Frequently Asked Questions About the Divorce Process in Maryland

Going through divorce is never an easy process. It doesn’t help that there’s a great deal of confusion regarding the actual legal steps and requirements along the way. This guide will offer some insight specifically into Maryland divorce FAQs for individuals and couples residing in the state.
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What are the grounds for absolute divorce in Maryland?

Maryland recognizes a handful of different grounds for absolute divorce. The first is a 12 month continuous separation period, during which the two parties have been residing separately, in separate places of abode, without martial relations or cohabitation, continuously and uninterruptedly for the entirety of the separation period. After this, a complaint for absolute divorce may be filed.
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One new avenue that applies to certain couples is that of mutual consent. With mutual consent, there is no minimum separation period. However, it only applies to parties who have no minor children in common, and those who have a signed, legal separation agreement or Marital Settlement Agreement, which has resolved all issues arising out of the marriage, including but not limited to alimony and division of marital property.
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Beyond those two, there are other grounds for divorce. These include adultery, cruelty, desertion, excessively vicious conduct, insanity, and the conviction of certain crimes whereby the party is incarcerated for three years or more.
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What’s the difference between absolute and limited divorce, as well as fault and no fault, and contested vs. uncontested divorce?
-Absolute vs. Limited Divorce: Absolute divorce is the official legally decreed end to a marriage. Limited divorce is utilized in certain circumstances, usually when the Parties cannot establish grounds for an Absolute Divorce. However, with a Limited Divorce, the marriage is not officially terminated and the Parties cannot remarry.
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-Fault vs. No Fault: There are different grounds for either fault or no fault divorce. In Maryland, the 12 month separation and mutual consent decrees are both no fault divorces, while the other grounds for absolute divorce discussed above are considered at fault.
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-Uncontested vs. Contested: Uncontested divorces are those in which the two parties have come to their own solution, either before filing for divorce, or during the divorce, whether through mediation or negotiation, by way of separation agreement or Marital Settlement Agreement.
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What are the rules for separation and separation agreements for Maryland divorce?
Separation agreements are not required in the state of Maryland, although they are helpful in certain circumstances. As far as separation periods, the 12 month separation period is one ground for absolute divorce, while mutual consent has no separation period requirement.
Of course, this has all been a very brief overview of some of the most pressing frequently asked questions about divorce in Maryland. For more information on your own case or circumstances, be sure to consult with an experienced attorney in your area who can provide you with guidance on your best course of action.

What Are the Grounds for Divorce in Maryland?

Understanding the different grounds for filing divorce in the state of Maryland is essential to anyone who is going through the process, or may be going through the process in the future. All states are different as well in regards to the laws and guidelines they have in place for divorce, which is why it’s crucial to find state-specific information for where you’re based.
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There are several specific grounds for divorce within Maryland. One of these is adultery, in which you have to prove that your spouse had the disposition and opportunity to commit adultery.
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Another grounds for divorce in Maryland is cruelty or abuse. This can be proven via a witness, or also via documentation and presented evidence, including photographs and medical records, for instance.
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There are also several other grounds for divorce in Maryland, which may be less common than the above. Constructive desertion is one, in which case you show that your spouse has deserted you for a period of at least a year. Other grounds include insanity, as well as a criminal conviction, and in both cases, there are various timelines which need to be met depending on the specifics of your circumstances.

Now, there doesn’t always need to be one of these specific grounds in order for a couple to split up and be divorced. When none of the above apply, the divorce becomes known as a no fault divorce. In this instance, the actual grounds for the divorce is a 12 month separation period. The couple must be continuously separated over this entire period and they are then able to officially file their divorce paperwork.

Maryland also has added mutual consent as one of the state’s grounds for divorce. This applies to couples who do not have children and who have put an agreement in place for how to handle all other issues to resolve the marriage in terms of property or finances. In this case, the 12 month separation period of a typical no fault divorce as specified above is no longer required.

As mentioned, it’s important to note that all of the above only specifically reflects the state of Maryland. Other states may vary quite substantially in terms of the grounds of divorce that they recognize or not, or the specific ways those grounds are defined, regulated, or enforced. Always be sure to consult with an experienced legal professional from your state and local area who can guide you through the process.

The Snallygaster – A Creature of Cryptozoology

In the Blue Ridge Mountains in Maryland, a mysterious creature lurkes and scares the local people. It is called the Snallygaster. Deriving its name from the German words "schnelle geist" or referers to a fast or quick ghost or spirit.

The early descriptions of the Snallygaster are varied, but it never had the common features of a half-bird with a ghoul-like face. Some describe the nightmarish monster as half-reptile and half-bird. It was reported to have a metallic beak with very sharp teeth. Some even say that it had tentacles.

In the early years of the nineteenth century, there had been increasing reports of sightings of the Snallygaster. Many claimed that it lurked its barns and stop their chickens. Some say that it even damaged their properties and also attempted to attack them. To ward of the beast, the locals kept seven-pointed stars painted on their rooftops, windows, and barns. The said symbol allegedly scares the Snallygaster away.

In 1909, the first newspaper accounts of the Snallygaster were seen on prints of the Valley Register. According to the news, many of the local people have seen a beast with intense wings. It had a long pointed beak with claws that resembled steel hooks.

The first person, who claimed that he had seen the Snallygaster, was James Harding. He pointed out that it only had one eye in the middle of its forehead and it made shrill and screeching noises as it flapped its wings over their barn. He claimed that its features looked like that of a vampire and a tiger.

Hunts for the Snallygaster were popular since and even the Smithsonian Institute developed an interest on the beast. The institute offered a reward for anyone who catches the beast.

Panic and anxiety continued to grip the local people of Maryland until the Snallygaster was reported to be dead in 1932. A shadowy picture was released among the pertinent publications in Maryland. According to the story, revenue agents George Dansforth and Charles Cushwa saw the dead beast in the vat of moonshine whiskey.

Based on the story, it was assumed that the creature was attracted by the aroma of the moonshine. However, as the Snallygaster flew over it, it suffocated in the fumes. Occasionally, it dropped and drowned in the vat of whiskey mash. Unfortunately, the agents blew up the still and destroyed the carcass before the remains of the monster can be examined.

Taking a Look Forward

Occidentally, the government gets something right. However, to what is is yet to be seen. With that being said, on December 22, 2014, it was reported that President Obama signed the ABLE Act into law. ABLE is an acronym for Achieving a Better Life Experience and the law will allow families who provide care for any family member who was declared disabled before the age of twenty-six to capture tax preferred growth for the care and comfort of their loved one. The act in part mirrors the 529 college savings account with a few additional perks. Whereas the 529 account can only be used for the financial requirements of college, the new ABLE account will cover a host of other care and comfort activities.

Similar to the 529 accounts, interest earnings on the ABLE accounts will be tax-free, and where I come from, tax-free is a good concept. However, unlike the 529 accounts, which can only be used for education related expenses, the funds accumulated in the ABLE accounts can be used to pay for education, health care, transportation, housing and other expenses associated with the beneficiary's disabilities. Of course these allowances will be further determined by the Treasury Department sometime this year. However, this gives the average family caring for a disabled child or adult an alternative to the special needs trust. There is one more caveat that will limit the application of the ABLE Act. The family member with the disability (the beneficiary) must have been deemed disabled prior to his or her twenty-sixth birthday. Therefore, the accounts will be limited in their scope to help those who might become disabled due to continuing military engagements around the world.

Another concern I have about these accounts is that the federal government has left the regulations up to the states. Each state has six months to write the regulations governing the accounts. Although there is some level of consistency between states, one has to wonder if there will be complications if the services are provided by out of state organizations. Some might be concerned how having an ABLE account would affect federal and state benefits. However, ABLE accounts will allow families to save larger amounts of money without affecting their eligibility for SSI, Medicaid and other public benefits.

The amount of money that can be contributed to an ABLE account is the same as the federal gift tax exclusion, which is currently $ 14,000 annually. Many states have set their 529 account restrictions for education related expenses at $ 300,000. It appears that the first $ 100,000 deposited into an ABLE account would not affect the $ 2,000 restrictions relating to impact to eligibility for SSI, Medicaid and other public benefits. This is a good start, but each state will set limitations and regulations so we will not know the full extent of the law until the state by state regulations are established.

As one can imagine, no accounts can be established before the regulations have been written. Since the ABLE Act is going to amend Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986, caregivers can assume that the process for establishing the accounts will reflect each state's current 529 accounts. For example, the State of Maryland (the state where I live) has two types of 529 accounts. The Maryland Prepaid College Trust and the Maryland College Investment Plan. The former is backed by a Maryland Legislative Guarantee and the latter managed and underwritten by T Rowe Price. Based on this, the state of Maryland is likely to establish the ABLE Accounts in the same fashion.

As a caregiver life coach who provides financial stability coaching, I would suggest that choosing an account option that is managed and underwritten by a financial company is the preferred choice. Without you trust the state legislature, choosing the account that is backed with a legislative guarantee introduces a higher level of risk. To learn more about where your state ranks in fiscal discipline, Google "red-state-black-state PDF" and follow the link. Without your state is operating at 8, I would always lean towards the managed and underwritten by type account.

Finally, I want to discuss the advantages of the ABLE account over the special needs trust. On the up side of the ABLE accounts, there is the uncomplicated tax effect. Irrevocable trusts are still subject to taxation as my wife and I found out in 2012. Although the tax nightmare created by our son's irrevocable special needs trust is an aging struggle, the ABLE Act accounts will mitigate the stress of taxation by being a pre-tax , tax-free growth account. In this way, the ABLE Act account will remain the Roth IRA since the assets are used for the care and comfort of the beneficiary.

It has yet to be seen if those currently holding a special needs trust will be allowed to transfer the assets from the trust into an ABLE account. I will be writing our state legislation to encourage this particular action. In the meantime, I would encourage every caregiver to follow the progress of this promising legislation through their specific State House. Hopefully, these accounts will be available by the third quarter of this year.

There is one last concern for the caregiver that I would like to address. Once the account is established with a financial company, the caregiver will have the opportunity to influence the direction of the investments. This is an important component of the account. If you have worked hard to set aside money for the care and comfort of a loved one, that money should be working for the same purpose. As with every type of account I manage for my family, I will be analyzing the best mix for the greatest gain while looking to reduce the risk of achieving that gain. Therefore, I hope to produce a series of articles on each state's plans, but I will need your input. Once the accounts are established, I will be seeking to collect the details and publish an analysis of each state's managed and underwritten plan.

American Mobsters – The Gang Battle Over the Affections of Ida "The Goose"

Ida "The Goose" Burger was a strikingly-beautiful dance hall girl and sometimes prostitute, who was the favorite of several members of the five hundred-strong Gophers gang, which controlled the New York Hell's Kitchen area, that ran on the West Side of Manhattan, from Fourteenth Street to Fifty Seventh Street. The Gophers passed Ida the Goose around from boss to boss, and even down to the low-level members of their gang. But make no mistake, Ida belonged to the treacherous Gophers and anyone who thought otherwise would be deal with in a certain manner.

Jack Tricker was a saloon keeper / gangster, who, after Monk Eastman was sent to prison for armed robbery, headed up one fact of the Eastman mob on the Lower East Side. Tricker owned a bar on Park Row in downtown Manhattan, but after it was closed down by authorities for basically being a den of iniquity, Tricker decided to branch out of the Lower East Side and into Hell's Kitchen. He decided that maybe, because of the Gophers' internal battles, they were not so tough anymore. In an act of defiance, he bought the Old Stag Bar on West 28th Street, smack in the middle of Gopher territory, and renamed it the Maryland Cafe.

One of Tricker's men somehow won the affections of Ida the Goose, and he spit in the Gophers' face, by taking Ida away from an influential Gopher and bringing her to the Maryland Cafe, where they installed her as the main attraction; the "Belle of The Ball," so to speak. The Gophers immediately sent an emissary to Tricker, demanding the return of Ida the Goose. Tricker told the emissary that he would not get involved, one way or another, and that it was their problem, not his. Immediately, threats spewed from the Gophers to Tricker's gang, who armed themselves heavily in anticipation of war. But after weeks passed with nothing happening, Tricker's gang relaxed a bit, thinking the Gophers were all talk and no action.

In October of 1910, four Gophers, one of what was Ida's former boyfriend, swaggered into the Maryland Cafe, approached the bar and ordered a four beers. Six Tricker gangsters, who were sitting at a large round table, were so surprised by the bold move, they sat transfixed and said not a word, let alone try to evict the invaders. Outraged, it was Ida the Goose who spoke first. She screamed at the Gophers, "Say !! Youse guys have some nerve!"

The Gophers calmly finished their beer, then one turned around slowly and said, "Well, let's get at it." They each drew two guns and began spraying the bar's walls, mirrors and tables with gunshots. The two bartenders, who were not part of Tricker's gang, dived behind the bar, and five of Tricker men's were shot and disabled. The sixth, who was Ida's newfound lover, dived under Ida's flowing skirt, seeking protection. She stared down at him in disdain, then shook her shoulders and said, "Say, youse! Come on out and take it."

Ida shoved him into the center of the floor and the Gophers pumped four bullets into his torso. Then Ida's former boyfriend stepped forward and put on the final touches, by firing one shot into the fallen man's brain.

The four Gophers strode out of the Maryland Cafe, followed closely by Ida the Goose, glowing in pride that such a battle was cooked over her affections. She went back to the Gophers and never strayed from their side again.

Car Insurance – What a Caveman Needs to Know

"It's so easy even a caveman can do it", the announcer procllaims, alluding to how easy it is to save money with their car insurance company. While the advertisement has been hugely successful, even leading to a television series, the reality is either a caveman, talking lizards, scantily clad models or anything else will make your car insurance any cheaper. Your insurance premium is primarily based on such things as your driving record, age, gender, location, the vehicle that you're insuring, and not on what insurance company you are with. If you really want to see how easy it is to save money with any insurance company, try getting cheap auto insurance with a less than perfect driving record including such indiscretions as speeding, accidents, or the dreaded DUI you'll quickly find that 'easy 'is a relative term; sometimes easier than Chinese Arithmetic, but not as easy as the ubiquitous commercials would lead you to believe.

Even a caveman will find it hard to get cheap car insurance in some places. The place that I call home; referred to by many as the People's Republic of Maryland, has a 'point' system in place where you get nailed twice for the same violation. Commit a driving violation here, and you will receive a gift that keeps on giving because not only will you pay when you go to court, but you will also be rewarded with higher insurance premiums when the auto insurance company finds that you've listed some points. If you are a really high achiever and score enough points, you can even get your license revoked or suspended. The 'point' is, your driving record is the major determinant as to how much you pay. If you want to keep your car insurance, avoid tickets, and if you live in Maryland, take the bus.

When it comes to car insurance, it is definitely better to be a cave woman than a caveman. It's an established fact that all things being equal, you will pay more for auto insurance if you happened to born with the XY chromosome.The reason behind this is that since men have the testosterone thing going on, they are more likely to drive fast and reckless and there are a higher risk than the fairer sex. Having many years of experience behind the wheel, I would have to add that it's not so much where or not you are a caveman or woman that matters, but when or not you are a 'young' cave person. I could not begin to tell you how many times I have seen young Cro-Magnon women driving up on another cars bumper at 70 miles an hour. While this gender discrimination may seem a little Neanderthal to many of us, nobody said that life was fair; even for a caveman.

It also matters where you cave is located. When I was living out in Washington State, I paid less than half for car insurance than what I pay here in Maryland. In Baltimore, you can even pay higher rates just by living in the wrong zip code. I have a brother who lives just two miles from where I remain yet his auto insurance is much cheaper because he lives in a different zip code. You can be the safest driver on the roads but if you happen to live in the wrong area, you might just get penalized for it. Like real estate, when it comes to car insurance, location matters.

Lastly, the type of vehicle that you're insuring also plays a large part in how much you pay for auto insurance. For instance, certain vehicles are more popular with car thieves than others. According to the 'National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), the Honda Civic and Accord were among the most reported stolen vehicles in 2006'. 'The report also stated that thieves tend to target the most popular vehicles because they offer the best market for stolen vehicle parts and illegal export to other countries'. Insurance companies are aware of this as well, and most will charge a premium for the privilege of owning one of these thief happy cars.

While it may be true that you can save some money by insuring your auto with an insurance company that has a caveman as a spokesperson, the truth is that what you pay for insurance is based on numerous factors such as driving history, age, sex and location. Slick advertising side, that should be so obvious that even a cave man can see it.

An Urgent Fact Concerning ADHD and the Thyroid

I can not stress enough how a superior comprehensive testing to find out the cause of inattention, hyperactivity and moodiness can be. ADHD has been misdiagnosed and over-diagnosed for such a long time now that prescription medications are accepted as normal for a large percentage of children. Giving (as young as) three-year olds amphetamine and antidepressant based medicines for ADHD is repulsive, if in fact they do not need them.

How awful to have your child given ADHD medications, like amphetamines, when in actuality they could have hyperthyroidism. ADHD and the thyroid (a disease or imbalance) can both have symptoms that are similar. One of the earliest symptoms of a thyroid problem is hyperactivity and nervousness, forgetfulness and inattention. In the International Society of Psychoneuroendocrinology (ISPNE) a report was published by the University of Maryland School of Medicine researchers Peter Hauser, professor of psychiatry, and Dr. Bruce Weintraub, professor of medicine at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine, finding a positive connection between elevated levels of certain thyroid hormones and the connection to ADHD like symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity.

So if your child appears to have symptoms common to ADHD, but a doctor says, "No they do not have the disorder", you need to check into a resistance to thyroid hormone which blood tests can detect. They will be prescribed the correct medication that will correct the condition.

If your child does in fact have ADHD and not a thyroid problem there are other alternatives between prescription drugs. Many parents are trying alternatives such as unprocessed foods, no artificial ingredients and supplements specifically designed for ADHD which have been shown to work as well as Ritalin in some cases.

NCAA College Football Week 11 Point Spread Picks

WE went 17-9 against the spread with our week 10 college football picks, which included 5-3 against the spread with our best bets / strong plays. Our total seasonal record is now an incredible 172-127-3 against the spread.

Now on to week 11 and our free picks which we wanted to provide to you as an informative way for you to see what goes into a professional handicapper's line of thinking when making selections. Enjoy and good luck with everything.

Boston College (-5.5) VS. MARYLAND: Boston College is in a bad spot here as they will probably let after seeing their national championship aspirations fall by the wayside. They now have to go out on the road to take on a Maryland team that has played tough all year long and who could catch BC sleeping. THE PICK: Maryland (+5.5)

WEST VIRGINIA (-17) VS. Louisville: There is no love lost between these two teams and West Virginia will be all out to avenge last season's loss to Louisville. Thursday night home teams giving more than 2 points are also on a great roll laately as they have now gone 39-16-2 ATS. Also West Virginia is always a good bet when facing a team that defeated them last time out as they are now 9-1 ATS in revenge games. THE PICK: West Virginia (-17)

Arizona State (-7) VS. UCLA: Arizona State is in a letdown spot here after seeing their undefeated season go up in smoke against Oregon. The Bruins have been a dissapointment this year but they have a strong defense that will keep this one close. THE PICK: UCLA (+7)

The following games are our BEST BETS and STRONG PLAYS for the week.


AIR FORCE (-3) VS. Notre Dame

VIRGINIA TECH (-6) VS. Florida State


Florida (-6.5) VS. SOUTH CAROLINA

TULSA (pick) VS. Houston

RUTGERS (-19) VS. Army


TENNESSEE (pick) VS. Arkansas


So all in all we have eight BEST BETS / STRONG OPINIONS for the week for our subscribers. Good luck.

Haunted Baltimore – Prowling For Phantasms in Fell’s Point and Beyond

A man moves into a house on Lancaster Street, Baltimore. One day, he decides to take down the previous owner’s kitchen curtains. He takes out a wobbly stool and steps up to remove them. Suddenly, he looses his balance and begins to fall. Then, a hand presses against his back, steadying him and he doesn’t fall. No one else was in the room besides himself.

Later, he recounts the story to the woman who sold him the house. She replies, “That must be mom. She once fell from that stool and broke her arm. She must have wanted to prevent the same thing from happening to you.”

This is just one of many stories you’ll hear while taking the Fell’s Point Ghost Tour. Fell’s Point is riddled with ghostly happenings. Not only is it one of the oldest neighborhoods of Baltimore, Md., it also has experienced a lot of death. In both 1794 and 1797, many people died of yellow fever. So many, that the bodies piled up like cordwood in what is now Fell’s Point Square, which may also be the site of their mass burial.

Establishments highlighted on the tour have had ghostly headless chickens running around the basement, an African American spirit who likes to move an ash can from the fireplace to the front door, and an apparition that walks down the street only to disappear in front of his grave.

“One of my favorite stories,” says Amy Lynwander, co-founder of Fell’s Point Ghost Tours, “is at Duda’s where we talk about Doc, a retired seaman” who used to live there. He had a favorite polka that he played on the jukebox often. After he died, the polka was retired from the jukebox. However, some months after Doc died, “the polka spontaneously played for a group of regulars sitting at the bar.” When they checked the jukebox, the polka was not among the selections available. “They thought it was Doc saying goodbye.”

Maryland has a lot of ghostly activity, says Beverly Litsinger, co-founder of the Maryland Ghost and Spirit Association, an organization that researches and investigates ghostly paranormal phenomena throughout Maryland, “most likely because it has a lot of history.”

The Fell’s Point Ghost Tour lasts about an hour and a half and features about a dozen locations around the neighborhood. For a real ghost-hunting adventure in the Baltimore area, be sure to visit these places, as well:

• Fort McHenry, which was, in part, the inspiration for Francis Scott Key’s Star Spangled Banner, is said to be haunted not only by soldiers who died defending the fledgling US, but also people who were detained in its dungeons at other points in the fort’s history.

• The USS Constellation is said to be haunted by a young Naval officer or seaman who died in service to his country. One story also tells of a priest who was given a tour of the ship by an older man, only to find out later that no such man worked there as a guide.

• The Westminster Church and Catacombs, which is home to Edgar Allan Poe’s grave, as well as other well-known historic figures, has a long list of spooky stories. Visitors have reported hearing hushed voices, feeling invisible hands touch them, and felt icy spots with no explanation.

According to Lynwander, October is the most popular time of the year to take her tour. However, she says, “September is a good time, too. It’s the calm before the storm. It’s dark when you do the tour and the weather is usually very nice.” For more information, visit their website

The Art of Power Washing Decks

Since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) started banning the use of pressure treated wood due to chromated copper arsenate (CCA), most people have decided to seal their wood decks as the EPA proposes to prevent the arsenic from leaching into the soil. Most homeowners use local companies to pressure wash their decks and siding to save valuable time and the expense of rental equipment and some prefer to do the job themselves on a hot summer day. If you decide to hire a contractor to perform the work for you, there are a lot of important questions you need to ask before you should allow them to work on your home. First, make sure the company your hiring has the experience and the right equipment to perform the job properly, using more than 1,000 PSI or less than 4gpm can cause damage to wood. In Maryland, your also required to have a Maryland Home Improvement License (MHIC) for sealing decks or any repairs and it must be listed in all advertising and vehicles.

Make sure that any contractor you hire has a copy of this license and a long history of performing work in the area also; check them out with The Better Business Bureau. Another way to protect yourself is to use a company with certificates and affiliations in their industry like The Power Washers of North America.

The PWNA is the recognized leader in developing and communicating the highest standards in ethical business practices, environmental awareness, and safety through continuing education and active representation of the membership. PWNA educated and trained contractors raise the level of professionalism and value to their customers, and run a National Clean Across American project from July 24th-31st for various charities. For information about this project see their website at

Unfortunately, many homeowners have tried using an unlicensed or inexperienced contractor offering a lower price, in some cases this may end up with the job uncompleted or worse, done improperly causing thousands of dollars in damage.

It will cost more time and money to find the right contractor for you but it could cost far more, to hire a company without the proper experience or to do the job yourself. For example, most people do not know that using household bleach to remove the mold and mildew from your deck will actually damage the woods lignin fibers. Or that too too much pressure can also damage the woods surface and cause it to splinter or fur. To many companies have decided they could tackle it without the proper training and with most machines putting out an average of 3,000 PSI it can be dangerous to the operator and your property. Properly learning the techniques and training for cleaning wood takes time, training and a long-term investment, each deck or house is different and they all require special attention. First you have to find out if there is an existing sealer or stain on the deck and how to remove it properly. Very similar to painting, deck sealers and preservatives will not properly adhere to a wood surface that has an existing sealer on it.

First this product must be removed from the deck using a stripping agent and you must take steps to ensure that the stripping agent will not harm the plants or siding on the home. Most deck stripping agents have a sodium hydroxide base that will remove the existing sealer or stain and then it can be washed off with a pressure washer using a maximum of 1,000 PSI. When using a pressure washer you must clean with the grain of the wood the entire length of the board. By varying your distance from the wood or not going with the grain you may cause marks and discoloration in the surface. If done carefully, this will leave you with a clean surface for the next step.

Now that you have used a deck stripper to remove the last sealer, the surface must be neutralized so the sealer will absorb and adhere to the wood. Wood and other surfaces can be neutralized using citric or oxalic acid to bring them to a neutral Ph level, Oxalic acid will also remove tannin or leaf stains and also those iron or rust stains from rusting furniture. Now your wood surface is ready to be sealed and there are many other options to consider. The various sealers can be confusing to some but it's important to use a product that has ultraviolet protection from the suns rays. Most sealers have some UV protection, various oils to moisturize the wood and mildew prevention to fight the growth of mildew and mold. The best UV protection can be found in sealers that contain a pigment or stain, almost all of these products form a film on the woods surface, that may wear off with foot traffic or pets, they are semi-transparent allowing the woods natural grain to show while adding a tint of color to the surface. They will also help blend the over all color of the wood if some of your lumber has a different shade than others.

You can also use products with solid colors, which do not allow the natural wood grain to show through and in most cases they usually appear to be painted when completed. Then there are conservative-based deck sealers that will penetrate into the wood. These products come in clear and different stain colors and they tend to last the longer because they penetrate into the wood. This allows the oils in the sealer to penetrate into the wood, which keep the wood from dry rotting, cracking, and also blocks the suns UV rays. These conservative sealers will hold up twice as long as the surface film forming agents and they will extend the life of the wood.

Henry Bockman

President, Henry's Housework Inc.

MHIC # 65039 Licensed, bonded and insured.

301 353 9287

Properly Exercise Your Rights Before Speaking to Your Criminal Defense Attorney

The Supreme Court of the United States has determined that you and I (and everyone else in the US) have certain Constitutional rights that are interminable and can not be violated – except in very rare circumstances. Included in those rights are the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney. While we usually think of these rights as they are shown in the movies (ie cop arrests guy, cop reads guy Miranda warns, guy says "talk to my attorney"), they apply in all sorts of situations. Additionally, you have rights even before Miranda is triggered, usually by an arrest.

I'll give you three examples, involving very different facts:

1) Maryland criminal law example.

Let's say you are arrested for some serious liability, attempted murder, near Annapolis. You are arrested and the police officer gives you the proper Miranda warnings. After you exercise your right to an attorney, you are placed in a holding cell. You ask for a phone call, and the officer obliges. You call your friend, who tells you that you are all over the local news. You have been arrested for attempted murder. You tell your friend that they have no proof. You hid the murder weapon in a car and drve the car over a cliff into the water.

The cops have you. You said something. Even though this is not the typical situation that we see in the movies, you still had a right not to say anything. When they said, "anything you say," they mean anything you say. Jail phone calls are almost always monitored and recorded. You did not have to make that call, and you would have been exercising your right to remain silent.

2) Virginia criminal law example.

You are involved in an accident on I-66. An eighteen-wheeler taps you from behind, the driver blows the horn, and then speeds off. You call the police. When they arrive, you tell the officer that the truck driver cut you off and you veered into the jersey wall. You then proceeded to drive in front of the truck and slow down, in an attempt to get the driver to stop because he caused an accident. At least that was your thinking. The cop then gives you a ticket, because this kind of driving is considered reckless in some states.

Again, you did not have to say anything to the cop. Ignorance of the law (meaning you did not know that what you did is reckless driving) is not an excuse. Beside, what advantage are you gaining from saying anything to the police officer?

3) DC criminal law example.

Suppose you are driving home from happy hour near the Verizon Center and you get dropped over. The cop tells you that your taillight was out. He then proceeds to tell you that he smells a distinct odor of alcohol emanating from your breath. The magic words. He asks you if you've been drinking. Your answer to this question will dictate how this story unfolds.

The message is simple. It is not a criminal offense to exercise your rights, despite what the cops may say to trick you into believing it is. You also do not have to wait until an officer lets you know what rights you may exercise. But people fail to keep informed and properly exercise their rights on a daily basis. It makes my job very difficult, and often decreases the chances of beating a criminal charge.

Pets and Divorce: Some States Recognizing Wellbeing of Animals in Divorce Cases

Anyone who has cuddled up on the couch with their beloved dog would agree with the statement that for many people, dogs are not pieces of property that can be haphazardly divided, but rather are family members, or in the least, animals with rights that need to be considered. Now, family law courts across the country are recognizing that as well, and several states have enacted divorce law statutes stating just that.

Alaska became the first state to adopt such a measure, doing so in 2017. Illinois followed suit in 2018, and California then joined the club in 2019. State-by-state, the laws are a bit different. For instance, in Alaska, considering the wellbeing of the animal is a requirement. In California, judges have the opportunity to consider the wellbeing of the animal but are not generally required to in all cases.

So how do you consider the wellbeing of a pet in a divorce case? You've got to think about who cares for and is best able to care for the animal. That may include matters such as living and working arrangements, the financial capability of caring for the animal, and even wherever the animal is strongly attached to just one of the two parties.

It should also be noted that most people will immediately think about dogs in divorce. However, the aforementioned laws actually deal with all animals that are household pets for the couple. So whether it's a cat or an iguana, the animal would qualify.

When states beginning passing measures such as these dealing with pets and divorce, it's not uncommon for the movement to pick up momentum across the country. Even for much more hotly debated matters, such as medical marijuana and then fully legalized recreational marijuana, and same sex marriage, once a trickle of states began to pass such measures, others began to do so more quickly.

In a few years time, it would not be a total surprise to see many more states across the country also recognizing the rights of pets in divorce. Also consider that there are animal cruelty laws in place that can result in jail time for offenders. Therefore, viewing animals as beings that have rights and need their wellbeing protected is not exactly a great leap of logic.

Of course, as we've been discussing, pets in divorce is a matter that is handled by individual states. If you're moving through a divorce case or may be doing so in the future, you only have to consider the official statutes of your own state. That's also why it always makes sense to work with a seasoned professional who is familiar with all local regulations.

Caring for the wellbeing of animals is something that's important to so many people, and seeing that through to considering their wellbeing in the matter of pets and divorce cases is a positive step forward.