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Johnine Clark, P.A. Law Blog

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Don’t Let Your Social Networking Activities Undermine Your Divorce Negotiations

According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, in the past five years 81% of its members have represented clients in cases involving evidence from social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Posted pictures and comments can make the job all-too-easy for your former spouse’s attorney to attack your credibility and ensure you do not receive the relief that you are requesting from the court.

 A picture is worth a thousand words. And that picture you posted of yourself, in various stages of undress, or with a marijuana cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other, speaks volumes to the court and can result in unfavorable rulings regarding child custody or visitation. But the information posted doesn’t even have to be tawdry or illegal to land you in trouble.


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Sunday, November 8, 2020

Considering Online Estate Planning? Think Twice

The recent proliferation of online estate planning document services has attracted many individuals to prepare their own estate documents in what appears to be a low-cost solution. However, this focus on price over value could mean your wishes will not be carried out and, unfortunately, nobody will know there is a problem until it is too late and you are no longer around to clean up the mess.

Probate, trusts and intestate succession (when someone dies without leaving a will) are governed by  laws which vary from state to state, as well as federal laws pertaining to inheritance and tax issues. Each jurisdiction has its own requirements, and failure to adhere to all of them could invalidate your estate planning documents. Many online document services offer standardized legal forms for common estate planning tools including wills, trusts or powers of attorney.


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Sunday, October 11, 2020

Getting Married to Someone with Bad Credit? Issues to Consider When it comes to Marriage and Debt

Beginning  December of 2019, parties in cases where custody at issue, must complete a Parenting Plan Tool that will present each parties 


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Sunday, October 11, 2020

Wealth Transfer Strategies to Consider in an Election Year

With a push by the Democratic party to return federal estate taxes to their historic norms, taxpayers need to act now before Congress passes legislation that could adversely impact their estates. Currently, the federal estate and gift tax exemption is set at $11.58 million per taxpayer. Assets included in a decedent’s estate that exceed the decedent’s remaining exemption available at death are taxed at a federal rate of 40 percent (with some states adding an additional state estate tax). However, each asset included in the decedent’s estate receives an income tax basis adjustment so that the asset’s basis equals its fair market value on the date of the decedent's death.
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Thursday, September 17, 2020

October 1st Maryland Child Support Changes


Beginning October 1, 2020, the manner in which child support is calculated is changing. There is now a three-tiered system for calculating child support that hopefully will alleviate instances where parents are battling over a few overnights. Currently, 128 overnights is the dividing line between sole physical custody and shared physical custody (joint legal/joint physical custody). The difference in what is paid under sole physical custody and shared physical custody is often significant. A parent who has 127 overnights may still have the same expenses as the parent having 128 overnights, but that one overnight could mean the difference of hundreds or even thousands of dollars per month in child support, when the reality is that the amount of expenses are very similar 

As of October 1, 2020, cases will be evaluated on a three-tiered framework where: (1) one parent has the child(ren) for 91 overnights or less; (2) one parent has the child(ren) between 92 and 109 overnights; or (3) both parents have the children for at least 110 overnights.
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Thursday, September 17, 2020

Costs Associated with Dying Without a Will


When someone dies without a will, it is known as dying intestate.  In such cases, state law (of the state in which the person resides) governs how the person's estate is administered. In most states, the individual's assets are split -- with one third of the estate going to the spouse and all surviving children splitting the rest. For people who leave behind large estates, unless they have established trusts or other tax avoidance protections, there may be a tremendous tax liability, including both estate and inheritance tax.

For just about everyone, the cost of having a will prepared by a skilled and knowledgeable attorney is negligible when compared to the cost of dying intestate,  since there are a number of serious consequences involved in dying without a proper will in place.
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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Gun Trusts: Targeted Estate Planning


If you have a gun collection, your estate plan may be missing the mark if it fails to include a specially drafted gun trust. The typical estate plan provides for tax saving strategies, probate avoidance and beneficiary designation of various assets. However, some assets pose additional issues that must be carefully addressed to avoid unintended consequences in the future. Firearms, in particular, are regulated under federal and state laws and demand careful attention from your estate planning attorney.

Your gun collection may include weapons used for sport, self-defense or investment purposes.
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Wednesday, July 8, 2020

The Dangers of Minors and Sexting


Last summer, the Maryland Court of Appeals—the state’s highest court—decided that the state’s child pornography statute applies to a 16-year-old girl who texted a one-minute video of herself to her teenage best friends. In the video, she is seen performing a consensual sex act.

In his opinion, Judge Joseph M. Getty said that the court had to contend with this question: “Can a minor legally engaged in consensual sexual activity be his or her own pornographer through the act of sexting?”

In a 6–1 ruling, the judges decided that the answer was yes, despite considering the “complexities of the sociocultural phenomenon of sexting by minors.”

This is disturbing firstly, because a minor was engaged in this behavior, and secondly because, although she participated consensually, is now a child pornographer at the age of 16.


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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

How to Protect Your Will from Unhappy Relatives


Having an updated last will and testament is more important than ever, especially now. However, a will that is poorly created or not frequently updated can be vulnerable to contestation. What is contestation? It is the formal objection to a will’s (or trust’s) validity because it either: a) doesn’t reflect the wishes of the person who created the will, or b) because the will does not meet legal standards. 

Will contests should be avoided at all costs. Not only can a contest derail your final wishes, but it can also rapidly deplete your estate and wreak emotional havoc on the family members left behind.


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Sunday, June 7, 2020

Child Visitation During COVID-19


How do I handle visitation with my children during the pandemic?  I have court-ordered bi-weekly visitation, and my Ex is using the COVID-19 stay at home orders as a reason why I should not have visitation.

We are all trying to make adjustments to the “new normal” during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Non-custodial parents with existing court orders have been finding it even more difficult.  

A court order has to be complied with by both parties, and a party that fails to do so could be held in contempt and risk a judge ordering a change in custody or losing tie-breaking authority.  Courts will always consider what is in the “best interest of the children,” when making a decision.


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