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Family law principles support 'friendly' divorce when possible

Pennsylvania family law provides for a no-fault divorce. If the parties agree to a divorce, they can allege that the marriage is irretrievably broken as the no-fault grounds. This does not necessarily eliminate issues of alimony, child custody and support. In most cases, where there is not agreement on those issues, a final divorce decree will not issue until the conflicts are resolved. There is also a family law provision that allows for a divorce after there has been a continuous two-year separation.

The two-year separation grounds do not require consent of both parties. As long as the plaintiff can prove that there has been a two-year separation, grounds for divorce are in effect established. However, despite a two-year separation, the court is not likely to grant a final decree until the outstanding contested issues regarding alimony, support and child custody/visitation are resolved.

Family law sees changes in child custody beliefs and agreements

Pennsylvania and other states are witnessing changes in the way that child custody arrangements between parents are being handled in recent years. The changes are gradual but there is a growing concern about the needs of the children when parents separate and divorce. Creative arrangements and equal sharing are becoming more prevalent in family law courts. The old style of mother getting primary physical custody with sparse visitation to the father is disappearing from a large part of the custody landscape.

One arrangement seen more often is where the children don't move from mother's home to father's home; instead the mother and father rotate coming into the children's residence, which does not change. Each parent may move into the home for a one or two-week period and then vacates the home so that the other parent is able to move in for the same time period. The stability to the children is an improvement over moving them from home to home and disrupting their school schedules in the process.

Criminal defense unlikely for Eagles fans witnessed on videos

Pennsylvania cities with professional sports are hungry for victory and recognition. Philadelphia football is probably the neediest of them all. Consequently, the recent Eagles' Super Bowl victory marked the end of a very long draught and gave the people there an outlet for pent-up emotions. Unfortunately, it appears that some took the celebrating too far, resulting in arrests and the need for criminal defense counsel to represent dozens of accused individuals.

The arrests were largely made based on videos and photos published by news networks. This may reduce the chances of the accused to raise defenses of mistaken identity. On the other hand, where videos or photos are not of the best quality, there may be increased possibilities of claiming that the accused is not the person depicted.

Understanding the principles of a postnuptial agreement

When two people enter a marriage, the idea in mind is to be together forever. In reality, however, many Pennsylvania couples will experience a divorce that may end up in contentious litigation over financial assets, children and property. A divorce can often be a tumultuous process, but in truth, it doesn't have to be.

For many, the term "prenuptial agreement" is a familiar, albeit unromantic one. The process of carving out a division of assets in advance can come in handy down the road should things fizzle out. However, for a lot of love-struck pairings, the notion simply doesn't enter their thoughts. For already-married couples that have found themselves in a period of strife, there is fortunately another option, the postnuptial agreement, and it may actually improve a marriage.

Very few family law standards exist to govern transgender rights

Family law issues in Pennsylvania and nationwide are becoming more complex all the time based on the changing, sometimes-misunderstood values and cultures that now blend into many families. One of the most controversial and disputed subjects in the family law context has to do with transgender minors. Eventually, most courts will face the question of what rights, if any, do these children possess to control their bodies and their destinies.

A dispute has arisen in a neighboring state between a transgender teen, his parents and the minor's grandparents. A custody trial recently wrapped up and led to a decision by the family law judge to transfer custody of the 17-year-old who identifies as a male and is transitioning to that gender. The judge also gave the grandparents the authority to make medical decisions regarding his transition.

Criminal defense for mom accused of giving son firearms

Pennsylvania is as afflicted with the specter of high-school age shooters as every other state. As such events get publicized, the authorities may be learning to make quick arrests rather than risk the consequences of not acting. Occasionally, a parent or other alleged adult accomplice needs a good criminal defense counsel along with the child. The adult is likely to be charged with criminal neglect in not stopping the minor from possessing firearms or taking other threatening actions.

That situation recently played out in Fayette County when the police arrested the mother of a teenager who is accused of threatening to shoot several of his classmates at the Union Area High School. Police arrested the 14-year-old child on Jan. 25 based on witness accounts of his alleged statements that he was going to commit a mass shooting at the school. The boy allegedly boasted that it would be easy to smuggle firearms into the school in his knapsack.

Loss of alimony deduction spells uncertainty in family law

Negotiating divorce settlements in Pennsylvania and other states is heading into uncharted territory due to the newly passed federal tax laws. For 75 years, the most established tax rule in negotiating family law settlements has been that alimony is deductible to the payer and treated as income to the recipient. Starting on Jan. 1, 2019 that is all changing, and there will be no alimony deduction to the paying party nor will the recipient pay taxes on it.

The status of divorce law is chaotic because of the change. It is like losing an established keystone in a negotiating landscape that is innately shaky. Even software programs proudly introduced in recent years to calculate support and alimony amounts will be obsolete and useless starting in 2019. One certainty, according to experts, is that the divorce rate will increase in 2018 so that people can get divorced under the current rules.

Criminal defense attorneys scrutinize traffic stops for drugs

Traffic stops in Pennsylvania are a major source of drug arrests. Criminal defense attorneys, however, are always careful to examine closely the facts of a traffic stop that ends in a drug arrest. The police must have reasonable suspicion to stop the vehicle in the first place and then they must have reasonable cause to conduct an intrusive search of the occupants and the vehicle.

Consequently, when the police make a traffic stop, it does not open the way for them to perform a search looking for drugs. Recently, the Pennsylvania State Police stopped a 22-year-old Philadelphia man for alleged traffic violations. The police allege that the trooper pulled him over for a brake light violation and following too close.  They say that the man then gave permission to search his SUV.

Appellate court upholds family law ruling in child custody case

Pennsylvania has subscribed to the Interstate Child Custody Jurisdiction Act, which is a law that provides a set procedure for determining which state may exercise jurisdiction in a custody case involving two or more interested states. The situation arises, for example, when one parent resides in this state and the other parent lives in another state. The issue of custody must be decided in the family law court of one of the two states.

A recent case involving two other states illustrates the process. A couple were living in a western state with their son, which led to the father's parents regularly watching and caring for the child. The parents returned to their original state in 2015 but they allowed the grandparents to care for the child periodically at the grandparents' home because the couple were having marital problems.

Loopholes in your privacy allow police to gather evidence

When police came to your door with a warrant for your arrest, the amount of information they had on you may have shocked you. They seemed to know your every move, your routine, and even the contents of your private phone calls and electronic communications.

As with most advancements in society, the law is slow to catch up with technology. Efforts to protect your right to privacy have met with governmental resistance, and law enforcement agencies are quick to exploit those loopholes.

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