Sometimes, after divorce, one parent may be considering relocation to find residency in another state, taking the minor children (child) with them. Often, this action will cause substantial issues with the child in their relationship with the parent that is not relocating. If the court allows the relocation, the visitation rights of the non-relocating parent will need to be adjusted. Sometimes, the court decides that a change in child custody serves the better interest of the young one.

Stability is often the issue when the court makes a determination. Often time, the judge recognizes that the primary caretaker for the child can add more stability in their young life. Additionally, allowing the child to remain in their current location provides much-needed support from friends, as an extended family in familiar surroundings. It is critical that parents recognize the negative consequences that can possibly be created through a secretive move, because it can quickly cut off visitation opportunities of the non-relocated parent.

Maintaining Family Relations

The legal system in Maryland recognizes the necessity to maintain the child’s natural family relations. In effect, this means that each parent must help foster a healthy relationship between their child and his or her other parent. As a result, courts look long and hard at the potential impact of allowing a child to move with one parent to a distant state, and the obstacles the move creates for the parent that has been left behind.

Obtaining a Court Order

In Maryland, the parent considering a move to another state must obtain a court order from a presiding judge. This advance notice of relocation will be the written notification that is submitted at least 90 days before the potential move. Typically, courts often permit a waiver of any required notice in incidences where the notice could potentially expose the petitioning party or their child to abuse.

Waiving Notification

Additionally, sometimes a waiver of the 90 day period can be achieved when it can be shown to the court that the relocation was essential because of extenuating circumstances including financial hardship. However, this would require that notice be submitted to the court within a reasonable amount of time after it was learned that relocation was a necessity. In cases of major violation of providing notice to the court, judges often use the action to help determine custody and/or visitation in the future.

Making the decision to relocate children after a divorce should always be founded on the best interest of each child. By asking pertinent questions and listening to the child’s response, each parent, attorney and the court can best understand the young person’s desires and preferences in determining relocation and visitation.

The process of maintaining rights of divorced parents and children in the legal system can be challenging, and one that often requires the skills of a competent attorney in Annapolis and Baltimore, Maryland. With practical considerations in determining whether to move or stay, the law is usually on the side of what is best for the child.

Once the court has made a decision and filed an order for custody or visitation, it requires specific action to make a change to the order. There are a number of valid reasons why the court ordered parenting plan would require a change. Often times, when children grow older their interests, activities and needs evolve. Sometimes, one parent, or both, will move on and begin living a more separated life with a new partner. They may have jobs in a new location, live in a residence farther away or other actions that require a change in the custody order.

Sometimes a change in custody or visitation is necessary when one parent is struggling with alcohol or drugs and leaving an unattended child at home. Other scenarios for a modification to the custody order might include the incapacitation or incarceration of a parent that leaves them in a position where they can no longer care for their child. At times when one parent does not fulfill their court-ordered responsibilities, the ex-partner may be able to modify a custody order to the benefit and interest of the child.

Mitigating Circumstances

In most states, the law specifies that any modification to a custody order must involve two specific factors. They include:

  • The court must recognize a considerable change in circumstances in the life of the child and/or custodial parent. It must be a strong enough reason that fully warrants a change of the original custody order.
  • The modification in the custody order must serve the best interest of the child.

Possible Justifiable Circumstances

Determining a substantial change in the custodial parent or child’s circumstance can sometimes be challenging. To obtain a permanent change or modification to a custody order necessitates that the problem or change cannot be a temporary issue or problem that was voluntarily created by the parent. Many courts will consider modifying a custody order under specific conditions that might include:

  • A change in the mental or physical health of the custodial parent
  • The inability or difficulty to carry out the specifics of the parenting plan or custody order
  • A change in the financial structure of each parent
  • The relationship of one parent to the other
  • The level of committed involvement in the child’s life by each parent
  • The amount of time each parent spends with the child
  • The quality of life each parent can provide the child
  • Any deliberate action by one or both parents used as a tool to prevent the other parent visitation time with his or her child

Based on the court and the judge, not every above action or scenario might be enough to justify a modification or change to the original court order. Sometimes, a combination of two or more conditions will provide sufficient evidence to the judge and the court to grant a modification or change to the order.

The process of obtaining a change or modification to an original court order can be challenging at best, and usually one that requires the skills of a competent attorney in Annapolis and Baltimore, Maryland. With the proper plan of attack, in developing strong evidence for a hearing, a skilled attorney can help the court to evaluate the best interest of the child to increase the potential of a successful outcome.

Beginning in June 2012, the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) changed the way they would handle immigration cases of individuals that came to the US as children without proper documentation. The new policies provide specific guidelines that must be met by the individual to obtain ‘deferred action’ for up to 24 months. Deferred action means that the government will temporarily ‘defer’ or stop the deportation of the child immigration while he or she maintains this status.  The process is subject to review and renewal and also provides the applicant with work authorization eligibility.

Deferred action for Childhood Arrivals as provided by USCIS is issued after a discretionary determination has been made, but does not offer lawful status to the individual.

Transforming Immigration Enforcement

Since 2010, federal agencies have made great strides in transforming the processes and procedures of immigration enforcement. Their guidance has been focused more on border security, public safety, and the immigration system’s integrity.

In this effort, many of the enforcement resources have focused mainly on removing or deporting unlawful immigrants that pose a specific danger to the country’s national security or potential harm to public safety. This includes any person that has been convicted of a felony crime, especially those who are repeat offenders, felons, or criminals found guilty of violent or fraud based crimes.

Diverting Resources

More recently, federal agencies have been diverting enforcement resources away from low priority cases, including individuals that were brought to the US as children. People that have the ability to demonstrate they meet the following regulations might be able to request deferred action for a period of 24 months (with possible renewal) and provide employment authorization eligibility.

If you meet the following requirements, you may be able to request deferred action. These requirements include:

  • As of the 15th day of June 2012, you were younger than 31 years old.
  • You were brought to the United States without documentation before you were 16 years old.
  • You have continually resided within the boundaries of the United States since the 15th day of June 2007 until now.
  • As of the 15th day of June 2012, you were physically present within the United States borders. Additionally, you are in the United States when making the request to be considered for deferred action.
  • You are currently active in school, or have graduated, or acquired a GED (general education development) certificate or currently hold a high school certificate of completion. If not, being a veteran of the US Armed Forces or Coast Guard will meet this requirement.
  • To date you have not been convicted of a major misdemeanor, or felony. You have not been convicted of more than two non-substantial misdemeanors, and have never posed any risk to the nation’s security or safety.

One of the major factors in achieving Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is the ability to obtain your employment authorization. Although you will not receive lawful immigration status within the United States, you will also not accrue an unlawful presence during that period of time when the deferred action is active and will be allowed to work legally.

Requesting consideration to receive deferred action requires the submittal of form USCIS I-821D, along with form I-765 WS. This completed worksheet will help establish the economic need you have for current employment.  Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is discretionary, which means that USCIS may consider positive or negative factors involved with your case when determining whether to approve your application. After the application has been submitted and accepted, the USCIS agency will inform you in writing, of the determination that was made in your specific case.

If you have questions about whether you should submit an application for DACA, please contact us today.

There are various types of child custody that are established in every state in the union. Not comprehending the difference between each one can often mislead you and maneuver you into agreeing to a custody settlement that you might potentially regret later on, or for years to come.

The major components of child custody revolve on “physical custody” and “legal custody.” The basic differences include:

  • Physical Custody – According to the legal system, physical custody makes reference to the actual location of where your child sleeps, eats and lives out their daily life.
  • Legal Custody – The court system refers to legal custody as the person that is in charge of making important decisions for the child including educational decisions, living arrangements, medical decisions, and the location of the child’s residence.

When both legal and physical custody are combined, the court system then determines the traditional types of child custody that could be ordered. The ultimate decision could be a court order based on sole custody, joint legal, joint physical, or a combination of child custody. The legal basis of each type of custody is unique. They include:

  • Sole Custody – Court ordered sole custody is sometimes called “full custody.” Sole custody provides both the physical and legal responsibility to one parent only, while allowing the other just visitation rights. In most cases, the parent that has sole custody will have 90% responsibility of their child. They will be responsible for all decisions made concerning his or her child, along with having the final say in regards to everything. The parent without sole custody will have visitation rights only, usually on weekends, or as scheduled by the court. They will have no say in making decisions on the upbringing of his or her child.
  • Joint Legal Custody – Just like it sounds, joint legal custody allows both parents an equal amount of responsibility in making decisions for the child, based on their needs including medical, educational and where the child will live. Whenever there are major disputes in the decision-making process, the judge has the final say. Traditionally, a court will likely take the side of the parent that has primary physical custody. This action by the court usually deems the practice of joint legal custody meaningless.
  • Joint Physical Custody – Courts can order joint physical custody by naming a single parent, or both parents, the primary custodian. However, primary custody usually follows the child to their main residence. Typically, the court will order a division of custody to 50-50, or allow the child to switch residences every few weeks.
  • Combinations of Child Custody – At times, the judge will issue a combination of child custody orders that include joint legal (but with sole physical), or joint physical (but with only sole legal).

When handling custody cases, it is imperative to use the legal services of a competent attorney in Annapolis and Baltimore, Maryland. Sometimes, families can be misled when the court orders “temporary custody”. Without proper guidance, families can quickly realize that temporary custody almost always turns into a permanent solution.

You can find out more about our divorce and family law services by clicking here.

The very nature of an uncontested divorce makes it clear why they are quickly growing in popularity as a preferred way to end a marriage. If the divorce is uncontested, this means that both spouses have come to an agreement that they would like a divorce, and neither spouse is going to fight the process in any way. When both spouses are on board with an uncontested divorce, a fast, simple, and easier divorce process becomes possible.

Why is an uncontested divorce faster than a conventional divorce?

When the divorce is uncontested, it is possible for the spouses to negotiate conditions and terms outside of the court system. If there are properties, assets, or liabilities that need to be divided, the couple can decide these matters on their own during a private mediation. This is even more of a factor when there are multiple decisions to be made, as taking the traditional divorce route, or a seeking a contested divorce, can take ages.

Contested divorces take much longer because your divorce proceedings have to go through an often strained and clogged court system. You have to wait for your hearing to be scheduled, coordinate with lawyers, and wait for your ruling. If your case requires multiple court appearances, the entire divorce process can take months, all the while your expenses will be growing significantly.

During an uncontested divorce, you can iron out all of the details of your divorce through meetings and negotiations with your spouse and simply file your agreement with the court.

What makes an uncontested divorce easier?

As mentioned before, uncontested divorces have the added benefit of avoiding drawn out trials. Instead, your personal matters can be kept personal, as you and your spouse discuss divorce conditions and come to agreements on your own. When these decisions get dragged into court, couples may find themselves in a spiteful battle that could have been avoided.

When couples are able to negotiate privately, with the help of a divorce attorney or mediator, they can be more flexible and harmonious. This can make it much easier to possibly forgive your spouse and begin to rebuild and move on with your life much sooner.

Keeping Your Divorce from Becoming Contested

If fair agreements cannot be met, or if complicated issues such as child custody are involved, an uncontested divorce runs a higher risk of becoming contested. In order to avoid this scenario, couples should enlist the help and guidance of a divorce attorney throughout the entire process.

Divorce is already hard enough without having to watch as your marriage and finances are torn apart and scrutinized during a lengthy trial process involving a judge. What if you could bypass this experience, save some money, and move on with your new life as soon as possible?

Many separating couples have discovered that this is often what an uncontested divorce provides, making demand for these types of divorces increasingly more popular than their conventional counterparts.

There are many reasons why uncontested divorces have become the most popular form of divorce throughout the United States, but here are our Top 4:

  1. Control is given the to couple, not the courts – During an uncontested divorce, the couples are able come to agreements such as the division of property and liabilities, as well as child custody, child support, and alimony payments. Instead of having these decisions made through court rulings, the couple can discuss them privately or with the help of a divorce attorney or mediator, based on what seems fair to each spouse, not a judge.
  1. Less Cost to the Couple – If there is one thing that everyone associates with divorces, it is that they can potentially be extremely expensive. However, uncontested divorces certainly do not have to be. Because uncontested divorces can be completed more quickly and with little to no need for family courts, the couple going through the process can save a lot of money when compared to a traditional divorce proceeding.
  1. A More Amicable Split – Divorces are always difficult and emotional. However, a conventional court process can turn individuals against each other even more as they battle each other through a trial than if they were only dealing with the process on their own. If the divorce is uncontested, the couple is able to work together and compromise, which can make it easier for both parties to maintain propriety and be better able to heal and move on much sooner.
  1. Faster Means of Divorce – Conventional divorces can be tied up in the court system for months on end. If the spouses are able to come to agreements that satisfy each party, outside of court, the entire process can be completed much faster. If child custody and child support are in question, these issues may need to be heard by a family court to ensure that the child is protected, which also means getting the children involved in the court system. An uncontested divorce is much faster and simpler than the alternative, allowing the parties to work out all issues privately.

While uncontested divorces do place much more power into the hands of the couple, it is safe and wise to enlist the help of an experienced divorce attorney. These professionals can guide you through the process, help you come to fair agreements, and reduce conflicts that could lead you to a contested divorce.

Did you know that outside of NAVY Seals and police officers, dancers and bartenders have the next highest divorce rate among types of careers?

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In the past, in order for a married couple to legally divorce in the state of Maryland, one spouse had to prove that the other spouse acted in a way that would elicit a reason for a divorce, such as committing adultery or abuse, or a number of other offenses or misconduct.

As we all know, there are many other complicated reasons why a couple may no longer wish to be married, but that leave neither party at fault. How are these couples supposed to dissolve such marriages that simply are not working?

The real issue with traditional divorce cases

In order to be granted a fault divorce, one spouse would be left with the burden of proving the other spouse’s misconduct. This would often lead to false accusations, private marital matters drawn out into the public eye, and extremely messy divorce battles that neither party wanted, but were required in order to end a marriage.

When only fault divorces were granted, not only were the court systems strained with lengthy proceedings, but many couples felt trapped in unhealthy and unhappy marriages, leading to a poor living environment for themselves as well as children or other family members.

The “no-fault” alternative for divorce

The solution to this problem is the no fault divorce, which is allowed in every state including Maryland. No fault divorce law enables married couples to divorce without the need of providing a reason, pointing the blame at one of the parties, or even misconduct at all.

Each state has its own rules pertaining to how to obtain a no fault divorce. If the couple has been living in Maryland, for example, in most cases they must prove to have been living separately for at least 12 months in order to meet the requirements for a no fault divorce. The courts only require evidence that the couple has not been living together and therefore not engaging in sexual intercourse, for at least a year.

Benefits of no-fault:

No fault divorce processes can often be much faster and simpler than fault divorces. If the couple has simply grown apart and feels that it would be in their best interest to dissolve the marriage, it is possible to go through an uncontested divorce process and settle issues such as the division of property outside of court. Family court may be necessary if complicated issues such as child custody and support are involved.

In the end, no fault divorces have certainly helped couples dissolve their marriages in a much more amicable and healthy fashion. While the divorce process is always emotionally challenging, it can be much less traumatic when there is no requirement to place blame.

Even if it’s never happened to you, you know it goes.  A Maryland state police officer pulls you over under suspicion of driving under the influence, and you are then asked to give consent to allow the officer to have you blow into a breathalyzer.  The results of said breathalyzer test then are used to determine whether your blood alcohol level exceeds the legal limit and subsequently arrested.  What you may not know, is that state police are required to read a form to you, called the DR-15, which lets you know what the penalties will be if you refuse to take the test or if you fail the test.

To blow or not to blow?

If you have been drinking and are subsequently pulled over, you naturally would rather not have to take the breathalyzer.  Even if you think your blood alcohol level will be below the legal limit of .08 (for example, you may have only had a couple beers with dinner a couple hours ago), chances are you don’t know for sure.  And this is one test you do not want to go into without knowing you are definitely going to ace it.

If you refuse to have the test administered on the spot (such as at the side of road) the officer may take you to the police station to have it administered there.  If you refuse then as well, you could have your license will immediately be confiscated and suspended.  Then, you will have to request a hearing before the MVA within 10 days to request to get your driving privileges back.  Depending on the circumstances of your case, if it is your first offense, your license may be suspended for 120 days, or 12 months for each subsequent infraction.  You have limited options to fight such a suspension, and the assistance of an attorney may be necessary to ensure you can keep your license.

In addition, even if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test during a traffic stop, the officer may request that you perform a field sobriety test (walk in a straight line, state the alphabet backwards, etc) that could still lead to your arrest (and potentially a conviction) for driving while impaired even without a breathalyzer report.  Then, the judge may also consider your refusal to take the breathalyzer test, which could lead to a greater penalty.

If you do take the test and fail however, the MVA will offer a lesser penalty in exchange for your cooperation.  Instead of the 120 day suspension, you will only face a 45-day license suspension, and instead of 12 months for each subsequent infraction, you will only face 90 days.  However, if you agree to take the breathalyzer, and you blow well over the legal limit (higher than .15) you will face 90 days with a suspended license and 180 days for any subsequent violation, which is still less than the penalty for refusing to take the breathalyzer.

Additional Potential consequences

The consequences discussed above are unfortunately only those in relation to your license suspension from the MVA.  In addition to such suspensions, you may also be required to have an ignition interlock for a year if you are found guilty, which essentially is having a breathalyzer installed in your own car.  If you fail, the car will not start.  You can also face jail time or fines as a penalty for the criminal case.

When you’re at a crossroads and trying to determine whether you should take the breathalyzer test, you have to take everything into consideration.  Most people agree to take the exam, but it may not be the best option for you.  Depending on how much you have had to drink, whether it is your first offense, how important having a driver’s license is, and whether you have a commercial driver’s license are all factors to take into consider when deciding whether to consent to a breathalyzer.  If you’re in a situation where you need legal counsel for a traffic violation like a DUI, contact Rodriguez-Nanney, P.A., a law firm in Annapolis, Maryland today.

Every year, without fail, law enforcement officials are asked to tighten up Maryland’s laws surrounding DUI and DWI.  Whether the pressure to get tough on drinking and driving is prompted by the legislature or by advocacy groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), DUIs are a constant source of controversy as well as heated debate among both advocates and lawmakers alike.

Impact of Recent Changes

One common method of preventing drunk driving, especially for repeat offenders, is the breath alcohol ignition interlock device, a the breathalyzer that is installed in a car to prevent the driver from being able to start the car unless the test is passed.  In 2011, Maryland increased its use of ignition interlock devises by way of the Drunk Driving Reduction Act.  However as with most things related to the law, there are many who are debating how exactly law enforcement should be permitted implement these changes.

As of October 2011, any driver who is convicted of a DUI as a result of a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .15 or higher is required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle.  Drivers who are under the legal age and violate their alcohol restrictions or who have had multiple convictions within 5 years are also required to enroll in the ignition interlock program.

  • Click here if you need a Maryland DUI / DWI Attorney

Maryland Ignition Interlock Laws

In the state of Maryland, if you fall under the above-mentioned conditions, you will be required to enroll and participate in the ignition interlock program for 6 months.  However, if you are a repeat offender, you are required to have the device for one year for the second offense, and three years for the third.

Participation in the program may not seem that bad, but the offender is responsible for the cost of installing, maintaining, and removing the device, which can add up to hundreds of dollars, in addition to any court imposed fine and the cost of alcohol treatment programs.  If you refuse to participate, you’re looking at potential license suspensions and you won’t be allowed to get your license until you’re compliant with the requirement.

The only way to avoid participation in the program if you have been arrested for a DUI under the previously mentioned circumstances, is to avoid a conviction.  Looking for the best legal defense for a DUI?  Call the Rodriguez-Nanney, P.A., a law firm in Annpaolis today.

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