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For as much press coverage as high-profile, hotly-contested divorce cases get in the media, the surprising fact is that the majority of divorces in America end quietly in uncontested divorces.  Simple and inexpensive, this option allows spouses to end their marriage with dignity and without all the stress and expense of a drawn out legal battle.

Basics of uncontested divorce

In an uncontested divorce, the two parties agree to the fundamentals of the divorce, allowing the matter to be settled in court with or without the assistance of a divorce attorney.  However, having legal counsel is always a good idea in any divorce situation, and fortunately the average legal fees for uncontested divorce attorneys are significantly lower than for traditional, contested divorce proceedings, largely because the amount of time and preparation is much lower when there are no issues in contention.

When the parties have reached a fair and equitable agreement, the divorce is almost guaranteed to be approved by the court.  This means that discussions between the parties can remain amicable and non-adversarial, as the court does not need to oversee all stages of negotiation.  Simple divorces are usually inexpensive and collaborative, utilizing mediation services, which still being considered uncontested.  Sometimes, however, the court may have to step in when disputes over property or child custody take too long to reach an agreement.

Uncontested Divorces in Maryland

To file for divorce in Maryland, one of the spouses must have lived in Maryland for a least a year if the grounds for divorce occurred outside of Maryland. However, if the grounds for divorce arose in Maryland, either spouse may file in the court in the court where either spouse lives. Residency and time requirements may vary depending on the grounds for divorce and where each spouse lives, so consulting with Law Firm of Annapolis may be necessary to determine where and when, you can file for divorce.

Common no-fault grounds for divorce in Maryland include, 1) a one-year voluntary and mutual separation “without interruption and cohabitation and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation,” or 2) a two-year separation “without cohabitation or sexual relations.”

No Fault Divorces

Uncontested divorces are often no-fault divorces, which require no showing of wrong doing by either party to proceed with the divorce and dissolution of the marriage. Also, there are no evidentiary proceedings.

While uncontested and no-fault divorces have made divorce much easier in America than the historical precedent, there are still many rules and laws that are meant to protect divorcing parties, so speaking with a divorce attorney before proceeding is still in your best interest.

A U.S. District Court Judge in California recently held that the federal government must provide representation for mentally disabled immigrants in removal proceedings.  U.S. citizens have been entitled to the right to representation to be provided for by the government under the 6th amendment of the Constituion, but this protection has been held to not apply to immigrants in removal proceedings.

However, the ACLU became involved in two cases of men with mental disabilities who were placed in removal proceedings. The ACLU argued on their behalf that without the aid of representation, the men were not able to understand the nature of their proceedings, and thus are not able to adequately argue their own cases and cannot be assured a fair hearing.

Those against providing foreign nationals in removal proceedings with representation argue that they should not be entitled to represenation paid for by the government because by the very nature of the proceedings, they are either in the country illegally or the government has a case for removing them. On the other hand, many of the rights protected under the Constitution are those relating to the criminal justice system, means it protects the rights of criminals or at least those whom the government has a case against. Thus, the argument must follow, if immigrants are treated like criminal when they are placed in removal proceedings, shouldn’t they also be guaranteed the same rights as criminals?

Based on these concepts, the U.S. District Court Judge held that in this instant, the men’s due process rights could not be protected unless they were provided with representation at the government’s expense.

Though this decision has a very limited holding and does not have any binding effect on other courts, this is an important first step towards providing immigrants in removal proceedings with additional rights.

Just as the United States has an interest in ensure people’s rights are not violated in criminal proceedings and that the innocent are not wrongfully convicted, the United States should have the same interest in ensuring that people’s rights are not violated in removal proceedings and that individuals are not wrongfully deported.

If you or someone you know are in removal proceedings, please contact us.  We can help discuss your options and ensure your rights are protected.

Unites States employers and foreign national employees have greatly benefited from the H-2A and H-2B visas programs.  Under these programs, employers can hire foreign employees on a temporary, seasonal, or intermittent basis, and foreign nationals can enter the United States to work for decent wages.  Specifically, H-2A visas are for for temporary agriculural workers, and H-2B visas are for temporary non-agricultural workers.

USCIS typically only approves petitions for nationals from designated countries, but a Federal Register notice issued on January 18, 2011 has announced the addition of 53 countries to this list, grealy expanding those who are now eligible to enter and work in the United States.  These newly designated countries include:

Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Nauru, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Vanuatu.  Of these countries, the following were designated for the first time this year:  Barbados, Estonia, Fiji, Hungary, Kiribati, Latvia, Macedonia, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.

If you are a foreign national from a designated coutry, or an employer wishing to hire foreign nationals on a temporary basis, please contact us and we would be happy to provide you with additional information to facilitate you in this process.

Law Firm of Annapolis was recently written up in What’s Up? Annapolis magazine.

Law Firm of Annapolis in What's Up? MagazineThe article ran under “Top Law Firm” and described the firm which was established in 1998 by Attorney Marysabel Rodriguez-Nanney. Dedicated to providing effective legal representation on the principle that each client deserves experienced and committed representation, Ms. Rodriguez-Nanney’s knowledge of immigration law and criminal defense experience gives her the tools to effectively evaluate the consequences of a case to determine the best course of action and alleviate any negative outcomes.

It goes on to say that the Firm routinely handles various and complicated immigration issues, representing individuals in removal/deportation cases.  It also works with employers who wish to bring either skilled or unskilled employees to the United States from abroad, facilitate families who want to bring their loved ones to the United States from their home countries, and help eligible clients ultimately become United States citizens.

Read the full article about Law Firm of Annapolis.

The EPA has issued a new rule, which will go into effect in July 2011, requiring new sources of at least 100,000 tons of greenhouse gases per year and all existing plants that have increased emissions of 75,000 tons will have to seek permits.  The permit program is intended to regulate the country’s large emitters, which the EPA estimates account for 70% of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions.   Those in opposition fear that this is only the first step and that in the next few years they will begin lowering the emission requirements until eventually smaller sources, as in smaller businesses will fall under the permit program.  This, the opposition argues, will have huge and negative impact on an already struggling economy.  The EPA and its supporters, however, argue that the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions is a matter of urgency, and this is a well put together regulation aimed directly at doing just that.

In U.S.A.F. v. Espinosa, the Supreme Court found in favor of a bankrupt man whose student loan interest was erroneously discharged.  The bankruptcy court overseeing the borrower’s original proceedings failed to requite the borrower to show “undue hardship”, which is typically required before student loans ban be discharged.  When the Department of Education later tried to collect the unpaid interest based on this error, the lower courts grabbled with whether or not the issue was appealable, despite U.S.A.F.’s failure to object or timely appeal.  The Supreme Court finally determined once and for all that because it was a final judgment, and judgment are only void if there is a jurisdictional error or it is in violation of due process.  Since the error did not amount to a due process violation since they had notice of error at the time it occurred, thus, it was only a legal error, and is still enforceable and binding.   Score one for the borrowers.

United Student Aid Funds, Inc. v. Espinosa, 2010 WL 1027825.

In the United States, the immigration system and the criminal system are closely, but inconspicuously, related.  Attorneys and immigrants alike frequently fail to realize the potential ramifications for pleading guilty to a seemingly minor criminal charge.  In some cases, a misdemeanor drug offense can lead to removal from the country, regardless of any other positive factors favoring allowing the immigrant to stay.

The Supreme Court is set to reconsider this issue in Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder.  Mr. Carachuri-Rosendo was a longtime legal resident of Texas, settled down with a fiancée and four children, all of whom are Unites States citizens.  But, after he had a couple of convictions for possession of marijuana and a tablet of Xanax, a common anti-anxiety drug, he found himself deported back to Mexico, leaving the life he had known for years behind.

Another example of this is Mr. Lemaine, a case cited in amicus briefs dealing with the same issue as Mr. Carachuri-Rosendo.  Mr. Lemaine came to the United States from Haiti at the age of three.  As a teenager, he was caught with a small amount of marijuana, but this case was dropped.  Then, in 2007, he was again caught with a small amount of marijuana, and his legal aid counsel advised him to enter a guilty plea, and agree to pay the mere $100 fine.  This normally would seem like the best way to handle such a charge; however, neither party was aware that this had drastic consequences for his immigration status.  Before he knew it, he was in handcuffs, on his way to Texas to face an immigration judge, and eventual deportation.

In neither of these cases, were the defendants able to raise defenses in their favor, such as how both have large amounts of family in the United States, with little to return to in their home country.  Nor does it matter that, in the grand scheme of our criminal justice system, the charges that were brought against them are minor; neither seemed to pose any large threat to public safety.

For now, both defendants must wait for a ruling in Carachuri-Rosendo v. Holder, their last hope for staying in the United States and continuing the lives they have known.