November is National Adoption Month. This is the 18th year for recognition of National Adoption Month. It started as National Adoption Week in 1984 on the motion of President Ronald Reagan. In 1995, President Clinton extended the recognition from a week to the entire month of November. Pennsylvania participates in presentation of a proclamation every year regarding National Adoption Month pledging its commitment to make sure every child has a place to call home. Pennsylvania specifically recognizes the Statewide Adoption & Permanency Network and PA Adoption Exchange as organizations that work towards the overall goal of permanency for all children.
Once a divorce complaint is filed it must be served on the opposing party before the matter can proceed. Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1930.4 discusses acceptable methods of service for all domestic relations matters. The complaint must be served by personal service or certified mail, restricted delivery, return receipt requested. If personal service is accomplished, the person effectuating service should complete an affidavit of service indicating when and where the opposing party was served. Personal service can be carried out by any adult that is not a party to the action. The Sheriff can be contacted to effectuate personal service for a fee. There are also numerous process server companies that will effectuate service for a fee. Alternatively, the opposing party can opt to sign an Acceptance of Service form which serves to waive any defects of service under the rules.
The court may give credit for individual property brought into the marriage depending on the circumstances. Generally, any credit to be received decreases with the length of the marriage. For example, Bucks County will reduce the credit by 5% a year such that there is no longer a credit after 20 years. A prime example of a situation where this rule would be applicable is the purchase of a marital home. Say Spouse A contributed $40,000 of their pre-marital money to the purchase of the house. If the parties separated after 5 years, the amount of Spouse A's individual contribution is reduced by 25%. Accordingly, Spouse A would argue that 75% of the $40,000 down payment, or $30,000, is their separate property and not subject to equitable distribution in the divorce.
A number of changes to the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure regarding custody took place this summer. One change, Rule 1915.4-4, provides the opportunity for a pre-trial conference in a custody matter. Either party may request the conference by written request in the form of a praecipe. Alternatively, the court can schedule one on its own motion. The timing of the pre-trial conference is after the parties have made their initial appearance at a custody conference but prior to the hearing scheduled before a Judge. The Rule provides the pre-trial conference should be scheduled at least 30 days prior to the start of a custody hearing. The Judge will preside over the pre-trial conference in chambers if both parties are represented.