Category Archives: Child Custody

5 KEYS TO KEEPING YOUR CHILD SAFE

Instead of a judge deciding your child’s future, you and your spouse can decided to get a settlement agreement. A settlement agreement, for couples with children, is a legal document which spells out the details of how matters surrounding your child will be handled. This can save you a lot of financial and emotional costs. A settlement agreement provides clear guidelines to be followed, which also gives your child the added security of knowing what to expect. Any agreement involving children needs to be in the best interest of the child/ren at all times.

Health Insurance

Make sure to inform your lawyer which parent is going to cover health insurance and how any bills from medical problems will be handled. This would include how medical costs not covered by insurance are going to be covered. Another question to be considered is who will pay for this continued health coverage, or will you opt to split the costs?

Dental & Eye Insurance

These two types of insurance are not usually covered by general health insurance. Adding this to a settlement agreement now will save you backtracking and additional legal paperwork, not to mention additional medical cost of being uninsured and legal costs of going to court.

Cost of Living

The cost of living is a major consideration if you have children. Costs under this category can include anything from daycare to piano lessons. Don’t forget to include school activities and the expense of gas for transporting your child to different activities.

Parenting Time

Some questions to consider for your settlement agreement are:

  1. Who will your children live with? Will there be a primary parent that the children stay with?
  2. Who will your children spend the summer, vacations and holidays with?
  3. Is there a schedule you want to create to split parenting time between you and your spouse?
  4. How will children be exchanged between you and your spouse? Will you use a third party?
  5. How will you communicate to make arrangements for the children and any other issues related to them?
  6. How will you handle situations when one of you cannot meet the schedule? Will you request prior notice?

College Costs

You might think your children are too young to think about this now, but getting this in writing now will save the headache of going to court later. Broaden your agreement to include items outside of “immediate school costs”. This could mean anything from late night pizzas to a semester abroad in Italy. Be as specific as you can about what is expected from each parent.

Your child’s security is a priority with No Contest Divorce Law, LLC. To get your marital settlement agreement started today call 215-398-6760 or click on SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT to learn more.

TOM CRUISE & KATIE HOLMES SIGN SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

After two weeks of being tabloid stars Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes surprisingly hammered out a marital settlement agreement. What looked like a divorce that was going to be dragged through the media and court system has come to an amicable resolution. Cruise and Holmes decided to avoid a long legal battle and do what is best for their six-year old daughter, Suri.

In a statement, jointly prepared by both parties, sent to CNN by Cruise both parties have expressed their desire to keep the divorce a family matter.

To paraphrase the statement:

We are dedicated to cooperating as parents to accomplishing what is in our daughter’s best interests. We want to keep isues affecting our family private and show our respect for each other’s dedication to each of our respective way of thinking and support each other’s roles as parents.”

The martial settlement agreement has saved a lot of embarrassment and emotional pain for not only Cruise and Holmes, but also for people close to them. If a court battle would have been the route for this divorce, Cruise would have suffered damage to his public image and Scientology would have walked away with some battle wounds.

The settlement agreement has been signed and the case settled. From initial reports Holmes will be the primary parent who is responsible for Suri on a daily basis. This part of the agreement worked out for both parties because Cruise was often away from the home due to his career. Another component of the agreement is religion. Though Holmes is protective about the exposure Suri will have to Scientology, Cruise is still free to teach his daughter about his religion.

Divorces with martial settlement agreements are becoming more common. Couples want to save their monies for life after the divorce and not bleed themselves dry in a full blown court drama. Also, the emotional toll of having to relive the pain and suffering of divorce is a top reason couples are figuring how to work out their own affairs and get them into a legal agreement.

Holmes had hired three law firms in three states. You only need one law firm backing you with No Contest Divorce Law, LLC. If you are looking to have a martial settlement agreement, No Contest Divorce Law, LLC can create a legal document which will protect your agreed upon rights. To get started call 215-398-6760 or click on the words SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT. Go to our Divorce Master for a free case analysis and file your simple, uncontested, no-fault divorce case today.

MARITAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS HELP WITH NEW SCHOOL YEAR

The school year is about to start for many students throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Changes from a summer schedule to the scholastic schedule will soon start to affect your family as you settle into new routines. This is a good time to pull out your marital settlement agreement and review details for the upcoming school year.

If you are divorcing in Pennsylvania and are currently working out your marital settlement agreement we have some areas you may want to consider to help this time of year run smoothly for you and your family. Will physical custody of the children change between you and your spouse as your children head into the new school year? Have you decided if your children spend every other summer, or every summer, with one individual? Prepare a child custody schedule to ensure a seamless transition for your children from one household to the other.

Another consideration is splitting summer time between two households. How will you handle vacations that are away from home? Will your children be spending time at family functions such as family reunions?

Divorce means that you must divide child rearing responsibilities differently. Think about the roles and responsibilities which will play out during the school year. Will one parent have sole responsibility for educating the children? How will you distribute responsibilities for your child, such as extra-curricular activities? Will one person be in charge of pick-ups and another for dropping the kids off for different school events? Do you want both parents to be involved in picking up the children from school? Think about how your choices will affect your kids. Will they be embarrassed by other kids talking about their divorced parents switching off pick up times and going to different homes? Talk with your children about these aspects of your divorce that affect them.

A helpful way to plan the school year and family roles is to get a copy of the school calendar. Most major activities will already be planned out for the school year and then you can easily add extra-curricular activities to your family’s schedules.

Look into the future and think about if you want to make provisions in your marital settlement agreement about how you want to make decisions about the children’s schooling. Your children’s schedules and needs will change as they grow older. How will you make decisions about their future needs? Will one person have authority in some areas to make final decisions?

Don’t forget to add how you are going to cover extracurricular expenses. Will you split them? Will the highest income earner be solely responsible? Also, how are you going to handle making sure homework is completed now that you are divorced? Will the parent who does not have custody check-in with the kids to make sure they are meeting their scholastic responsibilities? How will you share information about the children now that you are divorced? Do you both have online access to their progress? Don’t be shy about asking the school to send duplicate reports to each parent.

Keep in mind that the overall goal should be to put your children first. They love both parents and when divorced individuals work together for the future of their children they not only model positive behavior, but also give them a sense of security. Remember to always do what is in the best interest of your children.

SPECIAL NEEDS CHILDREN & MARITAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS

When working out a marital settlement agreement with your spouse, consider the current and future special needs of your child. This includes what happens when your child becomes an adult. Your special needs child will benefit greatly if you and your spouse take the time to work in a collaborative manner. Otherwise the situation can become quiet traumatic for your child and cause long-term damage.

When determining the child visitation schedule with your spouse, remember to pay close attention to the needs of your child. All children need consistency and solid structure in their lives, especially special needs children. Moving between homes can make children feel destabilized. Transitions for special needs children, especially if they do not understand the concept of time, can add to a child’s confusion.

If your child will be traveling between homes after your divorce, consider what they will need when traveling and when they are living in the second home. Some items to take into account include being close to a medical facility and any necessary medical equipment. This includes medical equipment for moving the child between homes and equipment that needs to be in both homes in order for your child to be comfortable. Take time to consider the details. This is especially important if one parent has been the primary caretaker. The non-caretaking parent may not know how to handle certain situations such as:

  1. Special diets;
  2. How to administer medication;
  3. Managing behavior (including potential triggers); and
  4. Preferences of a non-verbal child.

Consider how education will be handled once your are divorced. Will your child be starting in a new school? Are there special considerations that need to be put in place for the child’s new school, including the signing of legal papers? Will both parents have legal custody of the child? Will one parent sign school papers or will your agreement require for both parents to sign-off? Some other questions you may want to answer consider in the educational section of your marital settlement agreement include:

  1. How will additional educational needs be handled?
  2. If your child requires additional tutoring, which parent will pay for it?
  3. Does transportation need to be included in your agreement? If so, will a parent be compensated for time spent transporting the child, gas money, special transportation arrangements for school and other activities?

Another useful tool that can be written into your marital settlement agreement is the use of software for keeping track of your child’s schooling. Technological tools can be a great way to reduce potential conflict between parents. Programs such as Our Family Wizard allows both parents to have access to the latest medical records, school information and a joint calendar for easier schedule coordination between parents. You may not want to specify the software program, but have an agreement to use one and spell out what the program should include. Technology changes quickly and it would be prudent to keep your options open.

A parenting coordinator can be useful during times of conflict for divorced parents. a parenting coordinator is a person who is familiar with your marital settlement agreement, thereby allowing him or her to effectively work with both parents. The parenting coordinator is a standby for communication and decision making. Keep in mind this should be a neutral third-party.

No Contest Divorce Law, LLC offers a free questionnaire to get started with your marital settlement agreement. In addition, please feel free to visit the Marital Settlement Agreement section in our blog for more ideas on how to create your personalized and specific marital agreement with your spouse.

For further reading on divorce and special needs children consider the book Divorce and the Special Needs Child: A Guide for Parents. The book includes a checklist and further resources. If you have other reading or software suggestions please share them with our parents in the comments section below.

HOW TO INCLUDE GRANDPARENTS IN A SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

Grandparents are living longer, and this means more involvement in their grandchildren’s lives. Being a grandparent to children of divorced parents has become a modern reality. The emotional turmoil and uncertainty of your divorce has the potential to make grandparents fearful of losing their relationship with their grandchildren. Getting a grandparent’s visitation rights written into a martial settlement agreement can provide structure for your grandchildren and give them the comfort of knowing that they will continue to be part of their grandchildren’s lives in the future.

There are several ways that you can help grandparents to cope with your divorce, and how to help them stay in their grandchildren’s lives. Consider the following suggestions for helping grandparents cope with your divorce, and for including grandparents in your marital settlement agreement.

The first step is to give grandparents space to grieve, it’s part of the emotional healing process. Many of the dreams that grandparents may have had are no longer a reality, and there is a deep disappointment which comes with facing the reality of the situation. Even if grandparents may have suspected things weren’t going well in the marriage, the traumatic news can be difficult to emotionally cope with.

Feelings of guilt are also normal. Grandparents may feel guilty for a variety of reasons. Some of the reasons can include guilt from their own divorce and how it has impacted your mariage. Grandparents may wonder if they could have done something to prevent the divorce. Don’t let them fall into the trap of being stuck in guilt. Gently communicate with them and help grandparents move their emotions in a positive direction.

Ask the grandparents to keep their opinions to themselves when around your spouse and thier grandchildren. Staying as neutral as possible will not only give your family some stability, but will leave the door open for spending more time with their grandchildren. Divorce is between you and your spouse, and it is not their place to pick sides and verbally annihilate your spouse. A great way to include grandparents at this difficult time of divorce is by asking them to help watch their grandchildren. This could be a few hours of time for them to connect and feel a part of their grandchildren’s lives instead of feeling threatened and alientated. It can also give you the break that you’ll need during the difficult time of divorce.

Encourage grandparents to listen to their grandchildren when the grandchildren talk about the divorce. After all, the grandparents may be the only ones that your children feel comfortable expressing themselves to and they can provide a safe place for them to blow off some steam. Don’t make the mistake of forcing grandparents to take sides or pass judgment on your soon to be ex-spouse. Also, they may able to help the grandchildren to express themselves if they don’t have the vocabulary to express their emotions.

When you are negotiating your marital settlement agreement with your spouse, you may want to ask yourself these questions:

  1. How much time do the grandparents get with their grandchildren?
  2. Are there opportunities for the grandparents to help out, such as picking up a grandchild from school once a week? Taking the grandchildren to an activity?
  3. When do the grandparents get to see their grandkids?
  4. Will the grandchildren be part of family get togethers, reunions and celebrations?
  5. Will grandchildren travel with their grandparents? If so, when? How often?

Once you are ready to have your marital settlement agreement finalized, Attorney Cairns can create a marital settlement agreement for you and your spouse to sign. You can contact Attorney Cairns for a free consultation at 888.863.9115 or start right away by clicking on DIVORCE MASTER. Read client testimonials and see why No Contest Divorce Law, LLC is a better choice.

5 EASY STEPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF DURING DIVORCE

There are several steps you can take during an uncontested divorce to protect yourself. Though your divorce may be “amicable”, it’s wise to take measures ahead of time to safe guard yourself and your property. We are talking about your personal property, not jointly owned or marital property. So, don’t start hiding jointly owned property, or you can easily set yourself up for a contested divorce – meaning more time, money, hassles, and stress before your Pennsylvania divorce can be finalzed.

Keep a daily journal. This may sound like an imposition with everything else going on, but will come in handy later on should you need it. Address each entry to your attorney. Should your spouse try to subpoena your journal, this will make it harder since it could be considered privileged communication between you and your lawyer. That being said, keep your journal in a safe place. If it’s on your computer, then use a password that only you know in order to get into your computer. Remember to record only the facts, this is especially important if your spouse tries to use the journal against you. Some of the items you want to include in your daily journal are:

1. Bills you have paid;

2. Money you have give to your spouse and/or children;

3. Time you have spent with your child(ren);

4. Any item which you feel is important to your divorce;

5. Arguments with your spouse;

6. Significant events;

7. Telephone calls; and

8. Emails.

Record all of the property in your home. Walk through your house and take pictures and/or videotape each item in each room. Don’t forget to turn on the date on your camera or video camera. Think of items which not only have a monetary value, but also a sentimental value. Some of the items to include in your inventory are: jewelry, clothes, furniture, antiques and electronics. Remember to record items in your attic, basement and detached structures such as a shed. If something is missing later on, this will serve as evidence to its existence in your home. You may want to store the pictures or videos in your private safety deposit box in order to make sure it’s not subject to being tampered with by your spouse.

Reduce your bills. Meet right away with your spouse and see how you can cut down on your bills. This would include extra phone lines, perks such as caller id, cable, shopping around for cheaper insurance and call your credit card company and ask for a lower interest rate.

Secure your personal documents. Move your documents such as: birth certificate, passport, diplomas to a trusted friend’s home or get a safe deposit box in your name only. For communal documents such as tax forms and bank records make a copy and add the copy to your safe stash of documents.

Start establishing your own credit. Get a credit card in your name only and start building up your own credit rating. Be prudent when using the card. You may want to initially store it in your safety deposit box as well. It can be a good backup source of funds if an emergency arises, as well.

Once you’ve taken the above steps to protect yourself, you’re ready to file for an uncontested divorce. Contact No Contest Divorce Law, LLC for a free consultation at 215-398-6760.

For an immediate free virtual consultation click on THE DIVORCE MASTER.

The Divorce Master will analyze and qualify your case for an online Pennsylvania simple, no-fault, uncontested divorce, calculate your legal fees, and file your case immediately. It’s just like sitting in our office for a free consultation.

Read client testimonials to see learn about our clients’ experiences.

THE RISKS OF NOT HAVING A MARITAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

What is a Fair Settlement Agreement?

What constitutes a “fair” marital settlement agreement is a headline that has recently been blasted across media circuits. Most recently, Tom Cruise has been accused of getting out of his divorce easily, since his ex-wife Katie Holmes will “only” receive a stated $400,000 for child support. The comparison has been made to his $250 million fortune.

What the media has failed to cover is that this amount is what Holmes felt was suitable for her daughter Suri’s annual needs. In addition, we still don’t know details of how other expenses will be covered, such as medical coverage or a college education. The sensationalism of the dollar amount has overlooked other components of the divorce, such as Holmes being the primary caretaker and the restrictions she has placed on Suri’s exposure to Scientology, Cruise’s religion.

A marital settlement agreement is not just about a lump sum of money for child support. A properly prepared marital settlement agreement also covers several other areas, including: involvement of grandparents in the children’s lives, division of the residential home and other assets and debts, family business and even the household pets. It’s rare for an individual in a divorce to get everything s/he wants; a marital settlement agreement is a compromise between both parties. The agreement should be fair and reasonable, and ensures that both parties will have a more certain future with clearly written conditions.

Also, when a divorced couple has a signed settlement agreement between them, it allows them to save time and money and stress, because they do not have to battle out their disagreements in front of a judge. For example, Grammy Award winning R&B singer, Usher Raymond IV, fought for over a year and a half to win primary child custody. Tameka Foster Raymond, Usher’s ex-wife, now suffers the result of not working out an agreement under more amicable conditions, such as shared custody, but is also dealing with the recent death of her son Kile.

Tempers can flare and emotions tend to run high during a divorce. It’s in the best interest of the divorcing couple to find healthy ways to channel their emotions and quickly move towards a marital settlement agreement. Some of the odd items fought over in divorces include: David Hasslehoff wanting his golf-cart back, Kris Humphries fighting for the engagement ring from Kim Kardashian, and Beth Shack battling it out over 1,200 pairs of designer shoes.

Michael Douglas has battled with ex-spouse Diandra Douglas about intellectual property rights to Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. The coupled reportedly have been fighting over this for fourteen years. Do you want to spend a considerable amount of our future fighting out matters because you didn’t write it up in a marital settlement agreement?

Once you’re ready to file for an uncontested divorce and/or martial settlement agreement contact No Contest Divorce Law, LLC for a free consultation at 215-398-6760.

For an immediate free virtual consultation click on the DIVORCE MASTER.

The Divorce Master will analyze and qualify your specific case for an online uncontested Pennsylvania divorce, calculates your total legal fees, and allows you to file your case immediately. It’s just like sitting in our office for a free consultation.

Read client testimonials to see learn about our clients’ experiences.

TIPS ON STARTING A MARITAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

Negotiating a marital settlement agreement during an uncontested divorce can seem overwhelming. You are trying to figure out the best way to get what you need and survive after the divorce; add the emotional aspects and you might feel like giving up before you even start. We’ve put together some tips to help you get started with your marital settlement agreement.

The first item to keep in mind is you are not usually going to get every single thing you want. Remember, it’s a negotiation. Both parties should walk away with some sense of a secure financial future. This is not the time to try to take advantage of your spouse or “stick it” to him or her. The goal is to save money by not having to go to court, where a judge will tell you what you get.

Keep focused during your negotiations. This is not the time to bring up complaints or emotional hurts, consider it a business deal which will affect the rest of your life. When communicating with your spouse:

  1. If you can’t be nice, at least be civil;
  2. Listen to your spouse, but don’t get dragged into a fight;
  3. Be patient, you may have to meet a couple of times to get the details finalized. It’s unusual to work out a marital settlement agreement in one meeting;
  4. Know what to compromise on; and
  5. Pick a neutral place to negotiate. The last thing you want are reminders of what went wrong or someone butting into your personal situation.

Don’t show up to your meeting and figure whatever happens is what was meant to happen. Show up prepared with a list of items you want to negotiate. Some individuals show up with a timer. This helps them not to linger on a topic and move on to the next issue. If you use a timer, negotiate how much time you’ll spend on each topic with your spouse. If you are having a hard time on a topic, leave it for another day.

Here are some topics you may want to consider as you move through your marital settlement agreement:

  1. Lawyer fees and legal divorce costs;
  2. Spousal support and/or alimony;
  3. Child support;
  4. Pets;
  5. Grandparents’ role;
  6. How to handle the needs of a special needs child;
  7. Creating a list of marital property;
  8. How to divide the marital property;
  9. Creating a list of marital assets and debts;
  10. How to handle the house;
  11. How to handle your child’s school year;
  12. How to handle your child’s birthday, holidays and special events;
  13. Taxes,
  14. Health insurance,
  15. Timeshares;
  16. Frequent flier miles;
  17. Pensions;
  18. Changing names on deeds;
  19. How to handle items of transportation – i.e. car, motorcycle, boat;
  20. What happens when an ex-spouse does not fulfill an obligation – i.e. child support or spousal support;
  21. How to handle any business you or your spouse are involved in;
  22. How to handle counseling for you and/or children; and
  23. How to handle religious training for your children.

Also, don’t be shy about asking your divorce attorney for a guide and/or some tips on negortiating marital settlement agreements.

STARTING THE DIVORCE PROCESS

You have decided to go ahead and get an uncontested Pennsylvania divorce. Now you are wondering what you have to do to get started. Below is a run-down of some the basics, including what you will need to fill out on the online form and questions you may want to consider.

Don’t get overwhelmed. These are just some standard questions and the online intake form will take you only about five minutes to fill-out.

Information to have ready for the online intake form

Personal Information

  1. Full Names
  2. Physical addresses for both yours and your spouse (not a postal office box address). This information is important for the residency requirement and to make sure you both can be contacted by us and the court, if necessary. Also, if someone else is paying for the divorce you will need their full name and email address
  3. Your phone number
  4. Your Email Address (and your spouse’s Email address if you have it). This is how we send you divorce paperwork and keep send you proactive updates on your case.
  5. Birthdays (month, date, year)

Marriage Information

  1. Date of your marriage
  2. Date of separation, if applicable
  3. The city of where you were married
  4. State of where you were married

Additional Information

Don’t forget to have your payment information ready. We use a Paypal shopping cart, so we accept credit cards, checking account payments, and Paypal account payments. Once you make payment, we’ll send you your divorce complaint within 1 business day.

At the end of the form you will have an opportunity to type in any questions or other information you believe Attorney James Cairns should know.

Having the above information handy will make the application process go even quicker. Remember it only takes a few minutes to go through it and have your divorce process officially started almost immediately.

Questions to Consider

Settlement Agreements

A settlement agreements can provide a legal agreement for the following issues and is generally recommended as a good safety net to have in case there are problems later.

  • Do you need to divide property?
  • Do you have a monthly mortgage? Who will be responsible for the payments?
  • Do you want to have a legal document stating the specifics of child custody?
  • Do you want a legal document to state what you have agreed on for spousal support?
  • Do you have debt which needs to be settled?

Name Change

Removing Spouse’s Name on a Deed

Prior Action for Divorce or Annulment

  • Have you already started a divorce or an annulment? Don’t worry if you have, we can still help you with an uncontested divorce.

Serving Spouse

  • Do you want us to serve your spouse the divorce paperwork? You can elilminate the stress of serving your spouse by having us do it for you. Just choose the option when you go through the intake form. We’ll serve your spouse for $70.

Now that you know what to have ready you can either go ahead and get started by clicking on the words get started now or call No Contest Divorce Law, LLC for a free initial consultation at 215-398-6760.

WHAT IS A CHILD-FOCUSED UNCONTESTED DIVORCE?

Child-focused divorces have captured the attention of the media and are becoming a model for many divorcing parents living in Philadelphia and other Pennsylvania cities. Parents facing uncontested divorces are starting to look to see how they can put the interests of children first instead of using them as a bargaining tool. Often these same parents were children of divorced households and do not want to subject their own children to possible trauma and hurt they faced as children of divorcing parents.

There have been studies demonstrating that experiencing parental conflict during divorce is harmful to a child’s development. An uncontested divorce can be a confusing time in a child’s life. Children may blame themselves, sometimes thinking that if they would have behaved better or done better in school, then their parents would not be divorcing. Other issues that children face is limited quality time with one or both parents and changes in home or in school location. Uncontested divorce can be a time that creates deep feelings of insecurity in a child’s life.

Parents creating a child-focused divorce seek to avoid long term social and emotional damage to their children. Instead of taking the attitude that the kids will “get over it”, these parents look to create a healthier environment for their children during and after their divorce. This includes not just figuring out an agreeable custody schedule, but also takes into consideration a child’s emotional well being.

Some tips to keep in mind during a child-focused uncontested divorce are:

  1. Reassure the child that she is loved – verbally and with lots of hugs and kisses;
  2. Intently listen to your child’s needs BEFORE making a decision (i.e., activities, school);
  3. Hire a divorce coach at the beginning of your divorce;
  4. Create structure and routine. Calendars (in both homes) are a great way to help kids remember and understand their routines;
  5. Select a child therapist that you trust; and
  6. Create a solid parenting plan in your marital settlement agreement.

There are several children’s books about divorce on the market. A quick search online will give you some options; also you may want to ask your local reference librarian. Films are another area that may cover divorce from a child’s perspective, such as one recently released by HBO. Children and Divorce is a film created by Professor Childs. The documentary covers the stories of eight children talking about divorce in their own words. Peer reassurance can have a stronger impact than a parent saying everything will be fine.

Don’t expect instant or monumental changes in your child’s acceptance of your divorce or his different behavior. Keep in mind that an uncontested divorce is a major life change and it will take some time for you and your child to transition into a restructured family. Deciding on a child-focused divorce can help your child’s emotional and mental health and the lasting impact normally follows him/her into adulthood.