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Monroeville Family Law Blog

When medical issues call for a child support modification

As much as you hope that your child will never suffer from a serious medical issue, it happens. When it does, financially supporting that child's needs along with the needs of any other children you have may seem an impossible task. Thankfully, in Pennsylvania a child support order can be modified when circumstances change. A child suffering a medical issue generally meets the necessary qualifications.

Accidents and illness are an unfortunate reality in this life. While for the vast majority of people the outcomes are not severe, for others these things can have life-changing effects. It is not always possible to be financially prepared for something like that.

What to do when one spouse keeps assets from property division

Billionaire Harry Macklowe and wife Linda are getting a divorce after 58 years of marriage. A lot of property is at stake, including an art collection that is valued around $1 billion dollars. Harry is said to be selling off part of the collection in an effort keep the funds for himself. While most divorcing couples in Pennsylvania are not dealing with assets like those involved in this case, trying to keep assets from property division can cause a whole lot of trouble for the offending spouse.

According to a recent report, one piece that the Macklowes own is going up for auction at Christie's this month. The Roy Lichtenstein painting is listed for sale from an anonymous seller. Its value, an astonishing $35 million. Other pieces are also rumored to have been sold or are in the process of being sold.

What does it mean to be granted legal child custody?

Figuring out a parenting plan when going through a divorce or separation can be a challenging task for parents in Pennsylvania. Obviously, physical child custody is a big issue and the vast majority of parents just want to make sure that their children are put in the best environment possible. What about legal custody, though? Which parent will get the right to make important decisions for his or her child?

The parent who is granted legal custody will get to make decisions about his or her child's health care concerns, education, religious upbringing, extracurricular activities, education and various other issues that directly affect the child's growth and development. These are decisions that any parent feels is his or her right to make. However, if legal custody is only awarded to one parent, that means that the other will not be given a say in these matters. That can be a tough pill to swallow for some.

The special concerns of a high asset divorce

Every divorce is not created equal. Yes, there will be a division of assets, both positive and negative, and the discussion of financial support for one spouse and/or  any children and custody concerns to figure out -- if applicable. However, one's financial status will affect how everything is eventually worked out in the end. Pennsylvania residents who are going through a high asset divorce simply have special concerns that others going through the dissolution process may not have.

So, what are these special concerns? First, property division. A high-net worth couple is likely to have a fairly complex financial portfolio. Gathering all the information needed to determine real value and how everything can be split requires time, patience and help from accountants or other financial advisors.

Fighting for fathers' rights is difficult but worth it

A father in another state has been through a lot in trying to gain custody of his daughter. Unfortunately, in certain circumstances, the court is not very forgiving. While fighting for father's rights is difficult, many in Pennsylvania and elsewhere would agree that it is worth it.

The case of one man has been in the news quite a bit. The 24-year-old has been fighting for custody of his daughter, who is now 2 years old, for over a year now. According to reports, this gentleman was not married to the child's mother and the couple had separated before she was born. However, he took an active role in caring for the child until the Department of Child and Family Services took the baby into its custody. Eventually the mother abandoned her parental rights, and the father, who had not yet been legally declared the girl's father, was denied visitation rights.

Lottery winnings could soon be taken to pay child support arrears

A bill was recently passed by the Pennsylvania House of Representatives that would allow the state to take lottery winnings from those who owe certain debts. According to a recent report, this applies to those parents who are behind on making their child support payments. While there are other enforcement options already in place, this will -- if passed -- just add to the options available for custodial parents to collect the money owed them.

House Bill 674, as it is known, now waits for senate approval. If this piece of legislation is ultimately signed into law, it will allow the state's Department of Revenue to intercept the lottery winnings of those who owe taxes, court-ordered restitution or child support. In order to do this, the lottery prize will have to be at least $2,500.

What does earning capacity have to do with property division?

Those in Pennsylvania who are going through the divorce process simply want to leave their marriages with their fair share of assets, which is a reasonable desire. The definition of fair in such cases, though, is different for everybody. For example, if you are the spouse with a higher earning capacity, you may be granted less in your property division settlement. Is that reasonable? The court and your soon-to-be ex may think so.

Property division can be a rather tricky thing to figure out. Pennsylvania law supports equitable distribution in divorce. This does not mean that everything will be split down the middle. Rather, it simple means that, depending on a few factors, one should walk away with roughly 50 percent of marital property.

Collaboration may offer you a better way to divorce

Divorce is a difficult process for every member of the family. Even when two parties are amicable and willing to work together on a divorce order, it can still be complicated and disputes can still arise. The traditional divorce process may not be appealing to you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse, but there may be a better, more peaceful way to get through this process.

Collaborative divorce offers Pennsylvania couples a way to both avoid litigation and resolve issues in a way that is peaceful and respectful. Collaboration has many benefits, but it does require that both parties be willing and able to work together and talk through difficult divorce-related issues.

Pennsylvania child custody basics

State laws regarding child custody matters are always evolving. While changes are generally made for a good cause, it can also make things confusing for those who are trying to understand how the system works. This week's column will give a brief overview of the current child custody laws in Pennsylvania.

There are two types of custody that are recognized by the state -- sole and joint. Sole custody may be granted to one parent for a number of reasons; however, when possible, courts are leaning toward joint custody arrangements. When children have a strong relationship with both of their parents, it is believed that a shared custody plan will be of benefit to their emotional well-being.

How to collect child support from a parent living out of state

Relocation for employment or other personal needs is a part of life for a lot of people. While that may be so, when a noncustodial parent moves out of state, it can make collecting child support a bit of a challenge. However, enforcement options are available to assist custodial parents in Pennsylvania in obtaining the ordered support.

If a noncustodial parent moves out of state and stops making his or her child support payments, what can the custodial parent do to rectify the situation? He or she can turn to the support enforcement agency in the noncustodial parent's new home state for help. This cannot be accomplished by making a simple phone call, however.

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