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Philadelphia Family Law Blog

Court agrees that man and woman are not married after 22 years

An appeals court in Pennsylvania has agreed that a man and a woman, despite their 22-year relationship, do not have a common-law marriage. This comes after the woman reportedly asked for a divorce and then wanted the man to give her alimony payments.

Reports also claim that the man had asked her if she wanted to get married a few times while they were together. She turned him down. She allegedly said at the time that the certificate of marriage was "just a piece of paper."

4 tips for child custody planning over the holidays

The holidays are coming, and child custody planning can get complicated. This is the season when parents often feel most frustrated about the agreement. They don't have the kids whenever they want, they have to schedule and plan with the ex during a very busy time and it can grow very contentious.

Here are a few tips that can help it go smoothly:

  1. Tell the kids the plan in advance. Don't give them any last-minute surprises. They also want to know whose family they'll be with for Thanksgiving or where they're waking up on Christmas morning.
  2. Embrace new traditions. You may have to give up old ones, like taking the kids to church on Christmas Eve. Now they're with your ex. Instead of dwelling on the negative, look for new traditions you can create.
  3. Work with your ex, not against him or her. Don't make the fight bigger than it has to be because you want to "win." Realize that you both want similar things and there are bound to be disappointments. Working together reduces the stress.
  4. Don't get too fixated on the holiday itself. Maybe you won't have your kids on Thursday for Thanksgiving Day. Can you celebrate on Saturday instead? Perhaps you won't get the kids on Christmas morning. Can you still enjoy the weekend and Christmas Eve? Focus on planning a fun time for you and the kids, even if it's not exactly on the calendar date that you wanted.

What are some financial reasons for divorce?

You've likely heard that couples often fight about money and that it can ultimately push them toward divorce, but now you're wondering exactly what those issues look like. Are there some financial red flags you should watch out for?

Every relationship is different, but experts have noted some consistent trends. A few of the financial issues that tend to lead to divorce include:

  • People who just do not value money the same way. One person loves to set money aside and save in every way possible, while the other thinks that money is just for having fun and spends all of the extra cash he or she can.
  • Gambling. Some have said that no financial issues lead to divorce more than gambling. Even mild gambling can be seen as incredibly wasteful by a spouse, and excessive gambling can create massive debt and financial problems
  • Making the relationship second to materialism. It's fine to want nice things, but this desire -- even when the things become too expensive to afford -- can break up the relationship. Couples often argue about what they should and should not buy, making both partners feel wronged.
  • Not sharing responsibilities. The more "traditional" role is for a husband to be in charge of the bank accounts, budget and finances. However, couples need to have equal control or at least divide tasks through mutual agreement based on tangible skills -- being detail-oriented, for instance -- rather than traditional stereotypes.
  • Not having a financial plan. Some couples want financial success and simply assume it will magically happen, not understanding that it takes work and planning.

Divorce does not have to mean the end of your business

Many Pennsylvania residents are the proud owners of their own businesses. Whether you started your business before or after walking down the aisle, there are things that you can do to protect your company from the ravages of divorce -- if that ever enters the picture.

No one wants to see their business fail. However, some may not realize that, if they get divorced, their companies may end up being their biggest marital asset. Wondering how you can protect your business from going to your spouse? Keep reading.

3 key facts about grandparents' rights in Pennsylvania

When it comes to grandparents' rights, the states are allowed to set their own laws and regulations. This can lead to a lot of confusion when people move between states and assume that the statutes are going to be the same. They may be similar, but they're typically not identical.

That said, here are three key facts about how the court may give grandparents visitation rights in Pennsylvania:

  1. These rights can be legally granted if the parents have been separated or divorced for over six months. They can also be granted if the child has been living in the same home as the grandparents -- perhaps because of marital strife, for example -- for over a year. Furthermore, these visitation rights can be granted if one of the child's parents has passed away.
  2. The rights will be terminated by an adoption. The only way this does not happen is if a stepparent or grandparent is the one who is adopting the child. So, if a grandparent is given rights and then a couple gives a child up for a closed adoption to another family, those rights could be lost.
  3. Important factors that the court considers when deciding if the grandparents should have visitation rights include possible interference with the relationship between the parent and the child, the best interests of the child in general and the type of contact that the child and the grandparents have already had.

In child custody cases, a marital relationship loses importance

Your marital relationship obviously plays a huge role in your child custody case in numerous ways.

However, it's important to remember that your perspective is not the same as the court's. They are not interested in the same aspects of your relationship that matter to you. In this sense, your marital relationship loses importance and the relationships each of you have with the kids become the focal point.

8 excuses about missed child support payments

Your ex is supposed to pay child support. You haven't seen those checks in months. Things are getting tight financially and you need help.

People often rationalize their lack of payment, even if it breaks a court order and is illegal. Below are eight of the most common things they say when they get to court:

  1. I'll be able to make the payments soon, or even tomorrow.
  2. I'm waiting for my tax refund, and then I'll even up the back payments.
  3. I lost my job, but I'm trying to get another one. I just had an interview.
  4. I'm disabled. I'm trying to get benefits.
  5. I'm about to start my new job this week. If I go to jail, I'll lose it and then I'll never be able to pay.
  6. I thought the money was paid already.
  7. I have been paying some of the money, just not everything.
  8. I have another family and more kids. I can't afford to pay support for the children who don't live with me when I already have to pay for the kids who do live with me.

Tips for working with an ex who is a business partner

You and your spouse had a terrific business idea. Five years after you opened your doors, the company is worth $2.5 million.

Your marriage, however, isn't doing nearly as well. You're going to get divorced. You've been assuming you'll have to buy your spouse out or sell the company and split up the proceeds.

A trust may protect an inheritance during divorce

Technically speaking, an inheritance that your parents gave you may already be protected during divorce, especially if your parents' will specified that the money was not for your spouse.

That said, this does take some work on your end. You generally have to keep that inheritance money separate from your family's other funds. If you don't, it's called commingling, and your spouse may then be able to claim he or she also has a right to that significant asset.

Is sharing custody the right choice for your family?

The decision to divorce is one that will certainly impact the youngest members of the family. While the end of a marriage will affect the children, it is possible to provide them with an environment and schedule that allows for emotional security and continuity of lifestyle, even long after a divorce is final.

One of the ways that some Pennsylvania families do this is by choosing shared custody. Custody arrangements do not have to be contentious, but it is possible for you and the other parent to find a way to share custody and allow your children to have a strong relationship with both biological parents. Shared or joint custody may be the right choice for your family.

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