It's that time of year again when Pennsylvania residents start thinking about New Year's Resolutions and how we can improve ourselves in 2018. The new year is a chance for a fresh start; some of us vow to start getting our recommended 8-hours of sleep each night, some vow to lose those extra pounds packed on over the year, but no matter what, we are vowing to ourselves to be happy.
Were you holidays ruined because of a fight with your spouse or the lack of clarity in a custody schedule for your children? Did you pass on holiday parties to avoid having family and friends see the tension between you and your significant other? Are you ready to start fresh for 2017? Are you tired of fielding questions at the holiday dinner table about why you're never allowed to spend time with your family? Did you notice a present on the joint credit card statement that didn't end up under the tree this year? If any of this is true about you, it might be time to consider speaking to an attorney about a divorce or other family law proceeding. In a way, we suggest making it your New Year's resolution to give yourself a fresh start and a fresh outlook on life in 2017.
On October 4, 2016, Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill into law that potentially affects pending Divorce cases all over Pennsylvania. Previously in cases of divorce where one person wants the divorce and the other party does not, the party who wants the divorce cannot obtain one until two years after the date of separation. The mandatory two-year waiting period has created a lot of problems for people wishing to get divorced, including legal fees for attempting to move the process along quicker. The initial goal for the two year waiting period was to allow people the chance to reconcile. On the contrary, the requisite waiting period has arguably in many cases, only served to cause more resentment towards the party who will not consent.
Once a year or so, the article about the man who got an ex parte (without the other party) divorce in the Dominican Republic and did not tell his wife for twenty some years makes the social media rounds. Although this horror story acts as a cautionary tale, many people who read the article are left to question: Could this happen to me? The answer to that is yes...and no. Technically, there is nothing stopping a spouse from doing what this man did and filing for a quick divorce in another county as long as he follows the procedures that are required there. However, in such cases, it would likely be hard for him to enforce any kind of property settlement order or support or custody order. Although each county around the world has different rules of civil procedure, most westernized countries have similar ideas of due process to that of the United States. That means that if your spouse simply wanted to end your marriage, he or she may be able to do that in another country without providing you notice, but is unlikely that they will be able to get an order dividing your property or deciding where you children will live without you being notified and having the opportunity to represent yourself.
A few months ago, we posted about the proposed change to the waiting period for no-fault divorces in Pennsylvania. Specifically, the state legislature was debating whether to shorten the waiting period for contested no-fault divorces in Pennsylvania from two years to one year. Recently, a bill reflecting this change in the law passed the Pennsylvania State House. This law was passed as House Bill 380 and signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on October 4, 2016. This law will go into effect in sixty days (December 4, 2016).
As Pennsylvania Divorce Lawyers, we are frequently asked questions regarding entitlement to alimony. Alimony in Pennsylvania is only available when "economic justice and the reasonable needs of the parties cannot be achieved by way of equitable distribution, or the division of marital assets and debts." An Alimony award is determined after an analysis of statutory factors. If after an analysis of the factors, the Court determines that it is necessary to provide the one party with sufficient income to obtain the "necessities of life." It will award an alimony amount. The purpose of alimony is to attempt to ensure that a spouse who is unable to support himself/herself are provided with reasonable needs.
When planning for a divorce, most often the marital residence is the most significant asset owned by a divorcing couple. Whether owned outright or subject to a mortgage, what will happen to the marital residence upon divorce is often one of the first questions we get from our divorce clients. Unfortunately, at the outset of a divorce, the answer is usually unclear. What happens to the marital home after a divorce depends greatly on the unique circumstances of each case and to a large extent, whether the two parties can agree on a value for the residence.
People often think that what goes in in their private Inbox messages is for their eyes alone. However, that is not always the case. Although the Inbox can allow people to communicate directly with each other outside of the prying eyes of all of their friends and followers on social media. It is not nearly as private as one might think.
We have all heard the stories of people getting fired or reprimanded at work for what they post on social media. However, it's often still surprising to the general public how what you post on social media can be used against you. Even though some people seem to forget about the social part of social media. Many forget that everything or almost everything you post on social media websites is public or semi public and can be used against you in court.
With the advent of reproductive technology, divorcing couples in Pennsylvania and around the country are not only compelled to grapple with the question of who should have custody of their living children, but also what to do with their prospective children. The Missouri court of appeals is grappling with just that question as they hear arguments between a husband and wife over the fate of two frozen embryos created via In Vitro Fertilization. This dispute is between a former husband and wife over whether the woman should be permitted to have these embryos implanted and carry them to term.