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September 2016 Archives

One Year Separation for Divorce

On September 27, 2016, the House and Senate finally signed off on House Bill 380 which reduces the separation requirement for divorce in Pennsylvania from two years to one year. This version of the bill had been in the works for nearly two years with its initial introduction to the House occurring in early 2015. The House passed the bill by November 2015. The Senate finally passed the bill on September 26, 2016 after having received it for consideration last November. The bill is presently waiting for signature by Governor Tom Wolf. Once signed, the new law be effective in 60 days. Some parties contemplating divorce may want to consider waiting until the new law is effective prior to filing for divorce to be able to finalize their divorces quicker in the absence of mutual consent.

Guardian of Estate of a Minor

Minors may not be able to receive assets left to them due to their age. In that scenario, a guardian for the estate of the minor must be appointed. A parent cannot be the sole guardian of a minor's estate. A co-guardian must be named or a corporate fiduciary alongside the parent. If the appointment of a guardian is not contested, this can be accomplished without a hearing in Bucks County. An inventory of the minor's estate must be provided to the court however yearly reports are not necessary. Additionally, the guardian or co-guardians must post bond based on the value of the estate coming into their control unless the court feels it is unnecessary. Corporate fiduciaries are exempt from the bond requirement. Disbursements may be made for the minor's support and education as deemed reasonable by the guardian without further court order. 

What Makes a Prenuptial Agreement Valid in Pennsylvania?

Gone are the days when prenuptial agreements are viewed as contracts on a marriage or a guarantee on divorce. While some religions and cultures still do frown upon them, they can be a great way to talk about finances and strengthen your marriage with clear expectations. If you have children from a previous relationship and significant assets to protect, a prenup can also make everyone feel more comfortable.

Changes to Grandparent Standing for Custody/Visitation

Section 5325 of the Domestic Relations laws sets out the circumstances under which grandparents and great-grandparents may petition for partial custody/visitation. One of three conditions must be met: (1) a parent of the child is deceased; (2) the parents of the child have been separated for at least six months; or (3) the child has lived with the grandparents or great-grandparents for at least 12 consecutive months provided a petition is filed within six months after the child is removed from the home. In a decision from September 9, 2016, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania for the Western District, held that Section 5325(2) intruded on the constitutional rights of the parents.

Back to School - Custody

Fall is on its way and the school year has begun. Now is a good time to review your custody agreement to ensure a smooth school year. Your schedule may have changed from the summer and you should make sure you and your children are familiar with the new schedule. If you have shared legal custody, you will need to consult with the other parent regarding any decisions concerning the children's schools. If you have sole legal custody, you may still be under an obligation to keep the other parent informed and should refer to your custody order to double-check. It is generally a good idea to have a consensus about extracurricular activities for the children as well. If practices and games will occur on the other parent's custodial time, you will need their cooperation in getting the children to their events.

Back to School - Who Pays for What?

This is an expensive time of year for parents with school-aged children. Back-to-school shopping bills can run high from clothes to backpacks, pencils, and notebooks. When you are divorced and have children who pays these expenses should have been negotiated during your divorce. Your child support payment may have been calculated with these expenses in mind or your agreements should have clearly stated who is going to pay for which items. Sometimes parents simply agree to share all reasonable expenses with one doing the shopping and keeping track of receipts.

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