Abney at Law, P.C.
Free Initial Consultation
View Our Practice Areas

Rockville Family Law Blog

Aisha Tyler agrees to pay ex-husband $2 million

Maryland residents who watch the show "The Talk" may be interested to learn that, on May 19, co-host Aisha Tyler agreed to pay her ex-husband $2 million. Tyler said that she her former husband had agreed to the terms of the divorce settlement and that she had not been ordered by the judge to pay spousal support.

Tyler and her former husband were married in mid-1994 after being together in high school. They separated in early January 2015. He filed for divorce in April 2016, citing irreconcilable differences. Although he did not ask for spousal support when he filed for divorce, he did reserve the right to do so later on. As part of the divorce agreement, Tyler and her former husband agreed to split all of their assets, including the profits from the home that will be sold.

When another parent abuses drugs or alcohol

Maryland parents who are divorced might wonder what they can do to ensure that their child is safe if the other parent is abusing alcohol, prescription drugs or illegal drugs. A judge who has jurisdiction over child custody and who receives a report from one parent about such behavior might begin by investigating those allegations.

The court is concerned with the best interests of the child, so its focus will be on whether the parent's drug or alcohol abuse interferes with the ability to care for the child. The judge may also consider any past history of substance abuse.

When a change in child custody is necessary

Maryland parents who are not living together might need to modify a child custody agreement. While a court is reluctant to allow a child custody modification without good reason, there are several cases in which it is in the child's best interest to do so. For example, if the child is in danger, the court will act to protect the child. However, the court will still consider the situation first, and this will include weighing whether there has been domestic violence in the home, how willing the child is to remain in the home and how much immediate danger the child is in.

The relocation of a parent may necessitate a change in custody. Courts will consider the reason for the parent's move and how it affects the visitation schedule as well as how a modification will affect the child's life. If one parent refuses to follow the visitation schedule, this could also be a reason for a change.

How to prepare for a legal separation

Before beginning divorce proceedings, many Maryland couples choose to undergo a legal separation to sort out their feelings and see if their marriage can be saved. However, there are several considerations that people should keep in mind before choosing to live apart for a period of time.

For example, if one spouse handles all the finances, the other spouse should become familiar with all the accounts before the separation. This will ensure neither spouse hides income or expenditures from the other one. Each spouse should also open credit cards in their own name to establish credit as an individual. Likewise, all joint credit card accounts should be closed, as each party can be held legally responsible for any debt the other racks up during a separation. Estranged couples should also consider entering into a formal separation agreement, which would cover the financial terms of the separation, including liability for debts incurred during the separation, child and spousal support, who will pay health and life insurance premiums, and other applicable issues. They should have separate legal representation during this process.

Dealing with child custody following the death of a parent

The death of a Maryland custodial parent can be a difficult time for those involved. However, it can also be difficult to determine who the child will live with. Depending on the situation, a child may go to live with the noncustodial parent, a family member or a third party. When there is no one suitable, these children could become wards of the state.

Unless the other parent has a history of abuse or an illness that prevents them from being able to provide proper care for the child, they may be the first choice. In order for the parent to seek custody, however, they must establish paternity. This can be done through a simple DNA test if they did not sign the child's birth certificate. They can also opt to sign an acknowledgement of paternity, which then must be filed in court.

Focusing on children's well-being during a divorce

When Maryland parents are considering a divorce, they might also wonder what they can do make the process less difficult for their children. They might be able to work together to help their children adjust. This would begin with choosing the right time to file for divorce. One reason that March may be the most popular month for divorce filings is that its long stretch of school days means that parents can take care of divorce-related meetings while their children are in class. However, parents who do not want their children to have to cope with the adjustment during the school year may opt for summer when they might be able to spend more time with them.

Parents can also work together to explain the divorce to their children. This includes allowing plenty of time for children to ask questions. Children might need reassurance that their parents love them and that they are secure. A temporary custody and support order might be necessary. Parents may also decide that they can live together until the divorce is final or that they can take turns living in the house with their children.

Domestic violence may not prevent custody rights

If a parent in Maryland or elsewhere has committed an act of domestic violence, he or she may still get custody or visitation rights. This could be true whether the parent abused an adult living with the child or another minor living with the child. When crafting a visitation order, the best interests of the child and the adult abuse victim will be a top priority.

In some cases, an individual may still obtain visitation with a child even if he or she has murdered another child or family member who lived with the child. This may be true even if the victim was the child's other parent. In such a scenario, a judge may create an order that allows for visitation while still ensuring the physical and emotional safety of the minor.

What to do with a family business in a divorce

Couples in Maryland who are business owners and who get a divorce might also need to decide what they will do with the business. Since the assets of both people may be largely tied up in the business, neither may be able to buy the other out. While a prenup or a buy-sell agreement might address the issue effectively, many couples do not want to discuss divorce when they are wedding planning. Therefore, they may be left negotiating the fate of the business as part of the divorce.

If the two are able to work together, they might consider continuing to co-own the business. A shareholder agreement can create parameters that allow one to buy the other out. If one spouse does buy out the other, assessing the value of the business is necessary, and this can be complex.

Loss for Robin Thicke in custody battle

Maryland fans of singer Robin Thicke may know that he has been in a custody battle with his 6-year-old son's mother, Paula Patton. On Jan. 26, his request for temporary sole custody was denied, and furthermore, a restraining order was served against him. He is not permitted to go near Patton, his son or Patton's mother.

Both parents had wanted custody of their son. Patton had said that Thicke spanked the boy excessively, and Thicke accused Patton of emotional abuse. Earlier in January, Patton had testified in family court that she was concerned about Thicke's alcohol and drug use as well as how he approached discipline with their child. She also said that her son became anxious and yelled at her when she questioned him about how his father treated him.

Children tend to fare better in co-parenting situations

Protecting children from the potentially devastating emotional consequences of their parents' divorce is one of the main objectives of Maryland family court judges when they are called upon to make child custody decisions. Judges tend to favor co-parenting solutions due to the body of research indicating that children are more likely to thrive in these situations, and they also understand that divorced parents are generally able to see beyond their differences when the future of their children is in the balance.

Successful co-parenting arrangements are based on responsibility and fairness. Children are less likely to misbehave or manipulate their parents when expectations, rules and discipline are consistent, and parents send their children a powerful message about commitment and priorities when they cooperate despite agreeing on very little. Parents in these situations also know where they stand and what is expected of them, and this knowledge can help them to avoid some major pitfalls.