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Langhorne PA Family Law Blog

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.

Don't Point That Smoking Gun at Yourself: Hacking Your Spouse's Email is a Bad Idea

We've all seen too many courtroom dramas where just in the nick of time that critical piece of evidence is dramatically thrust into the hands of the defendant or waived around in front of the jury. Even attorneys sometimes fantasize about having those moments but litigation is normally pretty mundane. Parties and their attorneys would love to have that "smoking gun" evidence to hammer the other side with, but getting it may cost more than its worth.

Can Alimony be Reduced in Pennsylvania?

If you are paying or receiving alimony (or spousal support) that amount may not be set in stone. Either as part of an agreement between the divorcing spouses the two may agree that alimony payments reduce or cease over a period of time. That also may be part of a court order where the issue of alimony is decided by the judge.

Presumption of Parentage

A presumption of paternity arises where a child is born into an intact marriage. In that circumstance, absent clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, the husband will be deemed to be the father. However, it may be a scenario where the biological father is not the husband.

In this instance, genetic testing would be needed to conclusively establish who the father is and subsequently have the birth certificate amended to reflect the same.

There may be a very different outcome if the actual father is not established right away. Paternity by estoppel acts to impose an obligation on the party who holds themselves out as a father to the child and supports the child to continue to support the child. The Supreme Court has held that the purpose of paternity by estoppel is to keep families intact and protect the best interest of the child by shielding them from claims of illegitimacy and, potentially, a broken family.

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Support and Taxes

Many clients going through family law matters will have questions regarding how they can/should file their taxes as well as what tax consequences may arise in their situation. Child support is not taxable for either party. This means it is not deductible from the party paying child support or taxed as income to the party receiving it. On the other hand, alimony, support paid to a spouse, is deductible from the party paying alimony and taxed as income to the party receiving it. Mortgage interest can be claimed by only one party if there is a shared residence or split between the parties in proportion to their contribution towards the payments. Splitting mortgage interest would require a statement of explanation to be filed along with the return.

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How to Help Your Child Cope With a Move

Divorce can bring about many changes and a common one is moving homes. Moving can be stressful for everyone in your family, especially your kids. They may not understand why you need to move. They may focus on the loss of friends, their school and the fact they may not see extended family members nearly as often. Counselingchildren.net has some suggestions for actions you can take to make the transition to a new home easier for your child.

Child Support: Court-Ordered vs. Direct Payment

All parents are liable for the support of their children. Spouses are also responsible for the support of their spouse. Once parties separate, a support award may be appropriate to maintain a similar lifestyle as was established while the family was intact. Parties are free to determine on their own an amount of support to be paid. This can be done through direct payment meaning there is an agreement for one party to pay the other party directly. The alternative to direct payment is support paid through the court. Domestic Relations handles support establishment and enforcement in Pennsylvania. A party owing support would pay to the statewide collection and disbursement unit and then the money is routed to the intended recipient. Wage garnishment is the preferred method of collection and will be put in place once an amount is established as long as that is available based on the employment of the party paying support.

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Starting the Divorce Process

When you make the decision to divorce you have many aspects of life to manage. As we start to the process with you, we help you get organized and sort things out. While divorce can be scary it can also be a time of great transformation as you start to build a new life for yourself. We know there are times of uncertainty but help you navigate through those so you do not get overwhelmed.

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