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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.