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State College Family Law Blog

Will new tax laws result in more divorces in 2018?

Pennsylvania ex-spouses who had to pay alimony have long benefited from the ability to deduct alimony expenses from their net income. This benefit made alimony payments a lot more palatable -- especially when payments served to drop the payer down to a lower tax bracket. With the new federal tax bill passed by Congress last month, however, the ability to deduct alimony payments from income is going to end.

Fortunately, divorcing spouses will have until the end of 2018 to complete their current divorces and still benefit from the tax deduction benefit. Marriages that come to a close in 2019, however, will be subject to the new tax codes. This means that -- for any divorce that finalizes after year-end 2018 -- those who receive spousal maintenance checks will no longer need to include this money on their income tax statements; and, those paying spousal maintenance will no longer be able to deduct this money from their income tax statements.

What am I allowed to spend my child support money on?

Child support is intended to help the custodial parent of a child pay for various expenses related to raising the child. As such, parents are only supposed to spend child support money on their children. Normally, the court does not require parents to document or show their expenses in this regard; however, in cases of suspected neglect or suspected dishonesty on the part of the custodial parent, a court might ask the parent to show a record of his or her childcare expenditures.

If a parent is audited like this, it helps to have a record of purchases -- through cash, check or credit card receipts and/or bank statements. Parents are, therefore, encouraged to keep a record like this. They're also encouraged to only spend their child support money on things that fit into the following categories:

  • Basic necessities like food, clothing, and shelter
  • Medical care including dental care, eye care health insurance and other costs
  • School tuition and education costs
  • Child care-related expenses
  • Transportation costs related to car payments, gas, maintenance and other expenses
  • Basic entertainment like games, Internet, access to television, camping, the movies and other kinds of fun events.
  • Extracurricular events like summer camp, sports and more
  • College-related costs in some cases

Not all stay-at-home mom and dads will get alimony

Many Pennsylvania spouses will expect to receive alimony payments in the wake of their divorces, especially if they're stay-at-home moms or dads and they earn dramatically less income than their spouses. However, a judge might disagree.

There is a trend across the country that involves courts revisiting their spousal maintenance or alimony laws. States are putting more limitations on the amount and length of alimony payments. In a lot of situations, the alimony gets denied completely -- even in cases where the less-moneyed spouse hasn't had a job in decades.

The advantages of an uncontested divorce

Couples eligible for uncontested divorce in Pennsylvania usually need to have resolved and agreed upon most basic issues relating to their divorces -- like property division, child custody, child support and spousal support.

Let's take a look at some of the common benefits of this variety of divorce proceeding:

What's the Pennsylvania parent locator service?

Imagine you're a single woman and suddenly you realize you're pregnant. You hadn't thought about the one-night-stand you had with a man on Halloween night for more than a month, but now he is very much on your mind -- because he's the father of your baby. The problem is, you don't know how to find him. You look on Facebook. You look on the internet. You look everywhere, but he's nowhere to be found.

Faced with the economic need to pay for your child after he or she is born, and the wish for your child to know his or her daddy, you are desperate to find this man but at a loss for how to do it. Fortunately, public assistance may be available to help you find the father of your baby through the state of Pennsylvania's Parent Locator Service.

The rules for Pennsylvania child support

Pennsylvania parents who are divorcing with children may want to learn about our state's child support guidelines. For example, whether you are going to receive or pay child support, it's important to note that child support requirements will usually endure until a child is 18 years of age, or older in cases where the child has yet to finish high school or has a mental or physical disability.

Here are some issues about child support that single Pennsylvania parents should know about:

Ready to adopt a foster care child?

If you're a would-be parent in Pennsylvania, and you're hoping to adopt, there will be different options available. All of these options will have their potential positives and negatives, so it's important to analyze all your adoption options carefully before deciding which one is best for you and your family. One option that a lot of Pennsylvania adoptive parents choose involves the adoption of a foster child from the U.S. Foster Care System.

In the U.S. Foster Care System, there are a wide variety of kids from different age categories. The average foster care child is 8 years of age. Some have brothers and sisters who they'll want to stay with. Most are healthy and simply require a loving home with supportive parents to take care of them.

Woman arrested for violating child custody orders

A popular television show recently assisted the FBI to capture a Pennsylvania woman accused of parental child abduction. The woman kidnapped her son several years ago, and within 24 hours of the show being aired, the FBI had received tips that led to her arrest.

The kidnapping happened after a shared custody order was issued regarding the woman's son in August 2014. Instead of following the order, the mother fled the state with her son on a bus two months later. The child and the mother had been missing since November 2014. After the kidnapping, authorities charged the woman with interfering with a custody order. She was also charged with concealing the location of a child and unlawful flight.

Divorce: It's not a cakewalk

Pennsylvania spouses considering divorce need to know a few things before they get started. First, divorce is normal. Approximately 40 to 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce in the United States according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Psychological Association. Second, divorce is never going to be "easy."

According to divorce experts, even the friendliest divorce proceedings -- which are often resolved through mediation or out-of-court settlement -- will involve the five stages of grief that people go through after the death of a loved one. The death of a relationship can be just as difficult to handle as the death of a person. The five stages tend to go something like this: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance.

What are the features of the Hague Convention?

International child abduction has been a problem for centuries. When a child is taken unlawfully by one of the parents -- or by another individual -- to another country, it presents the potential for legal difficulties. Parents may have a hard time convincing a foreign court to order their child returned. However, if the foreign country has signed the Hague Convention, parents will have an easier time working with foreign courts in their efforts to get their children back home where they belong.

Here are some of the central provisions offered under the Hague Convention:

  • Hague Convention countries must establish a "Central Authority," which serves as the point of contact for governments and parents alleging that a child abduction took place.
  • The Central Authority will assist in locating abducted children and support the amicable resolution of parental abduction matters. The Central Authority will also assist in returning the children when deemed appropriate.
  • Documents collected by the Central Authority may be used as court evidence in partnering countries without the formalities that may normally be required when submitting documents in court from a foreign country.
  • Hague Convention countries must accept proof of parentage that satisfies the laws of the countries where the child is from.
  • The immigration status and nationality of the child and/or the parents will not be information that determines where the child's residence should be.

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