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Notes from the Desk of Cynthia Lifson: Pie

As the year comes to a close and the holiday season gets into full swing, I find myself thinking of all of the many tasks that I need to accomplish before the end of this month. I also find that I am very distracted by all of the many sweets that surround me during this time. If you are like me, managing the appropriate consumption of all of these desserts is hard to do! In particular, I find pie to be very challenging. I simply adore all pies: apple, coconut, chocolate cream, pumpkin, and pecan. Can I have all the pies or must I choose among all these fantastic offerings? Well, of course, for me, it simply isn’t all about the actual pies. As I assist my clients, I am always thinking about “dividing the pie” or “growing the pie” or which “part of the pie.” And as I have learned over the years, as a general matter, we really can’t have all the pies we want – we must make choices. It is so important to think carefully to ascertain what is important for myself and to listen carefully to each of my clients when making choices. Some folks simply want more of the pie than the opposing party; some want the crust while others want the filling; and others may truly prefer cake instead of pie. There is no right or wrong here – just preferences and the limitations imposed by the law and by our general circumstances. I hope that you all find your special piece of the pie this season, enjoy it completely, and get...

Notes from Annapolis: The Commission on Child Custody Decision Making

For those of us who follow changes in Maryland’s family law, December 2014 is an important month. On December 1, the Commission on Child Custody Decision Making released its final report to the General Assembly. As suggested by its name, the Commission took a comprehensive look at the topic of child custody in our state. Born of repetitive introduction of clashing bills on the topic of child custody, the Commission came into being following the passage of legislation by the General Assembly, effective in July 2013. The members of the Commission included individuals who have expertise or particular interest in this topic, and the members of the Commission represented a variety of perspectives and constituencies. To accomplish its mission, the Commission divided into six distinct committees, met over 90 times, and identified issues raised at five public hearings. The December 1 report marks the fulfillment of the Commission’s responsibility to study the child custody decision-making process and to report its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly. The Commission’s entire report of over 300 pages can be found on-line. While all of the findings and recommendations contained in the Commission’s report are too numerous to be listed here, the influence of the report prepared by this Commission may be significant. Previous reports by Commissions on domestic relations law–particularly with respect to alimony and marital property– have set the stage for major statutory initiatives in family law. An initiative on the topic of child custody in Annapolis in the coming year is likely. Included in the Commission’s report is a proposed draft custody statute. The proposed draft custody statute neatly...

Notes from Annapolis: A New Day in the New Year

As we all know, in the month of November, Marylanders went to the polls and elected a new governor, new members of the General Assembly, new local government officials, and a new Congressional delegation. While the faces representing Marylanders in the federal system have remained the same, in January 2015 there will be significant changes in the composition of the officials in state government. While Democrats still dominate the Maryland General Assembly, the Republican Party has made major gains. Aside from the victory of Governor-elect Larry Hogan, there is a huge turn-over in the membership of the House of Delegates and the Senate with more Republicans who have been elected to the General Assembly than in previous years. At present, the Democratic leadership team in the General Assembly (under the aegis of Senate President Mike Miller and House Speaker Mike Busch) is organizing to fill slots in the various committees of the General Assembly. As of the date of this edition of the Lifson Law E-Newsletter, the first round of chairs of certain standing Senate Committees was announced. The new chairs for the 2015 session of the Maryland General Assembly include the following people: Sen. Bobby Zirkin, Baltimore County, Judicial Proceedings; Sen. Jamie Raskin, Montgomery County, Executive Nominations and Joint Committee on Legislative Ethics; Sen. Edward Kasemeyer, Howard and Baltimore Counties, Budget and Taxation; Sen. Joan Carter Conway, Baltimore City, Education, Health and Environmental Affairs; and Sen. Katherine Klausmeier, Baltimore County, Rules. So far, only Del. Maggie L. McIntosh of Baltimore City has been officially chosen to be the chair of the House Appropriations Committee. In addition to the...