Archive for March, 2016

ENM Law News: ARD for DUI and Simple Assault Charges

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

A recent client came to ENM Law for help with DUI and Simple Assault charges. It is alleged that this client was found asleep at the wheel of his car in the middle of the street and scuffled with police officers when arrested. One of the officers was injured as was the client. This client’s original ARD application was denied because of his alleged conduct with police and later with doctors at the hospital and because of his alleged extreme level of intoxication. This client was facing a mandatory 72 hour jail sentence for the DUI and a maximum permissible sentence of two years of incarceration for each of the two Simple Assault charges. On behalf of her client, Attorney Ebner wrote to the District Attorney and asked him to reconsider for a variety of reasons. Ultimately, because of Attorney Ebner’s representation, this client was approved for the ARD program and has the opportunity to avoid a jail sentence and conviction.

If you’ve been charged with DUI or assault in Reading, PA, you need an experienced criminal attorney on your side. Call our DUI and criminal attorneys at 610-372-5128 or email us at info@enmlaw.com.

Spotlight Issue: Division of Assets – Equitable Distribution

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

One of the biggest points of contention in a divorce can be division of the parties’ assets. If no prenuptial agreement has been signed then Pennsylvania law governs how assets are divided. Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state which means that if the case goes to trial, a judge will ensure that property is divided fairly, but not necessarily equally. That is important to remember when trying to negotiate a property agreement in an effort to avoid trial. The only property that is considered in the determination is marital property so the first step in the process is for the court to determine what property will be included. The court will then need to determine the value of the marital property before determining a fair distribution. The value is based on “fair market value.” The last step in the equitable distribution process is the actual division of property.

How does a judge decide what is a fair distribution of property? The court will look to the 11 factors set out in 23 Pa.C.S. Sec. 3502. Those factors are as follows:

- The length of the marriage

- Any prior marriage of either party

- The age, health, station, amount and sources of income, vocational skills, employability,
estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties

- The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the
other party

- The opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income

- The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement,
insurance or other benefits

- The contribution or dissipation of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as homemaker.

- The value of the property set apart to each party

- The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage

- The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property is to become
effective

- Whether the party will be serving as the custodian of any dependent minor children

Courts will not consider whether a party was at fault for the divorce in determining the distribution of property. Some of these factors have clear answers, but other factors are subjective and the court will need to hear arguments as to why a factor should be decided in one party’s favor. The court will use these factors to determine what percentage of the property each party is entitled to (example 60/40) and then distribute each item of property accordingly.

Division of property is complicated and having an experienced divorce lawyer represent you is the best way to protect your interests. If you’re considering filing a divorce in Berks County or you are already involved in a divorce and need a knowledge divorce attorney to help you, contact our Reading, PA family law attorneys at 610-372-5128 or email us at info@enmlaw.com.

Spotlight Issue: Division of Assets – Prenuptial Agreements

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

A prenuptial agreement is a way that couples can address division of assets in case of divorce. These agreements are generally governed by the law of contracts and the validity of prenups is specifically discussed in 23 Pa.C.S. Sec. 3106.

A prenuptial agreement is signed before the wedding. While we traditionally think about prenups being used when there are large amounts of money or businesses at stake, prenups can also be useful for second or subsequent marriages when there are children that need to be provided for from a previous relationship. A prenup can be written to include anything that the couple wants.

Pennsylvania court used to consider the fairness of prenups when determining enforceability, but that is no longer the case. Sec. 306 states that the party looking to set aside the agreement must show that one of the following is true:

– the complaining party did not sign the agreement voluntarily (fraud or force was used); or

– prior to signing the agreement, the complaining party was not given a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party and the complaining party did not waive in writing a right to a complete disclosure and the complaining party did not have adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other party

If no prenuptial agreement is in place, then Pennsylvania’s laws on division of assets will apply. It is difficult to invalidate a prenup in Pennsylvania, so it is in your best interest to make sure that all of your rights are protected before you sign.

If you are considering using a prenuptial agreement for your marriage or need to have an agreement that given to you reviewed, contact our Berks County family law and divorce attorneys at 610-372-5128 or email us at info@enmlaw.com.