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Harrisburg Family Law Blog

Refinancing a home may be prudent after a divorce

When a couple decides that a marriage is no longer sustainable, there are many financial and personal decisions that need to be made. A divorce affects almost every aspect of a person's life, including one's financial outlook. Pennsylvania residents may have a few options to consider when a family home is part of the equation.

If one spouse is to keep the marital home, there are a few choices that the new owner may wish to take into consideration in order to establish firm financial footing. The first is to safeguard one's credit rating if possible. This could be done by ensuring that the mortgage, if any, is refinanced in the new owner's name. This also helps the new owner establish a good rating apart from the former spouse.

Both reasons and trends for adoption have changed over time

Nationally, there are an estimated 100,000 children in the foster care system. National Adoption Day was recently celebrated as a way to draw attention to these children's needs.

According to historical notes, children were previously viewed as a contributing member of the household once they were old enough to work and provide for the overall good of the family. As a result, it was not unusual for an adoption to take place to ensure that a single man's legacy carried on through an heir.

Fortunately, society's view of adoption has changed over time, and the focus in adoptions in Pennsylvania is the welfare and best interest of the child.  This increased concern regarding the welfare of adopted children has made the legal process more costly and onerous for some, particularly where a home study is required.

Tax code revisions could add to burden of divorce for many

Asserting that the tax code needs updating, Congress is currently working on revisions to tax laws that will likely have an impact on every Pennsylvania resident in one way or another. One component that may make the divorce process more complicated would directly impact the spouse who is ordered to pay alimony. The law is expected to affect couples who enter into divorce agreements beginning January 1, 2018.

In its current form, the law requires the former spouse who receives alimony to report it as taxable income on their tax returns. The spouse who is tasked with making these payments is currently permitted to deduct them from his or her income when filing their taxes. The rationale behind the existing law was that the payer is likely in a higher tax bracket and already paying a higher tax rate. Thus, it made sense for the spouse paying tax at a lower rate to be taxed on the alimony they receive.

If the change is approved as part of the updated tax code, the government estimates an increase in tax revenue of an approximately $8 billion over the next ten years. Some financial professionals are concerned that the change will create economic hardship for all parties involved in that the payer may not be able to pay as much alimony because of the increased tax burden that they payer will have without the prior deduction. This will be an important consideration for both the courts when ordering alimony and spouses when entering into divorce agreements.

Pennsylvania residents who are contemplating a divorce may have concerns and questions regarding this change and how it will impact their case. An experienced family law attorney can provide assistance in ensuring that you emerge from a divorce in the best financial position possible.

NFL player, Jimmy Smith, in midst of child custody dispute

Relationships among high profile athletes often come under intense scrutiny from fans, especially when those relationships do not end happily. These sports professionals often find themselves caught up in acrimonious child custody disputes filled with allegations that may or may not be true. Football fans living in Pennsylvania may be aware of such a dispute involving Raven's cornerback, Jimmy Smith. 

According to a petition filed against the player for sole custody of the former couple's 3-year-old child, the mother alleges that Smith has engaged in illicit behavior in the presence of their son. These behaviors purportedly include the use of illegal drugs and other substances. The mother has also alleged that her former partner was physically abusive to her and that he is failing to provide a suitable home for the child whenever the boy is in the care of his father.

No fault doesn't mean no reason when it comes to divorce

You've probably heard of (or perhaps even known someone who has experienced) long, drawn out courtroom battles marked by emotional outbursts, contentious debates and mudslinging between spouses as they fight their way through divorce proceedings. In fact, this description of divorce is so common that you might have felt a bit out of the loop when you decided to sever marital ties for reasons that had nothing to do with fault. In Pennsylvania, no fault divorces are recognized by the court.

There are certain stipulations regarding this type of divorce. For instance, the reason you list for legally ending your marriage must be on the state approved list of reasons for no fault divorce. Not long ago, the governor of Pennsylvania signed new legislation that changed some of the laws governing no fault divorce in this state.

Creative custody may be the answer to your stability worries

When you decided to pursue divorce, you may have immediately begun worrying about your children's future. Perhaps stories of high risk behavior in children of divorce increased your anxiety level. On the other hand, you may know a few people whose children have seemingly fared quite well since their parents split; of course, you're hoping your family has similar results to the latter as opposed to the former.

One of the things that you may be most concerned about, as many Pennsylvania parents who divorce are, is the idea of subjecting your children to constant shuttling back and forth between houses once you and your former spouse take up separate residences. A rising trend known as nesting in divorce may be of interest to you.

Woman accused of running an adoption scheme

Couples who are unable to have their own biological children may always dream of becoming a family. In these situations, many may consider adoption as a way of providing a child with a loving home. Pennsylvania residents have many options, however, not every opportunity is what it seems.

Recently, one woman has been accused of running an adoption scheme by preying on couples who were hoping to adopt a baby. According to the reports, the woman contacted couples with a picture of a baby waiting on a family. One potential adopter lived several states away when she was contacted by a woman who claimed to be an advocate for children. The accused woman allegedly emailed photos of an infant girl who was intended to be their adopted child.

Some jobs may increase likelihood of divorce

By its nature, a marriage requires tremendous amounts of time and energy in order for it to survive -- let alone thrive. Needless to say, if one's occupation also requires an equal amount of time and energy, then it may not be surprising when a divorce ensues. While there are seemingly endless career choices for Pennsylvania residents, there are several occupations that tend to have a higher divorce rate.

Probably not surprisingly, careers that require close contact with strangers or co-workers tend to have a negative effect on one's marital bliss. These jobs encompass those careers that include the arts -- such as dancing and acting, as well as professional athletes. However, those who work as massage therapists and even bartenders also record a higher rate of divorce. Those who are employed by gambling establishments also report more than the average rate of divorces, though those who work closely with cash transactions seem to be the most at risk.

Study points to shared child custody as better option for many

Traditionally, when parents divorced, family court judges usually ordered that mothers would be the primary care provider and fathers would be relegated to part-time parenting. However, in spite of the intention to spare children the conflict that may erupt between parents, a recent study points to shared child custody being a better option. Pennsylvania has its own laws regarding parenting arrangements, but shared custody is one possibility.

One researcher wanted to study whether parental conflict would have a negative impact on children, thereby justifying choosing one primary parent. However, after studying the relationships between fathers and their daughters for over two decades and then focusing on the question of conflict, the researcher concluded that children are better served by having a close bond with both parents. It has been demonstrated that even young children benefit from having as equal time with both parents as possible.

An adoption is not the only reason to terminate parental rights

Many Pennsylvania families are headed by one if not two biological parents. However, families can take many forms for a variety of different reasons, including adoption. In order for many adoptions to take place, the existing parental rights of a biological parent may first need to be terminated.

While adoption is one reason why a court may take this step, there are other circumstances and situations that may call for a parent's rights to be legally terminated. One of the most serious reasons is if the child has been a victim of chronic or severe physical abuse or has ever been sexually abused by a parent. Likewise, serious neglect or lack of consistent parental engagement are two other reasons a court may seek to end a parent's legal rights to a child.

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