When it comes to Pennsylvania family law, you may have many questions regarding divorce, child custody, spousal support, and how your assets will be divided. It’s a lot to handle alone. To help, the Scranton family lawyer at Kalinoski Law Offices has put together a list of frequently asked questions regarding Pennsylvania family law.
Are divorce records public?
In Pennsylvania, divorce and marriage records are public. However, to find them, you must go to the county courthouse where the marriage was issued or the divorce decree was granted.
You can find a list of all of the Pennsylvania county courthouses here.
Can child custody be changed?
Child custody can be changed in Pennsylvania through a child custody modification order. Because this change impacts the child’s life, all parties will go through another hearing as they first received the custody order.
The court will consider what is in the best interest of the child when ruling on a modification, and what reasons the modification was asked for.
What is alimony?
In Pennsylvania, spousal support refers to the financial support provided to a spouse after a legal separation and prior to the filing of a divorce complaint. Alimony is the form of financial payments to the spouse after a final divorce decree is entered by the court.
Alimony Pendente Lite (APL) is a form of spousal support that one party can receive prior to the issuance of a final divorce decree.
How long do I receive spousal support?
While no law exists, the common rule in the court system is that the spouse receiving support will receive one year of alimony for every three years of marriage.
However, there are other factors that go into determining spousal support aside from the length of marriage such as:
- Your income and the income of your spouse
- Age and physical health
- The quality of life you and your spouse enjoyed while married
- Current employment and skills
How does child relocation work?
In Pennsylvania, if the custodial parent wishes to relocate with their child, they are required to file a formal notice to the non-relocating parent with at least 60 days’ notice if this move would impact the non-custodial parent’s ability to exercise their custodial rights.
However, if the non-custodial parent does not agree to the relocation, court intervention is required prior to moving and the court will decide what is in the child’s best interest.
What happens if I can’t pay child support?
If you are behind on child support, there are options to ensure your child is taken care of. You may be able to file a child support modification if you have experienced a change in income, which may alter your child support requirements.
How do you divide marital assets?
If you and your ex are unable to agree upon how assets will be divided in the divorce, the court will decide based on the “equitable distribution” model.
Along with a variety of factors that will determine the division of assets, the courts will also look at separate and marital property to determine which property goes to which individual.
What is the purpose of a prenuptial and/or postnuptial agreement?
A prenuptial agreement protects those individuals who are entering a marriage who are bringing significant assets into the marriage and wish to protect those assets from the equitable distribution process if a divorce occurs later on.
A postnuptial agreement is entered into after a couple is married, often for the same or similar reasons that the prenuptial agreement. The only main difference is how they tend to take into account things that are known rather than assumed during a prenuptial agreement, like property and children.
Is a separation agreement legal?
In Pennsylvania, a separation agreement is a legally bound civil contract between spouses to resolve their personal matters.
Once a couple no longer behaves as spouses, a separation has occurred.
Can you sue for grandparents’ rights?
Pennsylvania grandparents are able to seek visitation or “reasonable partial custody” if a parent of the child has died, or if the parents are divorced, have filed for divorce, or have been separated for a minimum of six months.
If their legal status also deems it appropriate, grandparents can also request physical or legal custody of a child under certain circumstances.
What should I do if I suspect my ex is doing drugs?
If you suspect drug and or alcohol abuse by your ex, you probably have a lot of concerns for the well-being of your children, which may mean you need a child custody modification plan.
Because of alcohol and drug use, the courts will need documentation. And, if your ex doesn’t respond to court complaints, you may need to file with the Department of Child Protective Services.
What rights do I have if CPS is called?
If CPS is called because there is suspicious activity or the belief that abuse or neglect is occurring, you still have rights as a parent.
Basic rights include:
- If your child is removed from your custody during the investigation, you have a right to request your child to be placed in the care of a relative or family friend.
- You can appeal the CPS decision and in some cases create a family service plan in order to regain custody of your child or children.
Remember, CPS is not an arresting authority; they just have the ability to seek legal action so long as merit exists.
I need a PFA lawyer near me. Can Kalinoski Law help?
If you or your children are the victims of domestic violence in NEPA, including physical, emotional, or psychological abuse, Kalinoski Law Offices P.C. can help you get relief and prevent the abuser from having further contact with you via a PFA. We will work promptly and decisively to help you get the legal protection you need to secure your safety.
What can be used against me in a divorce?
Divorce is complicated and when there are elements of your personal life out on the internet, there is a lot that can be used against you. When social media comes into play in a divorce, the types of things the court will be using your online profiles for are:
- Emotional and mental state
- Who the person is talking to
- Where and when someone is traveling
- Evidence of how money is being spent
- What the person is doing
- Who the person is spending time with
What is an uncontested divorce?
An uncontested divorce or mutual consent divorces are simple because they’re considered a “no-fault” divorce where both parties are in agreement that the divorce should take place.
To get an uncontested or no-fault divorce, you need to prove that the marriage issues are irreconcilable, that both parties agree to the reasoning of the divorce, and they both are willing to sign a divorce affidavit.
For more information on family law topics in Pennsylvania, visit our blog.