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August 2016 Archives

Adoption of Family Members

A streamlined adoption process is available depending on the relationship of the prospective adoptive parents and the adoptee. Specifically, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, and step-parents qualify as a kinship adoption. A home study is not required in a kinship adoption, however background checks must still be completed as it relates to the adopting parent(s). There are three background checks required: (1) Child Abuse History Clearance; (2) PA State Police Criminal Record Check; and (3) FBI Criminal Background Check through the Department of Welfare.

Child Support Awareness Month

August is National Child Support Awareness Month. President Clinton began the month of recognition in 1995 as part of his welfare reform agenda. The goal was to improve the collection of child support payments by widening the use of sanctions including wage garnishment and suspending driver's licenses and passports for parents with child support arrears. As of today in Pennsylvania, wage garnishment is virtually always utilized to ensure child support payments can be collected. Child support in Pennsylvania is based on statewide guidelines established by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The guidelines are intended to ensure that similarly situated parties are treated similarly. Accordingly, all parties making $3000 per month with 3 kids would have the same basic support award based on the guideline amounts. The guidelines are based on an "Income Shares Model," such that the amount is based on the combined net monthly income of both parties.

Divorced With Children: Issues You Need to Consider

If you are seeking a divorce and you and your current spouse are parents you need to lay the foundation for a happy and healthy future for yourself and your children. When divorcing there are both emotional and financial issues to consider. Issues surrounding children can be extremely contentious during a divorce, but a skilled attorney can help bring together to start working on issues together for the sake of the children.

Enforcement of Support Orders

There are many options available to ensure support payments are being made. Income withholding is standard with most support orders. This will allow the support payments to be deducted directly from the payor's income. Domestic Relations will send an income withholding order to the employer for implementation. If there is upwards of a fifteen (15) day delay in receiving payment, contempt proceedings can be initiated by Domestic Relations or the party receiving support. Overdue support, or arrears, will begin to accumulate with each late or missed payment. The court can unilaterally increase the monthly support award to account for the growing arrears in an attempt to help bring the account current again.

Partition of Real Property

A partition action is a legal proceeding to divide property amongst unmarried individuals that cannot agree what to do with the property. Pennsylvania partition actions are governed by Rules 1551 - 1574 of the Rules of Civil Procedure. There are generally only two options in a partition action. The parties can physically split the property, if possible. This is rarely a feasible option, particularly in the case of property with a structure on it, such as a home. Alternatively, the property is sold and the proceeds are divided. As far as procedure, a complaint for partition should be brought in the county where the property is located and must include all co-tenants as parties. The complaint must include a description of the property along with each co-tenant's interest in the property.

Pennsylvania Surrogacy

Pennsylvania does not have a statute in place as it relates to surrogacy, however, case law has upheld a surrogacy contract. There are two types of surrogacy. A traditional surrogacy is where the carrier has a genetic relationship with the child. For example, the carrier's eggs are used along with a sperm donor. A gestational surrogacy is where the carrier has no genetic relationship. With a gestational surrogacy both the egg and sperm are implanted into the carrier. In J.F. v. D.B., the carrier mother attempted to keep the children following birth despite having entered a surrogacy agreement. 897 A.2d 1261 (2006). The court eventually held she didn't have standing for a custody action and turned the children over to the intended parents per the contract. The courts went a step further in In re Baby S, when it explicitly upheld a surrogacy agreement. 2015 Pa. Super. 244 (2015).

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