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August 2014 Archives

Grounds for Annulment

There are two options for ending a marriage in Pennsylvania: divorce or annulment. An annulment may only be pursued where the marriage itself was void or voidable. A marriage is void where either party was still married at the time of the current marriage, the parties are related to a certain degree, either party did not consent to the marriage due to incapacity or serious mental health disorder, or either party was under 18 at the time of the marriage. These grounds for annulment can be pursued so long as there was no confirmation of the marriage by continuance of the marital relationship after one of the above-mentioned grounds was discovered.

Adjustments to Basic Support

Support in Pennsylvania is calculated based on a statewide guideline amount. Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure 1910.16-6 outlines potential adjustments to a basic support obligation. Reasonable child care expenses paid by either parent can be added to a support calculation. The additional cost is then allocated between the parties in proportion to their income. Most additional expenses will be similarly divided among the parties based on their net income. Health insurance premiums on behalf of the other party and/or children can be included. Further, the portion of the premium attributable to the party paying it can also be allocated as long as a duty of support is owed to that party. Unreimbursed medical expenses are also covered. The first $250 is built into the calculations such that the party receiving support is expected to cover it. Expenses over $250 are split by the parties based on their relative amount of income. Expenses include co-pays, deductibles, dental and optical services as well as orthodontia. Expenses that are usually excluded include chiropractic, cosmetic and psychiatric/psychological services. 

New Jersey Alimony Reform

New Jersey is waiting to hear whether the long sought-after changes to their alimony laws will be adopted. Many view NJ's alimony laws as unfair and inconsistent. The proposed changes to the law would seek to fortify a more uniform and rational framework for determining what amount and duration of alimony is appropriate as well as circumstances that would warrant a change or termination of the alimony award. One of the key provisions of the proposed new law is the "elimination" of permanent alimony which would be replaced with open durational alimony. Additionally, the court would be required to consider all the relevant factors for an alimony award and provide specific written findings of fact and conclusions of law in support of their decision. The factors would be expanded to include a consideration of support that has already been paid prior to finalization of the divorce as well as the standard of living of both parties such that neither would be entitled to a greater standard of living than the other post-divorce. 

Vacation Schedules in Custody

Vacations are a staple of the summer season and you want to make sure your children are able to enjoy vacation with you. A vacation schedule can be included as part of a custody order to alleviate any confusion or disagreement. Standard provisions specify how many weeks of vacation each party is entitled to per year, how the weeks may be exercised, what type of notice should be given, and what additional information should be provided. A sample vacation schedule paragraph is below:
Each party shall have two non-consecutive weeks of vacation each year with thirty days advance written notice to the other parent. If there is a conflict on vacation where both parties plan the same week, the party who gives written notice first shall be entitled to the week. Written notice may be via email or text message. The parties agree that they will each exercise their vacation week to include their regular scheduled time so as not to unnecessarily disrupt the regular custody schedule. 

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