MHW News

May 16: MHW presents “Breaking [Up] Bad: Custody Roles, Rules and Trends” for mental health professionals

This program, on May 16, 2021, from 9 am to 12:15 pm, is sponsored by the Association of Practicing Psychologists, Montgomery-Prince George’s Counties, Inc. For registration information, go to APPonline.org.

Child custody and visitation case law, rules and procedures in Maryland courts have seen some dramatic changes in recent years, and continue to evolve. Mental health care providers offer critical services ‒ both directly and indirectly ‒ in facilitating resolution of custody and visitation-related matters.

A new court rule, which went into effect on January 1, 2020, requires parents engaged in custody and visitation disputes to attempt to draft a comprehensive joint parenting plan. What is the process for developing the parenting plan? What must be covered under the plan? The new rule lists 16 factors parties may consider in developing the plan. Which of these factors might require or benefit from input by clinicians serving the parties and/or the child? What happens if the parties do not reach agreement?

Maryland courts have ordered parties to mediate custody and visitation-related matters for many years. When will the court appoint a mediator? How much mediation can the court order? What if the parties want more? Is mediation always confidential? What, if any, exceptions are there? Can a mediator be called to testify in court? What is the role of the mediator? Who is eligible to be a court-appointed mediator? Are there any special eligibility requirements for custody mediators? Can parties pick their own mediator?

Parents can also engage with a parent coordinator. What’s the difference between a parent coordinator and a mediator? When can the court appoint a parent coordinator? Is parent coordination confidential? What, if any, exceptions are there? What is the role of the parent coordinator? The Maryland parent coordinator rule lists 9 services a parent coordinator can provide. Which of these services might benefit from having a parent coordinator who is also a mental health care provider? Which of these services would you be reluctant to provide? What, if any, services are prohibited? Can a parent coordinator be called to testify in court? Who is eligible to be a court-appointed parent coordinator? Can parties pick their own parent coordinator?

Mental health care providers are appointed to conduct any of various assessments ‒ custody evaluations, home studies, mental health evaluations and “specific issue evaluations” ‒ under Maryland’s court rules. Who is qualified to perform each of these assessments? How do these qualifications compare to those for a mediator or parent coordinator? What are the mandatory and optional elements of a custody evaluation? How and when does a custody evaluator report? Who gets to see the assessor’s report? Can a custody evaluator or assessor be deposed or compelled to produce documents? Does a custody evaluator or assessor have to testify in court?

In July 2016, Maryland’s highest court recognized the rights of a ‘de facto’ parent (also called a psychological parent) to sue for custody and visitation. What are the four criteria which must be met to establish ‘de facto’ parent status? Which of these criteria might require or benefit from observations or input by mental health care practitioners serving the parties and/or the child? How many parents and ‘de facto’ parents can a child have? Can they all sue for custody and visitation?

Don’t miss this informative program! Register here: APPonline.org.

Neal J. Meiselman and Vincent M. Wills to Conduct a Seminar on October 26, 2018 for the Montgomery County, Maryland Bar Association Family Law Section

Neal J. Meiselman and Vincent M. Wills will conduct a Seminar entitled, “Determining Income for a Self-Employed Parent When Calculating Child Support” on Friday, October 26, 2018 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at The Universities at Shady Grove, Building III, Room 4230, 9636 Gudelsky Drive, Rockville, MD. The program is sponsored by the Family Law Section of the Montgomery County, Maryland Bar Association.

The Seminar will focus on how to determine a parent’s income for purposes of child support when the parent is self-employed, a partner in a partnership, or a member of an S Corporation. The program will cover the law pertaining to calculating child support in cases where the combined income of the parents exceeds $180,000 per year. The program will focus on the relevant tax forms that are used to obtain information about a self-employed parent’s income.

Neal J. Meiselman is the founding Partner at Meiselman Helfant & Wills, LLC and has been a practicing attorney for almost forty years. Vincent M. Wills joined Meiselman Helfant & Wills, LLC as a Partner in August 2018. He has been a practicing attorney for over twenty-seven years.

Welcome Vince Wills!

Meiselman Helfant & Wills, LLC (formerly Meiselman & Helfant, LLC) is pleased to announce that Vincent M. Wills, Esquire has joined the firm as a partner.

The three partners at Meiselman Helfant & Wills together provide almost 85 years of experience representing families. The firm will continue to provide representation to clients in all aspects of family law including custody, child support, divorce, spousal support, distribution of marital property, transfers of retirement interests, and appellate litigation. The firm also provides mediation services to parties and attorneys in all family law matters.

Mr. Wills joins Meiselman Helfant & Wills after 22 years with Dragga, Hannon & Wills, LLP. Beginning in 1991, Mr. Wills practiced in Baltimore, Maryland for 5 years focusing in the areas of general civil litigation and family law. Since 1996, his practice has been concentrated in family law and particularly on complex litigation involving high net worth clients and issues including alimony, valuation of privately held businesses, and appellate matters.

Vince is a member of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and former chair of the Family and Juvenile Law Section of the Maryland State Bar Association. In 2017, he was named as the Family Law Practitioner of the Year by the Family Law Section of the Montgomery County Bar Association. He is a frequent lecturer for the State Bar Association and Montgomery County Bar Association. In February of 2018, he developed and presented a program about determining child support in high income cases to Judges and Magistrates at the Judicial College of Maryland. He has also co-authored numerous articles and training materials on family law. Before becoming a lawyer, Vince served on active duty in the United States Air Force, achieving the rank of Captain. He has been married for 36 years and has two adult children.

Neal J. Meiselman, Esquire is a well known and respected family law lawyer and mediator who has been practicing law in Maryland since 1978. His practice has also been focused on all aspects of family law, including mediation, complex litigation, and appellate matters. Nogah B. Helfant, Esquire has concentrated her practice in the area of family law in Maryland since 2000. Ms. Helfant has extensive litigation, mediation, and negotiation experience in contested divorce cases, protective orders, high conflict custody cases, modification, and post-divorce enforcement proceedings.