Divorce and Family Law

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Attorneys

Eric P. Bacaj

Anne W. Coventry

Nancy G. Fax

Marcia C. Fidis

Morriah H. Horani

N. Alfred (Al) Pasternak

Stephanie Perry

Linda J. Ravdin

James D. Saintvil

Christina K. Scopin

Micah G. Snitzer

Adam P. Swaim

Vicki Viramontes-LaFree

Anne (Jan) W. White

Probate Paralegals

Sharon L. Coop

Anbar A. Hassan

Karen L. Williams

Paralegals

Kadie M. Marks

Marla V. Wolff

Administrative Staff

Mary A. Nelson

Nicole M. Ricketts

Nicole A. Ryder

Family law with a calming influence and a broad perspective.

The Divorce and Family Law lawyers at Pasternak & Fidis, P.C. have two goals:  to represent our clients effectively at the negotiating table, and, if necessary, in court, while bringing calm, order, and sensitivity to an emotionally charged situation.

Our attorneys are licensed in Maryland, the District of Columbia and Virginia. We are experienced trial lawyers who have tried cases in courts all over the metropolitan area. We work with both married and unmarried couples, including those in domestic partnerships, who are seeking a dignified resolution of their family law matters.

Within the firm, we work across departmental lines, to help our clients minimize the financial, tax, and business repercussions of separation and divorce or dissolution of a domestic partnership.

Our attorneys are trained in collaborative law and are able to offer our clients this innovative and humane approach to the resolution of family law issues.

We are particularly sensitive to the needs of children and take pride in our ability to craft practical, creative custody solutions that best meet the needs of all parties. We are experienced in handling custody disputes resulting from the dissolution of nonmarital relationships.

We provide sophisticated analyses of such issues as complex property holdings, deferred compensation and retirement benefits, taxes, trusts, and business issues, consulting our in-house tax and business specialists when necessary. And we work to prevent disruption to business operations and income sources.

Most importantly, we understand, offer, and explain alternatives. Our experience includes negotiation, litigation, binding arbitration, mediation, and collaborative law.

We combine zealous representation with a dignified, systematic approach. That’s what makes our family law attorneys so effective.

Our services include:

  • Counseling and planning before marriage, cohabitation, separation, or divorce;
  • Preparing and reviewing premarital agreements as well as postmarital agreements, working with our estates and trusts professionals to ensure that both divorce and estate planning issues are properly addressed;
  • Preparing and reviewing domestic partnership agreements and joint real estate ownership agreements;
  • Negotiating property, custody, and support settlement agreements using collaborative law as well as traditional negotiation;
  • Helping other attorneys and their clients resolve their cases by acting as experts, mediators and dispute resolution professionals;
  • Litigating all types of domestic relations cases and issues in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia, including complex property cases, custody disputes, and support issues;
  • Resolving disputes over the validity and interpretation of premarital agreements, postmarital agreements and marital settlement agreements;
  • Resolving disputes over family businesses and professional practices, including issues of valuation and disputes over executive compensation;
  • Dividing retirement benefits and deferred compensation plans at divorce, including private sector, governmental, and international organization plans, for our clients and for other attorneys, including preparation of qualified domestic relations orders (QDROs);
  • Tax advice and tax planning for separated and divorced clients as well as clients who are dissolving a domestic partnership;
  • Working with parents and mental health professionals to develop workable parenting and child access plans;
  • Representing clients involved in the dissolution of registered as well as contractual domestic partnerships, custody, and support matters, and division of property;
  • Enforcing court orders and marital contracts;
  • Resolution of disputes over modification of court orders for custody, child access, child support, and alimony;
  • Counseling clients to prevent international child abduction, and handling international child abduction cases in state and federal courts;
  • Helping individuals seeking relief from domestic abuse;
  • Representing business owners and other third parties subpoenaed to provide evidence in a divorce or other family law case;
  • Working with clients involved in custody and child access disputes involving third parties, such as grandparents, stepparents, and former domestic partners.

Publications

Recognition

  • Super Lawyers – Top 100 Lawyers (Maryland, 2016-2017)
  • Super Lawyers – Top 50 Women Lawyers; Family Law (Maryland, 2012-2017)
  • Best Lawyers – Family Law (Maryland, 2017)
  • Best Lawyers – Collaborative Law: Family Law (Maryland, 2012-2018)
  • Super Lawyers – Top 50 Women Lawyers (Washington, DC, 2016)
  • Super Lawyers – Rising Stars – Divorce & Family Law (Maryland, 2013-2016)
  • Washingtonian – Washington’s Top Divorce Lawyers (2016)
  • Best Lawyers – Lawyer of the Year in Collaborative Law: Family Law (Washington, DC 2016)
  • Super Lawyers – Top 50 Women Lawyers (Maryland, 2016)
  • Washingtonian – Metro Area’s Best Divorce Lawyers (2015)
  • Best Lawyers – Family Law and Family Law & Mediation (Maryland 2015)
  • Bethesda Magazine – Top 25 Divorce Lawyers in Montgomery County (2015)
  • Maryland Bar Foundation (Fellow)
  • American Bar Foundation (Fellow)
  • American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (Fellow)
  • Washingtonian – Best Lawyers for Divorce and Family Law
  • Awarded best Co-Chair of the Family Law Section of the Bar Association of Montgomery County (2008)
  • ACTEC Observer, Uniform Law Commission, Premarital and Marital Agreements
  • Super Lawyers – Top 50 Women Lawyers (Washington, DC, 2017)
  • Best Lawyers – Lawyer of the Year in Collaborative Law: Family Law (Washington, DC, 2016, 2018)
  • Best Lawyers – Family Law (Maryland, 2010-2018)
  • Best Lawyers – Family Law Mediation (Maryland, 2013-2018)
  • Best Lawyers – Family Law Mediation (Maryland, 2016-2018)
  • Best Lawyers – Family Law (Maryland, 2009-2018)
  • Best Lawyers – Family Law (Maryland, 2006-2018)
  • Super Lawyers – Divorce & Family Law (Maryland, 2018)
  • Super Lawyers – Top 50 Women Lawyers; Family Law (Maryland, 2015-2018)
  • Super Lawyers – Divorce & Family Law (Maryland, 2007-2018)
  • Super Lawyers – Top 50 Women Lawyers; Family Law (Washington, DC, 2008-2012)
  • Super Lawyers – Top 50 Women Lawyers; Family Law (Washington, DC, 2016-2017)
  • Super Lawyers – Divorce & Family Law (Maryland, 2008-2018)
  • Super Lawyers – Divorce & Family Law (Maryland, 2008-2017)
  • Super Lawyers – Divorce & Family Law (Washington, DC, 2018)

Blog Posts

July 19, 2018

Alimony Ends When Payor Spouse Retires . . . Or Does It?

Family lawyers are increasingly hearing from divorced clients who are getting ready to retire or have retired and who have a spousal support obligation or a right to receive support under a court order.  A court order may result from a trial or as part of a settlement agreement adopted by a court in the judgment of divorce.  Some payors think alimony payments automatically end at retirement, or that a court will decide to terminate payments at retirement as a matter of course, but this is not necessarily so.

Court-ordered spousal support terminates automatically only on the death of either party or—in Maryland and Virginia, but not the District—upon remarriage of the recipient.  When a court orders indefinite spousal support, i.e., support without a predetermined… MORE >

April 9, 2018

Premarital Agreements, Alimony, and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has eliminated the tax treatment of alimony that has been in place for more than 75 years.  Under the old law, alimony is deductible from the income of the payor and includible in the income of the recipient, provided the parties comply with the specific requirements of the Internal Revenue Code (I.R.C.).  Effective January 1, 2019, under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, parties will no longer have the option to enter into an agreement for taxable alimony nor will court-ordered alimony be deductible from the payor’s income and includible in the recipient’s income.  Some alimony obligations created prior to January 1, 2019, may receive alimony tax treatment under the old law; others may not.

An existing premarital agreement… MORE >

April 2, 2018

Impact of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Divorcing Families

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In December 2017, Congress rushed to pass the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:  a 503-page document that drastically alters several of the popular tax credits and deductions around which many divorcing families structure their financial planning.  This first major tax reform in decades affects taxes beginning in 2018 and will have a significant impact on divorcing families.  Family lawyers are still working on understanding the nuances of the changes and figuring out how to settle cases while some of the uncertainties in the application of the new law are being resolved by the Treasury Department.

Even the most amicable divorce can be expensive; it simply costs more to maintain two households.  Through effective use of the tax code, however, family law attorneys, often working alongside… MORE >

October 18, 2017

Changes to Maryland Law Increase Ease, Efficiency, and Consistency in Family Law

The Maryland General Assembly recently took several actions impacting domestic relations that will increase ease, efficiency, and consistency for those navigating the family court system.

Domestic Violence Orders Admissible in Maryland Divorce Suits

Protective orders (a form of domestic violence order) are designed to end and prevent abuse between family or household members.  Current or former spouses, people who have lived together in an intimate relationship for at least 90 days during the past year, people who have been in a sexual relationship within the past year, people who share children together, people who are in a caretaker-vulnerable adult relationship, and family members can file for a protective order 24 hours a day in Maryland.  In a protective order, a judge can order the abuser… MORE >

May 26, 2017

On your way to the altar . . ., don’t forget to get married!

The trend in recent years has been toward greater creativity in marriage ceremonies, including locations, vows, and officiants. In personalizing the ceremony, it is important to keep in mind that the legal requirements for marriage are set forth in the laws of each jurisdiction, both as to the qualifications for a person to marry and the legal steps necessary to ensure that the marriage is valid.

Historically, marriage has been subject to the control of state legislatures (in the District of Columbia, the City Council). Statutes set forth the requirements for who is allowed to marry, the required procedure to marry, and the legal effects of marriage.  Spouses who marry in religious or other ceremonies that do not comply with the statutory requirements may be… MORE >

May 25, 2017

Form I-864, the Sponsored-Immigrant Spouse and Death and Divorce

In the modern world it is increasingly common for an American citizen to marry a foreign national. In some situations, the United States citizen spouse or permanent resident may sponsor the other for permanent resident status (often referred to as a “green card” for the color that the physical document was at one time).  The decision to do so can have lasting consequences in the event the marriage ends.

A sponsoring spouse must fill out an Affidavit of Support under Section 213A of the Immigration and Naturalization Act – commonly referred to as a Form I-864. A Form I-864 is a contract between the sponsor and the United States government that requires the sponsor to support the immigrant if the need arises.  Spouses commonly sign… MORE >

May 24, 2017

How Divorce Affects Your Estate Planning Documents

After a divorce, the last thing on most people’s minds is contacting their estate planning attorney. However, if you fail to revise your estate planning documents after your divorce, your former spouse might still be a beneficiary of your estate and may continue to be a fiduciary under your will, revocable trust, power of attorney, or advance health care directive. Below is a table that summarizes how divorce affects these documents under D.C., Maryland, and Virginia law.

D.C. Maryland Virginia Wills Divorce and final property settlement revokes the entire will. If the testator does not execute a new will, or republish his or her old will, he or she will die intestate. Divorce revokes all provisions of a will relating to the former spouse, unless… MORE >

November 30, 2016

Privacy and the Courts

Most of us are concerned with protecting our personal information from getting into the wrong hands.  We take precautions to protect our privacy such as password protecting computers and mobile devices, using passwords for online services, limiting personal information on social media profiles, and carefully choosing when to give out social security numbers and birth dates.

Court files are public records. Most such files are available to be reviewed in person by any member of the public; eventually they may be accessible over the internet. If you are ever a party in a legal dispute you may be concerned about how to protect your personal information from becoming available in a public record.  In recent years, courts in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia… MORE >

November 28, 2016

LaFree participates in panel on Grey Divorce

Vicki Viramontes-LaFree, partner in the Divorce and Family Law Group, participated in a panel as part of Suburban Hospital’s Estate Planning Journal Club Speaker Series.  The subject was “Grey Divorce:  From the Legal, Financial and Mental Health Perspectives.”  In 2013, a study found that the divorce rate after age 50 doubled and that it more than doubled for those 65 and older.  The panel discussion focused on special challenges for divorcing baby boomers as they grapple with children leaving home, anxiety about financial security and the ability to retire, the tension between supporting children in college and the support needs of a spouse, the prospect of a reduced lifestyle after retirement and after assets are split in two, having to sell the family home, and… MORE >

November 28, 2016

Washington’s Top Divorce Lawyers–again!

Jan White and Linda Ravdin were named yet again on Washingtonian’s list of Washington’s Top Divorce Lawyers. Congratulations, Linda and Jan!