Posts Tagged ‘Family Law 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

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

Spotlight Issue: Berks County emergency custody petitions

Sunday, November 19th, 2017

What do you do if you do not have a current custody order and your child’s other parent is not allowing you to see your child? In Berks County, you will need to file a custody complaint as soon as possible. The good news is that once your complaint is filed, you will be scheduled for a custody conference. The bad news is that the conference will be scheduled a couple of months in the future. Are you supposed to simply wait for the conference date to be given time with you child? NO! You are able to file an emergency custody petition in Berks County to ask a custody judge to immediately give you time with your child.

How does the emergency custody petition process work? First, you will meet with an ENM Law attorney to determine whether or not your situation requires an emergency custody petition. If the answer is “yes,” then your ENM Law attorney will file a petition asking that the custody judge grant the emergency relief that you are requesting. The other parent must be given 48 hours notice of the date and time that the petition will be presented. If your case has already been assigned to a custody judge then your petition will generally be heard by that same judge. However, if your custody judge is not available then the petition can be presented to the emergency motions judge.

At the emergency petition hearing, your ENM Law attorney will present the judge with the circumstances surrounding your request for emergency relief and argue for the best outcome. If the judge grants your request then a temporary order will be issued pending the decision at the scheduled custody conference.

A recent Berks County custody client came to Attorney McAllister for help because the custodial parent was refusing to allow our client to visit with his child. The first step Attorney McAllister took was to file a custody complaint in Reading, PA. A custody conference was scheduled as a result of that complaint, but it wasn’t to be held for a couple of months. Faced with the alternative of his client not seeing the child until the conference date, Attorney McAllister filed an emergency petition asking that the judge immediately grant his client time with the child pending the conference. Thanks to the hard work of Attorney McAllister, the custody judge granted our client significant periods of custody.

If you think that you may need an emergency custody petition filed in Reading, PA, contact our knowledgeable Berks County custody attorneys at 610-372-5128 or email us at

Spotlight Issue: Child tax credit and custody

Friday, December 30th, 2016

Tax season is approaching and you may be asking how your child custody arrangement affects your taxes. Your custody arrangement may have a very specific impact on whether or not you can claim a child tax credit. The child tax credit allows a parent to claim a credit for each dependent child. But what happens if the child’s parents are separated or divorced and are not filing their taxes jointly? Who gets to claim the child in that situation? The IRS says that generally speaking, the parent who has the child for the majority of the overnight time is the one who is eligible for the credit. This would generally be the parent with primary physical custody. But what happens when the parents have 50/50 physical custody? If the child stays with each parent for an equal number of nights then the parent with the lower adjusted gross income is considered the custodial parent and is able to claim the child tax credit. However, please note that even if the custody arrangement is called joint custody, if the parents have an unequal number of overnight visits then the parent will the greater number will be considered the custodial parent for tax purposes. While these are the general rules, the parties can make different arrangements which could be ordered by the court in a marital settlement agreement. While taxes are certainly not a determining factor what deciding on custody arrangements, the tax consequences are something to keep in mind and should be discussed with your attorney.

If you are in need of custody advice, please contact our Berks County family law attorneys at 610-372-5128 or email us

**This article is not intended to give tax advice and if you have questions about whether or not you are able to claim a credit, you should consult a tax professional.

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

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

PFA dismissed in Reading, Berks County, PA

Thursday, January 19th, 2012

Today, I (attorney Dan Nevins) represented a young man facing a PFA petition following an alleged incident in Berks County PA. The Protection from Abuse (PFA) Act is meant to protect victims of domestic violence from their abusers. A plaintiff can petition the Court for a temporary order which may be granted pending a full hearing on the alleged incident of abuse. A PFA order may then be granted for a period of up to three years and include provisions such as no-contact, eviction from a residence, child custody, and a ban from possessing firearms. A plaintiff needs to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that abuse occurred and that they remain in fear of the Defendant.

In this particular case we were able to negotiate the one month continuance of a temporary order with the understanding that the matter would be ultimately dismissed. In the end, my client suffered no adverse consequences of a permanent PFA order.

Our firm regularly represents individuals on both sides of PFA’s in Berks County, PA. We are sensitive to the issues surrounding these matters and strive to provide the best possible representation of your interests. Call our office today to schedule a free initial consultation.

Emergency Custody Petition in Berks County, PA

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Liz Ebner, our Divorce and Custody Attorney, recently relayed to me a favorable result she obtained for a family law client of ours:

Liz:  In a recent Emergency Petition in Custody, father did not have primary physical custody ever and mother threatened to move child out of state and prevent father from seeing his child again.  I filed an Emergency petition “writ na exiat” to prevent mother from removing the child from Berks County without permission of the Court and had child removed from mother’s custody to father pending a future hearing.  The Parties were able to work out a suitable custody agreement in the end.

The attorneys at Ebner, Nevins & McAllister are currently accepting new family law clients.  We work hard to get you the best results in your custody or divorce case.  We recognize and respect the strong emotions that are often at play in these types of cases.  We pride ourselves on caring deeply about our clients and the children that are involved.  Please contact our office for a free consultation if you are facing or would like to initiate a divorce or custody action in Berks County, Pennsylvania.