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July 2012 Archives

Pet Custody Battles

Many people consider their pets as members of the family and accordingly, when the family breaks up, custody of the pets can become an issue. The Today Show recently covered a story of a man who had already spent $60,000 in a custody battle over his dog previously shared with his ex-girlfriend. While pets may be considered members of the family from the perspective of the owners, the courts in Pennsylvania deal with pets the same way as they deal with other inanimate personal property in the event of a divorce.

Alimony 101

Alimony is support paid to an ex-spouse following the divorce decree. The amount of alimony is largely based on the incomes of the parties but may also be affected by the distribution of the other assets, if any. Unless otherwise stated by agreement, alimony may be subsequently modified due the changed circumstances of either party. The changes must be substantial and of a continuing nature. As previously alluded to, an alimony provision within an agreement between the parties may not be modified in the absence of a specific provision allowing such a modification within the agreement.

Easier Transitions for Military Families

First Lady Michelle Obama has been promoting a law that would make it easier for military spouses to maintain gainful employment in spite of their often transient lives. The law makes it easier for military servicemembers and their spouses to transfer out-of-state occupational licenses so they can continue working in their profession without significant delay after relocating. Just last week, Illinois became the 23rd state in the country to pass the legislation.

Custody Relocation and Alternative Forms of Visitation

Pennsylvania's custody relocation statute, 23 PA C.S. 5337, requires the party seeking relocation to get court approval or the other parent's permission prior to relocation. A relocation is defined as any move that would "significantly impair the ability of the nonrelocating party to exercise custodial rights." 23 Pa C.S. 5322. 25 percent of the 35 million children with separated, divorced or single parents have a parent that lives a significant distance from the other parent, limiting the amount of traditional custody time with the non-custodial parent. In addition to giving notice of the proposed relocation and petitioning the court if the other party won't consent, the party seeking relocation is to submit a proposed order outlining the custody schedule in the event of a relocation. As with any custody decision, the party seeking relocation must show how the relocation is in the child's best interests. A party seeking relocation should use the proposed order to demonstrate their genuine intent to ensure the nonrelocating party will still have a strong relationship with the child(ren) as a Judge will usually believe maintaining a strong parent-child relationship is in the child's best interests. This responsibility to prove that a strong parent-child relationship will continue has become easier with the development of social media and video calling services. In fact, the term "virtual visitation" has been coined to describe the opportunities for parents and children to remain touch through the use of technology.

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