Divorce Mediation

Have you considered divorce mediation as a way of handling your divorce? Some couples agree on getting a divorce and agree on how to resolve the other claims, such as their property division. For such couples, our firm offers mediation. Our firm represents both the husband and the wife. We meet with both of you, where we gather the needed information. We then prepare the legal documents, for the wife and husband to sign. Those documents are then filed with the Court. There are no hearings in Court.

The advantages are numerous. First, we can answer any questions you have about the process and divorce law. Second, the needed legal documents are prepared correctly and efficiently. Third, the overall cost is usually far lower than if both of you hire separate lawyers. The husband and wife can each pay half, if they choose.

Feel free to contact our firm for more details.

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Written by Attorney Andrew Glasgow
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Divorce: A Less Used Kind

Most Pennsylvanians get a no-fault divorce. There are two kinds. One kind allows you to get divorced, if your spouse consents. 23 Pa.C.S. § 3301(c). The second kind allows you to get divorced, if you have been separated for two years; you do not need your spouse’s consent. 23 Pa.C.S. § 3301(d). But what if your spouse will not consent and you do not want to wait for two years of separation? Is there an alternative?

Yes. There is a kind of divorce less often used. If you can prove one of the six following conditions at a hearing, the court may grant a divorce. 23 Pa.C.S. § 3301(a). First, your spouse has deserted your habitation for at least one year. Second, your spouse has committed adultery. Third, your spouse has endangered your life or health with cruel and barbarous treatment. Fourth, your spouse married you while still married to someone else. Fifth, your spouse has been sentenced to jail for at least two years. Sixth, your spouse has offered such indignities that your condition is intolerable and your life is burdensome. You only need to prove one of these conditions, not all six.

These six conditions have been simplified to provide a basic understanding of them and particular defenses may apply. If you wish to discuss whether you qualify for this kind of divorce, feel free to call our firm.

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Written by Attorney Andrew Glasgow
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Custody: Status Quo

Can your custody status quo change the existing custody order? Yes. Take the following scenario. The mother and father live separately. They have a custody order, which is a couple years old. Since that custody order was entered, the mother and father have been consistently following a different schedule. They verbally agreed to do so. Can their new schedule change the old custody order?

Yes, it can. The schedule the parties have been following is called the status quo. And this status quo can be used as a basis for acquiring an updated custody order, which adopts that newer schedule. You may want to get an updated custody order, so that the other parent cannot revert back to the old custody order. Parents sometimes try to revert back to the old custody order when they get angry at the other parent. When parents try to revert back, it can have an adverse effect on the children, because suddenly the children have to follow a new schedule and most likely that schedule does not work for the parties (the reason they adopted a new schedule).

If you desire to obtain an updated custody order which reflects your status quo, feel free to contact our firm.

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Written by Attorney Andrew Glasgow
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Separation: Losing the House

A common property division (or equitable distribution) question is whether I’ll lose the house if I leave it. The scenario is as follows. The married parties are still living together, but one of them wants to separate and leave the house (the marital residence). For the sake of this example, suppose the wife wants to leave. She is afraid that, by doing so, she will lose her marital interest in the house. She will not.

A Pennsylvania divorce court will typically divide the property that existed when the parties separated. If the parties own a house, two cars, some furniture, and a pension when they separate, these are the assets the court usually divides. If you have been separated for several years, the court will still usually look back at what property existed when the parties separated. Thus, leaving the house at separation does not remove it from the marital estate.

The practical effect of leaving the house, however, is that (in my example) the husband is more likely to get the house from the final property division. He continued residing there after wife left it. But, he is usually required to pay wife her share of its value (or give her another asset of equal value.)

If you want some clarity on how your property division is likely to play out, you are welcome to contact our firm.

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Written by Attorney Andrew Glasgow
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Post-Nuptial Agreements: What are they?

People frequently get confused over the difference between pre-nuptial agreements, post-nuptial agreements, separation agreements, and marital settlement agreements. What are the differences?

In Pennsylvania, a pre-nuptial agreement is an agreement entered into by two people before they get married. The purpose is usually to state what happens when the parties die and if the parties get divorced later. The agreement usually covers the parties’ respective assets, debt, and the issue of alimony.

A post-nuptial agreement does the same thing, except the parties enter into it after they get married. It is essentially a pre-nuptial agreement entered into after marriage. It is not entered into because the parties are about to get divorced.

A separation agreement is usually just a different name for a marital settlement agreement in Pennsylvania. The parties are getting divorced and want an agreement to divide their assets and debt, and to address how alimony will be handled.  Its focus is not what happens at death, but rather what happens right now as the parties get divorced. It can be used in place of the parties going to trial and having the court divide their assets and debt and rule on alimony.

Our firm can assist you with drafting any of these agreements. Beware of using form agreements from the Internet, as they may not comply with Pennsylvania law and usually are not tailored to your individual situation. They can also be poorly written, being hard for the court to interpret later or by not being comprehensive enough (that is, leaving something out). Our fees are low, and you can have peace of mind that your assets are protected.

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Written by Attorney Andrew Glasgow
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CYS (or CYF) – Part 3

This article is part 3 in a series about CYS (or CYF). After the shelter hearing, CYS is supposed to implement a plan for reunifying the child with his or her parents. This plan will usually require the parents to do particular things to improve their home situation. For example, the parents may be required to complete a parenting class or domestic violence counseling. If the parents are abusing drugs, they may be required to do random drug screens and take a drug rehabilitation course.

The court typically has a review hearing every three months, to examine the progress of the parents. At this hearing, the CYS caseworker testifies about progress. If the parents comply, the court may order the child back into their custody. If the parents fail to comply and enough time passes (for example, one year), CYS will then recommend that the court terminate the parental rights. Some parents agree to terminate their rights voluntarily, while other parents refuse. The court may then terminate those rights involuntarily, and the child can be adopted by other parties.

If you believe CYS has made it very difficult for you to comply and need representation at the hearing terminating your parental rights, feel free to contact our firm for aggressive legal representation at this hearing.

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Written by Attorney Andrew Glasgow
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