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State College Family Law Blog

Exclusionary requests and parental alienation

Parental alienation happens when your ex attempts to turn your kids against you. While you have a legal right to see them and be involved in their lives, your ex emotionally manipulates them to take them away from you by making it so they do not even want to see you.

It's heartbreaking when it happens, and it's potentially illegal. The children's best interests should always come first, and that generally means seeing both parents. Anything that gets in the way of that is likely focused on what your ex wants, not what the kids really want.

Divorce questions: What is a contested divorce?

A contested divorce sounds like one spouse asks for a divorce and the other contests it, perhaps trying to block the divorce from taking place. However, that's not what it means under modern divorce laws. With the shift to no-fault divorce, no one has to prove that the legal split is needed, and it's far easier to get a divorce than it may have been in the past.

You can even do it without your spouse's consent. If he or she fails to respond to the divorce filing, that is known as a default. It can proceed without them and they can even lose some of the rights that they would otherwise have retained.

2 of the most-cited reasons to file for divorce

If you ask most divorcing spouses, they will have several reasons why they decided to bring their marital union to a close. Some spouses might not be entirely clear about what happened -- they just know that it's time for them to move on. If you take a poll of Pennsylvania divorce and family law attorneys, they'll also be able to give you a long list of the reasons why marriages end.

Here are two of the most common things on which divorcing spouses blame their marital troubles:

Pennsylvania protective order defendants must give up their guns

Individuals who accuse others of harassment, abuse or domestic violence may be able to request that a judge issue a protective order against the alleged perpetrator of such acts. While such an order has always carried with it certain guidelines that a defendant must follow in order to remain in compliance with it, an additional restriction was added on Jan. 1.

A hearing must be held so a judge can hear why they should issue a protective order within 10 days of a petition originally being filed. Courts are obliged to set this hearing by law under 23 Pa..C.S.A. Sec. 6017 of the Protection From Abuse Act (PFA).

Why should I mediate my divorce?

Getting a divorce is emotionally difficult enough, but to add the excessive costs and complexities of the legal proceedings into the mix, it's enough to cause any divorcing spouse to feel overwhelmed. Fortunately, for couples who choose to mediate their divorces, they'll be able to prevent a lot of stress, while saving a tremendous amount of money and time in the process.

For many couples, mediation is the preferred method for bringing their divorces to a close. Mediation allows for negotiating the financial and child custody aspects of the divorce process so that couples can reach a peaceful, out-of-court settlement agreement. It works particularly well for spouses who have children because it helps support a friendlier relationship between two exes who will need to remain co-parents and will need to be able to work with each other for many years into the future.

Advice for maintaining a parenting journal

One of the most essential elements to prevailing in a heated child custody battle is being able to show the court how you served as the "primary caretaker" of your children. The primary caretaker is the parent who handled the majority of the child-rearing tasks, and this is the parent who courts tend to favor during a child custody dispute.

To prove you served as the primary caretaker, a parenting journal is extremely helpful as evidence. Here's how to keep a quality parenting journal:

How fathers can improve their chances during a child custody case

Many fathers wrongly assume that they have a disadvantage when it comes to child custody disputes. In fact, if any parent has less of a chance of winning a child custody lawsuit, it probably doesn't have anything to do with gender. What it has everything to with is which parent was more involved in the child's care and upbringing during the marriage.

From this perspective, if a father wants to have the same chance of winning child custody as the mother in a given dispute, he needs to prove that he was just as involved in caring for the child's daily needs as the mother. Here are a few tips for fathers who want to have the best chances of winning a child custody matter:

When should I unquestionably file for divorce?

Most Pennsylvania spouses decide to get a divorce after a lot of careful consideration. However, there are a few circumstances in which a spouse shouldn't waste time. If you're currently experiencing one of the following situations in your marriage, you should not wait before submitting your divorce papers:

Your spouse is an addict

How do you prove that you're a child's primary caretaker?

If there's a battle over who should receive physical child custody, family law courts will usually favor the parent deemed to be the "primary caretaker." The primary caretaker is the parent who predominantly cared for the children, bathed them, fed them, took them to school, put them to bed, took them to the doctor and performed other activities on their behalf.

Courts will typically award full physical custody to the primary caretaker, meaning that the children will live with this parent full time. As for the parent who does not receive physical custody, he or she will usually have limited visitation rights. For this reason, it's important to understand how much a child custody battle usually hinges on which parent is the primary caretaker.

Important questions about child support in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania family laws offer strict guidelines that require the noncustodial parent -- i.e., the parent with whom the children do not live -- to pay child support to the custodial parent. This financial support is intended to assist the custodial parent to pay for housing, food, entertainment and other costs associated with raising and caring for the children.

If you're like most parents, you might have the following questions about child support:

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