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If Your Spouse Won't Agree to a Divorce in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania is unusual among states in that it still has both no-fault and fault divorce options on the books. The many issues regarding divorce in PA are defined in Pennsylvania Statutes Title 23 Pa.C.S.A. Domestic Relations, Part IV.

Shared Accounts and your Divorce

Digital technology has advanced at such a rapid pace and has permeated so many aspects of our lives that you don't realize how many ways you're dependent on it until you have to separate your digital world from the partner with whom you've shared it.

Paternity Fraud

Establishing paternity can be as simple as the father executing a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form. The acknowledgment indicates the father is waiving his rights to any genetic testing or trial on the issue of paternity. An acknowledgment acts as conclusive evidence that the person who signed the acknowledgment is in fact the father of any subject child(ren). Once an acknowledgment of paternity is signed, it is very difficult for a father to then try to allege the child is not his. 23 Pa. C.S. Section 5103(g) discusses grounds for rescission of an acknowledgment. It can be revoked within the first sixty (60) days of signature. After 60 days, it can only be rescinded by court order following a hearing. A hearing can be requested by filing a Petition with the court.

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Act 101 Notice

Act 101 was signed into law in 2010 to allow certain post-adoption contact by agreement of the parties. Specifically, a birth relative by blood, marriage or adoption can contract with the new adoptive parents in terms of continued contact with the adoptee. In each adoption case, the parties should sign to acknowledge they received notice of the options available under Act 101. If the parties do not sign an acknowledgement, then proof that they were served with the notice should be provided to the court. A sample of the Act 101 notice is included below.
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Adult Adoptions

The process for adoption of an adult does not include many of the requirements present for adoption of a minor. Specifically, an adult adoption only requires a petition for adoption and consent of the adoptee and their spouse, if applicable. No background checks or home study is required. You also do not need to terminate the rights of the natural parent(s). One step that is more intensive than a minor adoption is potential name change. If looking to change your name as an adult pursuant to an adoption, you must also follow the steps for a civil name change.

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Counsel for Child in Adoption

The adoptee may be appointed an attorney to represent their interests in the context of an adoption matter. Specifically, if a petition for involuntary termination of the natural parent(s)' rights is pending. When presiding over a petition for involuntary termination, the court must consider the needs and welfare of the child(ren) involved. A major factor is the emotional bond between the parent and child and potential consequence of severing that bond. A parent's representation of love and affection for a child without further corroboration, are not sufficient to prevent termination of their rights based on the best interests of the child.

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Home Study for Adoption

A standard adoption will require a home study to be completed by the local Children & Youth services agency or other approved social worker. This process can be expensive and takes a number of months to complete as several visits to your home will be required. The social worker completing the report would observe the home and ask certain questions of the prospective parents. A recommendation as to whether the home is suitable for a child and whether the parents should be permitted to adopt is included in the report. All of this information is submitted to the court in connection with your adoption petition. A Report of Intent to Adopt should be filed to get started with the home study process.

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Legal Issues When One Parent Moves Out of State

When deciding custody, the courts in most states use the "best interests of a child" measurement to determine division of custody and visitation rights. When the parents live a significant distance from each other, whether the custodial or non-custodial parent moves, "the best interests of a child" are again brought into the equation along with other relocation factors. Unless the parents are able to come to an agreement outside of court, the court may decide to permit the move or not, and can order new custody or visitation agreements. Different states have different laws, so it's best to review the case with a legal counsel who is familiar with your state's law.

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