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December 2015 Archives

Interstate Adoptions

The Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children addresses adoptions where a child is to be transferred across state lines. It creates uniform legal and administrative procedures for interstate adoption matters. All U.S. states are members of the Compact. The Compact has existed for approx. forty years. The state where the child presently resides must approve of the transfer across the state lines for placement. A copy of the approval is then submitted to the court for filing. In order to get approval, a packet must be created containing key information on the child, the prospective parent(s) and the intended place of residence. For example, the child's social, medical, and educational history should be discussed.

Obstacles to a Name Change

Pennsylvania allows applications for a legal change of name via petition to the court. One of the requirements for a name change which must be submitted with the petition is the petitioner's fingerprints. The fingerprints are subsequently submitted to the Pennsylvania State Police to check for any prior criminal offenses as defined in 18 Pa. C.S. Ch. 91 (criminal history record information). The State Police will then report back to the court if they are subject to 18 Pa. C.S. Ch. 91 or not. Existence of a criminal background does not always defeat a name change application. The court may still approve a name change if over 2 years have passed from the completion of the criminal sentence with no remaining obligations (e.g. probation or parole) or the person has been pardoned. The State Police will have to update the criminal history record to reflect where a name change has been granted for a convicted felon.

Impact of Inheritance

The receipt of an inheritance may impact your divorce or support case. Regarding divorce, and specifically equitable distribution of marital property, Section 3501 of the Divorce Code defines what will be considered marital property, and up for division, versus what will be considered non-marital property. Marital property includes all property acquired by either party from the date of marriage through the date of separation. There is a presumption all property acquired during the marriage is marital regardless of how title is held (e.g. individually vs. jointly). However, property received as a gift, bequest, devise or descent is non-marital per 23 Pa. C.S. 3501(a). Accordingly, an inheritance that is received during the marriage can still be claimed as non-marital property. As a practical tip, parties should avoid commingling inheritance funds with other marital funds. Inheritance funds may still need to be disclosed since the separate assets of the party are a factor for equitable distribution under 23 Pa. C.S. 3502.

Discovery in Custody

Discovery is the process of obtaining information from the opposing party in the course of a lawsuit. Discovery is governed by the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure (Pa. R.C.P.). Rule 1930.5 states that there shall be no discovery in a simple support, custody or Protection from Abuse proceeding unless authorized by court. In order for you to be allowed to send discovery in a custody matter, you must get permission from the court. If a request for discovery is granted, discovery would then proceed as in any other matter.

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