Jeffrey N. Greenblatt

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Rockville MD Divorce Law Blog

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Oil tycoon's divorce among biggest in history

People in Maryland and across the U.S. may have seen the news headlines about Harold Hamm, one of the richest men in the world, and his recent billion-dollar divorce settlement. Hamm is the CEO and founder of Continental Resources, one of the nation's largest oil and gas corporations. His net worth is estimated at slightly over $18 billion, but his ex-wife will soon be seeing a nice chunk of that after their high asset divorce settlement.

The divorce, which took place in another state over a nine-week period, ended with a judge's ruling that Sue Ann Hamm, his wife of 25 years, was entitled to just shy of $1 billion of their marital wealth. The former Mrs. Hamm will receive the bulk of the property division award over time, including $320 million up front and at least $7 million each month until the balance is paid.

Getting help to pursue a modification order is essential

People in Maryland who have gone through a divorce may feel as if a great weight has been lifted off of their shoulders. In some ways, it certainly has. Getting out of a messy divorce or a bad relationship can be a very freeing feeling, but for parents and people with alimony orders, it may not be the end of their legal obligations to their children or their ex-spouse.

In a Maryland divorce, there is always the possibility that one party will be required to pay alimony to the other party. Generally this is based on the income of each party as well as their reasonable needs of the person receiving the support. Depending on the situation, the court may grant alimony for a short period of time until the receiving party is able to get on their feet and support themselves. However, in some cases the temporary rehabilitative alimony order can be extended, and in some cases alimony can even be ordered to run indefinitely.

Alimony is not a given in many divorces

People in Maryland may have seen a recent editorial article in Forbes about the likelihood of spouses, in particular stay-at-home mothers, receiving court-ordered alimony after a divorce. The trend in recent years has been that women, even mothers who have elected to stay at home and raise the children rather than enter the workforce, may not be as likely to receive alimony as they once were. According to recent studies 97 percent of all people in 2010 receiving alimony were women, so this is an issue that clearly affects women more than men after a divorce.

Part of the reason is due to the fact that gender equality in the workforce has been increasing, and in the eyes of many courts, women have as much opportunity to earn a reasonable paycheck as men do. According to the federal Department of Labor, 75 percent of all women in the U.S. work, and in about 40 percent of households a woman is the primary income-earner. So in light of this changing trend, courts may not be as likely to order the ex-husband to pay alimony to their spouse after their divorce.

What can Maryland courts do when a spouse or parent gets violent?

People in Maryland who have ever had to live in fear of abuse, stalking or domestic violence know how difficult it can be to go on with their lives. Domestic abuse is a significant problem in society, and even then, the full depth of the problem cannot be accurately measured because so many people stay silent and pray that the problem will go away. Unfortunately, doing nothing to protect one's self and one's children is not often a safe option. But, fortunately, an experienced family law attorney can help victims of domestic abuse and violence secure a protective order or peace order to stop the cycle of abuse.

Many domestic violence episodes accompany other domestic troubles, such as a divorce or a child custody dispute. These stressful situations can push people to act irrationally and aggressively, but there is never any excuse for violence or abuse. People who have suffered, or fear for their safety or the safety of their children, should seek out a protective order. A protective order can be secured against any person who is a current or former spouse, an intimate household partner, or a parent of a child in common. Likewise, a minor child can also secure a protective order against a parent or stepparent.

Expensive weddings may lead to divorce, study shows

People in Maryland may have seen a recent news articles about the correlation between the cost of a wedding and the likelihood of divorce. Everyone knows how expensive it can be to prepare for hundreds of friends and family and make everything just perfect for the big day, but most people may not realize that how much they spend could be an indicator of future marital longevity.

Perhaps surprisingly, a recent study performed by economics professors at Emory University showed that those who have a less expensive wedding are less likely to get a divorce. And shockingly, those who spent over $20,000 on their wedding divorced approximately 1.6 times as often as those whose weddings cost less than $10,000.

Maryland courts have broad powers in property division

People in Maryland have probably heard stories about the property division process from a friend or family member who has gone through a divorce. In a divorce, the court has the duty to distribute the marital property of the two spouses. This equitable division can take many different forms, though, and the court has great powers when it comes to telling a person how to handle their property in response to a divorce petition.

In a divorce action, it is up to the court to determine the value of all of the marital property at issue. This often includes many different kinds of property, including but not limited to real estate, vehicles, financial accounts and retirement accounts or pensions.

Separation agreements can alleviate big headaches

People in Maryland may have noticed that more and more couples are entering into prenuptial agreements prior to tying the knot. While in previous generations such a contract might have been considered unseemly or unusual, couples today know have learned their lesson from the messy, litigation-heavy divorces of their parent's generation and have embraced the prenuptial agreement, or "prenup," as an essential step in the marriage process.

Couples who didn't sign a prenup in their marriage may have more property division concerns if they divorce, but there are still plenty of legal steps a spouse can take to protect themselves and their assets prior to a divorce. In particular they may want to enter into a post-nuptial contract, which is essentially the same thing as a prenup, but the main difference is the timing. As the name indicates, a post-nuptial contract takes place after the couple has married.

Do parents have the right to child custody after divorce?

When parents in Maryland get divorced, one of the most important questions to them is whether they will be able to enjoy spending time with their children as much as they did during the marriage. While every divorce and child custody arrangement is different, many parents will be pleased to know that unless there is a very good reason for prohibiting time with their children, such as abuse or substance addiction, then parents are still entitled to reasonable parenting time and visitation with their children.

In most Maryland divorce cases, divorcing parents are required to attend mediation, in which both parents attend a negotiation and brainstorming session in order to try to reach an agreement as to the child custody arrangement. Mediation is helpful because it allows both parents the opportunity to express their wishes for the child custody and visitation arrangement. In a custody dispute, oftentimes nobody wins, so the objective of mediation is to help parents find common ground and work to build a schedule and parenting plan that fits the needs of the parents and most importantly, is also in the best interests of the child.

Defining and stopping domestic violence

With so much controversy over domestic violence in the news, a lot of people in Maryland probably have questions about how state law defines domestic violence, and what people who are concerned about domestic abuse can do to protect themselves.

Most people know that physically assaulting a spouse, child or other household member constitutes domestic violence, but there are other acts that are included within the definition. For example, it doesn't necessarily require a person to harm another person physically, it can also include putting a person in fear of harm, including making threats or acting menacingly towards such person. It may also include stalking a person, which may include trespassing or following a person, or otherwise harassing them. Finally, it may also include holding someone against their will.

Baltimore Ravens star Rice cut from team, banned from NFL

People in Maryland and all over the country have been transfixed on the story of Ravens running back Ray Rice, who was recently banned from the NFL and cut from the team after graphic footage of Rice knocking his wife unconscious with a punch in a hotel elevator surfaced in media outlets. The story has taken many twists and turns, and has led many concerned fans and observers to criticize the NFL for not doing enough to combat the scourge of domestic abuse.

The original altercation between Rice and his wife took place in a casino in Atlantic City on February 15th. Shortly afterwards, media jumped on camera footage of Rice dragging the body of his unconscious wife from the elevator, and Rice was charged with third-degree assault, a charge which could result in a prison sentence of up to 5 years. Rice was originally suspended by the NFL for two games after agreeing to seek counseling and participate in a criminal diversion case which would have allowed him to get his charges dismissed.

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