Forced Sales to Cash Out

Are you frustrated with a piece of property that you own with someone else? Do you need to cash out of your portion of the property so that he/she can take over full ownership? If you are a joint property owner in the state of Maryland, you have the right to force the sale of your property through legal means. The most popular method of forcing the sale is with a sale in lieu of partition action or with partition action, whether voluntary or judicial.

What is a Partition?

A partition divides the property so that both parties can cash out or so that one person can cash out and the other can become the sole property owner. Partition actions can be voluntary if both parties accept the property division and, through legal representation, negotiate a contract to split up the property or sale profits.  If you can’t reach an agreement or if your relationship is less-than-positive, you can file a partition lawsuit and let the court decide the property division.

What Happens During a Judicial Partition?

The court will do one of two things: divide up the land if possible or order a sale of the property to split the proceeds. If the property you own is divisible into two lots (there is no home standing there), the court will split it in half and make it two separate properties. You would then be free to sell your half.

In most cases, the property in question is a home, so it cannot be split without loss to the property owners. The court will order a sale, called a sale in lieu of partition, and then order the proceeds divided. The typical sale procedure involves three property commissioners to assign value to your property and oversee the sale. These commissioners and their associated fees and costs can be bundled in with the sale proceeds. For this reason, it’s always better to negotiate a voluntary partition if possible to get the most cash out of your property.

What About a Property I Inherited?

If you inherited a property with a family member and want to cash out or avoid the responsibility of upkeep and costly property taxes, you can file for a sale in lieu or partition or partition. During a sale in lieu of partition, the court will determine that your property (typically a home) cannot be divided without losing value. Once the sale is completed, you will receive your portion of the sale after the payment of compensation, fees, and costs of the commissioners is removed.

How Can I Start the Partition or Sale in Lieu of Partition Process?

To ensure the process goes smoothly, give us a call at Lebovitz Law. We have years of experience negotiating the best deals for our clients, whether it’s family law or property law. Contact us today at (410) 828-0680.

Mutual Consent in Maryland doesn’t need to be a Mystery

Up until 2015, Marylanders looking for an absolute divorce could only choose from a small number of immediate divorce conditions or separate for at least 12 months before filing. Mutual consent divorce is a new third option that forgoes the year of waiting and allows for immediate filing.

Who Qualifies for a Mutual Consent Divorce in Maryland?

Maryland couples who do not share a minor child can file for mutual consent divorce. If you have minor children from previous relationships, you can still file for a mutual consent divorce. Once you decide to divorce, you must make a separation agreement that resolves the division of all marital property, pensions and alimony (whether by a mutual waiver or specific amounts and durations). Both parties must sign the document and file it with the Court, along with their complaint based on mutual consent. The Court will set a hearing date that both parties must attend.

How is Mutual Consent Divorce a Better Option?

Previously, couples who didn’t share children needed to maintain two residences for at least a year before filing for divorce. The process could be costly and impractical, especially since the couple already discussed their issues and decided to formally divorce. With mutual consent divorce, you can cohabitate throughout the divorce period, and even afterwards, without it ever entering into the legal equation. Mutual consent divorce gives you more freedom and can save you a lot of financial stress.

Are There Any Bumps in the Road?

Mutual consent divorce might sound too simple to be true. While the process can be smooth, the division of marital property and alimony agreement can add a lot of time to the equation. Be sure to use an attorney you trust and carefully assess all shared property and assets before agreeing, even verbally, to anything. If you are ready to get the mutual consent divorce process started, Lebovitz Law is here to help. Contact us today at (410) 828-0680.

Don’t Forget Your Security Deposit

Getting your security deposit back shouldn’t be a hassle…
but what if it is?

security-deposit
Moving out can be an exciting but stressful time. Even after the actual moving part is over, there can sometimes be problems.  One common problem is the landlord’s failure to send back the security deposit. When you’ve done all that was required as far as cleaning, shampooing carpets, scrubbing surfaces and removing all personal items…you expect to receive that security deposit. What happens if your landlord doesn’t send it?

Security Deposit 101

The security deposit is given to the landlord during the move-in and leasing process. It’s typically used to cover unpaid rent, replace broken items within the rental property and repair any damages.

How Do You Get the Security Deposit Back?

First things first, sit down with your lease to make sure that you are properly meeting all of the terms and conditions before moving out. All property that was in the apartment when you arrived, like light fixtures and appliances, must remain. The property should be in good physical condition. Anything classified as wear and tear won’t be charged for, but wear and tear can be a broad designation depending on your landlord. Make sure that you give sufficient notice, according to the terms in your lease, for moving out to avoid additional fees or losing a portion of your security deposit. If your lease was over one year, you are entitled to interest on the security deposit, which your landlord should keep in a separate bank account without any co-mingling of funds.

What if There Are Damages?

If there are damages in your apartment, make sure that you ask for an itemized list so that you know what you’ll be paying for. Damages do not typically exceed the actual cost of repair, even on items that are pricey to replace like carpet.

The Deposit Timeline

Typically, a deposit is returned in full or returned with a list of itemized deductions. The state of Maryland requires all landlords to return the security deposit within 45 days of the move out date.  Always leave a forwarding address with your landlord so that he or she has somewhere to send the security deposit, as all that’s needed is to mail the check to the last known address (which might not be where you’re headed).

I Never Got My Deposit!

If you still haven’t received a deposit or explanation for the lack of check, complete the following steps:

  • Complete a Request for Return of Security Deposit form, typically available through a local or state tenants’ association or lawyer
  • Send the Request to your landlord via certified mail and request a receipt of delivery
  • Allow one week to hear a response from your landlord
  • If it has been over 45 days, Maryland law allows for you to deny repair costs, damages, or deductions other than unpaid rent, including damages up to three times the amount of any unpaid rent and attorney’s fees.

If you are struggling with retrieving your security deposit, Lebovitz Law is here to help. Contact us today at (410) 828-0680.

Wells Fargo Terminates Ocwen from Mortgage Servicing Deal

Wells Fargo Terminates Ocwen from Mortgage Servicing Deal.

New Protective Order Laws

Peace and Protective Orders are civil orders issued by a judge that Orders one person to refrain from committing certain acts against others. The relationship between the Petitioner (person seeking protection) and the Respondent (person alleged to have committed the prohibited act) determines the type of Petition to be filed. Protective Orders generally apply to people in domestic relationships, such as spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends, children, relatives. Peace Orders are for other persons like neighbors, coworkers, other third parties who harass or are doing something that threatens the Petitioner.

On October 1, 2014, Maryland will relax the burden of proof required by a Petitioner seeking a Final Protection Order in a domestic violence case. The current standard of proof requires the Petitioner to prove by clear and convincing evidence. The new standard will lower the threshold to a less rigid preponderance of the evidence standard. This will result in making Protective Orders more accessible and attainable as most situations involve a “he said, she said” situation with little physical proof of a threat of eminent bodily harm.

Only time will tell whether this lower standard of proof will result in a greater number of Final Protective Orders.

Validity of Agreements

At Maslan, Maslan & Rothwell, P.A., we are not afraid to take on difficult cases and potentially create new law. A client contacted our office from another state that was facing potential child support arrears in excess of $70,000 and unpaid alimony in excess of $40,000. His ex wife claimed he was in contempt of a marital settlement and divorce decree that required him to pay child support and permanent alimony. He presented counsel with a signed agreement whereby his ex wife agreed to waive her permanent alimony award and future child support payments in exchange for him not exercising his visitation rights.

At trial, the ex wife admitted that there was an agreement but the court was concerned about Maryland Family Law Article 12-104(b) Modification of Child Support and the case of Harvey v. Marshall, 389 Md. 243, 884 A.2d. 1171 (2005) which provided that “the court may not retroactively modify a child support award prior to the date of filing of the motion for modification.” This statute and case stand for the proposition that 12-104 provides for a prohibition against retroactivity modifying or eliminating arrearages for child support.

In Maryland it is also well settled law that child support is absolute and cannot be waived by parents by an agreement. It is an alienable right enjoyed by the child for which not form of contract between the parents, nor change of domestic circumstances of either of them may effect.. Weaver v. Garrett, 13 Md.App. 283, 287, 282 A.2d., 509, 411 (1971).

The client had the signed agreement but was unrepresented by counsel and never filed a motion to modify the child support or alimony in the case. The Office of Child Support Enforcement started to collect child support, some years after the agreement was signed and had set a nominal amount of arrears. The client paid what was requested and the case was marked as closed when the minor child reached the age of majority at 18.

The ex wife presented no evidence at trial on what happened with the office of child support enforcement and the issue of arrears. She offered no testimony to contradict or challenge what the father had paid. The Court found that it was not terribly difficult to find a binding agreement between Mother and Father regarding alimony. The Court stated that the Court was not persuaded of any fraud or duress on Father’s part in getting mother to sign the agreement. The contract was supported by consideration, ie you stay away from child and I waive alimony. Mother did nothing after the agreement was signed.

The Court struggled with the child support issue. The Mother presented no evidence of any action for years to collect the claimed obligations of Father. She filed no contempt actions, and no explanation why the office of child support enforcement closed their file. The court stated that must be persuaded by the evidence and at least by a preponderance of same that father still owes years and years of back child support. The Court stated it was not persuaded by the evidence presented by Mother. The Court stated that there were too many unanswered questions and too many years which have ensued to find for the Mother.

This case was proof that a client with a simple agreement and a great story can be helped. The attorneys at Maslan, Maslan & Rothwell, P.A., have the experience and knowledge to present cases like this one in the Maryland Courts and achieve good results.

Alimony

In general, there are four types of alimony:

  • Temporary Alimony: Support ordered when the parties are separated prior to divorce. Also called alimony pendente lite which is Latin meaning “pending the suit”.
  • Rehabilitative Alimony: Support given to a lesser earning spouse for a period of time necessary to acquire work outside the home and become self sufficient.
  • Permanent Alimony: Support paid to the lesser earning spouse until the death of the payor, the death of the recipient, or the remarriage of the recipient.
  • Reimbursement Alimony: Support given as a reimbursement for expenses incurred by a spouse during the marriage (like educational expenses).

Alimony is considered a controversial area of the law due to the lack of a convincing legal theory as to why a spouse should continue to support a former spouse after the marriage has ended.  The fairness of permanent alimony in America has been questioned and the rise of an alimony reform movement has been documented in several recent articles in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Boston Globe, ABC News,and the Huffington Post and on National Public Radio. Alimony is considered one of the greatest sources of litigation in family law cases. Eighty percent of divorce cases involve a request for modification of alimony. The unpredictability of alimony awards makes settlement of this issue difficult. Divorce law in the U.S. was based on English Common Law, at a time when a woman gave up her personal property rights on marriage. Upon separation from marriage, the husband retained the right to the wife’s property, but, in exchange, had an ongoing responsibility to support the wife after dissolution of the marriage.  Alimony continued after Married Women’s Property Acts (1848), permitted divorced women to regain the property they owned before marriage, and disputed the notion that the support after divorce should not be necessary.