Irene Chen

Practice Areas

Family Law, Estate Planning and Personal Injury

 

We are experienced in matrimonial and family law matters, handling contested divorces as well as uncontested cases involving separation agreements, pre/post marital agreements, and child support matters.  We assist clients in their estate planning matters such as preparing wills, trusts, financial powers of attorney and advance medical directives. We also represent clients in personal injury cases where they have been injured through no fault of their own.

 
 

 
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Matrimonial and Family Law Disputes

We represent clients in the following areas of family and divorce law:

  • Divorce Agreements

  • Contested Divorce Cases

  • Child Support

  • Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

 

Divorce

Before the court can enter a Judgment of Absolute Divorce, which terminates the marital relationship, one of the parties has to have a viable ground for absolute divorce and all issues arising out of the parties’ marriage have to be resolved, either by agreement of the parties or by court order.

 

  • Maryland Law

In the State of Maryland, the no-fault ground for divorce is:

  • 1-year separation

  • Mutual Consent (A newly-added ground for divorce in Maryland. It is more convenient for parties do not have minor children together.)

The fault grounds for divorce are:

  • Adultery

  • Desertion, if desertion has continued for 12 continuous months

  • Conviction of a felony or misdemeanor where the party has been sentenced to serve at least 3 years and has served 12 months of the sentence

  • Insanity if the spouse has been institutionalized for at least 3 years and the insanity is incurable

  • Cruelty of treatment

  • Excessively vicious conduct

 

Maryland law also recognizes a “limited divorce” when the parties do not have grounds for an absolute divorce. A limited divorce allows the court to address emergency issues such as child support and spousal support when the parties may not have grounds for absolute divorce or may not wish to terminate their marriage. In a limited divorce, the parties remain married and the court cannot determine a division of the marital property. 

 

Custody and Visitation

Custody determinations made by the court are based on what the court determines is in the best interest of the minor children after taking into consideration a number of factors including, without limitation, age and number of children, the willingness of the parents to share custody, the relationship established between the child and each parent, the geographic proximity of the parental homes, the demands of parental employment, the ability of the parents to communicate and reach shared decisions, and other factors.

Custody of minor children involves both physical custody and legal custody. Physical custody means where the minor children reside and when they spend time with each parent.  This can include primary custody to one parent with an access schedule by the other parent, or joint physical custody.  This involves a range of schedules, from 5 out of 14 overnights (or 128 overnights per year) to 50/50 (or 128.5 overnights per year) to 9 out of 14 overnights (or 237 overnights per year).

Legal custody involves parents making major decisions regarding the children’s education, religion, medical treatment, and general health and welfare. Joint legal custody means that both parents have equal say in major decision making. One parent may be awarded sole legal custody which allows that parent to make major decisions without the agreement of the other parent. 

 

Child Support

In Maryland, child support is, in most cases, calculated based guidelines that will determine the amount of child support to be paid. The guidelines considers the parents’ income, their childcare expenses, cost of health insurance, the visitation/time sharing schedule and in some instances, medical expenses.

 

Alimony

In a contested case, the court must decide whether to award alimony and the amount and duration of an alimony award, after considering a number of factors, including:

  • age and health of the parties

  • marital standard of living

  • each spouse’s earning capacity

  • financial circumstances and resources of the parties

  • length of the marriage

  • circumstances leading to the parties’ estrangement

  • contributions, both monetary and non-monetary each spouse made to the well-being of the family

  • time necessary for the recipient to gain sufficient education or training to enable that spouse to find suitable employment

  • ability of the party from whom alimony is sought to meet his or her own financial needs while meeting the needs of the party seeking alimony.


Alimony awarded by a court is modifiable, which means it can be changed in certain circumstances such as a material financial change, both in amount and duration.

 

PRENUPTIAL & POSTNUPTIAL AGREEMENTS

When you have children together or from a prior relationship, or have assets or financial obligations that you acquired prior to the marriage, a prenuptial agreement can be a simple way to define each person's rights and obligations to the other, prior to your marriage.

Similar to a prenuptial agreement, spouses are also free to enter into postnuptial and reconciliation agreements. A postnuptial agreement is nothing more than a prenuptial agreement that is executed after the marriage. A reconciliation agreement is an agreement that provides an amicable plan for separation and/or divorce if attempts to repair a marriage are unsuccessful. Both postnuptial and reconciliation agreements address the same types of issues as prenuptial agreements, as discussed above. 

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Estate Planning

To protect your assets and loved ones, it is never too early to begin considering estate planning. A person need to take tax, probate, property law implications into considerations for estate planning. The rules surrounding estate planning are complex and constantly changing. 

We combine professional legal knowledge, tax expertise, business experience, and common sense to help protect and preserve our client's assets and wealth for future generations. 

We will assist you in the below areas of estate planning: 

  • Map out your assets

  • Develop a plan for distributing your assets

  • Prepare Powers of Attorney

  • Prepare Advance Medical Directives

  • Draft and update your will

  • Resolve asset disputes

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Personal Injure

Whether you have been seriously injured in an accident due to others’ negligence or facing overwhelming medical bills, we are committed to fighting on your behalf.  We handle cases for clients injured in an auto accident, a slip and fall, bitten by a dog, struck by an auto as a pedestrian or otherwise the victim of the negligence of others. We advocate for clients in courts throughout Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. At the Chen Law Group, your case is handled by an experienced lawyer. We do not turn your case over to a legal assistant or paralegal to give you the advice you need to successfully pursue your claim. Irene Chen, Esq., has been practicing for 18 years and has handled a wide variety of litigation matters through Maryland, Virginia and District of Columbia. In addition, we associate with Kenneth Braunstein, Esq., also a lawyer admitted in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia, who has been representing victims of negligence for over 40 years and is experienced with trying cases in all area jurisdictions. He has served on the board of the DC Trial Lawyers for many years and will give your case the benefit of his personal attention.

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