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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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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International Custody: Other Parent Removed Child

Another scenario with international custody cases is the following. You and the other parent live in the United States with your child. The other parent takes the child to a foreign country and does not return. What can you do?

The United States has signed a treaty with many other countries, called the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. If the foreign country has also signed this treaty, then you would have to ask a court in that foreign country to enforce the treaty. That foreign court should then order the return of your child to the U.S. Some countries have not signed the treaty (some countries from the Middle East and Africa). In this unfortunate case, you would have to hope that a foreign court would grant you some kind of custody order, although that order can be difficult to acquire.

Preventing your child from leaving the U.S. may be your best protection against an international custody case. (Beware that some parents will say they are taking the child to a foreign country just to visit relatives, but then they do not come back.) You can refuse to obtain a passport for your child, as it requires the signatures of both parents (until a certain age). If your child has a passport, you can seize it and prevent the other parent from using it. You can also request a court order from your local custody court, asking that the other parent be prohibited from taking the child outside the U.S.

If you need help finding and working with a foreign attorney for an international custody case, our firm can assist you. If you and your child live in Western Pennsylvania, we can help request a local custody order, barring the other parent from leaving the U.S. with your child.

 

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Written by Attorney Andrew Glasgow
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International Custody: You Removed the Child

An international custody dispute can develop when parents are temporarily residing in a foreign country. You might return to the United States with your child, leaving the other parent in the foreign country. You refuse to return the child. Meanwhile, the other parent is demanding that the child be returned to the foreign country. Must you return the child?

The United States has signed a treaty with other countries to handle this situation: the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The treaty requires the child to be returned to the country of the child’s habitual residence. As you can see, which country the child habitually resides in can be argued by both sides. If your move to the foreign country was temporary, you can argue that the U.S. is where the child habitually resides. By contrast, if you have lived in the foreign country for quite some time, then the other parent can argue that the foreign country is the habitual residence.

Even if the habitual residence is the foreign country, there are some exceptions when the child does not have to be returned. The child in many cases need not be returned after the expiration of one year, if the child is settled well in his or her new environment. Retention of the child may also be permitted, if there is a grave risk that return of the child would expose the child to physical or psychological harm or otherwise place the child in an intolerable situation. The court also has discretion to deny return of the child, if the child objects to being returned and has attained an age and degree of maturity at which it is appropriate to take into account the views of the child.

If you brought your child back to the U.S. and are facing an international custody dispute, feel free to contact our firm for a free consultation.

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Written by Attorney Andrew Glasgow
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Grandparent Custody

Grandparents have custody rights to their grandchildren under Pennsylvania law. The relevant statute is 23 Pa.C.S. section 5313. Certain conditions must be met however. Those conditions differ based on whether the grandparent is seeking only partial custody or shared/full custody.

Partial custody is basically anything less than half the time, such as two weekends per month. To receive partial custody, the grandchild must have lived with the grandparent for at least twelve months and then have been removed from the grandparent’s home by the parents. Partial custody must be in the grandchild’s best interests and not interfere with the parent-child relationship.

Suppose the grandparent seeks custody for half the time or more. The grandparent must have served the role of parent for twelve months. Or the grandchild must have been determined a dependent under the Juvenile Act. Or the grandchild must be at substantial risk from parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse, or mental illness. It must be in the best interests of the grandchild to be in the grandparent’s custody and not with either parent.

If you are a grandparent, our firm can assist you with seeking custody through the court or with negotiating an arrangement with the parents.

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Written by Attorney Andrew Glasgow
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Custody

Once you separate, you should strive for a custody arrangement spelled out in a court order. If your spouse fails to follow the custody arrangement, you have recourse. The courts will enforce it. Both parents are entitled to care for the children (although the court will often grant custody of infants to the mother, since infants are often quite dependent on the mother). The court prefers shared custody, however, so that children have both parents in their lives.

Parents can agree on about any custody arrangement. An attorney can assist parties with reaching a suitable arrangement, reduce it writing, and convert it into a court order. If the parents cannot reach an agreement, court involvement may be necessary. Custody proceedings occur in a sequence of stages. Parents who resort to court proceedings often settle the custody matter in the preliminary stages. If your spouse is threatening to move out of the Commonwealth with the children, you may want to get a court order immediately to prevent it.

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Written by Attorney Andrew Glasgow
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