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When I was 19 years old, I found out that I was pregnant. My boyfriend at the time told me that when my son was born, don't put his name down as the father but to put down another name as a father. At the time, I have no support system and have n...
I agree with the above advice, but would add the following -- you should not wait to begin child support proceedings. The court has the ability to backdate child support payments to the date the petition is filed, which means that your ex could be required to pay you back-support payments for the period of time between when you file, and when the court enters a support order. This is particularly important in your case, as it is obvious from your question that your children are close to the age of emancipation (18), at which time his obligation to support them is extinguished under Maryland law (19, if they are still in high school, or unless he affirmatively agrees to pay longer through a separation agreement). Depending on your jurisdiction (I believe you reside in Cecil County?) it may take several months for this to get a court date. One final thing -- in the smaller Maryland counties child support is enforced by the local State's Attorney's Office. You may want to google your local SAO, and get into contact with them immediately. Ordinarily, there is no charge associated with their services to collect child support on your behalf. The only time this may not be in your best interests is if your ex has a job where his actual income is difficult to prove. If he receives a W2, then the SAO is probably your best bet. If you have to demonstrate the existence of under the table or cash income (requiring bank records and possibly expert testimony) you're generally better off with a private attorney.
Finally, do not agree to a child support amount from him until you have been apprised by a lawyer (either privately or through the SAO) of the amount he should be paying you. You may be surprised at how high it is, and you wouldn't want him to be able to allege and prove that you both agreed to a lesser amount as being in the best interests of the children (occasionally a court will agree with the Defendant-dad and order a below the guidelines support amount, based upon the parties' prior behavior). That is not to say you should refuse any support he offers -- just don't affirmatively state (in writing or verbally) that you agree that should be the set amount. I purchased the same child support calculation software as the courts in Maryland use, so if you want to email me with some basic income and health insurance information, I can ball-park the support amount for you. Hope this helps!See question
Where can I go and file for child support in Maryland? I live in Cecil County.
You can file in either the county where you reside, or the county where the defendant resides. Generally speaking, I encourage clients to file in their own county, for convenience sake. You may wish to contact the Office of the State's Attorney for Cecil County (try googling it, as many now have webpages). Often in small counties the SAO handles child support enforcement and does so on your behalf at no cost to you. I believe there may be a nominal fee ($25.00 - $50.00) paid as a on-time charge to you for opening an account. I hope this helps. Good luck!See question
I am confused. My children and I live in Maryland. Originally, I file for child support in Maryland; however, the case was move to Delaware because their dad live in Delaware. Shouldn't the case remain in Maryland because I live in Maryland. I hav...
By "moved to Delaware" do you mean moved to Delaware for collection purposes only? It is likely that the local bureau of support enforcement transferred the case to Delaware to collect the support, but that the actual case itself remains in Maryland for future litigation purposes. You can check to see if your case is still in Maryland by going to www.courts.state.md.us, then click on the "search court records" button on the left side of the page. Follow the links and you will be prompted to enter either your name or the name of the children's father, and you should be able to locate the case. If you click on the case, you will see a listing of the docket entries and if the case was formally transferred to a Delaware court, there should be a listing that indicates the transfer was requested and granted. Maryland has to affirmatively agree to relinquish the case to Delaware for a Delaware court to assume jurisdiction.
If you are considering filing a motion to increase the child support, or for contempt, etc., it is very likely that the proper court to do so remains the circuit court in Maryland where the case originated. Hope this helps!See question
I never once recieved a bill over a 3 year period from my former lawyer who represented me durring a child support/custody battle. My lawyer represented me and never once sent me a bill, she was since fired from the firm she was working for while...
Your situation will be almost entirely governed by the provisions of the retainer agreement that you signed, so it is difficult for me to give you too much advice. That said, there is a statute of limitations in Maryland for filing suit, and for a contract case (which is what this should be) the case must be filed within three years. So, my first question to you is how long ago were you represented? Also, is it possible that you moved and the prior firm was sending bills to an incorrect address? Another threshold question is whether you were properly served with the lawsuit paperwork. If you were not properly served, you need to proceed carefully, as filing an answer to the lawsuit will waive the improper service issue.
Generally speaking, the fact that you did not receive regular statements from the lawyer probably does not eliminate your obligation to pay the bill (although it may be grounds for filing a grievance, it probably won't extinguish your liability for the work that was performed). If the retainer agreement you signed is silent as to the frequency at which you will receive statements, then the court may not even allow you to raise it as a defense or even testify about it. Essentially, the question will boil down to whether you agreed to the contractual provisions (and you were not under duress, the contract was not unconscionable or contrary to public policy, the provisions of the contract are clear and unambiguous, etc.), whether the lawyer fulfilled his/her end of the bargain by performing the agreed upon work, and whether you have failed to perform as agreed. That said, it is entirely reasonable and possible that you can resolve this issue directly with the law firm via settlement negotiations. I strongly encourage you to contact an attorney to have him/her review the retainer to apprise you of the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and see if it is in your best interests to try to settle the matter.
By the way, if you go to court and lose the case, you can be relieved of any obligation on any judgment entered against you by declaring bankruptcy, provided the lawyer was not appointed by the court to serve as a best interests attorney for one or more minor children. Again, a reasonably well-informed lawyer should be able to discuss the pros and cons of this with you.
There is a free clinic every Wednesday afternoon at the Circuit Court courthouse in Prince Frederick, for family law matters, where you can meet with a family law attorney for free and receive advice. Although your case probably doesn't meet the criteria since it is really a contract case, you might want to keep this clinic in mind. If my response created more questions than it answered, feel free to email me directly. Good luck.See question
The judge ordered that we retain our own vehicles and remove the other's name. DMV will not remove my ex-husbands name because he has an insurance fine on his vehicle. I have been waiting for 10 months for him to take care of this issue. I am mov...
I agree with the above advice. I would add, however, that the court has the power to appoint a trustee to sign on you ex-husband's behalf, if he refuses to sign. My suggestion would be to include a request for this relief in your contempt petition, with the provision that your ex be required to pay any trustee fee associated therewith. That way, if it takes you a while to get a court date (contempt petitions are usually scheduled within a 2 - 3 month time-frame in Calvert County), you have the option of having the judge appoint someone to sign for your ex, and won't have to deal with his recalcitrance and/or refusal to subsequently sign the paperwork. Keep in mind when you file that it will cost you $25.00 to reopen the case, and another $40.00 to have the Sheriff's office serve your ex (assuming he still resides in Calvert County). I suggest you leave the check for the Sheriff's office with the clerk's office when you file, they will then forward the show cause order to the Sheriff's office for you, saving you time and hassle.
Finally, the court has the power to impose jail time for certain contemptuous behavior, but you must specifically request it, and the show cause order and contempt petition must be served with specific advice of rights/warning language. You can ask about this at the clerk's office, or feel free to email me.See question
I plead guilty to the charge.
While I concur with the advice you have been given thus far, I would advise you to call Larry Lamson on Main Street in Prince Frederick. His number is 410.535.1900. He's a retired judge who has been practicing criminal defense in Calvert County for decades. He knows all of the prosecutors, and is well-versed in the general approach(es) of the local judges. If your case is worth pursuing, he'll tell you. If not, he'll tell you that, too. He does not charge for consultations, I believe.
As a fellow Calvert County lawyer, I cannot say enough positive things about him. I strongly encourage you to give him a call. He's honest, responsive, knowledgeable, down to earth, and does not hesitate to go to trial for a client when the circumstances warrant it. Good luck!See question
since the paper she was reading from could not be given to me. The severance agreement states compensation equivalent to 3 months of pay. But during the meeting, HR told me I would also be given 7 months of my annual bonus, as well as any unuse...
The HR representative's reluctance to provide you with a copy of a written list of the employer's offer/obligation(s) to you in the agreement strikes me as rather strange, and you are wise to view this behavior with some suspicion. Without more information, though, it is difficult to ascertain her motives. Is she a colleague whom you would consider a friend, and perhaps was trying to protect you in the event that the employer later denies or refuses to follow through? Were you being fired, or let go under unusual circumstances (e.g., perhaps very near to vesting your retirement benefits, or otherwise becoming eligible for a financial benefit from the employer that the employer may not want to pay? Do you believe you may have been the victim of discrimination of some sort (agism, sexism, racism))? Does your employer have a reputation for disputing unemployment eligibility for former employees?
Generally speaking, it is not harmful to make a contemporaneous writing that memorializes your understanding and impression(s). That said, unless such a document is produced for the use of your lawyer (thus likely protecting it as attorney work-product and/or through the umbrella of attorney-client privilege), it may later be subject to disclosure in discovery (interrogatories and/or requests for production of documents) or via a valid subpoena request. If you are genuinely concerned about the employer's motives, you may want to consider another meeting with the HR representative to clarify the company's position, and with her PERMISSION, audiotaping it. Be very careful to advise her or any other individual present that you are taping the meeting, as failing to do so will affect the admissibility of the tape in a later judicial or administrative proceeding, and could run afoul of the Maryland Wiretapping Statute (resulting in criminal liability to you). Feel free to contact me via email if you wish to discuss further, and be sure to read the below disclaimer.See question
My ex and I were divorced in August 2007. In our divorce we stated that the children had the right to decide where they were to live. In September 2007 my daughter (now 16) decided to move in with the father from the mother. My son stayed with his...
If you file a motion to modify custody, you will need to establish a "material change in circumstances." Your son's desire to change residences normally will suffice. Another alternative you could consider, instead of filing a motion to modify custody, would be filing a petition to cite the other party with contempt. This is usually done via the issuance of a show cause order. In Calvert County, if you file a motion to modify custody, you will be sent to mediation as a matter of course, and this would likely be resolved there. So, a motion to modify custody would likely be resolved pretrial, but would take more time to litigate as you must first appear for a scheduling conference (at which time a trial date is set), and a petition to cite with contempt will result in an trial date being automatically generated, usually within a couple of months, but ordinarily will not be referred to mediation via a scheduling conference. Feel free to call if you would like additional information.See question
The court ordered that my ex be put on the deed to my house after years of legal fighting. Can she move into the house while I am living in it? Does she have a right to come into the house? At this point, there is no equity in the house. My curr...
Your question left me wondering why your ex was willing to pursue an action to have her name placed on the deed of a home with no equity. Was there equity at some point that has now been dissipated through refinancing or home equity lines of credit? Was she made aware of this? If she had a reasonable expectation that the property had value, and its value was diminished without her knowledge, you may want to seriously consider consulting an attorney.
That being said, people (especially in divorce cases) have been known to expend thousands of dollars on legal fees wrangling over items of little or no discernable value, based upon the "principle" of the matter. Good luck.See question