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Effective August 1, 2022, the Law Office of Marla Zide has merged with the Law Office of Kelley Spigel. Click here to learn more about ZSTS!

When do Maryland authorities have grounds to search your car?

Having a Maryland law enforcement officer pull you over may cause you anxiety, even if you do not feel as if you did anything wrong. You may feel even more ill-at-ease if the officer who pulls you over asks to take a look around your vehicle during the traffic stop. However, knowing what rights you have in this scenario may go a long way in terms of calming your concerns.

Whether an officer who stops your car may look around it depends on whether that officer has one of three things: your permission, a warrant or probable cause.

What might count as probable cause:

While a search warrant is necessary if a law enforcement official wants to search your house and you do not consent to the search, the bar is a bit lower in a traffic stop. In this situation, an officer wanting to conduct a vehicle search has to articulate facts or have proof or evidence that a crime is being committed, as opposed to just a hunch. For instance, seeing something illegal in the car, or smelling something illegal coming out of it, may give the officer valid legal grounds to move ahead with the search.

What to do when there is no probable cause:

If you do not want the officer to look through your car and he or she lacks a warrant or probable cause, inform him or her that you do not consent to the vehicle search.  Typically, the police only ask you for permission if they do not have probable cause.

If you choose to exercise your right to refuse an officer’s search request, be courteous and polite when you do so to avoid potential further trouble.

My ex is a narcissist: how do we co-parent?

If your ex is a narcissist, then you are well aware that they love to push your buttons and be the center of attention. While this is difficult enough to deal with in a partner, it can seem nearly impossible to manage this as a divorced or estranged co-parent.

Thankfully, there are resources available to you to help you manage this situation if you hold joint custody with your narcissistic former partner. Our office is experienced in handling these matters and can offer many suggestions to best manage a difficult co-parent.  Being aware of issues that may come up and knowing what tools are available is important prior to the creation of the parenting plan.

There are tools available to assist with difficult co-parents.  One option that you may want to consider is parent coordination.  In Maryland, parents can agree to enter a process call parent coordination.  Parent coordinators are experienced practitioners (either a social worker or attorney) who can help navigate challenging co-parenting situations.  Our office offers parenting coordination services.  While we would not be able to be both your attorney and parent coordinator, we have good insight into the process ourselves.  Additionally, our experienced litigators have worked with parent coordinators throughout the State of Maryland.

In Maryland, there are two types of custody, both physical and legal custody.  While there are many challenges with co-parenting, co-parenting with an estranged spouse or former partner that has a personality disorder creates additional obstacles.  Our office can work with you to discuss the characteristics of your partner and brainstorm options to move forward, whether you are at the beginning stage of separation, engaged in litigation or considering pursuing a modification of a current plan.

In some cases involving high conflict driven by a difficult co-parent, the courts will appoint a best interest attorney to represent your child. They will become familiar with your child, your situation and will make recommendations to the courts based on what your child needs.  This is a court-appointed position, and their job is to look out for the best interests of your child.

Parenting with a narcissist, or parent with any other personality disorder is challenging. They thrive on boundary-pushing and attention, and often engage in manipulation that can make conflict frustrating and difficult. However, with the guidance of an experienced attorney, you can keep this at bay.

What will you do with the family business in your divorce?

If you and your spouse are facing divorce, the family business will become a focal point during property division.

When the business or the business interest was acquired may effect whether it is designated a marital or non-marital property.  It is important to understand the implications of the definition of marital property and options for distributing it. Getting information about different options is always important.  Some options to consider are as follows:

Put the business on the market

In some ways, this may be the easiest solution since it would represent a complete break in your marital affairs. However, putting the business up for sale would depend on economic conditions at the time. A buyer may not appear for quite a while, and the two of you might have to work together longer than you anticipated. Keep in mind that if you decide to sell the business outright, you will need to hire an appraiser to perform a valuation in order to determine the appropriate price.

Perform a buyout

If you operate the business day in and day out and are more emotionally involved than your spouse, you may want to perform a buyout. This is a common solution whereby you purchase your co-owner’s interest. Once again, you will need a valuation to arrive at the proper price. If your spouse agrees to a buyout, you can pay in full or concede an asset similar in value in order to equalize asset division.

Remain as co-owners

If you and your spouse expect an amicable divorce, the third possible option is to keep the family business and continue as co-owners. You would save the expense of a valuation and you would each retain your interest in the company. Going forward as co-owners in spite of the divorce is not for everyone, but if it works for the two of you, this may be the best solution of all.

Often working with an expert in the field of business valuations is helpful.  Our firm is experienced working with experts to assist our clients in being fully informed regarding all options.