WHICH HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS? Holiday Custody

With Thanksgiving arriving next week, and Christmas, Hanukkah and a host of other holidays just around the corner, I wanted to recirculate last year’s holiday custody post, updated slightly. Though another year may have passed, it rings just as true. On the Simpsons, Helen Lovejoy is often quoted as saying, “Will someone please think of the children?” I think this is a particularly appropriate sentiment during the holiday season. For families who have not been “intact” for some time or others who are going through transition, often the stress of the holiday season, coupled with the additional stress of new…

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DIVORCE LAW CHANGES

Its Official. On Tuesday, October 4th, Governor Wolf signed what was HB 380, which is now PA law regarding the waiting period for a contested divorce. The law becomes effective 60 after it’s signing (December 3). Under the new law, parties who separate after December 3, 2016 will only need to live separate and apart for a period of one year to move forward with a divorce action without the other parties’ consent.

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SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO NOW? – Another legislative update

It’s happening again. There has been another push to pass House Bill 380, which would shorten the waiting period for a no fault, contested divorce from the current two (2) years to only one (1) year. It looks like it is going to happen. Of great importance, the Bill, in its current form, is not retroactive. As set forth in its current version: “The amendment of 23 Pa.C.S. §§ 3301(d) and 3323(g)(3) shall apply to periods of living separate and apart that commence after the effective date of this section.” All signs are pointing to the Bill being signed into…

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Same Sex Divorce – What we know So Far

So if we have same sex marriage, what does that mean for same sex divorce? More than two years ago, on May 20, 2014, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled in the case of in Whitewood, et al., and determined that same sex marriage would now be recognized in the courts of Pennsylvania.  As of that date, despite the fact that it was not yet nationally recognized, the state of Pennsylvania determined that they would extend the right of marriage to same sex couples throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  The opinion issued by the court, which is linked below, (http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/sites/default/files/opinions/13-1861.pdf)…

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DIVORCE – Making Ours Mine – Division of Assets in Pennsylvania

One of the issues that comes up in all most every divorce and in many separations is how to divide property that parties acquired during their relationship.  Unfortunately, if this relationship was not a marriage, it can be very difficult to figure out how to distribute jointly titled vehicles, homes, and other assets and it may involve numerous separate actions to address these items.  If the parties who are uncoupling were married, the Divorce Code sets forth well-established rules and guidelines for how to divide those assets that they acquired during the marriage through a process that we call “equitable…

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Should I Stay or Should I Go Now: A Legislative Update

Some of you may have read my prior blog posts regarding establishing separation and how that can affect your rights to support, custody, equitable distribution, and ultimately, a Decree in Divorce. As I mentioned in those posts, in Pennsylvania we have what we call a two-year waiting period. What this ends up meaning is if one spouse wants to have a divorce and the other does not, the parties must be living separate and apart for a period of at least two years before the court has the right to issue a Decree in Divorce. For example, here in Allegheny…

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Should I Stay or Should I Go Now: A Legislative Update

Some of you may have read my prior blog posts regarding establishing separation and how that can affect your rights to support, custody, equitable distribution, and ultimately, a Decree in Divorce. As I mentioned in those posts, in Pennsylvania we have what we call a two-year waiting period. What this ends up meaning is if one spouse wants to have a divorce and the other does not, the parties must be living separate and apart for a period of at least two years before the court has the right to issue a Decree in Divorce. For example, here in Allegheny…

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Should I Stay or Should I go Now Part 3

  So how do you show you’re separated, you ask? Well, what is separation can be very tricky. It is a fact specific determination that is not terribly well defined. The rule is that you “stop living in a husband and wife-like manner.” (The quote is old. This works the same way for same sex couples now that same sex marriages are recognized in PA.) Whether you “are living in a husband and wife-like manner” is very specific to an individual couple, as you look at how your lives have changed since the alleged separation date. The most important fact,…

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SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO NOW PART 2

SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO NOW  – PART 2 Separation also affects support. If you are talking about physically separating, and you are no longer sharing the household expenses, this can trigger a right to support even if a divorce complaint has not been filed. That can include spousal support for a lower wage earner and child support depending upon your respective incomes and custody arrangement. While two parties are still physically in the same home, it is largely assumed that there is not a need for support so long as nobody is being left completely penniless and the…

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SHOULD I STAY OR SHOULD I GO NOW – Part 1

I mentioned in a blog post earlier this year that the beginning of the New Year tends to bring with it new divorce flings and cases. While the actual filings peak in March of the year, as I write this I am sure there are people who have been contemplating separating from their spouse or who plan on talking with a lawyer in the near future.  Whether or not you separate is a huge decision. When you separate can have huge ramifications in potential divorce litigation. When and how you separate, i.e., the day you “stop living in a husband…

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Making “Mine” “Ours” – Transmutation of Property

MAKING MINE OURS – The Transmutation of  Property In my recent post regarding marital property, I made a reference to the concept of transmutation. As I mentioned in that post, this is a rather unusual, made-up lawyer word for what happens when somebody changes a piece of separate property into marital property. Under the Divorce Code there are certain items of property that are excluded from the marital estate and which are not to be equitably divided by the parties (or the court). These excluded properties basically boil down to the following: Gifts received during the marriage; Inheritances received during…

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A Few More Thoughts on the Holidays

A FEW MORE THOUGHTS ON THE HOLIDAYS While the focus of my last blog post was on people facing the holidays who have separated, I think it’s important to recognize the fact that there are many individuals, some of whom are reading this, who have decided to “stick it out” through the holiday season. A cursory review of statistics will show you that there is a significant spike in filing for divorce January through March. As a practitioner, I can assure you that a large portion of this is attributed to people deciding to “stick it out through the holidays”…

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No Place Like Home for the Holidays

A few Thoughts on the Holidays First, let me start by apologizing for my delay in getting this blogpost out. It certainly would have been more applicable a few weeks ago prior to the Hanukkah holiday. Nonetheless, some of the takeaways from this post will be useful throughout the year. On the Simpsons, Helen Lovejoy is often quoted as saying, “Will someone please think of the children?” I think this is a particularly appropriate sentiment during the holiday season. For families who have not been “intact” for some time or others who are going through transition, oftentimes stress of the…

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