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Mark Oakley

Mark Oakley

  • Criminal Law, DUI & DWI, Family Law ...
  • District of Columbia, Maryland
Claimed Lawyer ProfileQ&A

Mark W. Oakley is an established litigation attorney concentrating on civil litigation, personal injury, construction law, and criminal and traffic defense. He also advises business clients, negotiates and drafts contracts, and handles a variety of litigation matters at all levels of the state and federal court systems. Mr. Oakley is trained and certified in the collaborative practice of law. Mr. Oakley is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law (J.D. 1987), and the University of Maryland, College Park (B.A. 1984). He is a member of the Maryland State Bar Association, the District of Columbia Bar, and the Bar Association of Montgomery County. He is admitted to practice before the Court of Appeals of Maryland, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Authored the winning brief in the case of 1986 Mercedes v. State of Maryland, a precedent-setting decision limiting the State’s power to forfeit private property.

Practice Areas
    Criminal Law
    Criminal Appeals, Drug Crimes, Expungement, Fraud, Gun Crimes, Internet Crimes, Sex Crimes, Theft, Violent Crimes
    DUI & DWI
    Family Law
    Adoption, Child Custody, Child Support, Father's Rights, Guardianship & Conservatorship, Paternity, Prenups & Marital Agreements, Restraining Orders, Same Sex Family Law
    Personal Injury
    Animal & Dog Bites, Brain Injury, Car Accidents, Construction Accidents, Motorcycle Accidents, Premises Liability, Truck Accidents, Wrongful Death
    Construction Law
    Construction Contracts, Construction Defects, Construction Liens, Construction Litigation
    Estate Planning
    Guardianship & Conservatorship, Health Care Directives, Trusts, Wills
    Business Law
    Business Contracts, Business Dissolution, Business Finance, Business Formation, Business Litigation, Franchising, Mergers & Acquisitions, Partnership & Shareholder Disputes
  • Free Consultation
  • Credit Cards Accepted
    Visa, MasterCard, Discover
  • Contingent Fees
    I handle personal injury claims on a contingent fee basis, meaning if there is no recovery, you do not owe me a legal fee.
Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice
District of Columbia
District of Columbia Bar
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University of Maryland - Baltimore
J.D. (1987) | Law
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University of Maryland - College Park
B.A. (1984) | English
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Professional Associations
District of Columbia Bar
- Current
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Maryland State Bar Association
- Current
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Bar Association of Montgomery County
- Current
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Websites & Blogs
Legal Answers
923 Questions Answered

Q. What is the necessary legal phrase or sentence to ensure that a handwritten will is acceptable/legal in Maryland?
A: A simple will is the cheapest most reasonable flat fee most lawyers charge, so please go to a lawyer for this basic necessity and insure that not only the will itself meets the necessary requirements to be legally valid, but also that the will actually distributes your assets how you would want. Unintended results are common with inexperienced will drafters, and you cannot fix the will once you're dead or become mentally incapable of doing so. There's more to a will than the correct signature and witness language. All that being said, the signature requirements are set forth in MD Code, Estates and Trusts, § 4-102: (a) Except as provided in §§ 4-103 and 4-104 of this subtitle, every will shall be: (1) In writing; (2) Signed by the testator, or by some other person for the testator, in the testator's presence and by the testator's express direction; and (3) Attested and signed by two or more credible witnesses in the presence of the testator. (b) For purposes of this section, a witness is not in the presence of the testator if the witness is in a different physical location than the testator regardless of whether the testator can observe the witness through electronic audio-video or other technological means. MD Code, Estates and Trusts, § 4-102 further requires that the person making the will be at least 18 years of age and is competent to do so. Most lawyers draft witness attestation clauses that recite and affirm all of the legal requirements set forth in the two foregoing statutes. However, simply getting the attestation clause and signing requirements correct is not all there is to drafting an effective will that carries out not only all of your intentions, but covers all those scenarios you do not intend but may occur in the future based on the many unknowns (e.g., persons predeceasing you that you name to receive all or part of your will, the mis-application, use and/or effect of the absence of such phrases as "per capita" and "per stirpes" in the disposition of your residuary estate). You also should have a discussion with the lawyer as to the effect of named beneficiaries on financial accounts, jointly titled assets, etc., which remove those assets from the estate and are not controlled by your will. You are urged to meet with a lawyer before making a will that is either not legally enforceable or that results in an estate distribution that is not what you intend or want.
Q. Can I put my husband on my son's birth certificate if he isn't the father and the birth father refuses to be in his life
A: Putting your husband on the birth certificate would be a lie. Ideally, if your husband is willing, he should adopt your son, and the birth father can consent to the adoption and relinquish his parental rights. Your husband then becomes the legal parent of your son, and takes on all the same legal obligations as if he were the birth father. Through adoption, the birth father will get what he wants: complete release of all legal liability for his son. You should have a conversation with your husband about whether he is prepared to take on the legal obligations of fatherhood for the next 18 years at least, which includes paying child support in the event you separate or divorce. Your husband would also gain equal status to you as the parent of your son, so in any future dispute over custody or visitation, he would have the same rights as you to seek full custody. On the other hand, adoption will remove any future risk that the birth father comes back into your son's life to exercise legal access and visitation. A step-parent adoption is a fairly straightforward proceeding once you decide to go forward with it, but the decision should not be made lightly.
Q. How can I obtain custody of kids that’s 3rd party that’s been with me for going on 5 years?
A: Yours is not a simple legal issue, because you are not a natural legal guardian of the children. However, Maryland recognizes "de facto" parents, which means, the persons whom the children have grown accustomed to acting as their parents when their biological parents have been absent for an extended period of time. In these circumstances, courts will grant custody to the non-biological de facto parent(s) so as not to disrupt the lives of the children, where their best interests are concerned. However, there is a very strong presumption and preference in the law in favor of biological parents having custody of their children, so if a biological parent should appear in the future, they will be given at least immediate visitation and access, and eventually custody in the absence of clear evidence of unfitness (e.g., they would be a danger to the health and safety of the children due to substance abuse, mental illness, etc.). In order to obtain a court order granting you custody, you will need the consent of the parents, or at least serve the parents with your petition so they have the opportunity to object if they choose. If you can obtain the consent of the parents, then the proceeding will be much smoother. Legal custody will be necessary to procure medical care for the children, enroll them in school, etc., so it is in the children's best interests that somebody appropriate have this legal authority. It sounds as though you have become the de facto parent to these children, so you should pursue this if you are also prepared to take on the legal responsibilities for these children that legal custody imposes.
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Contact & Map
1803 Research Blvd., Suite 401
Rockville, MD 20850
Telephone: (301) 424-8081