Archive | May 2012

Port v. Cowan — an update


In a previous post I briefly wrote about the saga of Port v. Cowan, a same-sex divorce case that was headed to Maryland’s highest court. The parties wed in a civil ceremony in California during the brief time same-sex unions were legal in that state, but their marriage subsequently went sour and they sought a divorce in Prince George’s County, Maryland. The circuit court dismissed their claim, ruling that the state did not recognize their marriage as legal.

On May 18, 2012, the Maryland Court of Appeals issued its decision, which overruled the circuit court’s ruling and instructed it to grant the parties’ divorce. The rationale is that Maryland courts only fail to recognize otherwise valid out-of-state marriages if they’re contrary to public policy, and they did not consider gay marriage as such.  The decision was hailed as a victory by gay rights advocates, and comes as Maryland faces an Election Day referendum on a same-sex marriage law passed by the state legislature and signed by Gov. Martin O’Malley.

This blog is an advertisement for the Law Office of Philip R. Yabut, PLLC, and the information in this post is not to be construed as legal advice, nor does reading it form an attorney-client relationship. Please do not post confidential information in the comments section.

Building up vs. tearing down


“fisheye loop” by Author

To say that child custody is a delicate matter is an understatement.  Emotions run high whenever a child is in the middle of a dispute, and when a court has to get involved, the stakes are all that much higher.

A child custody hearing is essentially a trial, complete with opening and closing statements, witness testimony and exhibits.  The object is the convince the judge that your proposed custody arrangement is is in the best interests of the child.  The judge will look at the evidence and testimony and consult the local jurisdiction’s guidelines as to what will be the best arrangement for the child.  And absent evidence to the contrary, the default position is that the parents should have joint physical and legal custody.

Because this is such a touchy subject, it is easy to go ahead and try to demonize the other party and convince the judge that s/he is incompetent or incapable or something worse, and therefore would be unfit to have his/her proposed custody arrangement in place.  Pointing out the other side’s faults may work well in a political campaign, but in these matters it is much more important to try to paint yourself or your client in the best light possible.  Do not get bogged down in telling the judge everything wrong with the other party — instead, tell the judge why you are a good parent and rebut every point that the other side tries to charge against you through friendly witnesses and positive evidence.

See also:

Child custody guidelines — DC ST § 16-914
Child custody guidelines — Va. Code § 20-124.3

This blog is an advertisement for the Law Office of Philip R. Yabut, PLLC, and the information in this post is not to be construed as legal advice, nor does reading it form an attorney-client relationship. Please do not post confidential information in the comments section.

Evolution


“toothy” by Author

At around 3:00 pm on May 9, 2012, Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to openly endorse same-sex marriage.  The president made his views known in an interview with Robin Roberts of ABC News after days of pressure from LGBT groups following similar public pronouncements from Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan over the weekend.  A day earlier, North Carolina voters endorsed a state constitutional amendment banning gay unions, making it a busy time for the same-sex marriage debate.

Arguably, the president’s declaration of support for gay marriage after famously saying his views were “evolving” back in 2010 will have the biggest impact in the debate.  With North Carolina’s vote, 31 states now have laws banning same-sex marriage.  Only six states and DC have legalized gay marriage, while five others have civil union statutes in force.  Maine, New Jersey, Maryland and Minnesota will vote on legalizing same-sex marriage later this year.  Obama’s announcement has been hailed by LGBT groups and denounced by heterosexual marriage proponents, which should galvanize both sides as the battle rages on.

It’s worth noting that a weekend Gallup poll found 50 percent support of gay marriage nationwide, a dramatic shift from just a few years ago when it was not politically expedient to come out in favor of it.  The trend line is clear — gay marriage is making steady progress in public support.  As with other civil rights struggles in our history, the law generally lags behind public opinion.   But eventually it catches up, and now it may be possible foresee a future where gay Americans can enjoy the same right to marry the people they love just like everyone else.

This blog is an advertisement for the Law Office of Philip R. Yabut, PLLC, and the information in this post is not to be construed as legal advice, nor does reading it form an attorney-client relationship. Please do not post confidential information in the comments section.

I am not a lawyer! I am a human being!


“ponder” by author

Let’s face it — lawyers don’t exactly have spotless reputation.  When people think of lawyers, words like “cheat” and “shyster” invariably come to mind.  Okay, I may be exaggerating a little, but stereotypes tend to contain at least a scintilla of truth.  The lawyers who actually are greedy, money-grubbing, billable-hour-exaggerating poor excuses for human beings have ruined it for the rest of us in the industry.  And the suffix “Esq.” may as well be a scarlet abbreviation on our business cards.

Of course, stereotypes are made to be broken.  Believe it or not, it is possible to be both a lawyer and a sympathetic human being at the same time.  The most obvious first step is to be and stay ethical.  There’s nothing wrong with making money, but do it with a clear conscience.  The other is to give back to the community in some way.  You don’t have to quit your six-figure salary and corner office and become a public interest attorney — maybe a donation here, a pro bono case there, or even community service not related to law.  The important thing is to never forget that people depend on you, and you depend on them.

Links:

Legal Services of Northern Virginia
probono.net/dc

This blog is an advertisement for the Law Office of Philip R. Yabut, PLLC, and the information in this post is not to be construed as legal advice, nor does reading it form an attorney-client relationship. Please do not post confidential information in the comments section.