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Monroeville Family Law Blog

Child custody dispute centers on radicalization claims

When most couples go before a Pennsylvania family court to argue over the care and custody of a shared child, their legal positions are relatively standard. One parent often feels that he or she is better able to provide the care and attention a child needs. In some cases, however, a parent makes assertions that are far outside the norm. Such is the case in a recent child custody case in which a mother claims that her former husband is attempting to radicalize her son during visitation time.

The couple divorced in 2013 and share two children together. According to the woman, her former husband began embracing extreme interpretations of their Islamic faith during the marriage. He allegedly began demanding that she dress in a traditional manner and expressed his desire to take on an additional wife.

For millennials, property division is a part of wedding planning

Family law attorneys report that more and more young people are coming in for prenups prior to tying the knot. These young couples are serious about their commitment but also incredibly levelheaded about matters of financial responsibility and the risk of property division. Very often, drafting a prenup is simply another part of the wedding preparation checklist, for couples in Pennsylvania or elsewhere.

Many of these young people have waited to marry until after they've established themselves in their desired career field. Some have even found success with businesses or investments years before walking down the aisle. Because they bring considerable assets into the marriage, they have an interest in protecting that wealth from potential loss during property division.

Same-sex parents still face child custody challenges

Most Pennsylvania residents are aware that the Supreme Court legitimized same-sex marriage several years ago. What many are not aware of is that parental rights and status were not expressly granted in that decision. That has left many same-sex parents facing an uphill battle when it comes to asserting their rights to remain closely connected with their child through a fair child custody determination.

An example is found in a current case in which two women married and then sought the services of a sperm donor to bring their son into the world. When their marriage came to an end, the women were unable to reach an agreement regarding parenting rights and responsibilities. The woman who gave birth to the boy claimed that she has the only legal motherhood status.

Court rules in child support case, orders man to pay big

There are currently Pennsylvania parents fighting over post-divorce financial provision of their children. Some situations are more acrimonious than others. Such problems are not isolated to this state, however, as made evident by a recent court ruling in another that resulted in a man being ordered to pay $40,000 in back child support.

The case originally entered litigation after a woman said the man had not paid her court-ordered child support in two years. The 57-year-old man was then indicted for felony non-support by a county grand jury. He subsequently turned himself in to authorities.

Dean McDermott accused of dodging child support

Pennsylvania social network fans of Tori Spelling may be familiar with recent posts the superstar shared, featuring personal clothing items for sale online. Some say the situation may be related to issues Dean McDermott, Spelling's husband, is facing regarding allegedly owed child support. Some Spelling fans took to her defense on social media, saying anyone can sell anything they want, famous or not.

Others apparently believe such means for making money should be reserved to non-famous people. Speculation regarding the Spelling-McDermott financial situation includes conjecture that a lawsuit filed by McDermott's former wife has thrust the couple into a downward spiral where money is concerned. The former spouse has accused McDermott of dodging approximately $100,000 in child support payments.

Which estate planning documents will help you meet your goals?

You've been thinking about the future and the idea that life is short, even for those who are fortunate enough to maintain good health in mind and body. However, after reading several news stories about various music and movie stars who died without ever executing final wills and testaments, you have determined that you do not wish to place your Pennsylvania loved ones in a similar situation when the time comes for you to go. The stress and headaches they may endure if your estate becomes intestate are many.

That's why you've been considering filing an estate plan. The problem is you're not quite sure how to begin other than knowing it's typically not the greatest idea to simply gather your family around your coffee table and announce who gets what when you die (although some people do that, but it doesn't usually turn out so well).

Understanding the role of debt in property division

When most Pennsylvania residents consider the division of marital wealth, they think about assets such as investments and real estate. It's important to understand that property division encompasses not only assets, but also debt. Failing to properly consider how debt can impact the property division process can yield unfavorable outcomes for certain spouses.

In general, individual spouses are responsible for debt that they brought into the marriage. After exchanging vows, however, new debt that is acquired is very often considered to be jointly held. The manner in which debt is handled during divorce varies from one state to the next.

Common law marriage and property division

Not all states recognize common law marriage, and many that once accepted the practice will now only recognize those unions that began many years ago. For Pennsylvania couples who choose to live together in a committed relationship outside of marriage, a number of legal issues can arise when that relationship ends. An example is found in a recent case in which a man and woman struggled over matters of property division and alimony based on a common law marriage.

The couple began dating in 1994, when the man was still legally married to another woman. They had a child together, and even though the man proposed marriage several times, the woman expressed no interest in changing the legal status of their relationship. When the relationship ended in 2016, the woman filed for divorce.

Understanding fathers' rights in cases involving addiction

Many Pennsylvania fathers believe that they will come out on top in a custody battle against a spouse with a drug or alcohol problem. In reality, however, courts take a very conservative approach when it comes to limiting a parent's access to his or her child. It's important to understand how fathers' rights play out in a child custody case involving addiction.

If the other parent has a clear history of child abuse or neglect connected to alcohol or drug addiction, the courts are likely to place limitations on visitation. That can mean supervised visitation for a period of time, or visitation only in the presence of a trained therapist. In some cases, an addicted parent is prohibited from visitation until the addiction is under control. 

Knowing when to divorce and consider fathers' rights

For many Pennsylvania men, knowing when to pull the plug on a relationship is a difficult matter. No one wants to give up on a marriage, especially when there is any chance of improving the relationship. That said, there are situations in which divorce may be the best path forward. Men can benefit from understanding when it may be better to simply move on and focus on fathers' rights.

One example is when a couple has tried counseling yet found no relief. Successful couples counseling depends upon two committed individuals who are fully prepared to embrace the counseling process. If one spouse is reluctant or bitter about being forced to attend therapy, there is very little chance of a successful outcome. Even when both partners are committed to the process, it is still possible that they may decide that they would be happier living apart than remaining together.

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