court must look to statutory factors to consider whether to award alimony or deny alimony. By the parties resolving the alimony in mediation, they can look to real issues facing the family, the financial needs and income of each spouse, what is actually needed, and what each party is willing to accept to help support their new dynamic. The parties can also decide whether to make the alimony modifiable or non-modifiable. A court only has the power to make alimony modifiable, which means either spouse could file for a modification at any time in the future (either for an extension or termination). Because no one knows what tomorrow will hold, the parties may agree on how to modify alimony should a party lose a job. The parties can also define when and how the alimony will terminate.

    By parties resolving this issue in mediation and without the court intervention, the parties take control of their respective lives and reach a decision he/she can live with. This is better than putting it in the hands of a person you never met before and will never know how his/her decision impacts you and your family.

  • Mediation FAQs: What You Need to Know

    The role of mediators in Baltimore is to help parties with differences of opinion resolve disputes. Mediation is an opportunity for two or more parties to meet in a neutral setting to work toward mutually agreeable settlements. If you think you might benefit from mediation services or you would like to learn more about the mediation process , you can contact an attorney for guidance. Mediation

    When is Mediation Appropriate?

    Mediation is appropriate for many types of cases. It is commonly utilized in family law matters. In fact, in most cases a court will require divorcing individuals to participate in mediation. It’s common for mediators to guide discussions pertaining to child custody, child access, and visitation schedules . Mediators can also help parties settle alimony and marital asset division. However, mediation services are not confined to family law. Mediation is often helpful in the corporate world, such as when two business partners have a dispute, employee disputes, and probate/trust disputes.

    When is Mediation Best Avoided?

    Although mediation can be effective in resolving disputes, there are certain cases in which it might not be appropriate. If one of the parties has a history of domestic violence or abuse, it is not unreasonable to assume that the other party may not wish to engage in discussions. However, sometimes domestic violence cases can be mediated by everyone participating on telephone so that each party feels safe.

    Can the Mediator Impose a Mandatory Agreement?

    In arbitration, an arbitrator hears both sides of the case and then makes a binding decision, which the parties may not necessarily agree with. Mediation services are different. The mediator does not take sides, nor does he or she issue a decision. It’s the role of the mediator to help both parties explore the issues, consider what may or may not happen in court, develop solutions, and come to an understanding. Mediation doesn’t always result in a settlement. If the parties cannot agree, the issues may be decided in court.

    How Can I Prepare for Mediation?

    You can consult an attorney for assistance preparing for mediation. You may find it helpful to discuss what the issues are, what are possible outcomes (both good and bad) if your situation went to Court, your legal rights, and what you might expect from the process. By reviewing the issues at hand, you will be able to clearly articulate your position at mediation. Remember that successful mediation sessions involve civil and mutually respectful communication as well as an open mind to resolve the dispute.

  • Understanding Living Wills/Advance Medical Directives

    If you haven’t yet created your living will or advance medical directive in Baltimore, it’s time to meet with an attorney. An advance medical directive is an essential component of the estate planning process. An estate lawyer can create this legal document for you in accordance with your wishes. Unlike a last will and testament, an advance medical directive goes into effect while you’re still alive, yet unable to make medical decisions for yourself . This is not just for end of life decisions, but also for ordinary medical situations when you are unable to speak for yourself due to illness or injury. Should it become determined that you are at the final stage of your life, then the second part of the advance medical directive, living will, becomes effective. This document will guide your family and friends on what decision you would want them to make for you.

    To hear more about advance medical directives and living wills, watch this video or consult an estate planning attorney. This video explains how a living will can be used to ensure that your preferences are fulfilled regarding life support and other medical treatments in the event that you become incapacitated.

  • How Should You Handle Debt During Your Divorce?

    You may already know that divorce mediation can resolve matters such as property division. But did you know that divorce mediation near Baltimore may also cover liability division? As your attorney can advise you, a person can be held liable for the debt of his or her former spouse, even if that debt was only listed under the spouse’s name. Before entering mediation, talk to your attorney about indemnity agreements, marital debt, and non-marital debt.

    As you’ll learn when you watch this video, an indemnity agreement can protect you from debt liability. This video also recommends taking some other steps prior to entering into mediation and finalizing your divorce, such as closing or freezing all accounts held jointly with your spouse.

    You may also wish to consult with an divorce attorney with experience regarding bankruptcy. Some spouses are known to enter into these indemnity agreements and then file bankruptcy.

  • When Is Mediation the Best Choice for Your Dispute?

    Alternative dispute resolution isn’t an option for all cases, such as those involving criminal charges. However, for many types of civil disputes, mediation may offer an ideal alternative to going to court. Consider talking to a lawyer about undergoing mediation near Anne Arundel County to resolve matters pertaining to divorce, marital assets, child custody, business disputes, and employment disputes.

    When You Need to Preserve a Relationship
    Disputes often arise between individuals who need to find a way to set aside their emotional differences and develop mutually agreeable solutions for the sake of preserving a working relationship. For instance, if you and your business partner have differences of opinion regarding the operation of the company, mediation may help both of you resolve these matters in an amicable fashion that allows for continuation of the partnership. If you are planning on dissolving the business, mediation is less costly resolution on how to wind down the company plus preserve the relationship if Alternative Dispute Resolution Near Anne Arundel County you ever need a referral or help from your partner in the future. Child custody cases can also benefit from mediation. By necessity, divorcing or separating individuals must continue to have a working relationship when they share children in common. It’s in the children’s best interests to see that their parents are working together cooperatively, both during and well after mediation. Additionally, mediation for child custody matters allows both parents to share their concerns for their kids and to get on the same page regarding childrearing decisions. Mediation can help begin rebuilding the relationship between Mom and Dad so that they can help raise their child into adulthood as well as present positive role model for him or her.

    When You Prefer to Retain Control Over the Outcome
    Lawyers who are well-versed in the mediation process often recommend this approach to clients who are hesitant to turn over full decision-making powers to a judge. When a matter goes to trial, an attorney can make prediction of what can happen, but he or she cannot guarantee. Also, rarely does a party walk out of court happy as judges like to do what he/she believes is fair.

    Mediation returns control back to the parties so that they can reach a settlement they are satisfied with and know they had a hand in reaching. It isn’t practical for an individual to expect that he or she will get everything he or she desires out of mediation, since successful mediation often does require both parties to make compromises.

    When the Parties Struggle with Negotiation
    Mediation can provide an ideal forum for negotiation, particularly when the involved parties have difficulty beginning their negotiations. A neutral mediator can also help the parties move forward from an impasse in negotiations. A mediator can help focus the parties on the impasse and help the parties recognize their common ground to move on. A mediator can also provide a neutral evaluation of the strength and weaknesses of each side should the matter go to trial as well as possible outcomes by the court. One example of helping parties move pass an impass is in the dissolution of a business. Courts do not want to determine who gets which desk and chair and will likely appoint a trustee to sell all the assets. In mediation, business partners can negotiate the division of company assets including the tangible assets such as computers, desks, and chairs, as well as intangible assets of who gets which clients, contracts, and intellectual property.

  • What Issues May Require Post-Divorce Modifications?

    Not all matters resolved by a court order may be modifiable. However, if your circumstances have changed and you believe a post-divorce modification is called for, it’s best to contact an attorney in Baltimore as soon as possible. Your lawyer could help you seek a change in child support, for example. If you’re receiving child support payments, you may need to ask for an increase in payments if your child develops a serious illness or otherwise requires significant care. If you’re paying child support, mediation may be called for to lower the payments if you’re dealing with job loss or other substantial changes in circumstance.

    Mediation for post-divorce modification could also address needed changes in alimony, or spousal support. If the Court awarded you alimony or ordered you to pay alimony, your alimony is subject to modification. If you entered into a written agreement for alimony, which was non-modifiable, you may still be able to modify your alimony if the other party is willing to agree. For example, if a payor has lost a job, the receiving spouse may agree to temporary reduction in exchange that the alimony will be paid later. The reason he or she may do this is to avoid the unnecessary emotional and financial costs of litigation.

    Talk to an attorney about mediation services if you have reason to believe that the child custody arrangement ought to be modified. For instance, if you are currently the non-custodial parent, you might request custody of the child if the other parent is engaging in substance abuse, has been arrested, or has been neglecting the child. You may also wish to revisit the parenting plan and custodial arrangements due to the age of the child, the distance between the parents’ residences, and the need of co-parenting for help related to the extra-curricular activities of the child.

    Attorney in Baltimore

  • Answering Common Questions About Estate Planning

    Estate planning involves so much more than just drafting and executing your Last Will and Testament. An estate planning attorney near Baltimore can guide you through each aspect that applies to your situation. He or she can also offer legal guidance regarding minimizing tax obligations to maximize the assets bequeathed to your beneficiaries. Before you consult an estate planning attorney , you may wish to write out a list of any questions you may have.

    Do Wills Have Limitations?
    There are certain actions that a Will cannot accomplish. It cannot transfer non-probate property. This includes jointly owned cars, jointly owned bank accounts, bank accounts with payable of death designation, life insurance, annuities, retirement benefits, and trusts. For example, if you own a home jointly with your spouse as tenants by the entireties or partner or family member as joint tenants, the full ownership of the home will pass to that person upon your death. Estate Planning Attorney in Baltimore If you have an IRA that is payable to a designated beneficiary, this beneficiary will receive the account, rather than a different individual specified by your will. If you would like to change your designated beneficiaries, you can do so directly on those documents, rather than with your Will. And if you write in your Will that you want that beneficiary to split the proceeds of the IRA, Bank Account, or Life Insurance policy, there is no legal requirement he/she will split that asset with any other person.

    What Should I Know About Life Insurance?
    When you discuss estate planning with an attorney in Glen Burnie, be sure to inform him or her of any life insurance policies you may have. You have two basic options for your life insurance policies . You can designate one or more beneficiaries, or you can make your life insurance benefits payable to a trust or probate estate. Making these benefits payable to a trust can protect these assets from creditors. You should seek the advice of an attorney to determine the proper way to designate the trust as beneficiary. If the benefits are payable to your estate, the funds will be distributed in accordance with your will and will increase probate fees and personal representative commissions.

    What Is a Healthcare Proxy?
    A healthcare proxy is often referred to as an Advance Medical Directive. You can designate a person to have the power to make medical decisions on your behalf. This person can only make these decisions if you are incapacitated and cannot express your own preferences. These decisions may be necessary not just life ending situations, but also in routine medical situations including surgery. Before you designate a healthcare proxy, you should consult that individual to ensure that he or she feels capable of executing your wishes.

  • Use Caution When Prohibiting Negative Reviews

    As a business owner, we all must now deal with potential online negative reviews. The question is not if you will get a negative review, the question is when. What is frustrating to a business is often the negative review comes after providing high quality service or product, but the customer or client disagrees and may not understand. It is tempting to considering writing into your contract prohibitions against negative reviews or mandatory liquidated damages should a customer write a negative review. Especially in industries such as medicine and legal where ethics and laws may prohibit responding to a negative review.

    The problem with prohibiting a negative review is you can be accused of deceptive trade practices, violation of consumer protection laws, restraint on trade, and potentially other civil (and possible criminal) ramifications. The US Federal Trade Commission has begun this attack by filing a Motion for Restraining Order against Roca Labs who sells a non-surgical gastric bypass product. When you purchase the product, you have two options: 1) pay three times as much and have the right to post as many negative reviews as you like; or 2) pay 1/3 of the price and agree to never post a negative review or tell any potential customer that the product did not work or made you sick. If you elected option 2, you could be facing a breach of contract penalty of $100,000.00.

    Companies need to be careful and should consult with a business lawyer in Anne Arundel County that understands the changing landscape of the business world. There are steps to help receive positive reviews and steps to minimize negative reviews. Before responding to a negative review, companies need to understand what can and cannot be disclosed. Before writing a contract that prohibits negative reviews, a business should consult with a lawyer who can provide advice on whether to include a provision and if so help narrowly draft a position to prevent it from being sued by a government agency or private party.

  • What Exactly Is a Will?

    Wills are important legal documents that every adult should have. If you don’t yet have a last will and testament, you should visit an estate planning attorney near Baltimore. An estate attorney can draft valid wills for individuals with very complex situations, in addition to those who only need wills to execute basic preferences.

    As you’ll learn by watching this video, wills are primarily used to transfer assets after death. If you pass away intestate, or without a will, the state can determine who will receive your assets. For example, if you are a Maryland resident and are married with child/children, and you die without a will, all your assets may not go to your spouse. The State may require a portion of the assets to go to your spouse and a portion to your children. Also, if you have a child which you do not wish to receive anything or one child you wish to receive more, if you do not have a will all your children will be treated equally. By having a will, you can designate your preferred beneficiaries. If you have minor children, having a will is particularly important. This is because wills are legal means of naming guardians, custodians, and trustees for minor children in the event the natural parents pass away.

    Do I need an estate planning lawyer to draft a Will?

    The technical answer is no; however, that is not recommended. A form that you purchase in an office supply store, a computer program, or on an online website does not know if you are actually achieving your goals. I have seen homemade wills that were invalid because it gave property that passing outside the Will to a person or left assets to persons not entitled to receive them because of probate fees, tax debts, and personal representative commissions. A Will drafted by an estate planning attorney will not only meet all the statutory requirements but also will help you make sure you achieve your goal of leaving assets to the right person.