Posts Tagged ‘calvert county’

Maryland Law Must Adapt to Same Sex Marriage

For more than ten years legislators in Maryland have kicked around the idea of legalizing same sex marriage, prohibiting same sex marriage, and providing for domestic partnerships. During the 2012 legislative session Maryland’s General Assembly passed a bill allowing same-sex marriages and the bill was signed into law by the governor. The law then went to the voters of Maryland as a referendum in November 2012 to determine if it would be upheld and it was.

However, the legalization of same-sex marriage in Maryland is only the beginning of the issue, not the end. Maryland law will need to catch up to accommodate this recent change, leaving judges in the meantime on their own to interpret and apply the statutes currently in existence to the new situations that are beginning to occur. For example, due to the current statutory definition of sexual intercourse in Maryland, sexual relations between same-sex partners, even if one of the partners is married to someone else, do not meet the statutory definition of adultery!

Maryland has recognized legal same-sex marriages performed in other states for some time; therefore it is not as if there is no legal precedence available. However a case that was recently filed in the Circuit Court for Calvert County highlights how a seemingly typical issue that often arises can become hotly contested matter, giving rise to compelling legal briefs, oral arguments, and much consideration prior to a judge’s ruling.

In the above referenced case a Calvert County judge had to issue a ruling on whether a California court order finding the non-biological same-sex partner (who was married to the biological mother of the child) to be the “presumptive parent” for the purposes of establishing custody of a child was entitled to Full Faith and Credit (valid) in Maryland. The answers seems simple because under the legal doctrine of comity a valid court order entered in one state is generally valid in another state; this is also commonly referred to as legal reciprocity. In this case however biological mother argued that Maryland law does not have a statute that recognizes a “presumptive parent”, or de facto parent, and that in order to have standing to sue for custody in Maryland the person must be the legal parent of the child or must have adopted the child. If the person is not the legal or adoptive parent of the child then they must proceed as a third-partyunder Maryland law.

The legal relevance is that in Maryland custody cases a third-party (non-parent) must prove that both biological parents are unfit or that exceptional circumstances exist before a best interest of the child analysis can even begin. In other words, you have to clear a huge hurdle before you can even be in the race. In the referenced case, biological mother’s argument was that non-biological mother could be nothing more than a third-party under Maryland law. If the judge agreed with this argument, then non-biological mother would have an additional burden of proving biological mother unfit or that exceptional circumstances existed prior to the court allowing the case to proceed to the required best interest of the child analysis. However, the Calvert County judge did not agree with biological mother’s argument and instead ruled that the California Order is valid in Maryland.

As always, we here at Delaney & Keffler, LLC will keep up with legal developments and changes in the law to help you understand, assert and protect your legal rights. Contact us today at 410-535-3476 (FIRM) or for a free consultation.

Diving Deeper with Depositions

Discovery is an ongoing process. Often times, little snippets of information provided in one stage of Discovery will spark a deeper investigation to gather more substance on the subject. In domestic cases, Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents often uncover bits of evidence that the opposing party will want to learn more about prior to settling or going to trial. There are two types of Discovery that may be used to delve deeper into one or more topics that are relevant to your domestic situation.

1.Depositions— A deposition is basically an interview conducted under oath. Depositions usually take place at an attorney’s office, and the opposing party’s attorney has a great bit of freedom to ask you questions, which you are required to answer. Everything said during a Deposition is written down by a Court Reporter, and turned into a written transcript which can later be used in court. Depositions may be videotaped, and the tapes may later be played before a judge.

If you get to the point where Depositions are being used it could be a sign that the stakes are high in your case. The important thing to remember is that a Deposition is under oath. As the saying goes, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.  A Deposition is not the place to brag about an extramarital affair, or gloat about an offshore account. The opposing party will study the written deposition prior to a trial, and then may use the transcript to try to trip you up in front of the Judge. Be honest, be curt, and seek the advice of an attorney prior to your Deposition.

2. Records Depositions— A Records Deposition is actually more similar to a Request for Production of Documents than it is to an interview Deposition. Records Depositions are typically used when you need to gather information from someone other than the opposing party in your case. For instance, if you are involved in a custody dispute and the opposing party mentions in a response to Interrogatories that your child’s teacher has made notes related to your child’s feelings about living with you—you may use a Records Deposition to request that the teacher provide copies of those notes. A Notice of Records Deposition and a subpoena are served on the person from whom the records are sought, and then that person has 30 days to provide copies of the requested documents, or provide a time and location for you to inspect and copy the requested documents.

Records Depositions are a great strategic tool that allow you to gather information you need, without having to deal directly with the opposing party.

This is the fourth in an ongoing series about Discovery. Next week we will wrap up this series with an explanation of Admissions. As always, we here at Delaney & Keffler, LLC will take the time to fully explain Discovery, and help you obtain beneficial information. Contact us today at 410-535-3476  (FIRM) or for a free consultation.