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May 2018 Archives

Presumption of Paternity

A presumption of paternity arises where a child is born into an intact marriage. In that circumstance, absent clear and convincing evidence to the contrary, the husband will be deemed to be the father. Paternity by estoppel acts to impose an obligation on the party who holds themselves out as a father to the child and supports the child to continue to support the child.

Retake Maiden Name

A spouse can elect to retake his or her maiden name during a divorce. In Pennsylvania, pursuant to 54 P.S. § 504, "any person who is divorced from the bonds of matrimony may resume any prior surname used by him or her by filing a written notice to such effect in the office of the clerk of the court in which the decree of divorce was entered, showing the caption and docket number of the proceeding in divorce." It is also possible to request to retake your maiden name while the divorce is still pending in Bucks County. There is a $9 filing fee payable to the court for the certified copies of the name change decree.

Business Perks

It is not uncommon for self-employed parties or parties with ownership interests in a business to have some expenses paid for by the business. Examples may include paying their cell phone bill, car payments or repairs, travel expenses, entertainment costs, membership dues, etc. Many of these expenses can subsequently be deducted as legitimate business expenses in terms of preparing a business tax return however, they are treated differently in the context of family law. The issue of how personal perks are being paid often arises when trying to identify income available for child or spousal support. The value of some of these "business expenses" can be added back to a party's income for purposes of a support calculation.

Guardianship

Guardianship is an option for any individual who has trouble or is incapable of making their own decisions. A court may appoint a guardian and grant the guardian authority to make decisions on behalf of the individual who has been deemed incapacitated by the court. The standard for incapacity involves an analysis of whether the individual can manage their financial resources and/or meet essential requirements for their own health and safety. A petition should be filed with the court to initiate a guardianship proceeding. Shortly after filing a petition you will be assigned a hearing date. The petitioning party has the burden of proof to demonstrate guardianship is absolutely necessary. This generally involves securing expert testimony from a treating physician regarding the extent of the incapacity and necessity for a guardian.

90 day Mutual Consent Divorce

A no-fault divorce means that neither party is asserting that the other party did something wrong. Instead, the assertion is that the marriage is simply irretrievably broken. In Pennsylvania, a no-fault divorce may be granted after a waiting period of 90 days provided both parties consent to the divorce at the conclusion of the waiting period. This waiting period is often referred to as a cooling-off period. It is utilized to give the parties an opportunity to reflect on the severity of the decision to get a divorce and/or seek marital counseling to see if the relationship can be saved. The 90-day waiting period begins to run from date of service of the Complaint in Divorce.

Appraisals for Divorce

An appraisal may be needed to ascertain an accurate value of an asset in a divorce or estate matter. Assets that may require an appraisal include real property, jewelry, vehicles, antiques, and even retirement plans. Parties may elect to use one appraiser or have their own independent appraisers. When choosing an appraiser, it is important to make sure the appraiser is licensed or certified. A licensed appraiser has met the minimum requirements for practice. A certified appraiser must complete additional classroom hours and practice in the field. A list of all licensed and certified appraisers is available online. You should also make sure the appraiser you select has prior experience with the exact type of appraisal sought. This would include experience in the geographic market, the type of property, and intended use of the property.

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