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York and Lancaster PA Law Blog

Dating Too Soon After Divorce

Recently, we posted a blog regarding the top 7 things to do when you are served divorce papers. We'd like to follow that up with a suggestion regarding what not to do even after your divorce becomes finalized.

Recently a Trinity Law family law attorney participated in a one day retreat at a local church for women going through divorce regarding the financial implications for the individual. The speaker, Elisabeth Klein, speaks and writes from the perspective of a woman who has experienced divorce and its ramifications. After the event had concluded, Klein blogged the following regarding the conference, specifically dating too soon following divorce. She writes about another:

Top Eight Things to Do When You're Served with Divorce Papers

You are likely to experience a range of emotions if you are ever served with divorce papers from your spouse. Anger, grief, sadness, surprise, outrage. We strongly suggest you consider the next several steps as an appropriate course of action...

1. Contact your attorney or an attorney who does a lot of family law. That attorney will give you good advice.

Settling and Reducing IRS Tax Debt

Any mention of past due taxes or the Internal Revenue Service often invokes panic in people. However, such a panicked response need not occur. If you owe back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service, an "Offer in Compromise" provides a means by which your tax bill can be reduced.

There are primarily two types of Offers in Compromise. The first type is called a "Doubt as to Liability Offer in Compromise." Under this type, the taxpayer contests the validity of the tax owed by claiming that the tax should not have been assessed in the first place. For example, if the IRS disallows a deduction that actually should have been allowed, resulting in tax owed by the taxpayer, an Offer in Compromise under a Doubt as to Liability theory would be an effective tool to resolve the tax liability.

Marriage: Not Just For Two Anymore?

You may recall that not long ago, in the case United States v. Windsor, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to restrict the Federal interpretation of marriage to heterosexual unions as per the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996. In the dissent, Justice Scalia opined as follows: "By formally declaring anyone opposed to same-sex marriage an enemy of human decency the majority arms well every challenger to a state law restricting marriage to its traditional definition." Justice Scalia's prescient proclamation took little time to come to fruition. Recently, three lesbians made news by declaring that they were not only "married," but are also expecting "their" first child.

Some have reacted with outrage, some with indifference. Support for the "throuple" (as they are called) also appears in various quarters. Still others appear to be numbed by the persistent and relentless press of those pushing the traditional marriage envelope.

Homeowner's Liability Insurance Claims and Pennsylvania Law

Recently, a client of ours experienced a fire at their home which destroyed a good deal of their property. This is one of many such insurance claims Trinity Law lawyers have handled for Pennsylvania residents. The homeowners, thinking they were fully covered under their homeowner's policy, filed a claim with their liability insurance company. While the company confirmed that our clients were covered for repairs and the replacement of lost property, they were shocked to learn that they would not be getting any funds to replace their lost property until they first replaced the property at their own cost and then produced receipts after which the company would reimburse them! Given the extent of their losses, this situation posed a tremendous financial hardship on the homeowners. Essentially they had to go out and pay for everything first and then the insurance company would reimburse them. Despite this family difficulty, the homeowners' insurance company took a firm stance, stating that it was a long standing and standard policy of theirs.

Pennsylvania Adoptions: Contested and Uncontested Hearings

In a previous blog, we discussed Pennsylvania adoption home studies. A home study is necessary in every Pennsylvania adoption case. Once the home study is complete and all clearances have been obtained it is then time to concentrate on the next step in the adoption process. Adoptions are either contested (i.e., opposed), or uncontested (i.e., unopposed). If the other biological parent consents to the adoption, things go a lot smoother in most cases. If, however, you are facing a contested adoption (i.e., the other biological parent does not consent, or cannot be located), you must then proceed in a different, and sometimes more contentious manner.

Bifurcated Divorce Action

Generally, a person cannot get divorced in Pennsylvania until all economic claims, such as property distribution and alimony, are resolved. However, a bifurcated divorce action allows the parties to separate the economic claims from the actual divorce, meaning that the divorce can be obtained before the economic claims are resolved. This typically allows the parties to become divorced quicker and can be beneficial because it can allow a party to remarry sooner.

To win a bifurcation case, a party must meet the following three criteria:

1) The grounds for divorce must be established;

2) Compelling circumstances must exist for entry of the divorce decree; and

3) Sufficient economic protections must be provided to the other party while the economic claims remain pending.

Access to Medical Records. What Are My Rights?

Each year I request and review hundreds of hospital and physician medical records in Pennsylvania as part of the work I am doing, be it for automobile accident victims, those who've applied for Social Security Disability benefits, etc. As you might imagine, I am often asked by clients about access to their own medical records - that is whether they can obtain the medical records on their own. There are rules that govern access to medical records, and I want to discuss the law of Pennsylvania as it relates to such access here. 

Pennsylvania Adoptions: The Home Study

If you are considering a Pennsylvania adoption, you may be asking yourself, "Where do I begin?"

The first and perhaps one of the most important steps in your adoption process will be to obtain an adoption home study. Under Pennsylvania law, adoption home studies can be conducted by a local child-care agency, a licensed adoption agency, or a licensed social worker designated by the court to perform such a study (23 PACS Section 2530).

Grandparent Custody Rights in Pennsylvania

The 2011 Amendments to the Pennsylvania Custody Act provide the framework for when a grandparent may bring an action to obtain custody rights to their grandchildren.  The Act sets forth certain requirements which must be met in order for a grandparent to sue for primary physical custody and partial physical custody.  In order to sue for primary physical custody, a grandparent must show the following:

  1. The relationship with the child began with the consent of a parent or under a court order;
  2. The grandparent is willing to assume responsibility for the child; and
  3. One of the following three criteria:
    1. The child has been adjudicated dependent;
    2. The child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity; or
    3. The child previously resided with the grandparent for 12 consecutive months and the action is brought within 6 months of the child being removed from the grandparents.