BUSINESS FORMATION AND CORPORATE LAW

CRIMINAL LAW

ESTATE PLANNING & ADMINISTRATION

REAL ESTATE

FAMILY LAW

DIVORCE and EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION

The divorce process may be amicable, contentious, or something in between. We can assist you by negotiating and facilitating agreements or guiding you through the equitable distribution process, which is the judicial division of your assets.

Although many people believe "equitable distribution" means an equal division for both spouses, it really means what is fair to each party. This is determined by examining many statutory factors, such as the length of the marriage; prior marriage of either party; the age, health, station, amount and sources of income; vocational skills; employability; estate, liabilities and needs of each of the parties; the contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party; the opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income; the sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits; the contribution or dissipation of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as homemaker, the value of the property set apart to each party, the standard of living of the parties established during the marriage; the economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective; the Federal, State and local tax ramifications associated with each asset to be divided, distributed or assigned; which ramifications need not be immediate and certain, the expense of sale, transfer or liquidation associated with a particular asset; which expense need not be immediate and certain; and whether the party will be serving as the custodian of any dependent minor children.

CUSTODY
Like divorce, custody arrangements can be either amicable, hostile, or somewhere in-between. Our firm has extensive experience reaching agreements that works for both the parents and the children. Parties may reach an agreement between themselves or as a result of going to court. We can assist you with the entire process, including the initial custody paperwork, modifications, mediation, emergency custody petitions, termination of parental rights, adoption, name changes and relocation issues.

SUPPORT
In Mercer County, the Domestic Relations Section handles both child and spousal support. Conference officers calculate payment amounts based on various factors, including the incomes of both parties, with possible adjustments for medical insurance, mortgage payments, etc.

You may now file online for support and support modifications at www.childsupport.state.pa.us. You may file only on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 1:00 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. Do not date the petition, submitting the form without the date is considered a digital signature. Many people do not hire an attorney for support issues, but it is wise to consult with an experienced family law practitioner to determine whether the determined amount is correct. You have twenty days to appeal a support order.

PROTECTION FROM ABUSE
If you feel that you are in imminent danger or have been physically hurt or assaulted, temporary protection from abuse orders may be obtained at the Mercer County Courthouse in the Prothonotary's Office. Be prepared to detail your experience in the paperwork and be interviewed by court staff. One of the judges will review the order, and if it is entered, the court will schedule a hearing to determine a more permanent order. These orders can last up to three years, with the possibility of an extension.

PRE-NUPTIAL AND POST-NUPTIAL AGREEMENTS
Before getting married, many people are concerns about the potential of a divorce and wish to protect their assets to avoid future litigation. These documents delineate the assets and debts and and specifies the division of these assets if the marriage ends.

GRANDPARENT RIGHTS
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania provides grandparents with certain rights, ranging from custody, visitation, or nothing at all. Grandparents may have rights to custody or visitation under very specific circumstances. Our firm can help you determine whether you have custodial rights based on your individual situation.