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December 2012 Archives

Reunification Counseling in Custody Cases

Reunification counseling is a process meant to rebuild a relationship. Often times, reunification counseling will be used in the context of a custody dispute to reintroduce and/or reinforce the relationship between a parent and their child. There are several reasons why reunification counseling may become necessary. It could be a situation where one parent was not involved in the child's life for a long period of time and so some type of counseling becomes helpful in assisting both parties ease back into a normal relationship. Alternatively, a course of reunification counseling can be used after a sudden change in relationship has caused damage or anger. For example, a child may not understand why his or her parents have separated and may show anger or resentment towards the parent who moved out of the home. Or perhaps, it is not even the child initiating the feelings of resentment or anger, but the other parent who then projects those same feelings onto the child.

Failure to Pay Child Support

There are numerous consequences that stem from the failure to pay child support. One possibility is that you will be denied a U.S. passport. If you owe $2,500 or more in child support, you are not eligible to receive a U.S. passport. If you discover your eligibility is affected due to past due child support you must first contact the Domestic Relations section that handles your case to clear the balance. After having resolved any outstanding balance, it generally takes an additional 2-3 weeks before your application for a passport will be able to be processed.

No Fault Divorce

The divorce rate reached an all time high in the 1970's due to the introduction of no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce meant that the parties could get a divorce without having to prove any wrong-doing in court. Essentially, all the parties have to do for a no-fault divorce is indicate the marriage is over. Prior to the influx of no-fault divorce, parties had to prove that the requirements for a fault divorce were met. Fault grounds for divorce in Pennsylvania include desertion, adultery, cruel and barbarous treatment, bigamy, imprisonment, and indignities. The majority of divorces will go through on the basis of no-fault since it is easier to litigate and often times there is no benefit in the outcome of the divorce to pursuing a fault ground for a divorce.

Holiday & Vacation Time in Custody

In the midst of the holiday season, it may become necessary to consider where children will spend the holidays if they have separated or divorcing parents. A holiday schedule can be included as part of a custody order. Frequently seen provisions include alternating holidays so that one party has even years the other has odds or splitting the holidays so that each party has a certain time allotted on the holiday itself. Ultimately, it is up to the parents and/or guardians in any given case to make a schedule that works best for them. It may be a schedule where the parties will always have the same holidays every year and won't alternate or share. In some instances, a custody order may state that holidays will be shared as mutually agreed upon by the parties without the need to lay out specifics. There may be unique family traditions that don't occur on the actual holiday that a party will want the kids to be involved in.

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