Morriah H. Horani, Partner

Morriah H. Horani, Partner

Divorce and Family Law

Child Custody and Support

Premarital Agreements

Will Contests

Trustee Disputes

Trust Modification and Termination

Estate and Trust Litigation

mhorani@pasternakfidis.com

T 301.656.8850 Ext. 454

F 301.656.3053

7735 Old Georgetown Road
Suite 1100
Bethesda, MD 20814-6183


Education

A.B., Brown University

J.D., University of Maryland School of Law

Bar Admissions

Maryland

District of Columbia

Virginia

U.S. District Court, District of Maryland

Morriah concentrates her legal work in resolving family disputes. She has a complementary practice in both family law and trust and estate litigation. Morriah is a trial lawyer with an active tri-jurisdictional practice in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Morriah’s years of experience in settling disputes complements her extensive trial practice work so that she can serve a broad range of client needs, from challenging litigation to the thoughtful, personal settlement work necessary to preserve family relationships notwithstanding difficult legal disputes. While her first goal is to preserve family resources by keeping cases out of court, when the case requires it, Morriah provides vigorous representation in trying court contests. Morriah has been specially trained in the Collaborative Law process and can represent clients in any type of out-of-court settlement process.

In her family law practice, Morriah has handled cases involving custody, divorce, child support, alimony modification and termination, same-sex disputes, post-judgment enforcement and modifications, premarital and post marital agreements, and legions of other family law issues. Morriah is also a trained child advocate who receives frequent court appointments to represent children as child privilege attorney or best interest attorney.

Morriah’s estate and trust litigation practice focuses on helping clients untangle the complexities of estate and trust matters and skillfully representing them in court. Morriah approaches these cases with Pasternak & Fidis’s elite team of estates and trusts lawyers so that these matters have the benefit of their deep understanding of evolving, complex estate and trust laws. Morriah’s estate and trust litigation experience includes will challenges, trust reformation and termination actions, trustee/beneficiary disputes, estate administration conflicts, estate and trust construction controversies, guardianship disputes, beneficiary designation conflicts, power of attorney abuse and misuse, testamentary-instrument validity, and other probate disputes.

Morriah is also a seasoned appellate advocate having both defended and overturned trial court rulings on appeal. Morriah briefed and argued a precedent-setting case before Maryland’s highest court, the Maryland Court of Appeals, in 2010. She has also handled appeals in the Virginia Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Court of Appeals, and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals.

Morriah earned her undergraduate degree in Public Policy and American Institutions at Brown University and her law degree and Certificate: Law and Health Care at the University of Maryland School of Law. Morriah had the honor of serving as a trial court judge’s law clerk prior to joining Pasternak & Fidis in 2007. Washingtonian magazine interviewed and quoted Morriah in one of its issues, and The Maryland Daily Record quoted Morriah’s legal analysis in September 2014. Super Lawyers recognized Morriah as a “Rising Star” 2013 through 2016 and as a “Super Lawyer” in 2018 and 2019.

An avid tennis player, Morriah has qualified for the United States Tennis Association’s national championships three times. Her tennis teams have won both State and Mid-Atlantic Sectional Championships multiple times. Morriah has been the captain of a competitive Montgomery County, Maryland women’s tennis team since 2008. Morriah also has a Mah Jongg group and is a novice sprint triathelete. She volunteers each year for the Brown Alumni Association to interview high school students applying for undergraduate admission to Brown University. Morriah lives in Kensington, Maryland with her family of humans, cats, dogs, and homeless kittens, which she fosters in partnership with a Virginia/Maryland animal rescue organization.

Noteworthy Cases

Boemio v. Boemio, 414 Md. 118; 994 A.2d 911; 2010 Md. LEXIS 184 (2010)

Activities and Affiliations

  • Maryland State Bar Association (MSBA)
  • Bar Association of Montgomery County, Maryland
  • Virginia State Bar
  • District of Columbia Bar
  • Fairfax Bar Association (Judicial Screening Committee) (2015)
  • Montgomery County Inns of Court
  • Arlington Bar Association
  • Virginia Trial Lawyers Association

Past Legal Volunteer Work

  • Contributor of Legal Materials, The People’s Law Library of the Maryland State Law Library
  • Volunteer Circuit Court for Montgomery County Family Law Self Help Center
  • Volunteer D.C. Superior Court Family Court Self-Help Center

Presentations

  • “Competency and Capacity Issues in Estate and Trust Matters,” D.C. Bar: Estates, Trusts and Probate Law Section (January 2019)
  • “Attacking and Defending Premarital Agreements After Death,” American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC) Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting (September 2018)
  • “Mental Capacity: Standards, Nature and Evaluation of Testing,” Maryland State Bar Association’s Estate and Trust Section, Fiduciary Litigation Conference (Spring 2018)
  • “Attacking and Defending Premarital Agreements after the Death of a Spouse,” Montgomery County Bar Association (November 2017)
  • “Grown-Ups Supporting Grown-Ups: Adults’ Obligations to Support Their Parents and Adult Children in Maryland, Virginia, and D.C.,” Estates, Trusts and Probate Law Series (Part 2 of 10): District of Columbia Bar Association (October 2015)
  • “D.C. Domestic Relations Law Custody, Visitation, Parentage, and Child Support,” District of Columbia Courts, Multi-Door Dispute Resolution Division (2011)

Recognition

  • Best Lawyers – Litigation: Trusts and Estates (Maryland, 2020)
  • Super Lawyers – Estate & Trust Litigation (Maryland and DC, 2018-2019)
  • Super Lawyers – Rising Stars – Divorce & Family Law (Maryland and DC, 2013-2016)

Blog Posts

February 4, 2019

Marital Agreements and Beneficiary Designations—Sometimes Friends and Sometimes Foes

A marital agreement can take the form of a premarital agreement, a postmarital agreement, or a separation agreement, i.e., an agreement that settles property rights (and other issues) between parties who intend to divorce. A marital agreement may provide for the disposition of assets at death; it may require one or both parties to provide for the other or a child at death after divorce; or it may waive rights at death. When the terms of a marital agreement and a beneficiary designation conflict with each other, the law will either validate or annul the designation, depending on the jurisdiction, the type of asset, and the language of the marital agreement.

The District of Columbia, Virginia, and Maryland all have laws that revoke at divorce either the entire will or the portions benefitting a… MORE >

September 10, 2015

Kids and Their Lawyers: Children’s Custody Attorneys in D.C., Maryland, and Virginia

The old saying “out of the mouth of babes” neatly packages the concept that children can say perceptive and remarkably wise things, despite their youth. Although children may have much to offer in insight, they are usually indirect, unvoiced participants in custody cases. But children can have a direct voice and be represented by their own counsel. This article describes the types of child advocacy in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

Maryland A Maryland judge may appoint counsel for a child who is the subject of a custody proceeding to serve any one of three different roles: 1) to decide whether to waive or assert a child’s legal privilege of nondisclosure (“child privilege attorney”); 2) to advocate for the child’s best interest (“best… MORE >

December 30, 2014

Death and Divorce: A Lethal Legal Combination

Death and divorce—both events are extremely difficult and stressful in and of themselves. However, when death and divorce happen at roughly the same time, the consequences can be unexpected and may seem wildly unfair. Separation and divorce can have a significant impact on estate planning issues, which require diligent attention when marital issues arise.  Otherwise, the death-­and-divorce cocktail may shake out in a very unintended way.

Prior to Divorce When a couple begins to live separate and apart (which may include a separation under the same roof), without obtaining a limited divorce or legal separation order and without signing a separation agreement, the fact of the estrangement alone generally has no legal effect on the inheritance rights or fiduciary authority of a surviving spouse.  In other… MORE >

April 30, 2012

New Year, New Opportunity to Clean Up a Marital Mess

With each new year comes another opportunity to evaluate one’s life and make changes for the better. That can be particularly true in the domestic context, where a marital mess may be lurking. This article explains how postponing or prolonging a divorce or living in an ambiguous marital status may have a long-reaching, even catastrophic, impact. There’s no time like the present to start cleaning up a marital mess.

The Perils of a Prolonged Separation and Divorce

Maryland law recently changed to shorten the separation time to get a divorce from two years to one. This intimates that time is of the essence, and it definitely is when it comes to divorce. Separating without actually divorcing is perilous. Unless the spouses have a marital… MORE >