Are Your Circumstances Suitable for a Collaborative Divorce?

You may be suitable for a collaborative divorce if you seek:

  1. A dignified approach to handling your divorce
  2. A fair and non-aggressive resolution of issues based on the best interests of the family, not the individual
  3. Guidance, support and advice on legal issues without the threat of fighting in court.
  4. A chance to work through emotions and avoid misunderstandings to arrive at sound decisions
  5. To avoid the cost and emotional strain of court proceedings
  6. To keep your dispute and terms of your settlement confidential

How do I kick start the process?Contact a collaborative divorce lawyer. You must choose a lawyer trained in collaborative family law for the process to be effective. An experienced lawyer knows about the required documentation that can make process hassle free.

What happens when we reach agreement?

After you reach agreement, your lawyer can prepare divorce papers that the court is likely to approve.

What happens if the process breaks down?

You may explore other options such as mediation to avoid from going to court. However, if you do take your case to court, your collaborative lawyer cannot act on your behalf in court proceedings as they have signed an undertaking not to litigate.

What is the difference between the collaborative divorce process and court litigation?

Collaborative divorce is a voluntary process that gives divorcing parties control over the process, including the timetable. On the other hand, the litigation process is controlled by the judge and determined by court dates, and parties must comply with the court’s orders. Divorce Lawyers will facilitate direct negotiations between parties in collaborative divorce, working towards a common goal that is in the best interests of both parties and the family, and parties will be encouraged to consider short- and long-term impacts of their decisions. In litigation, both parties and lawyers are pitted against each other, and parties will bargain based on their own needs and rights. They will not be actively asked to think about the short- and long-term effects of their choices.

As can be seen, collaborative divorce allows the parties, instead of the judge, to make the final decisions. Due to this, however, there is no guaranteed settlement in collaborative divorce. If parties cannot reach a final decision, they will need to proceed with litigation. The process of collaborative divorce is confidential, but if parties enter into litigation, the records of Court proceedings will be publicly available.

Do I Need an Attorney for My Divorce?

Many couples debate whether they need a divorce attorney when mediation is required by the courts. It is recommended, at minimum, consulting with a family law attorney about your options and what is best course of action for your case no matter how well you and your ex-spouse get along.

Below you will find just a few examples of the aspects you need to consider if you are debating whether you should hire an attorney for your divorce:

  • If you have many complicated assets to divide up. If you have accumulated various expensive marital property, you should consider hiring a lawyer. You will want to have a lawyer present if you have complicated possessions you are dividing, like businesses, numerous vehicles, and real property.
  • If your spouse is prone to lying. If your former spouse is known to lie, it could become difficult when it is your word versus theirs in a hearing or mediation session. If they are spreading false information about you, or lying in the courtroom, you need a lawyer on your side to protect your interests.
  • If violence or abuse is ever involved. If any abuse is present, whether it’s related to children, substance abuse, sexual abuse, mental abuse, or any other form, you should always hire an attorney. Not only will the abused spouse not be able to negotiate properly for fear of manipulation or further abuse, but a family law attorney can help take the appropriate steps to protect you and your family.
  • If your spouse has hired an attorney. Your spouse may choose to hire a lawyer to represent themselves at the last minute. We see attorneys appear at hearings and mediation with little to no notice to the unrepresented spouse. If your spouse decides to have representation, you should as well. It will be difficult to make your case against a family law attorney, even if you believe you have a clear and reasonable argument.

There is so much at stake! If you are going through divorce and you are debating on whether you need to hire a divorce attorney, call and speak to a family law firm you trust in your area. An experienced attorney should answer the questions you have, discuss your options and your particular case to help you understand your options during divorce. A skilled lawyer may be an invaluable asset to protect your and your family interests.

Alimony, Support and Division of Assets Explained in Pennsylvania

Spousal Support

Spousal Support is available to a married spouse, when the couple resides in separate homes and one spouse earns more than the other spouse. There are defenses against spousal support and it is important to have an attorney assist you in your claim for or against spousal support.

Alimony Pendente Lite

Alimony Pendente Lite is a type of support that is limited in nature and paid to the lesser income earning spouse by the higher income earning spouse in accordance to a statutory formula until the divorce is finalized. This support was enacted to equalize the parties incomes during the divorce proceedings and allow each spouse to afford the divorce process and expenses.

Alimony

In Pennsylvania, there is not a set formula to determine post-divorce alimony. Whether or not to award post-divorce alimony payments lies within the exclusive discretion of the court. The court relies on the following 17 factors to determine whether to award post-divorce alimony.

The 17 Factors of Alimony

  • The relative earnings of both spouses.
  • The duration of the marriage.
  • The ages and physical, mental and emotional states of the two spouses.
  • The sources of income of both spouses. This includes medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
  • The expected future earnings and inheritances of the two spouses.
  • The degree to which one spouse has contributed to the other spouse’s education, training or increased earning potential.
  • The degree to which a spouse will be financially affected by their position as the custodian of a minor child.
  • The standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage.
  • The relative education of the parties. This also considers the amount of time it would take for the spouse seeking alimony to acquire the education or training necessary to find employment.
  • The relative assets and liabilities of the two spouses.
  • The property each spouse brought to the marriage.
  • The degree a spouse contributed as a homemaker.
  • The relative needs of the two spouses.
  • The marital misconduct of either of the spouses during the marriage.
  • The federal, state and local tax consequences of the alimony.
  • Whether the spouse seeking alimony lacks sufficient property to provide for their reasonable needs.
  • Whether the spouse seeking alimony is incapable of supporting themselves through appropriate employment.

[1] Title 7, Pennsylvania Code, ยง6102.

Division of Assests

In Pennsylvania “marital property” means all property acquired by either party during the marriage and the increase in value of any non-marital property acquired. However, marital property does not include:

Veterans’ benefits exempt from attachment, levy or seizure pursuant to the act of September 2, 1958 (Public Law 85-857, 72 Stat. 1229), as amended, except for those benefits received by a veteran where the veteran has waived a portion of his military retirement pay in order to receive veterans’ compensation.

Property to the extent to which the property has been mortgaged or otherwise encumbered in good faith for value prior to the date of final separation.

Any payment received as a result of an award or settlement for any cause of action or claim which accrued prior to the marriage or after the date of final separation regardless of when the payment was received.

Property acquired prior to marriage or property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage.

Property excluded by valid agreement of the parties entered into before, during or after the marriage.
Property acquired by gift, except between spouses, bequest, devise or descent or property acquired in exchange for such property.

Property acquired after final separation until the date of divorce, except for property acquired in exchange for marital assets.

Property which a party has sold, granted, conveyed or otherwise disposed of in good faith and for value prior to the date of final separation.

Pennsylvania states that the increase in value of any non-marital property acquired pursuant to subsection shall be measured from the date of marriage or later acquisition date to either the date of final separation or the date as close to the hearing on equitable distribution as possible, whichever date results in a lesser increase.

How To Expand Your Family Law Practice: Ten Money Making Tips For Divorce Lawyers

The divorce rate in the United States is likely to rise over the next five years due to the ten sociological trends that will be outlined below.

These changes will create an abundance of work and opportunities for family lawyers and matrimonial lawyers.

  • In a bad economy, some people stay in bad relationships because they feel trapped. In short, they can not afford to leave their spouse. Today’s economy is quite strong. Home prices are rising and the stock market has been on the rise. Many people who are unhappy with their marriages can now afford to terminate these unfulfilling relationships.
  • The opioid crisis, the heroin crisis, the increase in alcohol abuse will create a lot of familial stress and will contribute to marital disintegration in America. Interestingly, many private corporations are now investing in drug treatment center to profit from the increased need for these services.
  • Domestic violence often coexists with addictions and substance abuse. Spouses in violent relationships will need to be protected by family lawyers and by the criminal justice system.
  • The rising number of people who are addicted to pornography, video games and social media will continue to put a strain on marriages and on family life. Many clinicians and attorneys are seeing the impact of these kinds of addictions on marriages and on intimate relationships.
  • Laws allowing same sex marriages create more relationships. More relationships means that there will also be more relationships which end in divorce.
  • Internet dating has made it very easy to meet, to hook up with people and find another spouse. Consequently, people are not afraid of being alone and will not hesitate to remove themselves from an unhappy marriage.
  • The public is now more aware of the value and utility of pre nuptial and post nuptial agreements. Attorneys will need to create more and more of these contracts.
  • Infertility treatments are creating many complicated legal issues for couples. Who owns the fertilized eggs is merely one example of the kind of legal issues that this relatively new technology is generating for families and for their lawyers.
  • The growth of mediation will simplify and shorten the divorce process and make it easier and less expensive to terminate a failing marriage. Consequently, more people will be likely to utilize the legal system to end their marriages.
  • Similarly, collaborative divorce is gaining in popularity and is creating another viable route to divorce for some couples in America.

 

Finding a Good Family Lawyer

Family lawyers are needed in different situations including divorce. Such situations are very stressful and if you are not careful, you may have a very hard time during such times. There is a need to have a professional with a deep understanding of the law on your side so as to handle different situations that you may not know how to handle completely. This can make the process much easier for you and the whole family.

When you are looking for a family lawyer, there are some qualities that should be outstanding. These will help you know whether the person you have chosen to represent you is capable of handling himself and the case at hand. Some important qualities include:

  1. Communication: the lawyer should be able to communicate and communicate well. This is very critical. The lawyer needs to be able to communicate in an easy and clear manner. When you have a lawyer, it is necessary that you are able to voice your expectations and concerns. It is the job of the lawyer to explain things clearly to you as well as those that have to do with the case and to give you expectations that are realistic. The lawyer should also be able to communicate with other parties to the case. Good communication leads to effective negotiations keeping costs down. A good communicator will also be very helpful should the case go to court.
  2. Experience and skills: while it is important to have an attorney to represent you, it is important that he is able to represent you well. So as to do this, skills are required. A case such a divorce can touch on many aspects of family life as we know it. This may include career, retirement, finances and so on. The lawyer should be experienced and very knowledgeable so as to make sure that all your interests are protected. Experience in family law cases is an added advantage especially if such a case has a lot of similarities with yours.
  3. Availability: when you are searching for a representative, make sure it is a person that is available in all the important points of your case. If he can’t be present all the time, he should have support available to cover when he has other matters to attend to. The lawyer should avail himself to respond to questions in a good and timely way, he should work with timeframes so as to reassure you of his dedication. He shouldn’t be too held up with pother cases so as to be able to pay attention to yours.
  4. Composure: your family lawyer should be able to maintain his composure at all times. This isn’t only about staying focused and calm, but also exhibiting a lot of self-control when in the courtroom or when dealing with other lawyers, even if he feels frustrated, your interests need to represent very strongly but he shouldn’t take things too personally when the turn of events isn’t completely to his favor.
  5. Support and resources: lawyers have other clients too, and it is not possible that they will always be available to answer questions every time something comes up. It helps when the lawyer has a team working with him so that even emergencies can be handled swiftly.

Why Should We Hire Family Law Practice

Family law can be defined as a practice that is closely concerned with the legal issues that have to do with family relationships like child custody, divorce and adoption. The lawyers who practice in this area usually deal with divorce, child support and so on. There are those that choose to specialize in emancipation, paternity, and adoption or any matters that relate to divorce. Formal requirements have to be reasonable and that is usually determined by the state. This includes things like legal capacity, age and same sex marriages. The state is also responsible for setting out the procedures and the rules that govern divorce as well as other matters related to family law.

Important terms to family lawyers

Emancipation: this is a process of the court whereby a person or a minor is allowed to be self-supporting. This means that he assumes the responsibilities of an adult for his welfare and won’t be under the parents.

Marital property: this is the kind of property that was acquired by a spouse while they were married and that needs to be divided when they divorce.

Alimony: this is the allowance that is given to a spouse for support when they are legally divorced or separated or when they are awaiting either of the two.

Paternity: the descent or origin from father. Establishing paternity means that you are confirming who the biological father of the child is.

Prenuptial agreement: this is an agreement that is usually made between two parties before they get married. Here, future rights to property are given in case death or divorce occurs.

Why hire a family lawyer?

Many of the family lawyers offer their services during divorce proceedings and other matters that may be related to divorce. Family law is a broad practice however, and it includes areas like reproductive rights and foster care. Some of the reasons as to why you may need a family lawyer include:

Divorce: every partner hires a lawmaker who is responsible for the creation of a settlement plan so as not to go top trail. They are usually people who can be able to divide any marital property, proposing child custody scenarios, and also calculating spousal support.

Child support/ child custody: the court orders and agreements on settlement involve support and custody and can be included in divorce cases that are larger. These can be revisited if any conditions change like the financial standing of a parent.

Paternity: sometimes a mother can file such a case as they try to secure some child support payments from the father. Also, a father can file a paternity case so as to be able to have a kind of relationship with a child. DNA testing is used for the determination.

Adoption: foster care and adoption is both complex. The process can differ and usually factors like where a child is from and state laws can affect the process. A family lawyer can be able to handle all these. A foster parent can sometimes adopt a foster child. The entire foster process sometimes doesn’t require any kind of legal representation.

Does the Age You Get Married Impact Divorce Rates?

There are many factors in a marriage that can cause or contribute to a divorce. The truth is, the causes for divorces in the United States, like relationships, are very complicated. Even though the divorce rate in America has dropped, in large part due to the Millennial Generation, there are numerous reasons why married couples do not make it until death do they part – one of which is the age they got married.

All Marriages Require Hard Work

Unfortunately marriages do not last based solely on personal chemistry or physical attraction. When you choose to get married, you are vowing to love your partner for better or worse. No one gets married expecting to divorce. However, studies have shown that variables such as age, income, employment status, and education have significant impacts on U.S. marriages.

How Age, Income, and Education Affect Divorce

According to The Institute for Family Studies the ideal age to get married is in your late twenties, but why? When you decide to get married at an older age, your odds of divorce decline because at this stage in your life you usually have a higher education, a more stable job and are more established financially. With a higher level of education, your potential to earn more money is greater. Couples who experience more tension in their marriage from things such as a lack of money and maturity, frequently find themselves turning what were just thoughts of divorce into a reality.

The Divorce Rate Is Dropping Thanks to Millennials

Younger Americans are waiting much longer to get married. The national median marriage age as of 2011 for a woman’s first marriage was 27 years old, and for men was 29 years old; the highest median marriage age in decades for men and the highest ever for women. In 2005 the national median marriage age for a woman’s first marriage was 25 and for men was 27.

Many young folks have decided not to get married at all and choose instead other arrangements. It is much more common now, and many consider it more convenient, to move in with his or her partner without having to worry about the social pressures from society to get married first. With the average divorce happening about 12 years in to the marriage, we will have to wait and see if this recent generation of newlyweds will continue to keep their vows.

Divorce 101 for Filipinos

Here’s a situation: A and B, both Filipinos, went to the United States to get married. After several years, marital troubles started to occur between the couple and after efforts at reconciliation failed, the two started to part ways. They figured that since they were married in abroad, they decided to get a divorce in the US.

Upon return to the Philippines, after obtaining a decree of divorce, A and B mutually divided their properties between them and went their separate ways. Now, here’s where it gets tricky: Apparently, A incurred debts after their ‘divorce’. And now creditors are after not just A’s properties but also that B’s, which left the latter distraught. Is this even possible? Yes.

First things first: Divorce is NOT applicable to Filipinos. Even if the couple successfully obtains a decree of divorce, the same is VOID in the Philippines. In effect, in the eyes of the law, the couple is still legally bound as husband and wife.

Art. 15, otherwise known as the Nationality Principle, of the New Civil Code provides:

Laws relating to family rights and duties, or to the status, condition and legal capacity of persons are binding upon citizens of the Philippines, even though living abroad.

Given this, the creditors may go after the property of B as the same forms part of the community property of with A. After all, they are still a married couple.

However, Divorce obtained outside the country, may, in certain instances, be recognized in the Philippines. How?

Article 26 of the Family Code, reads:

All marriages solemnized outside the Philippines in accordance with the laws in force in the country where they were solemnized, and valid there as such, shall also be valid in this country, except those prohibited under Articles 35(1), (4), (5) and (6), 36, 37 and 38.

Where a marriage between a Filipino citizen and a foreigner is validly celebrated and a divorce is thereafter validly obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating him or her to remarry, the Filipino spouse shall have capacity to remarry under Philippine law.

What makes this provision applicable to Filipinos are the presence of the following elements:

  1. That the there is a valid marriage between a Filipino and a foreigner.
  2. That the alien spouse obtains the divorce abroad and such decree capacitates him/her to remarry.

What if the Filipino later on became a naturalized foreign citizen, is this now applicable to him? It depends. In Republic vs. Orbecido III, the Supreme Court ruled that: “The reckoning point is not the citizenship of the parties at the time of marriage, but their citizenship at the time a valid divorce is obtained abroad by the alien spouse capacitating the latter to remarry.”

Three Categories of Family Law Documents

This branch of the law covers all legal matters that pertain to a family. This can include marriages, divorces, prenuptial agreements, adoption, civil unions, property settlement, child custody and visitation and more. To become an attorney that deals with family law you have to first get your bachelor’s degree, attend law school and then pass the bar but if you plan to specialize in family law there are many different specialties to choose from, including adoption, neglect, abuse, divorce, paternity, custody and visitation, paternity, and more.

Marital unions

Under this category marital unions include civil and traditional marriage unions. It rarely includes formal pleadings. The reason is that this area of the progress of family life is less contentious. This means that not many couples at this stage are filing actions against each other. Some of the documents include:

  • Name change forms
  • Certificates of marriage
  • Prenuptial or premarital agreements

These documents may be called by other names in different jurisdictions but they all cover the same area. Some jurisdictions may also enable other types of actions under the category of martial unions but the general concepts as to what is handled by these forms, agreements, and certificates are common in all jurisdictions.

Marital termination

This category is where you will find most of the documents. These documents deal with marital terminations and include divorce, separation, and annulment. One of the parties will initiate a court action to sue for relief. These particular documents will mirror the types of pleadings that are filed. In addition to asking for termination of the marriage the documents can also include replies to the court action filed and any counterclaims. Some of the more common documents can include motions to restrain a spouse from deleting the marital assets, temporary alimony, and court costs. This category of family law documents include all the attachments and forms that are used to establish the marital estate as part of the proof that will be needed to reach an amicable and fair divorce settlement.

Parent-child relations

In this category are the actions that will do the following:

  • Appoint a legal guardian
  • Establish paternity
  • Deal with the issues of support, custody, and visitation
  • Removing a child from a home for cause

The petitions can also include motions to modify an order for child support, and motions for contempt for failure for either party to comply with any prior court orders.

As you can see there are many different documents that a family law attorney has to deal with so that is why many specialize in one particular area although some may practice in more than one area. To be sure which specialty volunteer to work for a family law firm.

All You Need to Know About Family Law

Law, the term is associated with rules and regulations that the government of a country sets for its subjects. The subjects or the people who come under this law has to follow or abide by them. If violated, the person can be liable to undergo punishments as the concerned authority will wish them to go through. This is a state law. This has many divisions. Under this, the family law is a part. Law can also be there set by the head of a corporation or an organization. In that case, it cannot be called a state law, it is for the concerned organization. This article will deal in detail with family law. To know more continue reading.

Definition

As the name suggests, the law is concerned with matters regarding a family. It can be the family issues, like relationships, divorce, child custody or adoption of a child. The state is the supreme head who has the final say in such matters. A family seeking judgment must make an appeal before the court of law and have to patiently wait for the proceedings to take place.

Some Common Terms Related to Family Law

Marital Property- The property attained by either of the spouses during their marriage. This property becomes the point of division if they want to get divorced.

Emancipation- If the guardian of a minor dies, and if through court proceedings assumes adult responsibilities and becomes self-supporting for his or her own welfare. In this case, the minor does not remain under the care of his or her parents.

Prenuptial Agreement- An agreement, made before the marriage of a man and woman where they give up any future right to one another’s property in case of divorce or death.

Alimony- An allowance given by one spouse to another to support themselves after divorce or legal separation.

Paternity- This means to establish a confirmed identity of a child with his or her biological father.

How Are the Family Matters Solved?

If there is an issue in the family, which the members are not able to solve by themselves they can seek the local court for justice. In the first place, they must approach a lawyer who deals in such types of cases. Discussing the matter with him or her and taking an advice, one can submit their appeal to the court. The court through its several sittings will listen to the case and offer a suitable solution for both the parties.