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Monroeville Family Law Blog

Could a rapist receive child custody rights?

When a child is born by means of sexual assault, people are forced to re-examine their definition of the terms "mother" and "father." While a rapist may certainly meet the definition of biological father, virtually no one would argue that he shouldn't be allowed to play a role in that child's life. Pennsylvania readers may be shocked to hear that a child custody case in a different state forced a woman to file a paternity matter against the man who raped her when she was only 12 years of age.

The mother, now 21 years old, was not seeking any financial or other support from her child's biological father. She had simply filed for financial assistance through her state Department of Health and Human Services. Part of that process required her to file a paternity and child support action against her child's father.

Is your ex stalking you?

From time to time, everyone gets the feeling someone is watching them. The feeling may be especially strong after watching a scary movie or reading about a terrible crime. However, you may be living your own nightmare if you are going through the divorce process and your ex is stalking you.

There may have been a time when it seemed romantic for a jilted lover to follow you around, trying to get close to you. However, the romance dissipates quickly when you begin to feel uncomfortable or unsafe. Of course, if your ex was abusive, there is certainly nothing romantic about stalking.

Dissipation can lead to unfair property division outcomes

For many Pennsylvania residents, the sheer volume of tasks that must be accomplished during the course of a divorce can feel overwhelming. That can be especially true in cases where one spouse allowed his or her partner to handle the bulk of family finances. Failure to understand the full scope of marital assets makes it impossible to negotiate a fair and favorable division of wealth during the property division process.

Another matter that can lead to an unfair division of marital wealth is when one party has acted to intentionally deplete the financial resources of the family. Some spouses will go to great lengths to try and hide or otherwise shield assets from the property division process. Without a carefully trained eye reviewing all financial documentation, these efforts could be successful.

Some child custody cases more complex than others

Very often, Pennsylvania residents will hear or see media coverage of a custody battle that includes sensational details. Many times, these cases make for good television but often fail to reflect the realities of the matter. There are child custody cases in which parents are maligned and humiliated long before the full facts emerge. An example might be found in a recent case that has made headlines across the nation.

A 3-year-old boy was recently found alone in a corn maze. Such mazes are an autumn tradition in many parts of the country, which feature elaborate mazes created entirely out of live cornstalks. In this case, it appears that the child spent hours alone in the maze after his family departed.

Child custody, child support and your tax return

For many Pennsylvania residents going through a divorce, next year's tax return is likely the furthest thing from their minds. However, it is important to understand the implications that various divorce decisions will have on one's tax obligations. In regard to child custody and child support, there are numerous ways that a parent's tax return might be impacted.

For example, the issue of which parent has the right to claim a child as a dependent should be discussed during divorce negotiations. Many parents assume that the custodial parent will automatically receive the right to claim children as dependents. However, this is not the case. Parents can negotiate this matter the same way that they might negotiate all other aspects of their divorce and custody agreement.

Child custody dispute leads to mother's arrest

When two Pennsylvania parents are unable to see eye-to-eye over matters involving the care and custody of a shared child, it is important that both sides take a reasonable and measured approach. Allowing emotions to overwhelm reason can lead to serious negative outcomes. An example is found in the recent arrest of a mother who tried to flee with her child after a child custody battle.

In an attempt to avoid complying with a court order, the mother made the decision to take her toddler and leave their state of residence. She traveled to multiple areas before settling in the Pacific Northwest. There, she was able to find work and housing that would allow her to largely live under the radar.

Child custody dispute centers on vaccination debate

Many Pennsylvania parents begin their divorce process in the belief that custody issues will not lead to a contentious debate. Unfortunately, not all of those parents will be correct in that assessment. Very often, parents respond to reality of a divorce with an intense level of anger and bitterness, even when all parties agree that the marriage is no longer functioning. In such cases, child custody issues can dominate not only the divorce, but the years to follow.

An example is found in a couple who once shared the same approach about childhood vaccinations. They intentionally delayed immunizations for their child, due to concerns that grouping vaccinations together could be harmful to his health. Once the couple divorced, however, the issue of vaccination took center stage.

Should unmarried parents have separate child custody courtrooms?

In today's society, what was once considered the traditional American family is no longer the norm. A family unit comprised of a mother, father and one or more natural children is not the only socially acceptable option, in Pennsylvania or elsewhere. However, some courts across the country choose to handle child custody matters involving unwed parents differently from those in which the parties are or were married.

The state in question has a long history of disparity between married and unmarried litigants. In fact, state law once referred to the children of unmarried parents as "bastards." Until recently, one prominent Midwestern city held child custody hearings involving unwed parents in a completely separate courtroom.

Could collaborative law help you reach a custody agreement?

In recent years, more parents with family law issues have turned to alternative methods of resolving their disputes instead of going to court. The days of "airing dirty laundry" in open court are largely reserved for Hollywood entertainment. Not only do people not want the expensive and time-consuming court experience, but they also want to reach an agreement with which everyone can live.

One of those alternative methods is collaborative law. It could help parents like you who may find themselves struggling to negotiate a parenting plan to find common ground and make decisions that serve the best interests of the children, while creating a workable schedule for you and the other parent.

Inmates face particular property division challenges

When a Pennsylvania resident is incarcerated, he or she is largely cut off from the outside world. That can pose a problem in cases where the inmate wishes to seek a divorce. Very often, divorce, child custody and property division are matters that are nearly impossible to navigate while behind bars.

A large part of the problem lies in limited access to the court system. While convicted criminals often have ready access to resources related to the appeals process, they very rarely receive support or assistance in matters of civil or family litigation. That means that they can effectively become barred from pursuing a divorce.

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