Most family law cases involve divorce, child custody, support and division of marital assets, all stressful issues. But even happy occasions, like adoption, can be emotionally charged. Getting solid legal guidance from an experienced attorney can help you focus on what’s important to you and the actions to take and to avoid.
Pre- and Post-Marital Agreements/Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
The purpose of a Pre-Marital Agreement is to allow a couple to determine how they will handle property rights for their marriage. It also specifies financial matters in case of a divorce or death. A Pre-Marital Agreement can:
- Protect each partner’s assets
- Prevent one partner from assuming the other’s debts
- Clarify financial rights & responsibilities throughout the marriage.
- Avoid expensive disputes in the case of divorce.
While a Pre-Marital Agreement is signed before a marriage, a Post-Marital Agreement is signed afterwards.
There are many reasons you might want to change your name including marriage, divorce and adoption. Most, but not all, name change situations require a hearing before a judge and several steps are needed to prepare for the hearing. An experienced attorney can handle the obligatory steps and free you to focus on the steps that only you can do such as getting fingerprinted.
Although no one gets married expecting to become divorced, nearly 50% of marriages end within 20 years.
Child Custody is one of the most difficult and demanding consequences of divorce. However, Child Custody can be settled between spouses without going to court.
There are specific rules regarding both child support and spousal support, and it’s important to discuss them with an experienced family law attorney.
Although Alimony, Spousal Support and APL are often believed to be the same thing, there are important differences regarding each of these types of potential payments from one spouse (or ex-spouse in the case of alimony) to the other spouse. It’s important to have an experienced attorney review your specific circumstances to help you know what to expect.
Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the Court has the power to distribute marital assets and debts as they see fit. The law describes what the court needs to consider but does not include strict guidelines on how assets and debts are divided. You can affect the outcome and avoid court by negotiating who gets what with the help of your lawyer.
Grandparents’ Rights in Pennsylvania have expanded in recent years. Under certain circumstances, grandparents are able to petition for physical and legal custody of grandchildren. Often, grandparents live with and have assumed a parental role for their grandchildren. As true in all custody cases, the most important consideration is the children’s best interests.
Whether you’re adopting a child to grow your family or formalizing the relationship with a stepchild, you’ll be assuming financial and legal responsibilities for the child. While adopting stepchildren is common, there are some issues that may arise:
- If the biological parent can’t be found or refuses to consent to the adoption
- If the stepparent has a questionable background
- If members of the biological parent’s family attempt to block the adoption
Protection From Abuse (PFA)
Physical and sexual abuse or the threat of either is against the law. Pennsylvania has a civil law called the “Protection From Abuse Act” (PFA) that gives you and your family members protection through the court system. There are three types of PFAs:
Issued when the courts are closed. This order expires the next business day.
Issued by a judge based on your description of the situation. This order is in place until your scheduled court hearing which usually is scheduled within ten days.
Permanent, or Final, PFA
Issued after a hearing in which both sides describe the situation. If granted, the order lasts 36 months and can be extended under certain circumstances.