Frequently Asked Questions

Divorce FAQs

Our divorce is amicable. Do we really need an attorney?

Even the most simple divorce can become more complicated than it first appears.  Having a skilled attorney who knows the court's procedure can save you from problems with your divorce documents that will need to be corrected later, and can help your divorce to proceed as smoothly and quickly as possible.  One attorney cannot represent both spouses. However, either spouse may decide to hire a family law lawyer who can prepare the agreement between the parties, called a Post-Nuptial or Property Settlement Agreement, and file the other necessary paperwork to ensure the Divorce Decree is issued as quickly as possible by the court.  

How long does the divorce process take in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, all parties must wait a mandatory 90 days from when the Divorce Complaint is served before the final documents requesting a Divorce Decree may be filed.  If there are disagreements between the parties, however, or a large amount of property to be divided, a divorce may take much longer than the minimum "cooling off" period.  Contact me today to talk about how long you could expect your divorce to take, and what factors can influence the time period it takes for the court to issue a Divorce Decree.  

Read All Divorce FAQs


Custody FAQs

How is child custody determined by the court?

There are 16 factors that Pennsylvania courts consider when awarding custody. Pennsylvania’s custody law  also clarifies who has standing to bring a custody action — in other words, who is legally able to file a complaint for custody. The statute is relatively new law and is still being interpreted by Pennsylvania's courts, but it will have a direct impact on your custody case. Contact me today for a consultation regarding the ramifications of the law and your case.

When do the children get a say in which parent gets custody?

There is no set age in Pennsylvania as to when children get a say in the custody process.  However, the custody law provides that the "well-reasoned preference" of the child, depending on how they are able to articulate that preference, may be considered a relevant factor in the custody process.  Further, the county that your matter will be heard in may have its own standards by which a child participates in the process.

Read All Custody FAQs


Support FAQs

How is support calculated in Pennsylvania?

Both child support and spousal support in PA will be calculated according to state guidelines, which outline formulas for the court to use in determining the amount of support.  The action is started by filing a support complaint through the Domestic Relations Section, and then the parties will attend a support conference, where a conference officer will run the support guidelines.  Even parties with straightforward incomes can benefit from having an attorney present at the conference level to ensure they receive the most favorable recommendation.

What if we share custody? Can I still receive child support?

It depends.  Pennsylvania's support guidelines are based on the Income Shares Model, and supports the concept that children of separated parents should receive the same amount of support they would if their parents were together.  The numbers are calculated based on the parties' respective net incomes, taking into consideration any deviations allowed under the guidelines. Consideration of how much time each parent has with the children, specifically overnight time, will also be factored into the guideline calculation.

Read All Support FAQs


Estate Planning FAQs

Why do I need a will?

If you die without a will, the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will determine how your property is distributed.  You may lose the opportunity to distribute the assets you worked hard to gain in the manner you think is best. A will can also direct who becomes guardian of minor children, and how a minor's assets should be managed until they are old enough to manage them on their own.  These are not decisions to be made lightly, or leave to chance. Retain control over your assets and protect your loved ones with a will, and make sure to review the document periodically to ensure it continues to represent your wishes.

What is a living will?

A living will helps you retain control over medical decisions in the event you are not able to make a decision for yourself.  A living will can help direct your treatment providers and family members regarding whether you wish to receive certain life-sustaining measures, surgeries, or whether you simply want medical intervention to keep you pain free.  This document can greatly reduce the stress of an already painful time for your loved ones in the event you are in a terminal condition.

Read All Custody FAQs