Posts Tagged ‘berks county family law attorney’

ENM Law News: Recent Berks County custody cases

Monday, June 25th, 2018

Berks County custody cases often all follow a similar path. But sometimes a client comes to our office with an unusual set a circumstances and we have to think outside the box and act quickly. Here are details of two such Berks County custody cases that Attorney McAllister handled recently.

A father came into our office with concerns that his child’s mother was going to move to a different part of the country with the child. There was not a custody order in place. Attorney McAllister acted fast to prepare the case and was able to serve the mother with paperwork within 2 days of meeting the client. This quick turnaround is important because at the point that she was served, the mother was put on notice that there was a pending custody action. At the emergency custody hearing, Attorney McAllister asked the judge to issue a Writ of Nea Exeat which would prevent the mother from leaving Berks County. The judge agreed with Attorney McAllister’s argument and ordered the mother to keep the child in Berks County pending the custody case. Attorney McAllister was also able to secure partial physical custody rights for his client while the case proceeds through the normal custody process.

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The story of the next client began years before she came into our office. When the client’s child was very young, she moved out of Pennsylvania. Prior to her move, the father of the child filed a custody action in Berks County and the judge ordered that our client not leave Pennsylvania with the child. BUT, our client was never served with any of the paperwork relating to the custody case or the judge’s order. Years later, criminal charges were filed against our client for removing the child from Pennsylvania in violation of the court order and she was extradited back. The child was given to the father. Our client went 1 ½ months without seeing her child. After that, she came to our office and Attorney McAllister took her case. He filed for an emergency hearing and asked the judge to return the child to the mother. Attorney McAllister argued that the client was never given notice of the court order entered years ago and that it was in the best interest of the child to go back to the mother because the child had not had a relationship with the father. The judge agreed and granted our client primary physical custody of the child pending an outcome in the custody case. The child was returned to our client immediately after court.

A skilled attorney is always helpful in a Berks County custody case, but that is especially true when there are unusual circumstances. If you are facing the possibility of custody litigation, contact our experienced Reading, PA family law attorneys at 610-372-5128 or 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.

ENM Law News: Emergency Custody Petition

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Our Berks County family law attorneys were able to obtain sole physical custody for a client after divorce proceedings began. The opposing party in the divorce was refusing to allow our client to see his children so our attorneys filed an emergency custody petition asking that custody be given to our client. The hearing was expedited and the court granted our client sole custody of his children.

Divorce and custody proceedings can quickly become contentious and it’s important that you have a knowledgeable Berks County family law attorney on your side. Contact our custody attorneys today at 610-372-5128 or email us at info@enmlaw.com.

ENM Law News: Successful Family Law Outcomes

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016

A father came to ENM Law for assistance in getting custody of his daughter who lives in Berks County. At the point that he came to see Attorney Ebner, this client hadn’t seen his daughter in 7 months because the child’s mother refused to answer his calls and moved to a different residence without notifying him of the new address. Attorney Ebner immediately filed a custody complaint and was able to track down the mother to serve her. Despite the mother’s refusal to cooperate, Attorney Ebner was able to secure a custody order for this client which assures him visitation time with his daughter and allows him to take her out-of-state to visit her paternal grandparents.

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A mother of 2 came to ENM Law for help with her Berks County family law cases. The client’s husband had been using illegal drugs and was on a steady spiral downwards. This client needed custody, divorce and support cases filed on behalf of herself and her children. The husband eventually went to jail on theft offenses and the client stopped receiving support from him. Because of the work of Attorney Ebner, this client is now the sole legal and physical guardian of the children and also has exclusive possession of the marital residence that has been saved from foreclosure.

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Custody, support and divorce issues are too important to handle on your own. If you’re struggling with these issues in Berks County, contact our experienced Family Law attorneys at 610-372-5128 or email us at info@enmlaw.com.

Spotlight Issue: Custody Relocation

Saturday, March 21st, 2015

Pennsylvania has strict rules governing the relocation of a child. A parent or guardian cannot relocate with a child unless all parties with custodial rights have agreed to the move or the court has approved the relocation. Relocation is defined as a change in residence which significantly impairs the ability of a non-relocating party to exercise custodial rights. Pennsylvania law does not require that the move be out of the state to qualify as relocation.

Notice requirement – timing

The party proposing the relocation must notify anyone else with custodial rights at least 60 days before the proposed move. If the relocating party did not know and could not reasonably have known of the move within 60 days, and it is not reasonable to delay the move to comply with the 60 day notice requirement, then the relocating party must notify the non-relocating party within 10 days of learning about the need for the move.

Notice requirement – content

The notice of relocation must contain the following information

- new address (unless the relocating party is a victim of abuse in which case the address can be kept confidential)
- names and ages of all persons planning to live at the residence
- telephone number at the new residence, if available
- name of new school district and school
- date of proposed relocation
- proposal for revised custody schedule

Further, the relocating party is required to notify all non-relocating parties that they have 30 days from their receipt of the notice to file an objection to the relocation and that failure to object within those 30 days means that they will not be able to objection to the relocation in the future.

Failure to give reasonable notice

The court has several options when a relocating party fails to give non-relocating parties proper notice. The court can consider the failure as:

- a factor in determining whether or not to approve relocation
- a factor in determining whether or not to modify custody
- a basis for ordering the return of the child to the non-relocating party
- sufficient cause to order the relocating party to pay reasonable expenses and attorney’s fees paid for by the non-relocating party
- a ground for contempt and the imposition of sanctions against the relocating party

It is considered a mitigating factor if the failure to provide reasonable notice is the result of abuse.

Objection to relocation

If a custodial party objects to the relocation then he must file a counter-affidavit asking for an order to prevent the move. The counter-affidavit must be filed within 30 days of receiving notice of the proposed relocation and must be served on the relocating party. In the counter-affidavit the non-relocating party can object to the relocation and/or the proposed modification of custody. If there has been proper notice of the proposed relocation and no objection has been filed, then the non-relocating party is presumed to be in agreement with the move. If a non-relocating party has been given proper notice and has failed to file a counter-affidavit within 30 days of receiving that notice, then the court cannot accept testimony challenging the relocation. A non-relocating party can also complete a counter-affidavit to approve of relocation.

Confirmation of relocation

If no objection to the proposed relocation is filed, then the relocating party must file the following before relocating:

- an affidavit stating that the relocating party has served every custodial party with notice of the proposed relocation, the time to file an objection has passed and no objection to the proposed relocation has been filed
proof that proper notice was given as shown by a return receipt with the signature of the addressee
- a petition to confirm the relocation and modify any existing custody order
- a proposed order with relocation information and modified custody

Modification of custody order

If a non-relocating party files a counter-affidavit approving of both the relocation and the proposed custody modification, then the court may modify the existing custody order by approving the proposed custody schedule submitted by the relocating party. The court will inform the parties how they can modify the custody order in the future. If a non-relocating party files a counter-affidavit objecting to the proposed relocation or proposed custody modification, then the court must hold a hearing. In general, the court is expected to hold a full hearing before the relocation occurs. However, if the court finds that there are exigent circumstances, it may approve the relocation pending a full hearing. If the court approves of the relocation, then it will modify an existing custody order or establish the terms and conditions of a custody order if one does not already exist. The court will do a best interest of the child analysis in determining a custody schedule following the relocation.

Relocation factors

The court will consider the following factors when determining whether to approve relocation and will give additional weight to those factors which affect the safety of the child:

- the nature, quality, extent of involvement and direction of the child’s relationship with the relocating party and with the non-relocating party, siblings and other significant persons in the child’s life
- the age, developmental stage, needs of the child and likely impact of the relocation on the child’s physical, educational and emotional development, taking into consideration any special needs of the child
- the likelihood that the child will be able to maintain a relationship with the non-relocating parent, taking into consideration the logistics and financial circumstances of the parties
- the child’s preference, considering the age and maturity of the child
- whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life of the relocating party
- whether the relocation will enhance the general quality of life for the child
- the reasons and motivation of each party for seeking or opposing relocation
- the present and past abuse committed by a party and whether there is a continued risk of harm to the child or abused party
- any other factors affecting the best interest of the child

If there is an existing custody order, then the relocating party has the burden of establishing that the relocation will serve the best interest of the child. Each party has the burden of proving the integrity of their motives for proposing or objecting to the relocation.

Failure to follow the proper procedure when it comes to custody relocation can have serious consequences for you and your child. It is important to have a knowledgeable attorney on your side. Contact our Berks County custody attorneys at 610-372-5128 or submit your case using the “Ask an attorney” link.

ENM Law News: Successful Custody Contempt Petition

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Our family law attorneys filed a custody contempt petition on behalf of our client arguing that the defendant was refusing to follow a prior custody order which required the defendant to pay for half of the parties’ child’s private school tuition expenses.  The Berks County court agreed with the arguments made by our family law attorneys and ordered that the defendant pay the tuition costs as well as our client’s legal fees.