Pennsylvania Family Law and Divorce
Lisa Marie Vari & Associates, P.C.

April 2014 Archives

Paternity by Estopple

In Pennsylvania, paternity by estopple is a doctrine that functions to prohibit a person from denying paternity due to his conduct. Estopple can also be used to prevent a third party from making a claim that he is actually the father. The doctrine of estopple centers around the idea that the best interest of the child is the most important factor when it comes to paternity and custody law. The court does not want to force the child to start a relationship with a stranger instead of continuing the relationship with the father the child has know all along.

Paternity: A Presumption

In Pennsylvania, there is something known as a presumption of paternity when referring to a child that is born to a married couple. Under this presumption, the law assumes that a child born or conceived during an intact marriage is a child of that marriage. This means that husband and wife are presumed to be mom and dad. This presumption is very strong and extremely difficult to overcome.

Alimony in Pennsylvania

Alimony is a payment that one spouse makes to another after a final divorce decree is granted. In Pennsylvania, alimony is not awarded automatically as a right. Instead, the court has discretion over who should get alimony and what amount the alimony should be.

Stepparent Custody Rights

After divorce, many stepparents' feel that they are helpless in custody matters where they have not adopted their ex-spouse's child or children. Many relationships end after many years of marriage and thus many years as acting as a primary caregiver for the children of an ex-spouse. Stepparents have a genuine interest and right in seeing the children they have helped raise and support. 

Terminating Parental Rights in PA

Termination of parental rights cases are some of the most important and complex cases that a court will hear. When parental rights are terminated for a child, it is as if the child was never born to that parent at all. Typically, parental rights can only be terminated if there is an adoption pending in Pennsylvania. There are two types of termination of parental rights: voluntary and involuntary.

Annulment in Pennsylvania

There are two categories of marriages that provide grounds for annulment in Pennsylvania. First, there are marriages that are considered void by their existence. Second, there are marriages that are voidable upon action of either party. The difference with voidable marriages is they are considered valid until either party takes action.

Understanding Legal Lingo: Custody

Beginning the process of obtaining custody of a minor child can be a very confusing time for parents. Courts often use terms that have very specific legal meanings. It is important to ask for the right things when filing for custody, but this can be difficult if a parent does not know what exactly to ask for. 

Estate Planning and Divorce

Estate planning is important in every stage of an individual's life. It is very common for married couples to plan their states according to their martial status and thus make reciprocal wills. As families begin and grow, wills and trusts expand and evolve. When going through a divorce, there are certain factors each party may want to pay special attention to regarding their individual estate.

The Importance of Putting Custody Agreements in Writing

When it comes to child custody in Pennsylvania, parents often worry about deciding on a custody schedule. Once a schedule is set many parents feel like they are done as far custody is concerned. They mark the dates they have physical custody of the child on a calendar and move on. However, parents may want to consider adding an extra step to finalizing a custody agreement: putting the agreement in writing.

Co-Parent Communication in Allegheny County

Communication between co-parents can often be difficult and stressful. Depending on email and text message for communication can be especially complicated due to message failures, lost messages, and misreading. When sharing custody of your children, there are tools that alleviate and simplify scheduling and communicating with the other co-parent. Courts in Allegheny County often order or recommend the use of The Our Family Wizard. 

Who Gets the Ring in Pennsylvania?

An engagement can be a happy time for many couples. Most engagements are accompanied by an engagement ring meant to symbolize the couple's intent to be married. However, sometimes engagements do not work out, and the couple decides to separate before the wedding takes place. If this happens, there is often confusion about who gets to keep the engagement ring.

Helping Children Deal with the Emotional Impact of Divorce

Divorce and separation are very difficult for all parties involved. Children who have parents going through a divorce are commonly faced with confusion, conflict, and anxiety. Helping children deal with this emotional stress can be difficult and often require family counseling and independent counseling for the child. But what happens when a parent wants to help their child deal with these issues at home, but doesn't know how to approach the subject? Companies like Zipland Interactive Ltd., have worked to solve this problem. 

Child Custody Schedules in Pennsylvania

In Pennsylvania, parents may split custody of children in several ways. For example, both parents may want to have an equal amount of time with their children, and may decide shared custody is the best approach for them. This would allow each parent to have the children for 50% of the time. For other parents, this type of schedule might not work. One parent may take primary custody of the children while the other has partial custody. This would allow the children to spend more than half of the time with one parent, while still being able to see the other parent on a regular basis. 

Pet Custody in Pennsylvania

There are many considerations when going through a separation or a divorce. Matters of equitable distribution and child custody are typically at the forefront, but where do family pets fall into the mix? In Pennsylvania, pets are considered personal property. This means that when dividing assets, pets are legally viewed in the same light as a family car or home. This presents a unique conflict as most Americans consider their family pet as part of the family, rather than a possession of the family.