Contested Judicial Elections

The primary election date is Tuesday April 26, 2016.

In Maryland, qualified lawyers may run for judge of the Circuit Court in an election.  All Circuit Court Judges appointed by the Governor must stand for election at the first election cycle after their appointment and again every 15 years.  In most counties, the sitting Judges run with no opposition and any vote for the judge is simply to retain the judge.

This year, there is a hotly contested judicial election in Baltimore City.  Six sitting judges are running against a City Councilman, Jim Kraft, and a Public Defender, Todd Oppenheim.

The six sitting judges are:  Judge Audrey J.S. Carrion, Judge Wanda Keyes Heard, Judge Karen C. Friedman, Judge Michael A. DiPietro, Judge Cynthia H. Jones, and Judge Shannon E.Avery.

Should we have Judicial Elections?

There are strong opinions as to whether we should have contested elections for judges in Maryland.   Those against judicial elections believe that judges should be above politics and they worry that a judge’s neutrality may be compromised by campaign donations from the lawyers that appear before them. Critics also worry that Judge’s taking a “position” on an issue may preclude the judge from dispassionately deciding a case.  The strongest argument against judicial elections is that the judges are vetted through a nominating process that presents the best candidates to the Governor for appointment.

Those arguing for contested elections often cite the ability of minorities and women to run and win these elections, as was the case of William H. “Billy” Murphy, Jr. in the election of 1980. Others argue that elections force the candidates  to become more connected to their constituents by campaigning in communities they may not otherwise visit. The candidates for judge will therefore meet the people they serve on their terms.  The community connection allows individuals that will be subject to a judge’s rulings to meet a potential judge or sitting judge in an informal setting rather than for the first time in a courtroom.

Marc Steiner of the Steinershow recently had the six sitting judges on his program.  There was a fascinating discussion about the role of a Circuit Court Judge in our government and each of the judges described their experience during the campaign.  It is a glimpse into our legal system that many Baltimore City residents never see and it is definitely worth a listen.

Whatever your position, now is your opportunity to participate in government by voting and choosing those who implement our government and hold our most cherished rights in their hands.

Disclaimer: David D. Nowak, Esq. is a family law attorney practicing in Baltimore City and surrounding counties.  He has appeared and argued cases before many of the sitting judges while they were in the family law rotation for divorce, custody, child support and alimony.  Additionally, David D. Nowak, was a judicial intern for Judge Wanda Keyes Heard. www.davidnowaklaw.com

Advertisements

Attorney’s Fees

Can I get attorney’s fees from my spouse in a divorce?

Yes.  Maryland law allows either party to request that the other party pay their attorney’s fees and costs to pursue or defend a divorce case, an alimony case, a case involving the division of marital property and in child support cases.

In virtually all of these types of cases a judge may, but is not required to, award attorney’s fees and costs after determining the following:

  1. The financial resources and financial needs of both parties; and
  2. Whether there was substantial justification for prosecuting or defending the proceeding.
If a court finds that there was an absence of substantial justification of a party for prosecuting or defending the proceeding, and absent a finding by the court of good cause to the contrary, the court shall award to the other party the reasonable and necessary expense of prosecuting or defending the proceeding.

Reasonableness of Fee

A court may only award attorney’s fees that are reasonable.  Your attorney will be able to better explain how a court determines the reasonableness of a fee but it is a required finding prior to award attorney’s fees.

Costs and Expenses

A court may also award costs and expenses in a case.  Typical costs and expenses include:

  • The filing fee
  • The fee for service on the other side charged by the Sheriff or a private process server
  • The costs of hiring an expert
  • Other costs such as postage, copies, and supplies required to pursue the case.

You should consider requesting attorney’s fees in your case however most attorneys will require you to continue to pay your own fees as the case progresses as an award of attorney’s fees and costs as a court may not award either side attorney’s fees at the conclusion of the case.

Contact Baltimore Divorce attorney David D. Nowak at 443-470-9071

As always, the information on this site is for information purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Each case is different and you should contact an experienced attorney for legal advice.

 

Baltimore Prenuptial Agreement

There are many reasons to consider entering into a prenuptial agreement prior to your wedding.  A Baltimore Prenuptial Agreement lawyer can help explain the reasons for a prenuptial agreement and whether it is a good fit for your situation.

Some common questions are:

How do I protect my premarital assets during a marriage and in the event of divorce?

How can I avoid a costly and contentious divorce like my parents experienced?

How can I make sure I am protected in case of divorce but I haven’t worked during the marriage?

These questions have important answer and if you are asking these question than a consultation with a Baltimore prenuptial lawyer may be right for you.

Maryland Prenuptial Agreements

Maryland does not have a uniform prenuptial or premarital agreement statute addressing prenuptial agreements.  Until 1984, prenuptial agreements were frowned upon by Maryland Courts.  However, Maryland family law now allows people before and after marriage to enter into enforceable agreements (contracts) to resolve their issues especially property distribution, alimony and attorney’s fees.

It is important that each potential spouse consult with a lawyer to review the prenuptial agreement prior to signing.

Under Maryland Law a court will evaluate the validity of prenuptial agreement.  Generally, the test that a Maryland Court will apply to uphold or overturn the agreement is” whether there was overreaching, that is, whether in the atmosphere and environment of the confidential relationship there was unfairness or inequity in the result of the agreement or in its procurement. Frank, full and truthful disclosure of what is being relinquished (or in lieu thereof actual knowledge otherwise available or obtained) is the key that turns the lock of the door leading to impregnable validity.” Harbom v. Harbom, 134 Md. App. 430, 741 (2000)

Usually, if each party is represented and fully advised of their rights, courts will uphold an otherwise valid Maryland prenuptial agreement.

To ensure that the prenuptial agreement is valid and enforceable it is a good idea to call a Baltimore prenuptial agreement lawyer to draft and explain the law to you.  A person should never sign a prenuptial agreement without first consulting with a lawyer because of the many rights you may be giving up that you did not know you had or did not care to consider at this time in your life.

Contact a Baltimore prenuptial agreement lawyer David D. Nowak 443-470-9071 www.davidnowaklaw.com

Each case is different so you should consult an attorney to receive legal advice for your specific situation.  This post is for general legal information and is not legal advice.

Baltimore County Child Support

The Baltimore County Office of Child Support Enforcement located at 170 W Ridgely Rd Suite 200, Lutherville, MD 21093 is the government agency tasked with determining child support and paternity in Baltimore County Child Support cases.

If you need child support from the other parent you can apply for child support through the child support enforcement office.  If you apply for certain government benefits for the minor child you may be requested to file for child support through the Office of Child Support Enforcement.

How do I file for child support with the Baltimore County Office of Child Support Enforcement?

You can contact the Baltimore County Office of Child Support Enforcement online or at 800-332-6347.

Who pays child support?

Each natural parent of the child is obligated to support the child.  Either parent may be ordered to pay child support to the other parent.  If paternity is disputed, the Office of Child Support Enforcement may order a paternity test, sometimes called a DNA test, to determine the likelihood that a person is the genetic parent of the child.

The Office of Child Support Enforcement may request that you sign an Affidavit of Parentage that requires you to admit that you are the parent.  You should consult an attorney before signing any documents at the Office of Child Support Enforcement.  If you sign an Affidavit of Parentage you may be financial responsible for the child, even if you determine later that you are not actually the child’s parent.

How is child Support Calculated?

Child Support is calculated by using the Maryland Child Support Guidelines. If you and the other parent have a combined income of $15,000 or less per month, the guidelines are used, if the combined income is higher than the actual expenses of the child are considered.

The guidelines will determine how much a child is eligible to receive as a proportion of the parents’ combined income.

To determine the child support figure, you first need to know some figures:

  1. Your gross income (before taxes) and the other parent’s gross income
  2. Whether either parent has a pre-existing child support obligation for another child
  3. Whether either party pays or receives alimony,
  4. The total number of overnights the child spends at each household in a year
  5. The monthly cost of work related daycare
  6. The monthly cost of health insurance for just the child
  7. Whether there are any extra-ordinary medical expenses
  8. Whether a parent receives Cash Medical Expenses and
  9. The costs of attending a special or private school to meet the particular educational needs of the child or any expenses for transportation of the child between the homes of the parents.

How Much Will My Child Support be?

To determine the actual amount of child support you need to consult an attorney.  The Maryland Department of Human Resources has a child support calculator but you should be sure to speak to a Baltimore County Child Support lawyer to determine your actual child support obligation.  There are many factors to consider when determining child support and you should call a child support lawyer to make sure the child support figure is accurate.

How Many Overnights for Joint Custody in Maryland

Shared physical custody is when both parties have at least 128 overnights in a year (or 35% of the year) and both parents contribute to the expenses of the child in addition to paying child support.

There are two sets of guidelines that are used to determine child support in Maryland. Primary Physical Custody to one Parent or Shared Physical Custody.  To determine which set of guidelines to use, a parent needs to count the number of overnights they have in a year.  If each parent has at least 128 overnights in a year than Shared Physical Custody Guidelines are used. If a parent has less than 128 overnights in a year, the Primary Physical Custody Guidelines are used.

Why do Overnights Matter?

The amount of child support a parent pays various widely depending on whether a parent has Primary Physical Custody or Shared Physical Custody.  A parent with shared physical custody will most likely have a lower child support obligation but will have to contribute to other expenses for the child.  If there is a custody dispute, often times custody should be determined before a final child support amount can be correctly established.

Do I need a lawyer for child support?

You should consult with a lawyer if you are interested in legal advice for child support.  Whether you need child support or are asked to pay child support, a Baltimore County Child Support Lawyer can help protect your rights.  The Office of Child Support Enforcement has lawyers available for the benefit of the child but they do not represent either parent.

What if I have more Questions?

If you would like to discuss your child support case with a lawyer please call The Law Office of David D. Nowak, LLC at 443-470-9071 or email us using this contact form.

From www.marylandpotlawyer.com

A post from our other site http://www.marylandpotlawyer.com

Police Made One Pot Arrest every 42 seconds in 2012

It’s hard to believe that police in the United States are making an arrest for pot possession every 42 seconds.  That means police are spending time making criminals out of usually non-violent drug offenders rather than focusing on other more serious crimes.

In Baltimore, the pot arrest rate has not decreased and marijuana possession charges in Baltimore have actually increased.  It is hard to justify the costs to society by spending police and court resources on marijuana charges.  Not to mention the costs of criminalizing millions in our society and hampering their ability to get student loans, government assistance, and jobs with security clearances.

According to US News and World Report Most marijuana-related arrests were for possession of the drug. By mere possession, there was one marijuana arrest every 48 seconds in 2012. Including arrests for distribution, there was a pot-related arrest every 42 seconds, the same interval as in 2011. “Each one of those arrests is the story of someone who may suffer a variety of adverse effects from their interaction with the justice system,” said LEAP Executive Director Neill Franklin, a former Maryland policeman, in a statement. “Commit a murder or a robbery and the government will still give you a student loan. Get convicted for smoking a joint and you’re likely to lose it.”

I was not surprised by this article as the documentary  The House I Live In  explores the societal costs of enforcing the drug war, and investigates the intrenched interests that keep the drug war alive such as the private prison industry.   Everyone should watch this eye opening expose on our Drug War and Drug warriors. In Maryland, legislation to legalize marijuana passed in the Senate, but did not pass the House.  Even though Maryland is liberal in many ways, we still have a long way to go until a person in Baltimore can use legal marijuana and not have to call a criminal defense drug lawyer for a pot arrest.

David D. Nowak, Esq.

Find us on Google+

Police Made One Pot Arrest every 42 seconds in 2012

A post from our other site http://www.marylandpotlawyer.com

Police Made One Pot Arrest every 42 seconds in 2012

It’s hard to believe that police in the United States are making an arrest for pot possession every 42 seconds.  That means police are spending time making criminals out of usually non-violent drug offenders rather than focusing on other more serious crimes.

In Baltimore, the pot arrest rate has not decreased and marijuana possession charges in Baltimore have actually increased.  It is hard to justify the costs to society by spending police and court resources on marijuana charges.  Not to mention the costs of criminalizing millions in our society and hampering their ability to get student loans, government assistance, and jobs with security clearances.

According to US News and World Report Most marijuana-related arrests were for possession of the drug. By mere possession, there was one marijuana arrest every 48 seconds in 2012. Including arrests for distribution, there was a pot-related arrest every 42 seconds, the same interval as in 2011. “Each one of those arrests is the story of someone who may suffer a variety of adverse effects from their interaction with the justice system,” said LEAP Executive Director Neill Franklin, a former Maryland policeman, in a statement. “Commit a murder or a robbery and the government will still give you a student loan. Get convicted for smoking a joint and you’re likely to lose it.”

I was not surprised by this article as the documentary  The House I Live In  explores the societal costs of enforcing the drug war, and investigates the intrenched interests that keep the drug war alive such as the private prison industry.   Everyone should watch this eye opening expose on our Drug War and Drug warriors. In Maryland, legislation to legalize marijuana passed in the Senate, but did not pass the House.  Even though Maryland is liberal in many ways, we still have a long way to go until a person in Baltimore can use legal marijuana and not have to call a criminal defense drug lawyer for a pot arrest.

David D. Nowak, Esq.

Find us on Google+