Burak v. Burak, No. 2744, Sept. Term, 2014

CourtCourt of Special Appeals of Maryland
Writing for the CourtNazarian, J.
Citation150 A.3d 360,231 Md.App. 242
Parties Natasha BURAK v. Mark BURAK, et al.
Docket NumberNo. 2744, Sept. Term, 2014
Decision Date07 December 2016

231 Md.App. 242
150 A.3d 360

Natasha BURAK
v.
Mark BURAK, et al.

No. 2744, Sept. Term, 2014

Court of Special Appeals of Maryland.

December 7, 2016


Scott A. Conwell of Crofton, MD, for Appellant.

Steven J. Gaba of Rockville, MD, for Appellee.

Nazarian, Arthur, Friedman, JJ.

Nazarian, J.

231 Md.App. 247

After a five-day custody merits hearing, the Circuit Court for Montgomery County granted physical and legal custody of the sole minor child ("Child") of Natasha Burak ("Wife") and Mark Burak ("Husband") to Husband's parents (individually,

231 Md.App. 248

"Grandfather" and "Grandmother," and, collectively, the "Grandparents"). After a merits hearing relating to property distribution, the circuit court determined that money the Grandparents had contributed toward the purchase of Wife and Husband's marital home was a gift conditioned

150 A.3d 364

on Husband and Wife's continued marriage and use of the home, for the sole benefit of the Child, and because the divorce violated that condition, the Grandparents were entitled to recover those funds. After a child support hearing, the court ordered Husband and Wife to pay child support to the Grandparents. Wife challenges all of these decisions; Husband does not, and apparently has decided to align his interests with his parents'. We dismiss one of Wife's challenges for failure to provide a transcript, reverse the judgment in favor of the Grandparents as to the marital home proceeds, and otherwise affirm.

I. BACKGROUND

Husband and Wife were married on October 7, 2006, and Child was born on June 24, 2008. Husband testified at the custody hearing that one week before the wedding, Wife told him that she had been diagnosed with multiple personality disorder.1 On June 20, 2011, Husband and Wife, using $131,000 from the Grandparents as a down payment, purchased a $355,000 home in Silver Spring.

During the marriage, Husband and Wife were involved in a polyamorous relationship with a woman we'll call M.2 Husband and Wife met M in late 2008 when they all lived in the same apartment building. Husband testified that about two weeks

231 Md.App. 249

after meeting M, he and Wife talked to her about beginning a sexual relationship with her. M testified that as part of this discussion, Wife told her that she had dissociative identity disorder or multiple personality disorder. Wife, however, testified that the sexual relationship with M started "[b]y [Husband] introducing it." Husband, Wife, and M met "[a] couple ... to a handful [of] times a month" until M moved into the family home in 2012.

From September 2012 through February 2013, Husband, Wife, and M participated in counseling because Husband wanted M to stay in the house while Wife wanted M to leave. The sexual relationship between M and Wife had ended in December 2012. Wife testified at the custody hearing that she felt coerced by Husband, but offered no other evidence that Husband was coercing or influencing her to have a relationship with M. Husband and M testified that Husband never forced Wife to have a sexual relationship with M.

During their marriage, Husband and Wife smoked marijuana and used several other drugs together and with M. They scheduled their drug use to allow Husband and Wife to coordinate care for the Child by the Grandparents at the Grandparents' home. These sessions occurred "[a]nywhere from every other weekend to once a month, to sometimes it would be a few months." Wife testified that she only used drugs at Husband's insistence, but offered no other evidence that Husband "coerced" or "influenced" her. Wife kept a calendar that indicated when she was "tripping." Both Husband and M testified that Wife was never forced to use drugs, and Husband testified that it was Wife's idea that they use cocaine.

150 A.3d 365

A. The Grandparents

The Grandparents are both retired and live in a home with a room for Child. The Grandparents have been "heavily involved" in Child's life—Child spent many weekends and a significant amount of weekday time with the Grandparents, including when his parents were using drugs. As an infant,

231 Md.App. 250

Child spent three days each week and occasional weekends at the Grandparents' home. When he was older, Child spent two to four days or nights per week at the Grandparents' home. Husband also testified that Wife asked that Child go to the Grandparents' when she would otherwise be left alone with him and that this "became more routine" during their marriage.

In addition, the Grandparents frequently took Child to the doctor and the dentist so that Husband and Wife would not have to take time off from work, and they arranged for Child to attend school programs and recreational activities. The Grandparents took Child to church on Sundays when he was with them. According to Wife's testimony, the Grandparents "[ha]ve tried to act as parents" to Child.

B. Husband And Wife's Separation

Husband and Wife's relationship became strained in 2012 as a result of frequent fights that included profane name-calling and screaming at each other. Both Husband and Wife testified about incidents leading to their separation. Wife testified that Husband became physically violent and threatened to kill her during a trip to King's Dominion with M. Husband countered that he hit Wife because she intentionally slammed his arm with the car door and that he did not ever threaten to kill her in front of Child.

On May 30, 2013, after these incidents, Husband and Wife separated and Wife sought and received a protective order against Husband. While the restraining order was in effect, Wife voluntarily arranged visitation with the Grandparents so that Husband could see Child on a weekly basis under the Grandparents' supervision.

After the separation, Wife stayed in the marital home with Child, and they lived with two different men shortly after the separation. From early July 2014 until at least the time of the custody hearing (which began on September 15, 2014), Wife and Child lived with Wife's daughter, Wife's daughter's adoptive mother, father, and older sister (the "Ks"), four dogs, and

231 Md.App. 251

twenty guinea pigs. The Ks did not contribute toward the mortgage or household expenses during the time that they lived in the marital home.

On July 11, 2013, Wife filed a Complaint for Absolute Divorce that sought sole physical and legal custody of Child, child support, and other relief.3 Husband filed a counter-complaint on August 27, 2013 that requested, among other things, an absolute divorce, custody of Child, and child support. They reached a pendente lite settlement that provided, among other things, that Wife would have physical custody of Child, Husband would have visitation with Child under the supervision of the Grandparents and continue paying monthly child support to Wife in the amount of $500, and both Husband and Wife would be subject to random drug testing. Husband paid child support on time until August 2014.

C. The Grandparents' Motion For Permissive Intervention

On April 24, 2014, the Grandparents filed a Motion for Permissive Intervention

150 A.3d 366

relating to Child's legal and residential custody and a Complaint for Custody. On May 21, 2014, Wife filed a Motion to Strike both. The trial court granted the Grandparents' Motion for Permissive Intervention on July 14, 2014.

D. Child's Crisis Center Referral

Around May 2014, Child began exhibiting behavior issues at school. He became upset, refused to leave the classroom, and pushed desks. Child's behavioral issues continued during summer camp, around the same time that the Ks moved into the marital home with Wife and Child.

During the early part of the 2014 school year, Child became frustrated and angry and sometimes left his classroom and the school building. In one instance on September 4, 2014, Child

231 Md.App. 252

hit and kicked the assistant principal and told the school counselor and assistant principal that he was so angry that he wanted to blow up the school. Both Grandmother and Wife arrived at the school after this incident; Grandmother had been scheduled to pick up Child for his visitation with Husband, and the school had called Wife. The principal spoke to Wife about the situation in a conference room while Grandmother sat outside because Wife did not want the principal to speak with Grandmother.

The principal advised Wife that the school was referring Child to the Montgomery County Crisis Center (the "Crisis Center"), and strongly encouraged Wife to take Child there. The principal also informed Wife that the school guidance counselor had the Crisis Center referral...

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5 practice notes
  • Burak v. Burak, No. 97, Sept. Term, 2016.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 29 Agosto 2017
    ...bar; and (3) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in awarding child support to the Grandparents. See Burak v. Burak, et al. , 231 Md.App. 242, 150 A.3d 360 (2016).For the reasons that follow, we shall reverse the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals.BACKGROUNDI. Custody Procee......
  • Burak v. Burak, No. 97
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 29 Agosto 2017
    ...bar; and (3) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in awarding child support to the Grandparents. See Burak v. Burak, et al., 231 Md. App. 242, 150 A.3d 360 (2016). For the reasons that follow, we shall reverse the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals.Page 8 BACKGROUND I. Custo......
  • Attorney Grievance Comm'n of Md. v. Johnson, Misc. Docket AG No. 68, Sept. Term 2015
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 14 Diciembre 2016
    ...to Tolar, "there [wa]s neither a finding, nor any basis for mitigating the [lawyer]'s misconduct[,]" despite the circumstance 150 A.3d 360that the lawyer had no prior attorney discipline. Kovacic, 389 Md. at 240, 884 A.2d at 677. As to the appropriate sanction, in Kovacic, id. at ......
  • Burak v. Burak, No. 1178
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 11 Diciembre 2020
    ...parents, Martha and Gary Burak (the "Grandparents"), and awarding child support to them. Burak v. Burak (Burak I), 231 Md. App. 242, 267-72, 280-84 (2016). More importantly for present purposes, we also held that the circuit court had erred in permitting the Grandparents to interv......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Burak v. Burak, No. 97, Sept. Term, 2016.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 29 Agosto 2017
    ...bar; and (3) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in awarding child support to the Grandparents. See Burak v. Burak, et al. , 231 Md.App. 242, 150 A.3d 360 (2016).For the reasons that follow, we shall reverse the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals.BACKGROUNDI. Custody Procee......
  • Burak v. Burak, No. 97
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 29 Agosto 2017
    ...bar; and (3) the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in awarding child support to the Grandparents. See Burak v. Burak, et al., 231 Md. App. 242, 150 A.3d 360 (2016). For the reasons that follow, we shall reverse the judgment of the Court of Special Appeals.Page 8 BACKGROUND I. Custo......
  • Attorney Grievance Comm'n of Md. v. Johnson, Misc. Docket AG No. 68, Sept. Term 2015
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 14 Diciembre 2016
    ...to Tolar, "there [wa]s neither a finding, nor any basis for mitigating the [lawyer]'s misconduct[,]" despite the circumstance 150 A.3d 360that the lawyer had no prior attorney discipline. Kovacic, 389 Md. at 240, 884 A.2d at 677. As to the appropriate sanction, in Kovacic, id. at ......
  • Burak v. Burak, No. 1178
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • 11 Diciembre 2020
    ...parents, Martha and Gary Burak (the "Grandparents"), and awarding child support to them. Burak v. Burak (Burak I), 231 Md. App. 242, 267-72, 280-84 (2016). More importantly for present purposes, we also held that the circuit court had erred in permitting the Grandparents to interv......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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