BALTIMORE, MD, Nov. 7. 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Maryland voters made history on Election Day as they voted to make same-sex marriage legal, says Monica Scherer, a partner with STSW in Baltimore, Maryland, and head of the firm's family law practice. STSW is Baltimore's premier law firm, known nationwide for successful litigation of complex and high-profile cases.
The Maryland Senate passed the Civil Marriage Protection Act legalizing same-sex marriage in February 2012, but the decision was ultimately to be left up to the voters. After months of campaigning, fundraising and controversy over the law, the voters have spoken. Maryland has joined six other states and Washington D.C. in allowing same-sex marriage and is one of two states to pass same-sex legislation by the popular vote.
As of January 1, 2013, same-sex couples will be permitted to obtain a marriage license from the Court, just as a heterosexual couple would. As of now the current law defining a legal marriage in Maryland, found at Maryland Code Family Law, § 2-201 states "[o]nly a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in this State." As of January 1, 2013 the statute will read "[o]nly a marriage between two individuals who are not otherwise prohibited from marrying is valid in this State."
Now that same-sex couples will be permitted to marry in Maryland it is time for us to prepare for changes we will see in our family law practice. The changes are vast but include the change in custody and visitation law.
Often same-sex couples adopt a child, however when couples are not married, only one partner is usually the legally recognized adopted parent. When these relationships end, the child is left with one legal parent and one who is presently recognized as a third party (not a parent) in the State of Maryland. With the passage of this legislation, same-sex couples who marry and adopt a child while married will both be the legal parents of the child and will be recognized as same should the marital relationship end in separation and/or divorce.
Additionally, same sex couples will be:
- able to enter into pre-nuptial agreements just as heterosexual couples;
- will be considered a spouse in the event their partner dies, thus entitling them to protections and distribution under our estates and trusts article;
- will be able to be divorced in the state of Maryland regardless of whether married in Maryland or outside of the State; will be afforded the same protections as heterosexual married individuals in a divorce proceeding, specifically with respect to custody issues, child support issues, alimony issues, marital property awards, division of retirement assets, use and possession of family home and personal property if there is a child, and division of personal property;
- will be permitted to title their homes as tenants by the entireties, which is a titling only designated to married couples;
- depending on the employer, married same sex couples will be able to cover their spouse on their health insurance plans; and
- will be permitted to change their last names upon marriage rather than petitioning the court for a change of name.
Mrs. Scherer concentrates her practice in the areas of client representation in the realm of divorce, child custody, alimony, marital property division, child support, visitation, paternity, adoption, guardianship, jurisdictional disputes (including international child custody disputes), and interstate child custody and child support matters, and is an expert in the issues same-sex couples face.
Mrs. Scherer regularly appears in State and Federal Trial Courts across the State of Maryland as well as Appellate and Administrative Courts. She has skillfully litigated and settled hundreds of domestic cases, obtaining favorable results for her clients. She has represented high profile clients in State Court, including professional sports figures and business owners with significant assets at stake. She has obtained custody for many clients, both men and women. She has successfully argued cases before the Maryland Appellate Courts resulting in published (and unpublished opinions).
Mrs. Scherer is also trained in collaborative law, which is a commitment to recognizing that divorce and other family matters are multi-dimensional and often require assistance from other collaboratively trained professionals, such as child specialists, financial specialists, and/or a divorce coach. The goal of the collaborative approach is a negotiated settlement focusing on empowering the client, following established guidelines and protocols without the threat of court action from the collaborative attorneys.
Other areas of focus include Department of Social Services appeals, child(ren) in need of assistance (CINA) cases, day care license appeals, protective orders, domestic violence cases and preparation of briefs and argument before the Maryland Court of Appeals and Maryland Court of Special Appeals. Mrs. Scherer's vast experience in domestic/family law matters is the foundation of her being recognized as a leader in her field.
Mrs. Scherer is a member of the Maryland State and Federal Bar, Maryland Trial Lawyers Association, and Baltimore City Bar Association Family Law Committee.
STSW is Baltimore's premier criminal defense and civil trial law firm, known nationwide for successful litigation of complex and high-profile cases. STSW has achieved extraordinary success for their clients across Maryland and throughout the United States. For more information about the depth and breadth of their services, please visit http://www.mdattorney.com
SOURCE Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White