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Getting ready for a child custody hearing

Parents in Pennsylvania with unresolved child custody issues might be nervous about attending a family court hearing for the first time. However, there are certain things they can do to ensure that the case they present is convincing and that they have the best chance of getting the custody terms they want.

Behaving properly while at court is very important. In fact, it's so important that parents could risk losing custody of their children for inappropriate behavior. Parents should speak with their attorney before their hearing to understanding proper courtroom etiquette and what type of behavior, such as accusatory statements or emotional outbursts, can reflect badly on them. If necessary, a parent may try to role play before the hearing in order to better understand what is expected in court.

State representative arrested for DUI seeks forgiveness

A state representative in Pennsylvania was allegedly caught driving while intoxicated with alcohol at more than twice the legal limit. The incident took place in Mercer County along Interstate 79 around 9 p.m. in the evening. The police were originally notified when the representative was spotted driving erratically, and the police performed a traffic stop when they saw him change lanes without signaling.

According to the police report, when the trooper approached the representative's vehicle, they noticed a strong odor suspected to be alcohol. They then claimed to have seen an open alcohol container on the back seat upon closer inspection. It's not clear whether the defendant is also being charged with violating open container laws. The representative took a breath test at the scene that reportedly showed a BAC of 0.175. The legal limit in the state is .08 BAC.

Can a child become a weapon in divorce custody battles?

Divorce can be one of the most challenging experiences of any parent's life. Apart from the other hurtful concerns in a divorce, healthy parents worry about what is best for their child. These parents attempt to stay on neutral or friendly ground. If they must discuss contentious subjects, they move heated arguments to an attorney's office. The last thing they want is to involve a child in traumatic divorce negotiations.

Sadly, however, some parents have a hidden agenda. If they can turn a child against the target parent, they may receive sole custody; failing that, they will at least get even by ruining the child's trust and affection for the other parent. In time, the hostile parent can use many devious methods to work on permanently alienating the child from an unsuspecting spouse.

How the best interests of a child are determined

If a divorced couple can't reach an agreement, courts in Pennsylvania determine who gets custody of a child based on the "best interests" standard. The judge has the responsibility of determining what will best suit the child's needs. There are a few factors that are taken into consideration when determining the child's best interests.

One of the first things the judge will consider is if the parent requesting custody will be able to meet the child's needs, both physical and emotional. This would include providing medical care, food, clothing and shelter for the child. It would also include providing them with an education and parental guidance. Most judges prefer to keep a child's routine consistent. This includes the child's school routine, their living arrangements and their ability to visit extended family. Judges often try to limit changes as much as possible in order to make the transition easier.

A new year means another flood of divorce filings

Some Pennsylvania couples start the new year by making positive resolutions such as getting more exercise or breaking bad habits. However, some couples prefer to use this time of the year to end a marriage they believe isn't working and transition back to single life. This is such a common occurrence that the first Monday after New Year's Day is often referred to as "Divorce Day." However, the annual spike in divorces typically continues throughout the first month of the year.

While the reason for the divorce surge after the holidays may be because of a desire not to go through another year of marital stress, couples should avoid making rash decisions. Barring instances of domestic violence, spouses not seeing eye to eye may benefit from an attempt at marriage or couples counseling before discussing untying the knot. There are also spouses no longer on the same page personally who decide to remain together for the sake of their children.

Divorce and dividing the family home

Pennsylvania couples who decide to divorce will have major decisions to make about how to handle the family home. The marital home is often one of the largest and most valuable assets to be included in divorce negotiations, and it can carry emotional significance beyond its financial value. In addition, unlike bank accounts and retirement or investment funds, real estate cannot be easily divided in two. As a result, many people decide to sell the home as part of the divorce.

By selling the marital home, the couple can use the proceeds to pay off any mortgage obligations before dividing the remaining funds as part of the divorce agreement. However, in some cases, one spouse wants to keep the home; this is particularly common when children have grown up in and want to remain in the house. However, there are some practical matters to keep in mind when choosing this option. The remaining spouse will generally need to buy out the other spouse from his or her equity stake. If the couple has significant equity in a high-value home, this can pose a serious challenge.

ENM Law News: Client "NOT GUILTY" in DUI Case

DUI cases are concerning for many clients because there is often mandatory jail time associated with a conviction, as well as a lengthy license suspension. One such client was recently represented by Attorney McAllister in the Berks County Court of Common Pleas. Our client was facing the prospect of spending a mandatory 3 days in jail and a 12 month license suspension, not to mention a misdemeanor conviction on his record. Understandably, our client was very concerned about these possible consequences.

Drunk driving rates up among veterans

The statistics may be concerning and surprising to people in Pennsylvania, especially those with veterans in their families, but drunk driving by military veterans has risen 60 percent since 2014 according to the results of one study. The American Addiction Centers reported that binge drinking and drunk driving have both become more common among the veteran population. The study analyzed behavioral data gathered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report noted that binge drinking among veterans rose from 14 percent in 2013 to just under 16 percent in 2017. Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of more than five drinks in two hours for men or four drinks in the same period for women. While drinking itself may be more common, one of the more disturbing trends has been an elevated rate of drunk driving. While 1.6 percent of veterans reported driving drunk in 2014, 2.6 percent reported the same in 2016. Veterans were more likely to drive drunk in Kentucky, California and the District of Columbia.

Are you about to start driving with an IID in your vehicle?

In the state of Pennsylvania, drunk driving is a serious offense. The court will require certain people convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol to have ignition interlock devices installed in their vehicles.

Ignition interlock basics

Parallel parenting vs. co-parenting

People who share custody of their children in Pennsylvania must decide how they will handle decisions related to raising their kids. Parenting after divorce can be one of the most challenging aspects of separation.

In an ideal situation, parents are able to work together after separating to co-parent the children. When people cannot agree on how to handle the day-to-day logistics of raising their children, "parallel parenting" may work better. In this situation, both parents are connected to the children and usually agree on major decisions relating to religion and education, but they do not have frequent discussions with each other about how they're raising the children.

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