Of all the areas in which family law lawyers practice, custody is by far the most difficult. While that statement is true for obvious reasons, I often wonder what my clients are thinking when they do and say things over and over again that they know will not only jeopardize their standing in any future
I think Millennials get a bad rap these days. I recently heard a gentleman who was likely in his late 50’s, early 60’s suggest that Millennials are self-absorbed, lazy, lacked generosity, and were not community-minded. I spoke to this gentleman a little while after his comment telling him that I think his perception was skewed. While it may be true that Millennials are not likely to work for the same company for 30 years, may not want to sit on non-profit boards, and are happy not owning real estate, those characteristics do not necessarily translate into the adjectives he used to describe a generation. Instead, he needs to look outside of his comfort zone and realize that Millennials are self-motivated and loyal, they just may not want to spend their entire career at one company and instead use their time and talent to do good work for multiple entities. They are not necessarily fiscally imprudent just because they do not want to own real estate. Instead, they do not want the ties that bind one to real estate, rather they want the freedom to travel to different parts of the country or the world to experience new things and make their mark. Millennials tend to be community-minded and extremely generous but they may not want to sit on a non-profit board that meets every month and plan a golf outing. Instead, they write a check during the Extraordinary Give or donate to a GoFundMe account.
You are probably wondering what all of these comments on Millennials have to do with your obligation to pay child support. The tie-in is that many Millennials are perceived to have “failed to launch” because they have returned to their parents’ home to reside after college rather than going into the workforce and living independently. However, that does not make them bad people, it just makes them appear more dependent than the greatest generation. So, does this lengthen the amount of time a parent has to pay child support for their child? In Pennsylvania, parents are obligated to pay child support for their child until she turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. However, that time period can be different depending on other factors like an earlier emancipation date, a child with special needs which extends payment to at least 21, and agreements to pay child support for a child past his 18th birthday or graduation from high school.…
Continue Reading Failure to Launch: How Long Do I Have to Pay Child Support?
The holidays are typically a joyous time spent with family, but following a divorce or separation, the idea of not being able to spend every minute with your children can put a damper on your holiday spirit.
Speaking from experience, Christmas with your children following a divorce doesn’t have to be that different. And more importantly, both you and your children will make it through just fine!
Here are a few tips that may help to make this an easier transition for both parents and kids.…
Continue Reading Holiday Custody Issues
Back in 2015, I wrote a blog post asking “Is Co-Parenting Possible?” The article highlighted one family’s path to co-parenting. Slowly, I’ve begun to see more and more success stories about co-parenting.
Earlier this year, much to my husband’s chagrin, we drove over an hour to Maryland to spend a Sunday afternoon at the home of a stranger. We left with our new four-legged baby- Nala Blu. More and more people choose to open their homes to rescue pets. I must admit, it is a pretty fulfilling feeling to know that you were able to save the life of an animal whose fate was once questionable. Our girl happened to be thrown into a cardboard box with her 8 brothers and sisters and left next to a dumpster in Tennessee.
This Sunday, April 30, just so happens to be “Adopt a Shelter Pet Day.” Each year, more than 3.2 million pets are rescued from shelters across the US. Each one comes with their own special story and leaves with their own special place in their new families’ hearts.
If you have ever had a pet, you know that almost immediately they become an integral part of your family, and are treated just like (or maybe even better!) than children. But what happens to our four-legged kids when a marriage falls apart? Some may find it hard to believe, but people do fight over their pets. And unfortunately, in 49 of the 50 states, courts will refuse to step in to help. In fact, the courts have labeled our beloved pets as nothing more than property. In its 2002 decision in DeSanctis v. Pritchard, the Pennsylvania Superior Court went so far as to equate a dog to a table or lamp. I can’t imagine that analogy won the hearts of those who read it.
Under Pennsylvania divorce law, personal property is distributed between the parties as the court sees fit after analyzing a list of factors. And because a pet is considered personal property, they will be lumped into the “equitable distribution” of all property. So if you want to keep your furry friend, you may have to give up that new big screen TV.…
Continue Reading Pet Custody in Pennsylvania
As income tax season is quickly ramping up, I am commonly asked by clients which parent can claim the children as dependents when they are separated from the other parent. And like any good lawyer, I often say it depends.
So what exactly does it depend on? According to the Internal Revenue Service, in order to claim a child as a dependent he or she must be a qualifying child. Assuming your children are qualifying children, only one exemption can be claimed per qualifying child. The IRS has determined that the “custodial parent” gets the to claim the exemption. The IRS has its own definition of “custodial parent.” According to their regulations, a custodial parent is the parent with whom the child lived for the greater number of overnights in the calendar year.…
Continue Reading Tax season – Who Gets to Claim the Kids?
There are a lot of misconceptions and different definitions for a Notary. In drafting this blog post I found several different definitions, including one from Google that says a Notary is “a person authorized to perform certain legal formalities, especially to draw up contracts, deeds, and other documents for use in other jurisdictions.” Wikipedia says “[a] Notary is a lawyer (except most of the United States).” Neither of these are true in Pennsylvania. So what is a Notary? Why do you want something notarized?…
Continue Reading What is a Notary?
The PA Supreme Court recently denied an appeal by Manheim Township School District holding that the district is required to provide bus services to the homes of both divorced parents when the student spends time at both parents home overnight during the school year. While divorced parents rejoice at the ruling in their favor making…
This headline recently caught my attention Co-Parenting Win: I Lived With my Stepson’s Mother. The article, fashioned in the form of a letter to the mother of the author’s stepson, chronicles the evolution of the relationship between Mother, Father, and Father’s Wife. It is a quick, worthwhile read that demonstrates it really is possible…
Most people know that grandparents have some custody rights under Pennsylvania law. What they may not know is what exactly those rights are. What happens when a grandchild is taken out of the grandparents’ custody when the parents have already agreed that the child could live with them? Can grandparents have primary physical custody when there is still one parent in the picture? The Pennsylvania Custody Act answers these questions and gives grandparents rights to intervene in a custody action in certain circumstances.
According to the Pennsylvania custody law, grandparents have standing (the right to legally intervene) in a custody action to ask for periods of partial physical custody or supervised physical custody of their grandchildren if certain criteria are met. These criteria include the death of a parent, separation/divorce proceedings between the parents or a situation where a child has already been living with a grandparent or great-grandparent for over a year. Even if the criteria are met, grandparents should consult a family law attorney when they are seeking custody so that they are aware of their rights and the steps they need to take.
Partial or Supervised Physical Custody
One situation where grandparents are allowed to intervene for partial custody or periods of supervised custody is when a parent of a child is deceased. Grandparents may also seek partial custody when the parents of the children are separated or divorced. If either parent has filed for divorce or if the parents have been separated for at least six months, grandparents have legal standing to seek custody.
Sometimes, grandparents already have had physical custody of a child for a period of time, and suddenly a parent decides to remove the child from their home. There are rights for grandparents in these situations too, as long as the child has been living with the grandparents for a period of at least one year. If that is the case, the grandparents must file an action for custody within six months of when the child was removed from their home.