By: Danny Jacobs
I don’t know much about family law, but I do know a good double entendre when I hear one. And there were plenty heard Friday during the Family and Juvenile Law Section’s program at the Maryland State Bar Association’s Annual Meeting in Ocean City.
The theme for the session was exploring custody issues through parodies of the “Real Housewives” reality TV series. Only these episodes took place in Hagerstown, Dundalk and Salisbury, the latter of which featured the man pictured wearing a chicken on his head (naturally).
Each sketch featured some not-for-courtroom words, caricatures, some risque dialogue and, particularly in the case of the Dundalk sketch, some great accents.
(I filmed the two Hagerstown sketches as well as the Dundalk scene. Apologies for the video and audio quality, but I hope you can get the gist.)
The sketches were followed by a brief discussion by “erudite panel members” (really, that’s what it says in the program) on issues raised in the sketches. Here’s what I gleaned from the panel:
If a custody case involves the possibility of a child moving, the lawyer should remember the child “is going to lose one of their parents,” said Keith N. Schiszik of Day & Schiszik in Frederick. “You have to look very-fact specific as to how the kid is going to be hurt or not.”
When it comes to comity and where cases should be tried, the “good manners rule” should be followed, said Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Cynthia Callahan.
“If they did it right in [another] state, we’re not going to run them over,” she said.
Judges do pick up the phone and talk about who should hear the case, according to Court of Special Appeals Judge Patrick L. Woodward.
“Most judges are practical. [They think,]‘One less case in my court is better,’” he said.
When working on custody agreements, Schiszik has made it practice to include a clause seeking the status quo in the child’s school, medical providers and religious activities unless both parties agree to a change.
The panel, plus the lawyers in attendance, all agreed the longer a lawyer waits to seek an emergency hearing, the less of an “emergency” it appears to be to the judge.