Category Archives: Child Custody

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.

CAN A DIVORCE AGREEMENT BE CHANGED?

If you have decided to get a divorce, you may or may not be apprehensive about the whole process. For example, if you and your spouse have minor children together and you have acquired some marital assets, such as a nice home with a little equity, you may be nervous about child custody and property division.

When we represent clients in their divorce actions, we highly recommend that spouses create marital settlement agreements before the divorce is final. Settlement agreements can address what happens to a couple’s assets and debts, and what happens to their children.

In a standard marital settlement agreement, the couple will agree on the following:

  • Child custody
  • Visitation
  • Property division
  • Debt division
  • What will happen to the marital home
  • Spousal support (if any)
  • What will happen to a spouse’s business (if applicable)

Marital settlement agreements are very valuable tools. Why? Because they allow spouses to reach agreements on very important issues, they give the spouses clarity on what to expect, and they can help spouses avoid having to go to court later for these specific issues because they failed to do so during the divorce.

Settlement agreements put everything in writing in a legally-enforceable, legally-binding document. However, it’s important to note one key facet of these agreements – certain provisions contained within are subject to change.

If you were worried that you could never go back to court and ask for a change in child custody or support, or spousal support, you can breathe a sigh of relief because these may be changed in the future – they are not necessarily set in stone.

Family Court Judges Know That Things Change

If you are about to ask for a divorce, it’s important that you know that your life will go through a lot of changes in the next 5 to 10 years, and same goes for your children and your soon-to-be ex-spouse. For example, you could remarry and want to relocate, or your spouse may do the same.

You may lose your job, or your ex may lose theirs. If you’re paying spousal support, your ex may re-marry before your spousal support payments are supposed to end. Or, your son may dislike your ex-wife’s new husband and when he’s 14, he may want to move in with you instead.

Perhaps you’re a stay-at-home mom today, but after going back to school and getting a nursing license, you may dramatically increase your income. In that case, your ex-husband may go back to court and ask to lower your spousal support payments. Or, your ex-husband may have a $100,000 per year increase in pay, and you may want to ask the court to increase his child support obligation.

Post-Judgement Modifications

Whatever marital settlement agreement you and your spouse agree to, we want you to know that matters pertaining to child custody, visitation, child support, and spousal support can be changed in the future.

Either spouse can ask the court for a post-judgement modification, however, the petitioning spouse must show the court a significant change in circumstances warrants their request for a change.

Looking for a Pennsylvania no-fault divorce lawyer? Contact No Contest Divorce, LLC today!

CAN I NEGOTIATE MY OWN DIVORCE SETTLEMENT?

If you’re seriously contemplating a divorce, you may be afraid of the costs involved. You might have heard people say something to the effect of, “Don’t even try to negotiate your own divorce settlement. That’s what attorneys are for.”

As you think of these warnings, you begin to imagine the attorney fees rising until you begin to rationalize, “I can’t afford to get a divorce.” Fortunately, there is light at the end of the tunnel and it is possible to obtain a cheap, no-fault divorce in no time at all, but there’s a catch: you and your spouse need to work together to reach a fair settlement.

No Contest Divorce, LLC Encourages You to Negotiate Yourself

At No Contest Divorce, LLC, we help couples obtain cheap, no-fault divorces. Unlike other law firms, we actually encourage spouses to negotiate their own divorce settlement. This may go against conventional wisdom, but it’s proven to be a highly-effective way for couples to obtain a low-cost divorce within a short timeframe.

“Most lawyers will tell you not to even try to negotiate your own divorce settlement. That’s because lawyers believe that they can negotiate for you better than you can negotiate for yourself,” Karen Covy wrote in HuffPost. About negotiating your own divorce, Covy said, “it’s not rocket science.”

“While divorce negotiations are definitely not for everyone, negotiating even a part of your own divorce settlement can save you time and money, if you do it right!” Covy wrote. We have to agree with Covy because that’s how our clients are able to obtain a divorce for just $319, including court costs and legal fees – by being cooperative with each other until they reach a mutually-satisfying divorce settlement.

Quick tips for negotiating:

  • Educate yourself on Pennsylvania’s divorce laws so you know your rights and responsibilities under the law.
  • Understand your assets, debts and post-divorce bills before you open your mouth.
  • If you have kids, make sure you understand the law in regards to child custody and support.
  • Know what you want and ask your attorney if it’s fair.
  • Do a post-divorce budget so you understand what you need.
  • Put yourself in your spouse’s shoes, and ask them to put themselves in yours.
  • Agree to work towards a fair, mutually-acceptable agreement.
  • Be polite and respectful and treat it like a business transaction. Check your emotions at the door.
  • Know what you want, but be flexible when necessary and remain open to advice and suggestions from your spouse and your divorce attorney.

To learn more about negotiating a no-fault divorce, contact No Contest Divorce, LLC today. We are here to give you the guidance you need during this difficult time.

HOW SOCIAL MEDIA CAN HARM YOUR CHILD CUSTODY CASE

It is generally never a good idea to be active on social media during your divorce case since your posts can easily come back to haunt you and derail your chances at obtaining a favorable settlement. When it comes to child custody, it can have both an emotional and legal impact to your case. Remember, this legal battle is likely going to touch your life in every possible way and even affect the way you interact with others around you. Social media is a form of interaction and, if you continue to use it, you might inadvertently get yourself involved in legal trouble as a result of your posts.

Here are some ways in which social media can affect your child custody case:

  • You might contradict yourself: If you think your social posts do not count as evidence, think again. Anything you post can be used against you, which is particularly true of something you post online directly contradicts a recorded legal statement you made.
  • Your posts can be misleading: Social media is rarely an accurate reflection of real life. We tend to present a well-crafted image of ourselves to make people perceive us a certain way. If you want people to think you have a fun social life, you might post pictures of you and friends having a few drinks at a cool bar. Unfortunately, this can be used against you as evidence of excessive alcohol use or an irresponsible lifestyle.
  • The emotional content: You are in the midst of a child custody case and this is undoubtedly an overwhelming time, but if you post your emotional rant about your ex, or your case in general, on social media it will backfire on you. Vent to a trusted friend instead.
  • Your new relationships might get you in trouble: Oftentimes, people begin dating after their divorce. Obviously, this is fine, but if you post on your dating profile that you are single with no kids, or looking for a hook-up, this will look pretty bad in a courtroom.

If you continue to use social media throughout your child custody case, it would be wise to at least exercise some caution and good judgment. Ask yourself if you would mind a judge seeing your post and, if the answer is yes or if you are not sure, do not post it. Better safe than sorry.

Child Custody Attorney for Uncontested, No-Fault Divorce

At No Contest Divorce, LLC, we can prepare a custody agreement if you and your spouse have reached a decision on the best and most appropriate solution for your children after you have finalized your divorce. If your family is seeking a fast and affordable resolution, our firm can help. There is no reason to pay premium prices for the representation of a conventional firm.

Get started today! Contact 215.839.1162 to learn more.

FAQS ABOUT CHILD CUSTODY DURING THE HOLIDAYS

Now that it’s December, we’re deep in the holiday season. It’s that time of year where we drink hot cocoa, gather around the fireplace, exchange gifts, and enjoy big holiday dinners with family. While the holidays can bring warm feelings and cheer for most people, when you’re a parent getting a divorce, it can be a different story.

Suddenly, the divorcing parent is worried they won’t have their kids during Hanukkah or Christmas or they fear they won’t be able to honor family traditions. If you’re getting a divorce and you’re concerned about child custody and the holidays, you’re not alone. Just about every parent going through a divorce has concerns about it.

Your Questions Answered

As a divorce firm, we get a lot of questions about child custody during the holidays. Here, we answer the most common questions from clients:

When is child custody during the holidays addressed? When divorcing parents create a divorce agreement, they must make arrangements for child custody. Child custody agreements typically address spring break, summer vacation, and child custody over the holidays. You and your spouse will need to hash all of these out before the judge signs off on your divorce.

Is there any way to ensure I get to see my kids on the holidays themselves? If you have a low-conflict situation and you get along well with your spouse, it may be best to continue celebrating the holidays the way you always do – together. If you have a good relationship with your ex, there’s no reason to celebrate the holidays separately. And, as significant others enter into the picture, it may be good to invite them to celebrate the holidays with the family. This shows the children that everybody gets along and that there is no reason to leave anyone out.

What if I don’t want to see my ex at Christmas? If you are not comfortable spending any holidays with your ex, you can do what a lot of parents do: alternate holidays every year. For example, on even years you can get Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve and on odd years you get the kids on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve and then rotate these each year with your ex.

We hope you found these tips helpful. If you’re interested in filing a cheap, no-fault divorce for only $319, contact No Contest Divorce, LLC at (215) 839-1162.

WHEN CAN I CHANGE CHILD CUSTODY IN PENNSYLVANIA?

When parents first get a divorce, they agree on a child custody arrangement. Often, parents don’t realize that as time goes by, they may need to change the existing child custody arrangement. In fact, this is quite common.

Essentially, it all comes down to the fact that life circumstances change. Some of the factors that lead to child custody modifications (an official court-ordered change in a child custody agreement) include job relocations, moves closer to family, remarriage, illness or disability on behalf of the custodial parent, and so on. Even a change in the child’s relationship with one parent can lead to a child custody modification.

Best Interests of the Child

Often, a circumstance will change and the parents will enter into a casual agreement to change custody. However, this is not the best way to go about it, especially if child support is being automatically deducted from one parent’s paycheck and the child moves in with him or her and now they’re the custodial parent.

Whenever child custody is changed, it should be memorialized in writing. This means, one of the parents are going to have to petition the court for a child custody modification. If the change is significant, child support will probably be affected as well. If one parent wants to modify the existing custody arrangement and the other parent doesn’t agree, the parent seeking the change will have to take their ex to court so a judge can decide.

Judges are very interested in the best interests of the child. If the reason for the change is more parent-focused than child-focused, the judge will be less likely to make a change. However, if the change is in the child’s best interests, the judge will be more inclined to grant a modification. In any case, the judge will weigh several factors, all based on the “best interests of the child doctrine.” Here are some examples:

  • Which parent is more likely to encourage frequent contact between the child and other parent.
  • Any history of domestic violence.
  • The parental duties each party has been performing for their child.
  • The availability of the child’s extended family.
  • The child’s relationships with siblings.
  • The need to keep stability in regard to the child’s education, their family, and their community life.
  • The child’s preference, based on their maturity and sound judgment.

If you are getting a no-fault divorce, you can contact No Contest Divorce, LLC to have it done affordably. We can answer all of your questions about child custody and under what circumstances you may need to ask the court for a child custody modification in the future.

CHILD CUSTODY: VISITATION RIGHTS IN PENNSYLVANIA

Like all states, both parents in Pennsylvania have the right to have a strong relationship with their children, even after a divorce. In fact, the family courts nationwide have recognized how beneficial it is for children to have continuing and frequent contact with both parents. Because of this belief, such an arrangement is strongly encouraged providing it is safe for the children.

Usually, it is best for the parents to reach a child custody agreement and have it officially signed off by a judge and made into a court order. If you have a written agreement with your ex, even if it’s notarized, it cannot be enforced by the police unless it’s been made into a court order. That being said, it’s best to get any written agreement made into a court order so it can be enforced by the courts if there are any issues down the road.

What is Visitation Exactly?

Visitation has to do with the noncustodial parent’s right to have quality time with his or her children. Merriam-Webster defines visitation as, “Temporary custody of a child granted to a noncustodial parent.” Generally, noncustodial parents have a right to “visitation” unless there is a safety concern; for example, the noncustodial parent has a severe mental illness, they have committed child abuse, or they have a substance abuse problem.

There are two types of visitation: supervised and unsupervised. In most cases, supervised visitation is saved for circumstances where there has been domestic violence. However, visitation is somewhat of a loose concept in the family court system. Currently, the courts do not have strict rules about visitation, so judges have a lot of discretion and they typically make visitation orders based on the best interests of the child.

Child custody can be confusing. If you’re getting a divorce and you have minor children, it’s important to be knowledgeable about your child custody and visitation rights. Contact No Contest Divorce, LLC to seek advice from one of our qualified attorneys.

GRANDPARENTS’ RIGHTS IN PENNSYLVANIA

If you’re a grandparent, you may be wondering if there is any way that you can have rights to your grandchildren, legally-enforceable rights to child custody or visitation. As a general rule, a child’s parents are the proper people to have custody of their children. However, that’s not absolute.

Sometimes, a grandparent or an aunt or uncle believes the child would be better off in their care. This is especially the case if the child’s custodial parent (s) is mentally ill, neglectful, abusive, or has a drug or alcohol problem. In these situations, the third party would have to prove to the family court that the child is living with a parent who is not fit to care for them.

When the Child is Living With Someone Else

It is not unheard of for a child to be living with someone other than a parent or a close relative. If a child is living with one of the parent’s close friends or family members, the more time the child spends with this other person and away from their parents, the more likely the court is to listen to the third party’s reasons for having the child continue living with him or her.

If the third party who is caring for a child is a friend of the child’s parents and the child’s grandparents want custody, the courts will give the grandparents more consideration than the non-relative who is currently caring for the child. Under Pennsylvania law, grandparents have more rights than third parties when it comes to requesting visitation, partial custody, or even legal custody of their grandchild.

Asking for Visitation or Partial Custody

Are you a grandparent who is interested in visitation or partial custody of your grandchild? If so, you’ll be interested in knowing that grandparents in Pennsylvania do have the right to ask the court for visitation or partial custody of their grandchild’s parents are separated or divorced, or if the grandchild lived with the grandparents for 12 or more months.

If the grandparents’ son or daughter is deceased, they also have the right to seek partial custody or visitation of their grandchild. However, under these circumstances, it’s up to the grandparents to prove to the court that it would be in the child’s best interests to let the child see their grandparents.