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Langhorne PA Family Law Blog

First Steps of Probate

The first item to be addressed after the death of a loved one is often the funeral or memorial service. This is something that is generally handled by the next of kin. Receipts for expenses should be kept as they can be paid out of the decedent's estate. The funeral director is usually the party that will supply the death certificates. Make sure you get several certificates from the funeral director as they will be needed as the probate process goes forward. After, or perhaps simultaneously with the funeral planning, you will want to locate the decedent's will if there is one.

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Revocation of Consent in Adoptions

One of the ways an adoption can proceed is if the natural parent(s) consent to the adoption. There are several timing rules that must be adhered to. First, the consent cannot be signed by a natural mother within 72 hours, or three days, after the birth of a child. A consent can be signed by a natural father at any time after he has been notified the child is expected to be born or has been born. Executed consents become irrevocable after 30 days. They can be revoked on the basis of fraud or duress only within 60 days.

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Summer Planning for Divorced Parents

With the end of school just two months away, it is important to start planning summer for your children. The absence of school means young children will need to be cared for in some way and teens will be arranging summer jobs. . In today's modern society we keep our children very busy and if you live here in Bucks and Montgomery PA there are many activities and camps. Your children may require the additional care of a babysitter or rides to get them to and from different places. I know there is a lot to think about.

No Gender Preference for Custody

Many parents who are considering custody litigation inquire as to whether Moms automatically get custody. It is true that Moms used to be the preferred custodians for minor children during the early twentieth century. There was a shared misconception that moms would be the better parents based on their natural nurturing instincts. This was especially true of young children or children of "tender years." In fact, a legal principle termed the "tender years doctrine" called for mothers to have custody of children until they were at least approaching their teenage years.

Presently, there are no remaining custody laws that give preference to one parent over the other based solely on gender. The Supreme Court of the United States found that the tender years doctrine was a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, providing for equal protection for all, since it impermissibly discriminated against men based on their gender.

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How to handle a disability claim in support court

Support in Pennsylvania is dictated by the net monthly income of the parties. In the event that a party in a support matter has no income and asserts an inability to work due to medical issues, the support rules require that a physician verification form be completed. Pursuant to Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure (Pa. R.C.P.) 1910.29 (b), the physician verification form should be completed by the party's physician and submitted at the time of the support conference. A sample of the actual form to be used is contained in Pa.R.C.P. 1910.29(b)(3). Supporting test results or doctor's notes can be submitted with the verification form if the party is okay with waiving their right to privacy of those documents under HIPAA.

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Child Abuse Prevention

April is National Child Abuse Prevention month. The goal is to raise awareness in respect to preventing abuse, reducing the risk of abuse and promoting healthy families. The Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health sponsors the annual awareness campaign. The first Child Abuse Prevention week was recognized in 1982. It extended to an entire month of awareness the following year in 1983. The theme continues to be "Making Meaningful Connections" to promote familial and community relationships as a support system to reduce abuse. The national website at www.childwelfare.gov includes resources with practical tips for parents on preventing abuse. Topic areas include how to make healthy connections, how to feed your family, how to manage finances, and how to identify risk factors and protect against them.

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Student Loans

Student loan debt of one of the parties is considered a marital debt if acquired between the date of marriage and the date of separation. However, a student loan may not be subject to the same distribution percentages as the rest of the marital estate. Hicks v. Kubit, 758 A.2d 202 (Pa. Super. 2000) discusses the appropriate treatment of student loans in a divorce action. In Hicks, $30,776 in the way of student loans was borrowed during the marriage. The trial court only found a small portion of that total ($13,000) to be marital debt since it was deposited into a joint account and used for household expense. The balance of the loan was assigned to Wife. Wife raised an issue on appeal on the basis the entire loan should be considered marital debt. The Superior Court found that the trial court committed an error in only characterizing part of the total debt as marital, instead finding that the total loan amount acquired during the marriage would appropriate be characterized as marital debt.

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Post Divorce Issues

As long as your relationship, in some way, continues with your ex-spouse there is always potential for conflict. That relationship may be financial, because of ongoing alimony or child support payments, or parental, due to child custody and visitation. Spouses that finally, officially split are almost universally glad the legal process is over, but the reality is for many people that process is just starting a new phase.

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