DC Bar

At Her All-Women Firm, Jessica Markham Strikes the Right Balance

"I love family law. I like how [it] interacts with other types of law. You need to know about real estate, disability law, tax law, etc., and there’s always more to learn. I enjoy the tax pieces, the psychological aspects, and dispute resolution. I love helping people, problem solving, and being in the courtroom. You’ve got to have a lot of different skills to be successful at family law."

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Reader's Digest

Money Mistakes to Avoid During a Divorce

That said, there’s no need to bring in the “big guns,” says family lawyer, Jessica Markham. “I’ve seen it happen where people hire lawyers beyond their means and then run out of money.” Also, make sure you choose a lawyer whose goals are aligned with yours.

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DC Bar

Family Lawyer Jessica Markham: Career and Motherhood on Her Own Terms

On its website Markham Law Firm itself states what is generally known: Options abound for those looking for family law attorneys. But what sets apart the Bethesda, Maryland, firm from competitors in this crowded legal market is that all four of its attorneys are women. It also has fostered an environment that recognizes the demands of the modern-day career woman, giving its attorneys options that work best for their individual needs. One is a part-time attorney, another works hourly, and a third is full-time salaried. In 2016 three of the four attorneys were either pregnant or on maternity leave.

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Gimme that ring back! 

"...That’s because, 'the engagement ring is generally treated as a premarital gift and it’s not divided or returned,' explains family law attorney Jessica Markham, who practices in Maryland and Washington D.C. Same with the wedding ring: 'Since wedding rings are usually bought prior to the marriage they’re treated as a gift and the one who receives it, keeps it,' she adds."

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U.S. News & World Report

A Prenup Can Protect Your Investments

"Even seniors well beyond child bearing and rearing years can find a prenuptial agreement useful, says Jessica Markham, of Markham Law Firm in Bethesda, Maryland.

"Frequently older couples who are marrying and have children of a prior union choose to execute a prenuptial agreement to ensure that their assets will pass to their children, and not their new spouse, in the event of death," she says."

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10 Things No One Ever Tells You About Getting Divorced

"While you might think that divorce is a swift process, in some cases, it takes longer than you think. "Many people think that they can just 'file for divorce,' however, the first process is usually 'discovery,'" attorney Jessica Markham tells Romper by email. "All the financial accounts and expenses must be 'discovered' in order to determine a division of assets and possibly alimony. Depending on the size of the estate and the level of complexity of assets, that can be a herculean task. If there are businesses, trusts, pensions or overseas investments, it can require not only attorneys, but CPAs, financial advisors, valuation experts, actuaries and other experts that the lay person would not contemplate." 

All of that back and forth — and inclusion of so many other experts — can take a lot longer than a "simple" divorce. While not all divorces will be this complicated, it's good to have it in mind if you think yours might be more involved."

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10 Money Rules You Should Be Following Now

"If you're married, do not cede all control of your finances to your spouse," advises attorney Jessica Markham. "You should be a joint participant in your future." Both partners should be engaged in budgeting, saving and investing. Consider having a monthly or quarterly money meeting to check in on the finances together.

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Washington Lawyer Magazine

Member's Current Favorite Tech Tools

"I'm biased but my favorite technology is an iOS app I developed with my husband—called AliRecap—available on the Apple App Store. Developing an app was always on his bucket list, and we really liked working together on it. It's designed for family law attorneys to calculate and avoid potential alimony penalties by the IRS. Otherwise, my most necessary piece of technology is my breast pump. We have a love–hate relationship. It allows me to work and still provide for my baby, so I experience a little less 'mom guilt' at the office."


ABA Experience Magazine

Little-Known Ways to Save on College Tuition

“One good way to pay for college is to stretch your existing savings,” advises Jessica Markham of the Markham Law Firm in Bethesda, Maryland.  “Not everyone is aware that the savings bond education tax exclusion allows the exclusions from gross income all or part of the interest paid upon the redemption of eligible Series EE and I Bonds issued after 1989 when used to pay qualified higher education expenses.” 

"In addition, you can use retirement savings effectively,” adds Markham.  “Normally, if you withdraw money from an IRA before age 59 and a half, there’s a 10 percent early distribution penalty, plus you pay any regular income tax due.  There is, however, an exception for distributions used to pay qualified higher-education expenses.”

Be advised though, that the bond exemption mentioned above has limitations that phase out as income increases, so not everyone may be eligible for it.  In addition, the IRA penalty is waived for qualified education expenses, not the tax.  Consult your tax advisor before making any decisions about how to pay for college that may result in tax consequences.


How These Millennials Plan To Use August To Position Themselves For Success

“I take care of things in August that need my attention all year long but I'm too busy to tackle at other times,” says attorney Jessica Markham. 

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Student Loan Hero

How to Work With Your Ex to Send Your Kids to College

“Often, the parents either commit to each save $X per month or per year, per child” toward a college account, says Jessica Markham, a Maryland-based attorney specializing in family law. Alternatively, “they will commit to funding college at a certain rate,” such as agreeing to pay the cost of an in-state public college, she adds.

Divorcing parents should enter these agreements carefully, however. They want to be able to honor those commitments later without hardship. “Most parties will be wary of committing themselves far out in the future for a figure they may not be able to afford,” Markham says.

“When a couple is divorcing, they have typically taken their household income and added the extra expense of an additional household, in many cases doubling their expenses,” Markham says.

Remarriage can also add stepchildren to the dependents for whom a divorcee is helping provide. Overall, “there is less expendable income to go around,” Markham adds.

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Advisor News

‘Divorce Fee’ Can Cost Your Client Up to $1,200

“QDRO review fees do not apply to every account. IRAs and government plans do not charge review fees,” noted Jessica Markham, a divorce lawyer at Markham Law Firm in Bethesda, Md. “Only some employer-sponsored plan charge review fees.”

The best way to avoid these fees is to know about them in advance, Markham explained.

“Often, the divorcing couple is equalizing many plans and distribution can be taken from a plan that does not charge such fees,” she said. “Alternatively, some plans charge lesser or no fees if you use their model QDRO. For example, some Fidelity-managed, employee-sponsored plans charge $300 to use their online automated system in, and up to $1200 if you deviate from their system.”

Most attorneys that are preparing divorce agreement and QDROs don’t find out about these charges in advance which leads to problems later, when the financial advisor figures out his or her client is taking a potential $1,200 hit.

Markham has one way to deal with a high QDRO fee: “You can negotiate which spouse pays the fee.”

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Women's Day

15 Signs Your Marriage Is Stronger Than You Think, According to Divorce Lawyers

Health, both physical and emotional, can be a factor in whether one person in a marriage decides to call it quits. "Marriage is difficult under the best of circumstances," says Jessica Markham, attorney at law. "If one or both parties suffers from a mental health or mood disorder, including substance abuse, the normal stresses of marriage can become insurmountable. If both parties are emotionally healthy and/or treating their conditions, that's a really positive sign."

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U.S. News & World Report

6 Ways You're Wealthier Than You Realize

Jessica Markham, a divorce attorney in Bethesda, Maryland, says, "I'm in the business of finding assets and income. There are many, many types of assets and benefits and income that people often ignore."

Markham explains that employee benefits aren't often thought of as assets because many workers don't put much money toward them and, thus, rarely have reason to think about them. But if your employer is providing a benefit like disability insurance, Markham advises you to keep in mind that many self-employed people value them and end up having to purchase them on their own. If you don't have to do that, you have an asset many people covet.

"Another asset that people often ignore, is unvested pensions," Markham says. "In particular, young people are not concerned with pensions because retirement is so far away, and perhaps they have not reached the 10 year mandatory minimum for pensions to vest."

She adds that too many employees in their 20s don't value retirement benefits at all.

"They often have employers contributing to retirement funds on their behalf, and they simply change jobs and leave behind valuable 401(k)s. Because that was not their own money that they contributed, they believe it to be totally inaccessible, and so they don't think about it," she says.

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Discovery: Finding hidden assets in a divorce

When working through the discovery, family law attorney Jessica Markham of Markham Law Firmtakes her lead from the client. “If they feel they know where the assets are located and don’t want to turn over every stone, that’s fine with me,” she says. “If they aren’t sure what’s out there, then I conduct discovery with their input on how many years to back to look.”

Markham explains that discovery may be particularly appropriate for marriages with a culture of secrecy and mistrust, an attitude of “mine versus yours,” or a business with “not-so-neat” books. “In those cases,” says Markham, “full discovery often yields significant results.”

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What you need to know about divorce and taxes

"There can be substantial cost associated with filing "married filing separate" so this is usually to be avoided. For this reason I usually advise most of my clients to try to finalize their divorce before the end of the year..."

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ABA Experience Magazine

Productivity Apps for Lawyers in Any Type of Practice

"I started a new law practice a year ago," states Jessica Markham of the Markham Law Firm in Bethesda, MD. "I'm now managing not only my own work but that of four employees. Managing workflow and keeping on top of what everyone was doing was logistically difficult, even with weekly meetings and constant checkins. "My husband works in the IT field and introduced me to this app," adds Markham. "My entire office uses it to organize workflow, and it has changed how we operate. The app is accessible by desktop or phone, and all work is organized by case name. People can follow tasks that are relevant to them, leave comments to other attorneys, update, leave questions, and report progress. It's practice-changing. And it's free."

Custody X Change

5 Tips for Parents for When Divorce is Inevitable

Jessica Markham of the Markham Law Firm in Bethesda, MD suggests, “…to try to always remember that you’re on the same team. This means to promote consistency and solidarity and put up a united front to your children, even when it’s tough for you. Do everything you can to avoid being adversarial.”

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How to survive "financial infidelity"

Jessica Markham, a family-law attorney in the Washington, D.C., area, says that it is becoming more common for couples to negotiate a “post-nuptial agreement,” wherein each party outlines financial responsibilities, obligations, and agreements. “This type of written agreement can ensure that both parties are open and honest and can avoid future disputes,” says Markham. “If there has been a serious violation of trust, this type of agreement can also reaffirm each party’s intention to remain in the marriage and to disclose fully all of their financial activities in the future, a sort of ‘in-nuptial’ agreement.”

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