Posts Tagged ‘Divorce Attorney Reading PA’

Spotlight Issue: Social media and family law

Tuesday, January 30th, 2018

You may not realize the significance of social media posts in your Berks County family law case until it is too late. For that reason, think before you post! Having a social media presence is expected and common these days, but when you’re embroiled in a contentious custody, divorce or support case, what you post on Facebook, Twitter or any of the other sites, could negatively impact your chances of success.

Let’s examine some possible scenarios.

You’ve made an argument in domestic relations that your support obligation should be reduced because your hours were cut at work. But, the week before your modification hearing, you post pictures on Facebook of the new vehicle that you just purchased. The attorney for your ex brings those pictures to the conference officer’s attention and argues at the conference that your support obligation shouldn’t be reduced because there obviously hasn’t been a significant change in your circumstances. The conference officer agrees and recommends to the judge that the support order not be amended.

You’ve filed a petition asking the court to grant you more custodial time with you children. However, the last 3 weekends that you’ve had your children, you hired a babysitter to stay with them and went out with your friends. You also posted pictures on Instagram while you were out. The attorney for your ex brings those pictures to court and argues that you aren’t taking advantage of the time that you currently have with your children and that modifying the custody schedule would not be in the best interest of your children. The judge denies your modification request.

You’re in the middle of a difficult divorce and negotiations have been ongoing. Your attorney tells you that you are finally getting close to a resolution and it looks like you’re going to end up keeping the marital residence, which is what you really want. Late at night you decide to write a tweet talking about karma which is obviously about your ex even though you don’t mention any names. You get a call from your attorney the next day that the deal is off.

How can you prevent the above situations from happening? Well, aside from the obvious answer of not making the posts in the first place, we have a couple of tips to keep in mind. Be sure that all of your social media accounts have high “privacy” settings so that strangers can’t access your pages. Remember that social media posts and text messages are very easily preserved and can be used against you in court. Be aware that social media posts can inflame emotions and make negotiations in Berks County family law cases more difficult. If you’re questioning whether it’s a good idea to post something, it probably isn’t.

The scenarios we’ve discussed may seem extreme and obvious, but similar situations are not uncommon and it’s important to think about how something you post on social media could affect your own case. If you’re already involved with divorce, support or custody case in Reading, PA or are about to be, it’s important for you to have a Berks County family law attorney who pays attention to the details of your case. Contact our knowledgeable attorneys at 610-372-5128 or email us at info@enmlaw.com.

Spotlight Issue: New tax law will affect alimony deduction

Saturday, January 6th, 2018

The new tax law makes many changes to the existing tax structure, but for our purposes we will only discuss the one which clearly impacts Berks County family law clients: the removal of the alimony deduction.

Alimony is a regular payment made to a spouse during the pendency of a divorce (alimony pendente lite) or a payment scheduled put in place after a divorce is finalized. Alimony can be part of a prenuptial agreement or a marriage settlement agreement or it can be ordered by a judge following a hearing. The purpose of both types of alimony is to place spouses on equal financial footing for some period of time. The amount of alimony pendente lite is generally determined by statutory guidelines, just as with child support. Alimony, on the other hand, is a discretionary award and the court uses statutory factors to determine the amount. The amount of time that alimony will be paid is also determined by the court. Some relevant factors considered by the court in determining amount and length of time for payments are length of marriage, earning capacity of each party, assets of each party and the degree to which one spouse has contributed to the education and career of the other spouse.

So, while there are a variety of factors that determine amount of alimony and alimony pendente lite awards, all payors and payees followed the same tax rules regarding these payments: recipients included the payments as income and payers could claim the money as a deduction. However, for all divorces commenced after December 31, 2018, these tax rules will cease to exist. The person paying alimony can no longer claim it as a deduction and the person receiving alimony will no longer need to include it as income. This change will not affect anyone with a current alimony award. This will bring the the tax rules for alimony in line with the rules for child support although the discretionary aspect of alimony prevents the two forms of support from being equal.

Some experts fear that the loss of a deduction for the person paying the alimony will lead to a reduction in agreed upon alimony awards. Only time will tell whether or not that is the case. However, this is certainly something that should be discussed with your divorce attorney and it will undoubtedly become a more pressing issue as the December 31, 2018, deadline gets closer.

If you have questions about how the new tax law could affect your Berks County divorce case, contact our knowledgeable Reading, PA divorce attorneys at 610-372-5128 or info@enmlaw.com.

Legal Update: Reduced waiting period in Pennsylvania for no-fault divorces

Friday, December 30th, 2016

There is a new answer to the question “How long do I need to wait for a no fault divorce in Pennsylvania?” Since 1988, Pennsylvania law has required that, unless both spouses are consenting to a no-fault divorce, the parties must be separated for a period of 2 years and the court must make a finding that the marriage is irretrievably broken before the court will allow the divorce action to move forward. Governor Tom Wolfe recently signed a law which reduces that waiting period from 2 years to 1 year. This change will take effect in 60 days (December 2016). Proponents of the change argued that the 2 year waiting period was unnecessary and didn’t benefit anyone, least of all any children involved. Further, they argued that the long waiting period allowed manipulative spouses to maintain control over the other spouse who wished to move on. Opponents to the bill believed that the shorter waiting period simply made it easier to obtain a divorce and reduced the time that a dependent spouse could receive certain benefits during the pendency of the divorce.

It’s important to remember that a divorce isn’t automatic at the end of the 1 year waiting period; the non-consenting party can still object and argue that the parties haven’t been separated for a year or that reconciliation is possible. However, it allows the court to address the issue in a shorter period of time. Also remember that if both parties are consenting to the divorce, there is still only a 90 day waiting period before the divorce action can move forward. The new 1 year waiting period only applies to periods of separation which begin after December 2016.

This change comes on the heels of a bill signed by Governor Wolfe in April of 2016 which makes allowances in the divorce laws for victim of domestic violence. If one spouse has been convicted of a personal injury crime against the other party then the court will presume consent to the divorce. In addition, if there is an active Protection from Abuse Order in place or the abusive spouse has been convicted of committing a personal injury crime against the other (or admitted into the Accelerated Rehabilitative Program) then the victim spouse can file an objection to the court-ordered counseling which can be ordered in a contested divorce.

If you’re considering filing a divorce in Berks County or if you’ve been served with divorce papers already, contact our experienced Reading, PA divorce lawyers today 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.

ENM Law News: Appellate Victory

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

Our Berks County divorce attorneys handled a case for a client who had a significant retirement account. Following negotiations, the parties reached an agreement on the retirement account in a property settlement agreement and the divorce was finalized. After the divorce decree was entered, the client realized that he was mistaken as to the different parts of his retirement account and that he had agreed to give away a larger portion of his retirement than he, and the opposing party, had understood or intended. Our Berks County appellate attorneys filed a motion to have the divorce case reopened based on mutual mistake in a contract. Our motion was granted and the court changed the property settlement agreement to reflect the understanding of the parties. The opposing party appealed the court’s decision and our attorneys represented our client’s interests on appeal. The Superior Court agreed with our arguments because there was significant, credible proof that the parties had intended a different result and affirmed the trial court’s decision.

If you are going through a divorce, you need a knowledgeable lawyer on your side.  Call our Berks County divorce attorneys at 610-372-5128 or email us at info@enmlaw.com.

Spotlight Issue: “No-Fault” divorce in Berks County, Pennsylvania

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

A no-fault divorce begins with the filing of a divorce complaint.  The first requirement for obtaining a divorce in Pennsylvania is that one of the parties has lived in the State for at least 6 months prior to the filing of the complaint.  Pennsylvania recognizes “fault” and “no-fault” divorce.  “No-fault” means that neither party is claiming that their spouse is responsible for the dissolution of the marriage.  The request for a divorce is based on the assertion that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”  Property and alimony issues must be resolved prior to a divorce decree being granted for a “no-fault” divorce.  If a party fails to raise these issues prior to the issuance of the decree then he or she may have waived the right to address these matters.  Requests for support (child support or alimony), paternity or custody may be made within a divorce complaint.  There are two common methods for obtaining a “no-fault” divorce.

Mutual Consent

The first is by mutual consent and is defined by section 3301(c) of the Pennsylvania Divorce Code.  This is usually the fastest and easiest type of divorce.  In a mutual consent divorce, both parties file affidavits stating that they consent to the divorce.  The affidavits cannot be submitted until 90 days have passed from the date that the divorce complaint is filed.   If a party requests it, the court will order than the parties attend up to three counseling sessions within that 90 day period.  Once the 90 day period has passed and both parties have filed their affidavits, the court can issue a divorce decree without a hearing.

1 Year Separation (2 years for separations which began prior to December 2016)

The second type of “no-fault” divorce occurs when one party does not consent to the divorce.  This type of divorce is defined by section 3301(d)(1)(i) of the Pennsylvania Divorce Code. In this situation, the parties must be separated for at least 1 year (2 years for separations which began prior to December 2016) before the court can issue a divorce decree.   Once the one year period has passed, the party moving for the divorce files an affidavit with the court verifying that the parties have been separated for the requisite period of time and that the marriage is irretrievably broken.  This affidavit must be served on the other party.  The other party can decide not to respond to the affidavit or can file his or her own affidavit denying either than the marriage is irretrievably broken or that the parties have been separated for one year.  If this happens then the court will hold a hearing to determine whether a divorce decree should be issued.  If, during that hearing, the court determines that there is a reasonably possibility that the parties could reconcile, it may continue the case and order that both parties attend up to three sessions of counseling.  If, on the other hand, the other party does not respond to the initial affidavit requesting the divorce, then the court can allow the divorce.

If both parties agree on the divorce proceedings, we can usually obtain a “no-fault” divorce decree for our clients within 4-5 months.  If you are considering filing for a “no-fault” divorce or you’ve already been served with divorce papers, contact us at 610-372-5128 so that we can help.

ENM Law News: Multiple No-Fault Divorces Completed This Month

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

We can typically complete a no-fault divorce in as little as 4 – 5 months as long as both parties are in agreement with the proceedings.  If you have a no-fault divorce that you need finished quickly, contact our divorce attorneys today.

Long-term Family Law Matters Settled

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Attorneys Liz Ebner and Julie Marburger have been hard at work on several divorce and custody matters. Within the last month, they have settled these matters, which had been pending for several years. The clients, who had prior counsel with no success towards resolution, were extremely satisfied with their portion of the settlement and with the representation of Attorneys Ebner and Marburger.

The attorneys at Ebner, Nevins & McAllister realize that handling personal family issues, especially in a legal setting, can be difficult and complex. Because of the intimacy of these issues, we know the outcome can affect your entire life. Call us today to schedule your in-office or telephone consultation. chong qi you yong chi

Divorce in Berks County, PA

Friday, April 25th, 2014

Attorney Julie Marburger has helped a couple clients secure final divorce decrees their uncontested divorces recently. Unfortunately, many people try to undertake the process of divorce by themselves and then the court rejects the divorce finalization. Attorney Marburger will draft and file all of the necessary paperwork to ensure a speedy and successful divorce. Even an uncontested divorce requires complicated paperwork that must be filed correctly in order to secure the final divorce decree. The benefit of having an attorney for an uncontested divorce is to save time and money. Attorney Marburger can work with you to ensure that your divorce is done right for the lowest possible price. moon walk

If you or a loved one are contemplating filing a divorce in Berks County, PA you need an experienced attorney you can trust. The attorneys at ENM Law are skilled trial advocates with an impressive track record of success. Call today for an initial consultation.

Defending PFA Cases in Berks County, PA (Reading, PA)

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

At its best the Protection From Abuse Act in Pennsylvania can help save victims of abuse from those who wish to do them harm. At it’s worst, a PFA can be used as a weapon by a vindictive husband or wife, or boyfriend or girlfriend. Unfortunately, on many occasions the filing of a PFA will be the first volley by one side in anticipation of a divorce or custody case. Often the person who finds themselves defending themselves in a PFA case is already placed at a disadvantage when it comes to child custody proceedings by virtue of the fact that there are allegations of abuse or other wrongdoing.

That said, it is extremely important to engage the services of an attorney if you are hit with a Protection from Abuse petition. You will receive a Notice of Hearing along with your order listing a date which you and the PFA Plaintiff are to appear in front of as a Judge. At the hearing the plaintiff is required to show by a preponderance of the evidence that abuse occurred and that the Plaintiff fears harm at the hands of the Defendant. Each party would be permitted to testify and the Judge would ultimately decide if there was enough evidence to enter a permanent Protection Order.

A PFA can take many things away from a Defendant. If you shared a residence with the Plaintiff you can be evicted from that residence. If you have children with the Plaintiff, you can be prohibited from contact with your children. If you are a hunter or gun owner, you can have your weapon taken from you. The order can remain in effect for up to three years.

Make no mistake, a PFA Defendant is not a Criminal Defendant. You do not get convicted, you do not go to jail, you are not on probation (unless you subsequently violate the PFA, of course). On the other hand, you can have many important things taken away from you.

If you are facing a PFA petition in Berks County, PA you should contact our office immediately for a no cost consultation. We consistently obtain favorable resolutions for our clients in these cases. And, if your PFA case is the beginning of a long child custody or divorce battle, you will have comfort in knowing that we can continue to counsel and serve you in those matters as well.