Topic: Blog

Your Kids Come First, Right?

The best advice I give to my clients is “don’t lose sight of the most important people in this case…YOUR KIDS!”   Your children come first and you need to make sure that the decisions you make are what is in their best interest. After all, that is what the Court will do.

 The Court looks at what is in the best interest of each one of your children.  Yes, I said EACH CHILD. What is best for one of your children may not be best for the other. Each child should be assessed as to what is best for that child and his or her individual needs.

Regardless of any agreement you may have reached, the courts will still listen and have to make a determination that the agreement is in each child’s best interest.  When evaluating a case, the Court looks at several factors.  No single factor is most important. This is a list of some, but not all, of the factors, that courts will consider.

  • Does one party primarily care for the child? 
  • Fitness of each parent.  Psychological and physical capacities of the parties seeking custody. The court may also consider evidence of abuse by a party against the other parent, the party’s spouse, or any child residing within the party’s household (including another child).
  • Character and Reputation.
  • Agreements. Is there a custody agreement already in place?
  • Ability to Maintain Family Relationships.  Who will be best able to help the child maintain family relationships?  Is one party punishing the child for actions of the other parent?
  • Child Preference.  The decision of the court may be reversed on appeal if the judge will not hear the child’s preference. However, the judge will often choose to interview the child outside the presence of the parents and in chambers.  Though it is rare, the court will hear from a child under 7 years, and a child as young as 5 or 6 years of age may be heard.  The child’s maturity, and whether the child can tell the truth from fiction will guide the decision whether a child may be heard.  A child of at least 10 or 12 years of age is certainly entitled to have their opinions heard and given weight in legal proceedings about custody.  Additionally, the court has the power to appoint an attorney for the child in contested cases.
  • Material Opportunity.  Which parent has the financial resources to provide for the child?
  • Age, Health and Gender of Child.
  • Residences of Parents and Opportunity for Visitation.  What is the distance between the parents homes? What is the distance in relation to the child’s school, friends and extended family?
  • Length of Separation. Is the child estranged from one of the parties and for how long have they been separated?
  • Any Prior Abandonment or Surrender of Custody.  
  • Religious Views.  These will be important in the court’s decision ONLY IF you can show that religious views affect the physical or emotional well-being of the child.
  • Disability.  A party’s disability is only relevant to a custody decision if the disability affects the best interest of the child.

When there is a request for shared/joint custody, the Court will look at these additional factors:

  • Capacity of the parents to communicate and to reach share decisions affecting the child’s welfare
  • Willingness of the parents to share custody
  • Fitness of the parents
  • Relationship established between the child and each parent
  • Preferences of the child
  • Potential disruption of the child’s social and school life
  • Geographic proximity of the parental homes
  • Demands of parental employment
  • Age and the number of the children
  • Sincerity the parents request
  • Financial status of the parent
  • Impact on state or federal assistance
  • Benefit to parents and
  • Other relevant factors to each specific case can be considered

Sometimes parties can get so  wrapped up in their hatred for the other party that they can have a momentary lapse in judgment and lose sight of the most important thing.  The best family lawyers keep their client’s focused on their children and what is best for the children.

Contact the Law Offices of Kerri Cohen for a Consultation.  You can trust that we will do whatever is necessary to protect your children.

 


Choose the right divorce attorney

When going through a separation or divorce, clear headed thinking and decision making often takes a back seat. You can end up making the wrong decisions and ultimately end up with the wrong lawyer, all for an urgent desire to end the whole ordeal quickly. This will often have the opposite effect.

What you need to do is, and it is easier said than done, is realize that this is not a quick process and decide what kind of attorney you want advising you. With that thought in mind, it will be clearer to you that the selection of your divorce attorney is more crucial. It should take priority over everything else because this will be the person who helps you through the process of your case from beginning until the end.   The thing you have to keep in mind is that you can never predict how long the case will take and if an attorney promises you a specific end date or cost, you should be suspicious.

You should decide if you need your attorney to be compassionate to understand your stress and give you guidance accordingly.  There are many important things in deciding your divorce attorney and when interviewing attorneys you should evaluate if your personality clicks, is this a person you can trust to meet your needs and give you their time and attention.

Unfortunately, if people do not take care in this critical decison, they end up changing their attorneys during their divorce because they don’t get the aforementioned qualities in an attorney.  Changing lawyers halfway is costly, but it should not come as a surprise that most attorneys get cases that were first handled by another attorney.

This is what you need to do to avoid making the wrong choice when it comes to hiring best family law attorney. Make the decision early to hire a divorce attorney as oppose to in a high pressure situation.  Otherwise, you might make the wrong decision because your selection may be driven by which attorney you get easily. There is no substitute for word of mouth referrals and looking at reviews. Reaching out to trusted sources to make a decision will always help you choose the best divorce attorney because you can have someone who has gone through the process with the attorney and their recommendation means way more than googling “best divorce attorney.”

Always go for a specialist, because a specialized divorce attorney can properly asses your situation and have the most relevant knowledge to handle your case.


Important Questions To Ask A Divorce Attorney In Baltimore Before Hiring

Divorce is a complex matter which needs to be handled carefully and seriously. Your friends and family members will recommend you a number of divorce attorneys in Baltimore. Not only this, you will also see good client ratings given to different divorce attorneys in Baltimore on internet. But, don’t hire a lawyer instantly because he/she has good client rating or because he/she has been recommended by your friend or family member. Instead, you should rely more on yourself and make the final decision of hiring a particular divorce attorney in Baltimore after asking the following important questions from him/her. The questions given below will help you decide whether a divorce lawyer is right for your case and budget or not.

1. Do you specialize in divorce cases?
2. Will you also be able to handle custody of my child?
3. How many divorce cases have you handled?
4. How many years of experience do you have as divorce attorney?
5. Have you handled a case similar to mine before?
6. Will you brief me about different steps of divorce process?
7. Will you be the only one handling my divorce case or you will take help from others as well?
8. Do you charge hourly fee?
9. How much will you charge me for your services?
10. What will be your strategy for my divorce case?
11. How often will you update me about my case?
12. Roughly, how much time will be needed to come to an agreement?
13. How I will be able to contact you?
14. Will you provide me copies of documents related to my divorce case?

If you need an experienced, reliable and trustworthy divorce attorney in the Baltimore area, then contact us at (410) 657-2515.


Best Traits For Family Lawyers

The success of a family law case depends a great deal on the strength of your evidence and how your lawyer presents your case. In other words, you need to choose the best family lawyer because the best family lawyers put all their efforts to figure out the strongest evidence in your case and presents the case to the Court in the most effective manner. To hire the best family lawyer, we are presenting below traits of best family lawyers so that you can choose without any difficulty.

Excellent Writing & Communication Skills

The best family lawyers have excellent writing and communications skills. They will be able to speak and write clearly, logically and persuasively.

Good Listening Skills

It is to be noted that best family lawyers are good listeners. They carefully listen to clients problems. They analyze client’s situation from all the angles and offer variety of options to them.

Good Reputation

The best family lawyers have good reputation. You will find good online reviews and ratings related to them.

Good judgment

Great family lawyers have good judgment. They critically evaluate client’s situation and then make logical judgments about client’s case.

Good Track Record

The best family lawyers have won majority of cases, they have worked on. And if the cases did not go to Court, the best family lawyer settle the case to their client’s satisfaction.  A good settlement is often the successful outcome and this track record should also be assessed.  Therefore, when choosing a family lawyer, must check his/her track record of success.

Good Contact with Clients

Best family lawyers keep direct contact with their clients. They pick up your call whenever you call them. They regularly inform clients about the status of their case.

Patient

Best family lawyers keep themselves calm and composed because they understand that their clients can be stressed out and sad. They are patient with their clients and team.

The Cohen Legal Team has all of those qualities. Contact us to see for yourself!


Alimony and Adultery

Family-law

Adultery and the impact on alimony in Maryland Courts?

ALIMONY is defined as the money that one spouse pays to the other during and/or after a divorce.  The purpose of alimony is to ensure that one party is not impoverished solely because of the divorce and to try to maintain the parties’ standard of living similar to when they were married.

Different types of alimony in Maryland

  • Alimony Pendente Lite supports one spouse temporarily while the divorce is still pending.  No final order is issued.
  • Rehabilitative Alimony supports one spouse for a limited time with the intent to provided the support necessary to complete the training or education necessary for that spouse to become fully employed and self-supporting.
  • Indefinite Alimony supports one spouse after a long-term marriage when it appears that the supported spouse isn’t likely to become self-supporting.

 

ADULTERY is one of the possible grounds for absolute divorce, and it’s defined as a married person having sexual relations with someone outside of the marriage. If your spouse committed adultery, you can go to court and prove that fact to a judge, who will in turn grant your divorce on the basis of adultery.

To prove adultery, you do not need to show actual intercourse. You must prove that the offender had the disposition and opportunity for intercourse outside of the marriage.

  • Examples of an adulterous “disposition”: Public displays of affection, such as hand-holding, kissing, and hugging, between the guilty spouse and the non-spouse.
  • Example of an adulterous “opportunity”: Proving that your spouse was seen entering the non-spouse’s apartment alone at 11 p.m. and not coming out until 8 a.m. the following morning.

How Does Adultery Affect Alimony Awards in Maryland?

In Maryland, even though the divorce court may already have found that your spouse committed adultery and granted you a divorce for that reason, this does not mean you will automatically get or not get alimony from your spouse.  The Judge may or may not choose to consider the adultery when determining alimony, but the judge can’t say that your spouse is barred or prohibited from seeking alimony because of adulterous behavior, nor can he or she say that you ought to get alimony if your spouse committed adultery.

Maryland courts are required to apply the normal statutory requirements to all alimony cases, even when there’s been adultery, to determine the amount and duration of alimony to be paid (if any). To decide whether to award alimony, judges have to “consider all the factors necessary for a fair and equitable award,” including:

  • the ability of the spouse seeking alimony to be wholly or partly self-supporting
  • the time necessary for the supported spouse to gain sufficient education or training to enable that spouse to find suitable employment
  • the standard of living that the spouses established during their marriage
  • the duration of the marriage
  • the contributions, monetary and non-monetary, of each spouse to the well-being of the family
  • the circumstances that contributed to the estrangement of the spouses (can consider adultery)
  • the age of each spouse
  • the physical and mental condition of each spouse
  • the ability of the paying spouse to meet his or her own needs while also meeting the needs of the supported spouse
  • any agreement (for instance, a prenuptial agreement) between the spouses, and
  • the financial needs and financial resources of each spouse.

To calculate the amount of support, the court may look at both spouse’s incomes, standards of living, and monthly expenses. It may also look at each spouse’s investment and retirement opportunities as well as other factors.  If you have more questions about this issue, you should contact the Law Offices of Kerri Cohen, LLC and we can assist you.

 


$6.4 Million to Freddie Gray’s Family from the City of Baltimore

CivilThe Cohen Legal Team is all about compensation.  Fighting for justice when our clients have been treated unfairly is one of the most important parts of our practice.  However, it should be noted that this $6.4 million dollar settlement for the family of Freddie Gray exceeds the combined total of more than 120 other lawsuits brought against Baltimore City Police for alleged brutality and misconduct since 2011.

We have several pending cases with clients who were assaulted, abused and mistreated by the Baltimore City Police as well.   Some even received media and news coverage, but it takes the death of a young African American in the city to realize this is a problem.  I am impressed that this settlement happened so quickly for such a large number.  The State law generally caps such payments, but local officials can authorize larger awards.

The city’s reasoning behind this settlement is understandable since they want to avoid long drawn-out civil cases against the police officers.  But no one really knows the real information behind the settlement, particularly about why it was brought to the spending panel before any civil lawsuit was even filed and how the payment amount was reached.  This was the biggest settlement yet for police brutality.   The Baltimore City Police are outraged at this settlement before the criminal trials saying that there is no reason for it.  The city is just trying to ease anger and tension of the people.   They are trying to heal the city.

In the meantime, the Law Offices of Kerri Cohen will continue to fight for justice for our clients and we will simply prepare for trial and let a jury decide what our clients deserve in the name of justice.


Top 10 Things NOT TO DO after a Car Accident

It may sound silly, but these innocent errors can negatively affect your auto accident case.

Even if you are trying to do and say the right things, there are many ways you can hurt your case.

The Cohen Legal Team has identified what we believe are the TOP 10 mistakes you can make.  You may have a legitimate case and you don’t want to ruin it.  This list will help you prevent innocent mistakes your insurance company and defense lawyer may one day try to use against you.

1. DON’T SIGN YOUR RIGHTS AWAY
Do NOT sign anything until you check with your car accident attorney.  Some of these releases have fine print waiving future injury claims or allowing an at-fault insurance company to access your medical records and violate your privacy. Check with your attorney first BEFORE you sign anything.

2. DON’T LIE
This mistake is pretty easy to avoid.  The consequences can be disastrous for those who lie.  Always be truthful to your attorney because providing false information on an insurance application can be detrimental and can lead major problems.

3. DON’T MISS DOCTOR APPOINTMENTS
Listen to your doctors, and follow through on their advice. There’s never a reason or excuse to miss a doctor’s appointment. Not going to the doctor may be interpreted as a sign that you are not hurt, or don’t take your car accident lawsuit seriously. It’s very important for you to show that you are working hard to get better and keeping appointments is an important part of that. Also, when you are at the doctor’s, be mindful of what you say. For example, never say “My attorney said…”.
Also, anytime your doctor refers you to a new doctor or you want to switch doctors, please advise your attorney immediately.

4. DON’T MAKE MISTAKES ON YOUR NO FAULT FORMS
Paperwork involved in No Fault claims include the submission of forms for lost wages or medical bills. These forms are required for you to receive reimbursement/payment, but the accuracy of these submissions is critical. If your submission is inaccurate, it can result in losing all No Fault benefits. Mistakes – even innocent a mistakes – can get any accident victim labeled a “fraud” and can result in the termination of all of your No Fault insurance benefits.

5. DON’T GET CAUGHT ON SURVEILLANCE
Expect that your insurance company and the at-fault driver’s insurance company will conduct surveillance and hire investigators to take photos and videos of you at some time during your case.  Be aware.  Most people will understand if you had a good day, and attempted to do something, but no one understands when an auto accident victim denies something, that is later caught on surveillance video in contradiction.

6. DON’T TALK ABOUT YOUR CASE
Insurance adjusters, defense lawyers, and sometimes jurors may try to contact you. Do NOT talk about your case with ANYONE hired by the at-fault driver or insurance company. If an adjuster wants to ask about your case, have her call your car accident attorney.

7. DON’T GET CAUGHT ON SOCIAL MEDIA (i.e. Facebook, Twitter)
Insurance adjusters and defense attorneys will investigate your Facebook, Twitter and related social media accounts, blogs or web pages – even when set as ‘private’ – and look for things that can help them avoid taking full responsibility for the harms they’ve caused. The purpose of this Internet research is to attempt to show that you are not as injured as you claim. Please be very careful about postings and photos of your activities. Avoid posting new items.

8. DON’T APPLY TOO LATE
There’s a one-year time limit to apply for benefits for a first-party No-Fault case in Maryland. Maryland’s No-Fault law covers important auto insurance benefits such as wage loss or medical bills. These benefits are generally paid by the car accident victim’s auto insurance carrier. If you do not apply within one year, you will not be able to receive your No-Fault insurance benefits.

9. DON’T DISPOSE OF IMPORTANT EVIDENCE
Save all pill bottles, casts, braces, prescriptions and any other items from your doctors. This is evidence of your personal injuries, and it must be preserved.
Anytime you a visible injury, take pictures. Or contact your car accident lawyer and he will send a photographer to document your injuries. Videos are also great tools to show a jury or an insurance company adjuster just how difficult things have been in time following your personal injury or after a surgery. In addition, take pictures of car damage. Crash repair estimates are often misleading and don’t reflect the full amount of vehicle damage.

10. DON’T IGNORE YOUR ATTORNEY
When working on a case, clients often say they heard about a friend’s financial recovery. Please be aware that every case is different, every injury is different and every client is different. It’s important to understand that our legal team is as interested as you are in getting you the best possible settlement. It’s our job and we do it very well.

The best advice remains the simplest: call your car accident lawyer at (410) 657-2515 if you have a question, and certainly before doing something that can have an important impact on your case.

COHEN LEGAL TEAM IS HERE FOR YOU!
We understand the physical, emotional and psychological hardship you’re experiencing from your injuries. We care and our relationship with you is very important now, and in the future.

August 15, 2015


Marijuana users celebrate tomorrow

Tomorrow if you have less than 10 grams of marijuana….you do not face up to one year in jail in Maryland. Some say it is about time. Most of my clients are cheering.

Image result for marijuana

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed two marijuana related bills into law that will go into effect tomorrow, October 1st. The first decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Possession of less than 10 grams of marijuana will be a civil offense punishable by a fine of up to $100 for a first offense, up to $250 for a second offense, and up to $500 for subsequent offenses. Third-time offenders and individuals under 21 years of age will be required to undergo a clinical assessment for substance abuse disorder and a drug education program.

Removing these petty cases from the criminal docket will certainly free up some of the District Court dockets. I am excited for the new law to go into effect! The decriminalization of the possession of small amounts of marijuana will free up resources to fund additional substance abuse treatment, drug prevention and job training efforts, and education.

There is no excuse for criminalizing people simply for possessing small amounts of marijuana. For years, legislators have been coming up with excuses, but this time they came up with a solution.

My favorite part of this new law is the issues we will soon face about what police can use as probable cause for a search. This will be interesting and as a criminal defense attorney, I am all over this!

The second law that will go into effect tomorrow protects patients with severe pain, nausea, wasting syndrome, seizures, and severe muscle spasms from arrest and prosecution. Under the law, patients will get medicine from licensed medical marijuana dispensaries. They will also have to get approval from doctors who are approved by the state, and have an identification card before they can access a licensed dispensary.

I say Welcome to Maryland as the 21st medical marijuana state!

We are finally moving in the right direction.