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June 2014 Archives

Improper Custody Relocation

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." Procedurally, the party intending to relocate should give at least 60 days notice or notice as soon as possible after they have knowledge of the relocation. A full hearing on the relocation should be held prior to the move if the relocation is contested. In addition to addressing the 16 factors to consider in any custody award, the moving party must also address the 10 relocation factors. The moving party has the burden of proof to show relocation will serve the best interests of the child(ren) and that there is no improper motive in seeking to move. 

Increase/Decrease in Asset Value

Property acquired prior to the marriage or in exchange for said property is not marital however the increase in value of that property during the marriage is up for distribution. Pursuant to 23 Pa. C.S. §3501(a)(1), any increase in value for non-marital or separate property should be measured from the date of marriage or date of acquisition through the date of separation or date close to the equitable distribution hearing, whichever date results in a lesser increase. This provision is intended to protect the party with the interest in the non-marital property in situations where there may be a lengthy time period between when the parties separate and when they get to the point of dividing the property. 

Guardian Ad Litem

A guardian ad litem (GAL) is an attorney the court appoints to represent the best interests, and often times the legal interests, of a child in a court proceeding. Once appointed, the GAL should participate in all future proceedings as necessary to continue to ensure the child's interest. By law, the GAL is mandated to meet with the child as soon as possible following appointment. Additionally, the GAL should review all the relevant records related to the case and conduct further investigation as deemed necessary. Further investigation may include speaking with the child's parents and/or guardians as well as interviewing other potential witnesses. 

Non-Marital Property

Section 3501 of the Divorce Code defines what will be considered marital property versus what will be considered non-marital property. Specifically, marital property will include 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). It will also include the increase of value of any non-marital property during the course of the marriage. 23 Pa C.S. 3501 goes on to list what property will not be considered marital under the statute. Property acquired prior to the marriage or in exchange for said property is not marital as well as property expressly excluded by valid written agreement of the parties at any time. 

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