Skip to content
  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • Washington, D.C.

Divorce Lawyers

Thyden Gross and Callahan LLPCounselors and Attorneys at Law

301-907-4580

 

FATHERS’ RIGHTS
NOT JUST EVERY OTHER WEEKEND

This is about fathers' rights law, and protecting the best interests of your children. It provides information, news and comments on laws, cases and strategies for life as a single father and winning your custody, access or child support case.

Posts Tagged ‘Custody’

Appeals Court Reverses Custody Award to Mother

Tuesday, March 24th, 2015

In 2014, a judge in Talbot County, Maryland, gave custody of a 14 year old girl to Mrs. Hostetter, writing in his memorandum opinion that as “an adolescent female, this may be the most important time in her life to have a solid relationship with her mother.”

What’s wrong with this decision?

While the judge may have been correct about the importance of the mother-daughter relationship, he was wrong about the law.

In an unreported opinion in March of 2105, the Maryland Court of Appeals reversed the decision as contrary to state law and cases.

In 1974, Maryland abandoned by statute the maternal preference doctrine, under which children were presumed to belong with their mother.

And in 1998, the Maryland Court of Appeals, held that the state’s Equal Rights Amendment prohibits custody determinations based on gender.

The Maryland legislature is currently considering a bill that would create a rebuttable presumption in favor of joint physical custody.  Sponsors of the bill say such a presumption is necessary to prevent a latent preference by judges to award custody to mothers rather than fathers.

Taking the Children Out of State

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Someone asked today for the Maryland case that prevents a parent from relocating to another state with the minor children before a custody order is entered.

Surprise!  In Maryland, there is no case and no law against it.  Some lawyers and some judges will disapprove of this tactic, especially in the middle of a school year, but it is not illegal.

Until there is a custody order, both parties have joint legal and physical custody of their children under the common law.  That means either parent can take them anywhere.

It is then up to the parent left behind to go to court and try to get an order for their return.

How to Lose a Child Custody Battle

Monday, February 4th, 2013

Sometimes celebrities can teach us what not to do.  TMZ reports that an Atlanta family court judge has awarded Tawanna Iverson custody of her five children with NBA basketball star Allen Iverson.

The judge found that Allen “does not know how to manage the children; has little interest in learning to manage the children and has actually, at times, been a hindrance to their spiritual and emotional growth and development.  For example, he has refused to attend to an obvious and serious alcohol problem, which has caused him to do inappropriate things in the presence of the children while impaired.  He has left the children alone without supervision. He has left his young daughters in a hotel room with men who are unknown to the mother.”

The judge gave Allen visitation on the conditions that he:

  • not drink alcohol for 18 months
  • after that, not drink alcohol within 24 hours of visitation
  • engage in mental health therapy
  • attend AA meetings for a year

The Prospective Client

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Danny Carr, Counselor and Attorney at Law, punched the button on his phone this morning to listen to messages left last night on his voice-mail.

“I need to hire you for a custody case.  This is Ken Woodard. Call me at 301-555-5555.”

Carr hit redial, and when someone answered, he said,  “Mr. Woodard, this is Danny Carr, returning your call.”

“I was forced to give up custody and visitation by my wife’s attorney by duress,” said Woodard.

“Did he hold a gun to your head? “

“No, but he told me I would lose if I didn’t agree.”

“That’s not duress.”

“OK, well then I found out I still have to pay child support.”

“Right.  Parents are obligated to support their children.”

“But if I don’t have custody or visitation, haven’t my parental rights been terminated?”

“No.  You are still the children’s father.”

“My wife accused me of neglecting and abusing the kids.  Can I file a petition to terminate my parental rights on the basis of her saying I’m an unfit parent?”

“No.  You can’t file a complaint against yourself to terminate your own parental rights.”

“That doesn’t sound right.”

“I have to go now, Mr. Woodard.  Good luck with your case.”

Can a Child Have More Than Two Parents?

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

In 2011, a young girl in California had two mothers.  One went to prison.  The other was hospitalized.  The girl’s father tried to gain custody of the child.  The state appellate court ruled that he could not be the legal guardian of the girl because California law allows a child to have only two parents.  Custody was given to the state.

Sen. Mark Leno, (D) San Francisco, has introduced a bill to amend the law in California so that a child can have more than two parents if it is in the best interests of the child.  Leno said, “There are more than Ozzie and Harriet families today.”

Delaware, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia all permit a child to have more than two parents.

Under the proposal, families with three or more parents would share custody, financial responsibility and visitation for the child, based on a judge’s determination of each parent’s resources and time with the child.

Benjamin Lopez, legislative analyst for the Traditional Values Coalition, said Leno’s bill is just  a new attempt to “revamp, redefine and muddy the waters” of family structure in the drive to legalize gay marriage.

My Advice to Charlie Sheen

Friday, March 4th, 2011

I am thinking about Charlie Sheen’s custody case. If I were his lawyer, I think I would start by giving him the book “Ethics” by Aristotle (384 to 322 BC).

Aristotle catalogues and describes various virtues and vices, such as boasting or humility, and argues that the best way to behave is by finding the mean between the two.

It does not seem too different from the reasonable man test I learned in law school a couple of thousand plus years later.

I am all for “Do not be ordinary” as Robin Williams said in Dead Poet’s Society. And while I do not want my tombstone to say “Here lies a reasonable man”, I would advise Charlie Sheen that judges are more influenced by Aristotle and tend to favor the parent that seems to be the most reasonable.

Court Rules That Father Can Take Daughter to Church

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

The court has ruled that Joseph Reyes will be allowed to take his 3-year-old daughter, Ela, to church according to the Chicago Sun-Times.  Rebecca Reyes, who has full custody of the child in their divorce proceedings, said the father was breaching an agreement they made that Ela would be raised in the Jewish faith.

The court also ruled that the father would have Christmas and Easter holidays with the child and the mother would have the Jewish holidays.

But Reyes still faces contempt sanctions for taking his daughter to church in violation of a previous court order.

One In Three Children Loses Touch With Parent After Divorce

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Mishcon de Reya, a law firm in London, England, has completed a study in which 2000 parents and 2000 children involved in divorce were interviewed.  According to the London Times, the findings were:

  • one in three children permanently loses touch with a parent, usually the father, after the divorce.
  • one in five parents said that their primary objective during separation was to make the experience as unpleasant as possible for their former spouse.
  • one in five of the children said that they felt used by their parents.
  • One in three of the children said they felt isolated and lonely.
  • Half of parents said that they had been to court to fight over residential custody arrangements despite knowing it made matters worse for their children.

“The adversarial, blame-focused system is polarising parents and prevents them thinking forward about the long-term interests of their children,” says Sandra Davis, head of the family division at the law firm.  “As a result the courts are drowning, trying to sort out what are fundamentally behavioural and family issues, with lawyers being drawn into disputes over what time a child is picked up from school.”

Do You Know Who Your Child’s Teacher Is?

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

“Who is your son’s teacher?” one of the moms at the bus stop asked me this morning.

While my wife has been busy being the PTA president, buying school supplies and clothes, and meeting the teachers, I have been working to pay for my kid’s food, clothing, shelter and future college tuition.

So I tell her, “I don’t know.  You’ll have to ask my wife.”

But I feel guilty about this.  It reminds me of the infamous Woody Allen deposition.  Woody couldn’t name his children’s teachers, favorite pajamas, shoe sizes or best friends.  In giving custody to Mia Farrow, the judge found that Woody was an uninterested parent.

Next time someone asks me, I’m going to know the answer to questions like these.

My Best Deposition Tip

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

A deposition is part of the discovery process in a custody trial.  Your spouse’s lawyer gets to ask you a lot of questions, some rude or embarrassing, at his or her office, in front of a stenographer who is taking everything down to be used against you at trial.  You are in the hot seat and it may take all day.

The lawyer has usually done this hundreds of times and knows a lot of tricks, trips and traps.  And the lawyer gets to ask the questions.  You have to answer them.

Here is the number one thing I tell my clients before their deposition.  Repeat the question in the form of a declaration, pause, and finish the sentence.  Put a period at the end of it and then stop talking.  Wait for the next question.

So the lawyer asks, “Where were you on the night of August the 7th of this year?”

You say, “On August the 7th of this year…I was at work.”

This approach has several benefits.  It gives you time to think.  It keeps you focused on the question asked.  It keeps you from talking too much.  It keeps you from guessing.  It keeps you calm.  And it might keep you from saying something that can be used against you at trial.

 
© 2018 Thyden Gross and Callahan LLP. All rights reserved.