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Philadelphia Family Law Blog

Is mediation right for you?

It is understandable if you felt sad or worried when you realized your marriage was headed for divorce. Like many Pennsylvania parents who have gone through divorce, you may have been most concerned with how your situation would impact your children's lives. Perhaps your main goal is to resolve the issues at hand as swiftly and amicably as possible so that you and your kids can leave the past behind and start adapting to your new lifestyle.  

Perhaps you have heard of the divorce mediation process, which is essentially an alternate form of dispute resolution for those who wish to avoid courtroom litigation. There are many benefits to choosing mediation in divorce; however, there are also numerous issues that would suggest it is not the best option for some people. How do you know whether mediation would work for you? By learning more about the process and applying it to your own circumstances, you may be able to determine if litigation is necessary.  

Dividing retirement accounts in a Pennsylvania divorce

If you are a divorcing couple and you are reaching retirement age, retirement accounts could be some of the most valuable assets that you have. Therefore, before you take action in filing for a divorce, it is a good idea to take the time to understand how the law works in the state of Pennsylvania when it comes to dividing assets such as retirement accounts.

The state of Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state. Equitable distribution means that a fair division of assets is worked toward based on the specific details of the case. Equitable distribution differs to community property laws that exist in other states and basically advocate a 50-50 split of all assets regardless of the circumstances.

When can I request an increase in child support?

When the other parent of your child pays you child support, the amount that he or she pays is based on his or her income at the time of the initial calculation. While it was correct at the time, this does not mean that it will stay sufficient and correct forever.

This is why it is possible to request a child support modification in certain situations. In order to make a request for a modification of child support, you must first be able to show that a change of circumstances has occurred. For example, if you know that the other parent of your child has a new job or has been promoted, you will have a reason to believe that you may be entitled to more child support.

Concerns about the welfare of a child

If you are the parent or a relative of a child and you are worried about their safety when they are in the care of one of their custodians, it is likely that you have experienced some red flags that indicate abuse.

Some causes for concern could be seeing unexplained bruising on the child, or witnessing a change of behavior, such as them being more withdrawn or anxious than usual. In addition, you may notice that they react strangely to certain situations, for example they may get frightened or scared when they make a mistake because they fear punishment. If you witness these changes in a child and become concerned for their safety, it is important to have an age-appropriate conversation with them, making them feel safe and expressing concern.

Voicing concerns about your grandchild

As a grandparent, you will love and care for your grandchildren as though they were your own children, but that does not mean that you have the automatic legal right to visitation or custody over them that a direct parent would have. This is why it is such a difficult situation when grandparents have concerns about the welfare of their grandchildren.

If a grandparent believes that one of his or her grandchildren is being neglected or abused, he or she may feel powerless to do anything about it. While you as a grandparent may not have the legal right to remove the child from the situation you are concerned about, you do have the right to voice your concerns to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Additionally, you may be able to file for custody of your grandchild, especially if the custodial parents are deemed to be unfit.

How to enforce unpaid child support

As a primary custodian, successfully gaining a child support order may be a great relief, since it can be very difficult to raise a child as a single parent, especially from a financial perspective. However, when the other parent stops paying the child support with no warning, it can mean that you as the primary custodian can suffer considerably, and you may be unsure of what you can do in order to enforce the child support order.

There are federal and state specific laws in place that help primary custodians to enforce court-ordered child support. If you want to get the child support payments that your family deserves, it is a good idea to learn about these laws so that you can be empowered to take action.

Is your child support order becoming harder to honor?

Maybe things did not go as you planned in life, and you are now the non-custodial parent of a child. This likely means you and your former partner spent some time in court while a judge ordered you to pay child support, or you agreed to pay your fair share during mediation. Whether you were happy to make the payments or felt oppressed by the obligation, you understand that failing to fulfill your duty can bring serious negative consequences.

Now that your circumstances have changed, the monthly payments don't fit so easily into your budget. Maybe you lost your job, have some unexpected medical expenses or have recently remarried, and these factors make it impossible for you to pay what your court order demands. Is there anything you can do?

Is hiding assets during a divorce legal?

If you are contemplating divorce or starting the process of going through a divorce, it may have occurred to you that there is a lot at stake when it comes to dividing assets. Generally, the more assets that a household has, the more complicated it is to successfully and fairly divide them during a divorce. This is because there is more to lose, and high asset couples tend to be more lucrative in terms of wanting to get a successful outcome for themselves.

Wanting to achieve a lucrative settlement as the outcome of a divorce is understandable, but it is important to know what types of strategies are legal and which are not, both for the purpose of conducting yourself properly, and for keeping your divorcing spouse's behavior in check.

When parents disagree: The custody process in Pennsylvania

When a divorce or separation occurs, a lot of changes will need to take place as well, especially if children are involved. It is very important that disputes involving children are handled carefully, since these abrupt changes may already be difficult for them to adapt to.

All parents want the best for their children, but what they believe is best may differ quite drastically from the beliefs of the other parent. This is why there is a legal procedure that is set up for child custody disputes. If you are having a conflict with the other parent in regard to child custody, it is important that you understand how the law works in Pennsylvania.

Gaining a permanent restraining order

If you have been a victim of domestic violence, it is important that you take every possible precaution that you feel necessary in order to protect yourself. If you have been involved in an altercation where the police were involved, a temporary restraining order was probably made against the alleged abuser. However, as a victim of domestic abuse, you will probably want to take further action in order to prevent the abuser from being able to initiate any further contact.

In order to successfully get a permanent restraining order, more evidence and information needs to be provided to the courts. They are much more formal than a temporary restraining order, and they cannot be automatically or instantly set up.

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