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  • June 17, 2019

A Spouse May Be Barred from Receiving Statutory Share from a Deceased Spouse’s Estate by the Doctrine of Unclean Hands

On May 29, 2019, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland issued an opinion in In the Matter of Robert H. Watkins, Jr. in which the Court denied to a widow a spousal share of the Estate under the common law doctrine of “unclean hands” because the marriage was procured by undue influence.  This was a case of first impression in Maryland. Robert F. Watkins, Jr., was a real estate and racehorse owner in Maryland.  Mr. Watkins was raised by an affluent family in Maryland and he was married three times.  It was during his second marriage to Jasmine Watkins that he…

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  • November 5, 2018

New Maryland Law Extends Grounds for Divorce Without Separation

Maryland’s family law has been steadily expanding the ability for consenting couples to obtain a divorce with a minimum of expense and litigation.  A Maryland couple with children had to be separated for at least one year before an action for divorce could be filed, even if both husband and wife had agreed to the divorce and its terms. The Maryland legislature has now created a new grounds for divorce by agreement, without separation, even if children are involved.  The new statute (SB120), effective October 1, 2018, provides that divorcing parties with minor children can get divorced with no required…

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  • May 10, 2018

Competing Life Insurance Claims Between the Spouses in a First and Second Marriage

Family law can not only put a husband and wife in adversarial litigation; but also create competing claims between the spouses in a first and second marriage.  Consider the following situation faced by the Ferguson, Schetelich & Ballew Family Law Practice group. A divorced husband was obligated by the Court’s judgment to provide life insurance for the benefit of his divorced wife.  Over time, the husband remarried. The new couple made reciprocal Wills benefiting one another, and each changed their life insurance beneficiary to name the other.  When the husband unexpectedly died, both the first and second spouse make claim…

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