Pennsylvania Family Law Blog – The Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz
The holidays are meant to be a time when families come together. Unfortunately, if are going through a divorce and/or share joint custody of your children with an ex, then the holidays can be depressing, stressful, confusing, and, in the worst cases, combative.
Even under the best circumstances, going through a divorce is extremely difficult. That is particularly true when children are involved. Parents often find that while they have mutually agreed on many aspects of their split, when it comes to the particulars, such as who gets custody of the children for which holiday, their dispute can become quite contentious.
No one wants to be away from their children during family holidays. And while the biggest holidays, such as Christmas and Thanksgiving, will get the most attention, custody rights for even smaller holidays, such as Halloween or Memorial Day, will create a lot of strife.
The holiday season is a time of celebration that is typically defined as the period beginning on Thanksgiving and continuing through until New Year’s Day. The holidays do potentially bring on a fair amount of stress and anxiety also. In a situation where you are amid the process of divorce, the holidays can be particularly difficult for some of these possible reasons.
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According to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, in 2015 the courts terminated approximately 33,600 marriages in Pennsylvania. These civil cases are processed through the county courts, more specifically, by a division referred to as domestic or family relations. The actual length of time for the divorce process to be finalized through the court can vary according to a number of factors, such as; how efficiently the court moves through the caseload, or the number of hearings involved in the case. During the time that the case is pending, the court is able to issue some temporary order(s) to ensure that the parties involved are all able to afford their basic necessities.
According to a recent study by the American Psychological Association, in Western cultures, approximately 90% of people have been married by the time they reach the age of 50. Additionally, they find that roughly 45% of marriages in the US fail. The process of terminating a marriage is strongly correlated with increased stress levels and financial difficulties. In Pennsylvania, two commonly awarded, or ordered actions of the courts are those of alimony and spousal support. Often the two terms are mistakenly used interchangeably, and in Pennsylvania they are two separate and distinctive legal orders.
Child support obligations in the US are taken seriously at the federal, state and local levels of government. The system in the US has a federally outlined framework, but empowers the states to create and enforce the majority of the specific guidelines for their programs. All of the states adhere to a broad focus of ensuring that parents are providing financial care and support for their children, and Pennsylvania is no exception. The federal requirements are that the states establish a uniform statewide set of guidelines and that these laws are formally reviewed and reevaluated within a minimum interval of every four years. The US military branches and federally recognized tribal entities maintain these requirements as well; however, those models have rare and unique intricacies which will not be analyzed in the calculation methods to be outlined.
Those facing a divorce quickly come to the realization that there are potentially large financial issues and decisions that are now going to be rendered. Some of the major economic aspects of a divorce include the division and distribution of assets, child custody, child support, and spousal support/alimony. Pennsylvania courts have the duty and the power to design, order, and enforce what they determine is a fair resolution to maintain some economic justice and equity when finalizing a divorce.
Making the decision to pursue surrogacy as a means of having a child can be a great option, especially for couples who have found it difficult to conceive naturally. Surrogacy is where a woman (also known as the surrogate mother) makes an agreement with another person or couple (also known as the intended parent or parents) to carry their child. There are two types of surrogacy: traditional and gestational. Traditional surrogacy involves artificially fertilizing the surrogate’s egg with the father’s sperm. Gestational surrogacy is where an embryo created from the intended mother’s egg and the intended father’s sperm is implanted in the surrogate mother. Once the child is born, typically the intended parents will assume all rights to the child and the surrogate mother is free of any financial responsibility or support of the child. Read the rest »
If you are experiencing difficulties or irreconcilable differences with your spouse and you ultimately decide to end your marriage, you can dissolve your marriage through an uncontested or contested divorce. Here are the differences between the two types of divorce.
In an uncontested divorce, the couple either (1) does not have assets or children that must be arranged for or (2) has come to an agreement on how to handle assets or children. Uncontested divorces are often more amicable, and the couple is able to agree on how to wrap up their affairs. If the couple has no property or children, there is nothing for them to fight over. The couple simply wants to end their marriage. Read the rest »
It is possible to change an existing order of the court with a post-decree modification order. Post-decree petitions in Pennsylvania most often involve requests to change a Dissolution of Marriage, Annulment, Legal Separation, or Judgment of Paternity. They can be used to enforce a court order that already exists or to change a court order because of a change in circumstances.
There are a number of issues that can be handled with a post-decree motion. These include: Read the rest »
Even the most contentious of separations can be settled out of court when families choose to go through arbitration. In family arbitration, the spouses appoint an arbitrator who will help make some key determinations. This allows the separation to go quickly and with less conflict.
Going to court is expensive, you can’t choose your judge, and the private details of your divorce could be made public. In arbitration, you get to choose an arbitrator and your information will remain private. It’s advisable to consider going through arbitration if there issues you simply can’t resolve. Read the rest »