Mediation is an effective alternative to court. During mediation sessions in Baltimore, a neutral third party helps parties who are at odds with each other explore the issues and discover mutually agreeable solutions. Mediation is useful for many situations, including family law matters such as child custody disputes. Even when parents have experienced significant breakdowns in communication, they may decide to attempt custody mediation in order to make the arrangements themselves, rather than entrust the custody decisions to a judge.
Children may have a limited role in custody mediation.
In most cases, children are not involved in settling custody disputes. Family law judges do not generally want to see minor children in the courtroom because of the significant stress this can inflict and the potential damage to family relationships. The same is true of custody mediation sessions. One of the goals of settling custody disputes is to avoid putting children in the middle; they should never feel as though they must choose one parent over the other. That being said, there may be some situations in which children can play a very limited role in custody mediation, provided that neither of the parents attempts to influence the children.
Children can aid in the identification of challenges.
Although children may not participate in the actual mediation sessions with all three parties, the mediator may decide to meet with the children separately to hold a low-stress discussion of the family situation. The mediator must be careful not to create a psychologically difficult situation for the children. Instead of asking a question such as, “Which parent would you rather live with?” the mediator might ask, “Who usually helps you with your homework?” The mediator might also prompt the children to identify challenges that may be settled during the mediation sessions. For example, a child might express concern about being able to participate in sports or other after-school activities despite the visitation schedule. The mediator can then bring these challenges into the mediation sessions and guide the parents in working toward solutions.
It may not be pleasant to think about what might happen to you if you become incapable of expressing your care preferences , but it is necessary to prevent interpersonal conflicts among family members. The document in which you can specify your healthcare preferences is called an advanced medical directive or a living will. Consider talking to an estate planning attorney in Baltimore about creating your advanced medical directive before speaking with your family about it.
When you are ready to discuss your living will with your family, watch this interview with a physician to get some helpful tips. He recommends that you first reassure your loved ones that you are not seriously ill, depressed, or otherwise experiencing trouble. This physician also discusses what adult children might consider when broaching this subject with their aging parents and he explains the types of decisions that a living will can encompass.
Family law in Baltimore and throughout Maryland allows possible fathers to challenge paternity, regardless of whether or not they are married to the mother. Men may seek to establish paternity because they want to be sure that the child is theirs, while mothers may seek to establish paternity for the purpose of obtaining child support. Family law allows paternity to be legally established with an Affidavit of Parentage, which is a document that the father will sign while the new family is still at the hospital or birthing center. Family law requires that this document be signed in the presence of a notary public.
If the father isn’t completely sure that he is indeed the father, then he may wish to consult a family law attorney before signing this affidavit. The man who is presumed to be the father has the right to request a genetic test before signing it. If paternity is not established with an affidavit, then genetic testing may be requested. The parties can use a consent order to legally establish paternity when the probability of paternity as determined by the genetic test is higher than 99%.
It’s often assumed that a last will and testament will be followed to the letter, regardless of the personal preferences of the surviving family members. But in fact, will disputes are not as uncommon as you might think. If you suspect you are about to become involved in a will dispute, you should consult an estate planning lawyer in Baltimore without delay. Certain situations may be more likely to lead to a challenge of the will than others.
Divorce and remarriage can be contentious situations after death as well as during life, particularly if the first marriage produced children. Sometimes, it is discovered that the decedent left the entire estate to the last spouse that he or she married. In turn, the inheriting spouse may leave the assets to his or her surviving children. The children from the previous marriage may become disgruntled that they were not named as beneficiaries in the will. These children may decide to contest the will, perhaps by claiming that the spouse from the second marriage coerced the decedent into signing a new will.
Deciding whether or not to leave children an inheritance can be a highly sensitive choice. It is the right of the testator to decide exactly how his or her assets will be distributed. In some cases, individuals prefer to give their entire estate to charities, rather than to family. While this is certainly a legally allowed decision, the children or other family members who are disinherited may raise objections to it. Testators may try to avert future will disputes by writing a letter that explains his or her choices.
A similar situation is when one of the beneficiaries receives a significantly larger inheritance than the others. Sometimes, a testator will decide to leave a larger portion of the estate to an adult child who served as a primary caretaker of the testator. In other cases, the testator may leave a larger inheritance to the family member who is most likely to be financially responsible. Again, this is a legal right of the testator, but it may lead to future conflicts.
Mediation services available in Baltimore can help you and your spouse avoid the expense and hassle of a lengthy trial. With the help of a neutral mediation lawyer, you and your spouse can review the marital assets and liabilities, and ideally, reach mutually agreeable decisions. To get the most out of each mediation session, you should arrive prepared with all of the necessary documents.
Set aside plenty of time to gather together financial documents. You will need statements of all of your accounts, including sole and joint accounts. These include statements for your checking and savings accounts, money market accounts, pension plans, Roth IRAs, and stock and bond investments. You’ll also need current balance statements for all accounts held for the children, such as CDs, money market accounts, and savings accounts. It may be necessary to hire a professional actuary to determine the present day value of certain accounts such as retirement funds.
After you have gathered together account statements, it’s time to print out balance statements for all of your credit cards, mortgages, lines of credit, and home equity loans. Student loans, motor vehicle loans, personal loans, and business loans also play a role in marital asset mediation. Additionally, you’ll need to bring information on any pending civil lawsuits in which either of you or both of you are named as defendants.
If your job offers benefits, you’ll need statements for each of them. These include incentives, stock options, and golden parachute plans.
You may need to hire a professional appraiser to obtain appraisal statements for personal property. The mediator will request evidence of the current market value of all tangible assets, including motor vehicles, artwork, jewelry, antiques, and all other valuables.
Bring copies of your state and federal tax returns for the past three years. Include copies of all 1099 and W-2 forms. If you or your spouse has a business, the past three years of corporate tax returns are also required. Additionally, you should expect to bring statements of your income for the past six months.
It isn’t always easy to make arrangements for your own future care. Many people avoid estate planning matters because they simply don’t want to think about dying or becoming incapacitated. Others may avoid visiting an estate lawyer in Baltimore because they feel they are too young to worry about that sort of matter. But the unfortunate truth is that accidents and illnesses can befall anyone at any time, regardless of age or current health. Talk to an estate planning attorney about creating an advanced medical directive.
You can rest assured knowing that you’ve made arrangements.
Certain estate planning documents, such as wills, need to be updated from time to time. Usually, an advanced medical directive only needs to be done once. After you’ve completed this document, you may feel some peace of mind knowing that this important estate planning task is finalized.
You will receive the medical care you want.
Advanced medical directives empower individuals to choose their own medical care, even after they become incapacitated. This document will specify exactly which type of care you do and don’t want to receive in the event you fall into a coma, require life support, or otherwise experience some sort of calamity. With this document, you can spell out your wishes pertaining to life support, end of life care, palliative care, and organ donation. You can also use this document to specify the types of care that you do not want administered to you.
Your relatives will be free of the burden of making decisions.
When a loved one becomes incapacitated, the burden of making decisions often falls to the closest family members. Deciding whether to keep a parent, sibling, or other loved one on life support or not can be an impossible choice to make. By establishing an advanced medical directive, your loved ones won’t be forced to make these difficult decisions and they won’t face the possibility of regret.
You will reduce the possibility of family conflicts.
It is not unheard of for a family to be torn apart over a disagreement about what an incapacitated loved one would have wanted in terms of life support or other medical care. You’ve spent a lifetime caring for and cherishing your family. You can preserve family bonds by spending a little time with an estate lawyer to create an advanced medical directive.
In the Baltimore area, mediation is commonly used to settle disputes. This venue is appropriate for virtually all types of disputes , including those concerning inheritances. Often, these family conflicts arise when a will isn’t sufficiently specific about which items will go to which heirs or when the heirs are left confused about why the decedent made certain decisions. By turning to a mediation lawyer instead of resorting to litigation, families can maintain discretion while sorting through these matters. Ideally, mediation will also help preserve familial relationships.
During a mediation session for a will dispute, the mediator will strive to read between the lines. These disputes aren’t always about financial gain; heirs may argue over a particular item because of its sentimental value. Mediators cannot enforce binding agreements, but they can propose solutions that the heirs might not have thought of by themselves. Mediation enables heirs to work through their differences and agree to a compromise that will benefit each party.
Resolving family law matters often involves litigation, but there may be a better solution for your case. Consider speaking with a mediation lawyer in Baltimore about divorce mediation. As you’ll learn when you watch this video, divorce mediation is a process that is facilitated by a neutral individual.
During a mediation session, the mediator guides each party in identifying the issues that need to be resolved, each party’s position on the issues, and possible solutions such as compromises. Through divorce mediation, you and your spouse may be able to agree on arrangements for property division, child custody, visitation, child support, and spousal support. Reaching agreements in mediation can help you and your spouse avoid the hassle and expense of going to trial.
Legal matters are often complex and confusing in the wake of a loved one’s death. It’s highly recommended that you consult an estate lawyer in Baltimore to guide you through the probate process. Probate is the process by which a will is legally recognized, an executor or personal representative is appointed, and the assets are distributed. In some cases, probate can be completed relatively easily and quickly. In other cases, such as when a will is contested, the matter can drag on for months.
After a person dies, a probate lawyer will ask that the court legally recognize the will and appoint the executor that the decedent named. If the person died without a will, then the judge can appoint someone. The executor is responsible for taking an inventory of the decedent’s assets and debts, and for identifying the beneficiaries. The executor will need to settle the decedent’s outstanding debts before distributing the remaining assets to the beneficiaries in the manner specified in the will.
Making the decision to adopt a child is a joyous occasion, but the process itself can often be tedious and confusing. If you intend to adopt a child, you can make an appointment with a lawyer in Baltimore who handles adoption cases. Your lawyer can walk you through the stages of the adoption process and provide legal representation if any problems arise.
The requirements to adopt a child in Maryland are not unnecessarily strict. However, an adoptive parent must be at least 21 years of age. Adoptive parents may be single or married. If married, then both adoptive parents will be joined to the petition unless the couple is separated or the other parent is not legally competent. It is not necessary for adoptive parents to be affluent; however, they must have the financial means to provide for the child. Adoptive parents may be renters or homeowners. It is required to complete a 27-hour home study course before adopting a child through a public agency.
Under Maryland family law, the legal guardians of the adoptee must provide consent for the adoption. The legal guardians may be the birth parents or the adoption agency. If the court has terminated parental rights, then only agency consent is required. If the adoption is an independent adoption, the adoptive parents must obtain the consent of all legal guardians. However, the consent of only one parent may be needed if the other parent cannot be located, does not object to a published notice of adoption, and has not been in contact with the department for a certain length of time.
A lawyer will file a petition for adoption with the court, which will likely include supporting documents. Once the petition is filed, the court will send a notice to all of the involved parties and their attorneys.
During the hearing, the judge will decide whether to grant or deny the petition for adoption. If it is an independent adoption, the court might require an investigation prior to granting the petition. If the matter is being facilitated by a private adoption agency, then the agency will need to submit a report prior to the hearing. During the hearing, the judge will consider whether the petitioners are fit to be adoptive parents, whether all necessary paperwork has been completed, and whether being adopted is in the best interests of the adoptee.