Custody, Divorce, Family Law Appeals, Name and Gender Change, Non-Traditional Families
I have worked with dozens of clients in DC and throughout Maryland to successfully obtain and/or retain custody of their children. By the time that a lawyer is contacted regarding child custody, a litigation/court process has usually already started or will be starting soon. Sometimes you just need an advocate who understands the law to guide you in negotiations. Sometimes the court process will start, but then there is an opportunity for settlement. Other times cases do need to go to trial, and I have a strong record as a courtroom advocate. While the process can be long and tedious, I truly enjoy the chance to help a client develop and protect the life they want for themselves and the child(ren) in the client’s life. I try to only take on cases that I believe in, and have a chance to be successful – I have told multiple prospective clients that what they were asking for was unreasonable, and I wasn’t the right lawyer for them. If I take you on as a child custody client, you can expect my commitment to be fighting for you, and by extension for your child(ren).
I also have experience serving in DC court as a guardian ad litem, an attorney appointed to represent the best interests of the children in a custody case, independent from the parties. I am similarly trained as a children’s Best Interest Attorney in Maryland.
I have worked with dozens of clients in divorce cases in DC and Maryland. I want my clients to get good and fair outcomes, but I am cautious about the benefits of fighting over every last dollar, particularly when those fights may cost the client more than the amount being fought over. My philosophy is that because divorce is always very emotional and can bring out the worst in people, part of the role of a good divorce attorney is to provide a buffer between the client’s raw emotions and the court.
I offer three different types of services to those who are considering or pursuing divorce:
The first is litigation, which is where one’s mind likely goes when thinking of a divorce lawyer. I represent one spouse’s interest in negotiations and/or mediation (when appropriate) and simultaneously prepare to represent that spouse at trial over the course of what is often a year-long process. Most divorce cases can and should be settled, but when there is substantial money at stake, you should be counseled by an attorney on the strengths and weaknesses of your case and any offers before making decisions which you cannot undo. If a reasonable settlement cannot be reached, I will take cases to trial. I have obtained substantial and lengthy alimony awards including against parties who claimed an inability to pay any alimony at all.
The second is a newer model called collaborative law which I have been specially trained in and certified to practice. In collaborative law, each spouse hires an attorney to advocate for their interests, but the attorneys agree to not take the case to trial, and instead of preparing for trial in order to “win,” the attorneys work with the clients (and sometimes emotional coaches and a financial planner) to come to an agreement that both sides feel satisfied with after all relevant information is shared. I would represent one spouse, and we could help the other spouse find a similarly trained collaborative lawyer. This model is successful in achieving settlement more than 99% of the time, and it limits the extra emotional pain caused by the litigation process, while also being less expensive to clients.
The third is mediation, where I serve as a neutral party, hired by both spouses but representing neither of them, and work with the two sides to discuss the key issues and come to an agreement, and then I prepare the written agreement.
Family Law Appeals
I have experience both successfully winning and defending against appeals in appellate courts, and similar efforts in trial courts including Motions for Reconsideration and Motions to Alter or Amend. Once you get a decision that you believe was wrongly made, it is important to act quickly to preserve your rights. Most decisions you disagree with are not worth appealing. It is difficult to convince a judge to change their mind, and when you appeal to another court, the burden to convince other judges to reject what the first judge has done is often extremely difficult. But sometimes you do have recourse. I will not take on an appeal or similar effort unless I believe it has a chance of success.
Name and Gender Identity Change
I have worked with transgender clients to pursue changes of name and legal gender.
I am conscious of the diverse needs of families and individuals with non-traditional family and relationship structures, including a variety of non-marital relationships. While marriage does provide special rights, some of the biggest legal benefits of marriage can be arranged in a non-marital relationship through contracts, living wills, and other legal means.
OTHER EXPERIENCED PRACTICES
Contract Drafting and Review, Immigration, Mediation, Negotiations and Dispute Resolution
Contract Drafting and Review
I have experience drafting contracts, such as between co-owners of a business or between roommates. I am also experienced reviewing many different types of contracts drafted by others to ensure that they are fair to the party being asked to sign the contract (or at least that this party knows what they are getting into.)
I have worked successfully with multiple clients seeking legal status in the United States. In particular, I have worked with minors who are eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status. I speak some Spanish and can supplement with translators as needed.
I am a trained mediator, and while most of my training and experience relate to mediating family law issues, there are a variety of other disputes that I would be comfortable mediating, so please contact me to discuss mediating any other type of issue.
Negotiations and Dispute Resolution
I was trained in law school by one of the world’s best negotiators, Stuart Diamond, and I am skilled at resolving issues in a way that addresses the concerns and desires of interested parties. Few negotiations are win-lose; by focusing on relationships and interests, everyone can be better off.