Contempt, Enforcement, and Modification
We represent clients in both simple and complex divorce proceedings involving no-fault grounds for divorce, fault grounds for divorce, custody, child support, alimony, valuation of businesses, retirement assets, stocks, investments, pensions, tracing of non-marital property, division of marital property and monetary awards.
The overriding goal is to determine the best interests of the minor children. We assist clients in fashioning custody and access agreements which work for their unique family situation. When needed, we work with experienced and trusted child specialists and therapists to assist our clients and their children through the separation and divorce process. We also represent clients in relocation cases, interstate custody cases and international custody matters.
We represent clients in determining and establishing appropriate child support arrangements including utilization of child support guidelines, extrapolation above the guidelines, actual needs analysis for high income earners, consideration for work related child care, summer camp expenses, extraordinary medical expenses, private school expenses, special needs, travel expenses for access, and adjustments for other dependent children. We help clients evaluate extracurricular activity expenses and college savings plans. We assist clients with earnings withholding orders and other methods of facilitating and simplifying payment of child support.
Alimony is one of the more complex areas in family law and often the most difficult to resolve by agreement. Alimony can be determined by the court or by agreement. Alimony can be modifiable or non-modifiable. Alimony can adjust upward or downward automatically based upon pre-determined circumstances. Alimony can be offset in whole or part by a division of assets. We represent clients on both sides of the ledger in the determination of alimony and in fashioning creative solutions. We will utilize experienced and trusted financial experts in complex cases as needed and we evaluate alimony in the context of the overall financial landscape.
We work with clients to determine the identity and value of all marital and non-marital property and to help fashion an equitable division of property. This identification and valuation process is done through the discovery process, which can be either formal or informal, and which can include assets such as real estate, personal property, retirement assets, pensions, business interests, stock options, deferred compensation, investments and the like. It is sometimes the case that property can be both martial and non-marital at the same time, for example a 401K account which was owned prior to the marriage and has increased in value during the marriage through continued contributions. We also evaluate the debts associated with assets and the overall debt structure.
We assist clients in negotiating and drafting premarital agreements, postnuptial agreements and separation and property settlement agreements. Fundamentally, the goal for every client is to reach a comprehensive and satisfactory agreement resolving all issues and staying out of the court system. The process is both art and science as it requires an experienced contracts technician and a skilled negotiator.
Because it takes two parties to reach an agreement, litigation is sometimes necessary to protect a client’s interests. We zealously and skillfully represent our clients in custody, support, property and all family law matters. Our practice model is for litigation to be used only when absolutely necessary, but when it is necessary, we are always fully prepared as preparation is the key.
As part of our mission to reduce conflict and keep our clients out of the court system whenever possible, we regularly utilize mediation as a preferred method to resolve cases. The Mediator does not represent either party but is a neutral facilitator in helping the parties reach an agreement. We work with a small group of skilled and effective mediators to provide mediation for our clients. The parties can work with the mediator with or without counsel being present. In either situation, we always ensure that our clients are fully prepared for every mediation session. Being prepared for mediation ensures a more comfortable process and increases the chances for success.
CONTEMPT, ENFORCEMENT AND MODIFICATION
When the other party is not living up to their end of an agreement or a court order, we represent clients in enforcing the terms and compelling compliance as it relates to custody, visitation, child support, alimony, property or any other specific term. When a significant change occurs for a client such as health, employment, income, custody schedule for the children, relocation, etc., we represent the client in negotiations or proceedings to adjust the terms of an agreement or court order to reflect the new circumstances.
Brian Wise, Principal Attorney with the Wise Family Law Division, is regarded as one of the top Mediators in Maryland and is often called upon to help settle cases thought impossible to resolve. Brian’s mediation credentials include over 25 years of family law experience representing clients in litigation, briefing and arguing cases before the appellate courts, serving as court appointed counsel for children in custody matters, representing clients in mediation, being trained and certified as a mediator, participating and instructing at mediation seminars on education, techniques and developments, serving as a court appointed mediator in Montgomery County and in Frederick County, and serving as a mediator for private mediation cases in Maryland and the District of Columbia. Brian has been able to successfully resolve approximately 90% of the cases where he serves as mediator.
If an individual believes that the trial court made an error, there is an opportunity for the trial court’s decision to be reviewed either by a three-judge panel in the Circuit Court (called an in banc review) or by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals (first level appeals court in Maryland). Our attorneys have significant experience drafting briefs and arguing before the Maryland Courts of Appeal and have notable reported cases from the appellate courts on family law matters.
FAMILY LAW AND ESTATE LAW
When a client is going through a separation and divorce, they generally do not want their estranged spouse to make financial decisions or end of life decisions on their behalf in the event of incapacity or to receive any portion of their estate post-divorce in the event of death. As a division of Altman & Associates which exclusively practices estate law, our family law clients can have new or updated documents (power of attorney, advance medical directive and will/trust) prepared in-house by the most experienced and trusted estate attorneys in the region so that they are protected for the future.
Wise Family Law Division © 2018