Monday, June 9, 2014

The Power of Two

One night at clinic, I was chatting with a client and I realized how much in family law revolves around the number 2.   Which makes sense.   In family law, you are taking 1 family and splitting it into 2.   Fortunately, that is about all the math I have to do.    But let's talk about some of the way 2 pops up in a typical case.

First of all is Custody.   Oh boy, custody loves the number 2.   There are two types of custody  -- residential (often called physical) and legal.   Residential is where the child puts his/her head at night.   Legal is the big decisions like non-emergency medical, or religion to raise the child.  Both of these types of custody also have a 2 -- joint (sometimes called shared) and sole.   Those are pretty self-evidence.   Joint, does not mean 50/50 though.   It just means substantial time with both parents.  You can get very creative with joint residential custody.   One thing the courts tend to hate in Maryland is the week on and week off.   Parents seem to think that is the most natural way to do it, Courts do not.  

Alimony.   In Maryland we have 2 types of alimony -- rehabilitative and permanent.   Rehabilitative is what is needed to get the recipient back on their feet and on with their post marital life.  Permanent is one where the marriage was of such a length (usually over 20 years) or the receipient because of training, education or disability, or age will never be self-supporting.   The court prefers rehabilitative.   Neither one is meant to mean equal lifestyles.   Just because you were living at the lifestyle of a millionaire before the divorce does not mean you get to live like one afterwards.   And rehabilitative alimony means you are expected to get a job at some point.   No more having a job that consists of collecting your alimony check each month.

Even the grounds for divorce have a 2 component.   In Maryland most of the grounds for divorce require a 12 month separation.   And they mean SEPARATE.   Not just living in different rooms of the same house, they mean separate roofs.   There is a case where the husband was living in the garage apartment but because it was an attached garage that didn't count as separate and apart for the 12 month period.   But, there are 2 grounds that do not require at least 12 months separation -- domestic violence and adultery.   Which makes complete sense.   Both are of such a nature that they destroy any legitmate marriage.   Domestic violence is wrong and you should not have to wait a year to divorce someone who dares to treat their spouse in such a manner.   Adultery is a little different.   It's the 21st Century people have sex.   But not everyone approves of sex outside the marriage bounds.   If both spouses want to have fun, or approve of an open marriage - no adultery.   But if one believes in no extramarital relations, then the legitimate ends of marriage are destroyed by someone cheating.  

That pretty much covers it.   Today's post was brought to you by the Number 2.