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Philadelphia Family Law Blog

How can you and your ex cooperate as school starts?

The school year is starting up again, and that means you and your ex may need to be in touch about how you're going to proceed.

Remember, your child custody plan should focus on your child's best interests. This can mean stepping out of your comfort zone or doing things you wouldn't otherwise want to do. Below are a few tips to work with your ex at this time.

3 things not to do in a child custody case

You're heading into a child custody case, and winning is everything to you because your children are everything to you. Above all else, you don't want to lose them.

That's understandable. However, it's very important not to decide that you'll "do anything" just to fight for custody of the kids. It can blow up in your face. Below are three things that you should not do -- but that people make the mistake of doing all the time.

Make sure your provisions are proper in a prenup

A prenuptial agreement is an important element to any marriage -- and divorce, should it get to that point. However, some people may mistakenly think that prenuptial agreements are only for couples that have a lot of assets. This isn't true. Any couple can utilize the protections offered by a prenuptial agreement, though it obviously is more helpful for couples that have more assets to protect.

Given the importance of prenuptial agreements in today's world of marriage and divorce, we'd like to take a look at the many topics you can and can't include in your prenuptial agreement:

Pennsylvania's Divorce Rate Among Nation's Lowest...Mostly

Pennsylvania has one of the lowest divorce rates of any state in the nation. According to Statistic Brain, a medium dedicated to provide accurate and timely statistics for public benefit, Pennsylvania’s divorce rate sits around 9.2 percent – the sixth-lowest in the country – compared to nationwide highs of roughly 13 percent in Maine and Oklahoma (and 14 percent in Nevada, though that’s something of a special case).

Nevertheless, recent trends indicate that these numbers might not hold. In Pennsylvania, couples that stay together tend…well, to stay together. Divorce rates for couples that have been together for more than 25 years drop off sharply. This isn’t so surprising, but does buck the national trend of ‘gray divorce,’ wherein baby boomers and empty-nesters have shown a recent propensity to end their marriages later in life. 

Child custody in domestic violence situations

Most Philadelphia couples aren't usually afraid for the safety of the children while working on a child custody arrangement. They may not particularly like the other parent, but they recognize he or she is generally a good parent who is trying to do what is best for the kids.

This is not often the case, however, in situations in which domestic violence has been involved in the lives of a now separated couple. In these instances, the victim is likely not going to want the other parent and perpetrator around the child at all, especially if the domestic violence also involved the neglect or abuse of the children.

Review of the child support modification process

As this blog has discussed on previous occasions, a parent who is paying, or receiving child support does not have to just live the amount the court orders permanently. In fact, there are often good reasons to ask a court to change a child support amount, one of the more common reasons being a change in employment or a big promotion.

However, parents are not allowed under Pennsylvania law just to ask the court for a support modification as a matter of routine and instead must abide by certain requirements. Specifically, the person who wants a change in support has to show what the law calls a "material and substantial change in circumstances." What this means is that someone wanting to change support has to show what has changed since the last support order was entered and why those changes make a difference in the child support amount.

Can I keep my child's parent from being around another person?

There are moms and dads in the Philadelphia area who are living separately, yet still trying their best to raise their children together. This arrangement usually means that they follow a child custody order or agreement, and this agreement ordinarily ensures both parents to get adequate time with their children.

The custody order will provide when and under what circumstances the non-custodial parent gets to see the child. There may still be outstanding questions about who else the child may see when the child is with either parent.

Overview of how to get a Protection from Abuse Order

Pennsylvanians who are domestic violence victims have probably heard about Restraining Orders, which called Protection from Abuse Orders in this state. But, victims may still have no idea how to get one. Situations involving domestic violence are, of course, very serious. As such, it's important to understand how to seek the protection an individual needs and deserves.

First, a victim should call the police. But, not all reports of domestic violence get prosecuted, and this not normally the fault of the victim. Moreover, there is only so much the criminal justice system can do. Eventually, an abuser is going to be released from jail. A Protection from Abuse Order can be invaluable in these situations.

What a lawyer can do to help Philadelphia grandparents

Many grandparents have close relationships with their grandchildren. In many situations, grandparents babysit their grandchildren regularly or at least see them frequently. And, in some cases, a grandparent may even step in and take over for the parent as the child's caregiver.

For these sorts of Pennsylvanians, who often do what they do out of love for their grandchildren and for no other hidden motive, it can be a real shock should they suddenly be told "no" when the try to maintain their relationship with the grandkids. Although, in some cases, it is because of something the grandparent did or failed to do, in many, if not most cases, it is because for whatever reason, the grandparents are now dealing with an unsympathetic son-in-law or daughter-in-law.

"Imputed income" in child support situations

This Pennsylvania blog's ongoing discussion of how income is calculated for child support purposes continues today. One special situation that frequently comes up in child support cases is when one parent believes that the other parent is not earning as much income as he or she reasonably could, as this may be an effort to avoid paying child support.

Under Pennsylvania law, each parent is presumed to be earning what or he or she is actually capable of earning. And, as the assumption is parents would want to do what is best for their children. In this case, this means providing financial security. However, the law also recognizes that parents do from time to time earn less than what they could for good reasons.

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