Smart Decisions Start With Knowledge
Family law is complicated. While no amount of research can replace a personalized consultation from an experienced family law attorney, getting informed is one of the best ways to prepare for your divorce, custody, support or other family law matter.
To get you started, we’ve put together articles we think will help you gain the knowledge you need to successfully move forward.
So, start your learning now.
If you’re involved in a custody dispute in Pennsylvania, you might wonder how much your child’s preferences matter. Is your child allowed to tell the judge which parent he or she wants to liv... Read more
It is encouraging when parents involved in a custody dispute are able to reach an agreement amongst themselves. However, this is not possible in all situations. When parents are unable... Read more
Custody proceedings can be difficult for all parties involved, especially the children. The best way to avoid the added stress of court appearances in a custody action is to resolve the matter through a custody agreement. A custody agreement is a parenting plan that outlines how you and the other parent will cooperate in raising your children. This agreement gives you two the freed… Read more
If you have a child subject to a Pennsylvania custody order and are considering moving, you need to be aware of the Pennsylvania law regarding relocation. Relocating when a custody order is in place is not as simple as just packing up and moving to a new home. Regardless of whether you want to move out of Pennsylvania or just the next county over, the r… Read more
I moved to Pennsylvania from another state after my spouse and I separated…. Which state will decide my custody matter?
The UCCJEA Determines In Which State Your Child Custody Matter Will Be Decided When Parents Live in Different StatesThe answer to this question really turns on one key definition in the group of laws which relate to custody… Read more
COVID-19 has affected nearly every aspect of our daily lives. For many of us, our regular routines have been drastically altered and we must find ways to adapt. However, if you are divorced or separated and sharing child custody with another parent, COVID-19 has possibly made your situation even more complex. You may be wondering how the current climate affects your custody order and how the … Read more
Breaking news of your divorce to your children is not easy. Preparation is key. How you approach this conversation will depend on the age of your children. However, young or old, male or female, there are guidelines most couples can follow to help ease the stress for all involved. I was 19 years old when I received the news that my parents were going to divorce. You may assume t… Read more
Guest Blog By Julie Ketover, Divorce and Life Coach Divorce is a major transition in your life. For some, the transition is welcome. For others, it’s thrust upon you. Either way, you are entering new territory and chances are you’re feeling confused and without a clear path forward. That’s where a life coach can help.
There a… Read more
How Alimony Is Calculated in Pennsylvania: Updated for 2019In Pennsylvania, there are three types of support: Spousal Support, Alimony Pendente Lite, and Alimony. Spousal Support and Alimony Pendente Lite are calculated pursuant to a mathematical formula based on the parties’ monthly net incomes. Alimony is calculated pursua… Read more
How long does it take to complete a Pennsylvania divorce? This is one of the most frequently asked questions here at Cooley & Handy.
The shortest answer is that the average divorce in Pennsylvania takes two years.The more optimistic answer is that it all depends on you and your spouse. Theoreticall… Read more
If you have a child subject to a custody order in Pennsylvania and are considering moving or re… Read more
Spouses involved in divorces frequently have an immediate need for cash at the time their divorce is finalized. This may be prompted by the need to pay bills or make a down payment on residence. Often, the only significant assets of parties at the conclusion of divorce are funds in employer-sponsored qualified retirement accounts. These include 401(k)s or other defined contribution plans.… Read more
While the Supreme Court debates the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the law that gives states the right not to recognize same sex marriage or unions entered into in other states, lower courts across the country are facing a growing number of same sex couples seeking to dissolve their unions. In states that do not recognize same sex marriages, such as Pennsylvania,… Read more
“Emily Nichols is 20. She lives in Oregon and attends community college. She doesn’t have a job right now for health reasons. She found out several weeks ago that she is pregnant. She and her boyfriend Andy are taking it one step at a time. One step at a time, however, doesn’t entail marriage, at least right now.” - Oliver Read, Generation Next, on PBS.org. Emily is one of the many mi… Read more
Since 1990, the divorce rate among senior adults aged 50 and older has doubled. Now roughly 1 in 4 divorces involve persons aged 50 and older. In Japan, the trend is referred to as “retired husband syndrome.” In the United States it is known as “gray divorce.” Is Viagra partially to blame? The prescription drug has energized tens of thousands of marriages. But it has also destabi… Read more
You have probably heard about Rachel Canning, the New Jersey teenager who sued her parents to pay for her tuition for private school and college after moving out of their home. At the time she sued her parents, Ms. Canning was 18 years old – an adult – making the case especially surprising to most parents. Ms. Canning lost the first round of her lawsuit when a judge declined to order her … Read more
If you’re involved in a custody dispute, you might wonder how much your child’s preferences matter. Is your child allowed to tell the judge which parent he or she wants to live with? The answer is it depends.
The judge in a custody case will almost always take into consideration a child’s preferences regarding liv… Read more
"A corvette. A home in the Hamptons. A Hermes handbag. Oh, and marriage. Because marriage, too, is fast becoming a luxury good,” writes Nancy Cook at The Atlantic.com. Growing financial and job insecurity due to rapid technological changes and globalization isn’t just killing the middle class. It’s killing traditional marriage, at least among the working class and the new downwardly … Read more
Just like beginning of a relationship can produce an emotional high, the end of a relationship can be an emotional crash. Especially where the decision to end the relationship was not your own. Relationship withdrawal can involve depression, isolation, feelings of worthlessness, and shaken confidence. People going though it will often think that they will never find love or happiness again.… Read more
The three reasons most frequently cited for divorce are infidelity, financial problems and marrying too young. However, during my years as a family law attorney, I found that there are several other issues why marriages fail which couples can avoid. If one of these issues affects you or your marriage, be proactive and take steps to fix the problem as soon as possible. It’s usually too late … Read more
Think dating again is hard after being “off the market” for a significant amount of time? It’s nothing compared to trying to repair your finances and restart your career after years as a stay-at-home parent. Divorce not only wreaks havoc on you physically and emotionally, it can also wreak havoc on you financially. This is especially true for spouses who stayed at home and gave up their… Read more
Divorce Demystified: Rumors, Myths, and MisconceptionsMost potential clients who consult with our firm have common fears and concerns about getting divorced. Most of those fears arise out of the perceptions of divorce that are reinforced on television and in the movies. This article is meant to dispel some o… Read more
A client recently asked us for assistance modifying his New Jersey alimony order. He and his spouse divorced in New Jersey and the court issued an alimony order. Post-separation, both parties moved to Pennsylvania. A change in circumstances prompted the client to seek modification of the existing order. Unfortunately, the law mandates that the parties must return to the New Jersey Court that … Read more
A few of the attorneys from our office were out to lunch the other day when our conversations turned to the different types of relationships we see come through our office. The one that we ended up talking about the most is what I like to refer to as the “roommate marriage.” In this type of marriage the couple maintains separate finances as if they were roommates. They keep separate bank … Read more
COOLEY & HANDY AWARDS “GenZ FUTURE OF MARRIAGE” SCHOLARSHIP TO CENTRAL BUCKS EAST GRADUATE SUZANNE E. FORBES. DOYLESTOWN, PA – Cooley & Handy Attorneys at Law, a premier Bucks County law firm specializing in divorcee and family law, awarded its 2016 “GenZ Future of Marriage” Scholarship to Suzanne E. Forbes of Jamison, PA. Ms. Forbes graduated from Central… Read more
One of the most common questions that people going through a divorce ask is, “how is marital property divided in a Pennsylvania divorce?”
Marital property is divided in a Pennsylvania divorce through a process called "equitable distribution."Unlike in community property states such as California, wher… Read more
When you are getting divorced, you can create a stable, more advantageous position for yourself by taking several financial steps to prepare. If you and your spouse are separating on fairly good terms -- and especially if reconciliation is possible -- you may not want to take all of the steps outlined below. Many couples maintain their financial arrangements while the divorce is being process… Read more
Seeking an Attorney to Represent a Child to Avoid Contempt when the Child Refuses to Visit with a Parent
In extreme cases, when a child is refusing to visit with a parent and the court is threatening the primary custodial parent with contempt or other drastic sanctions, one tactic that can help deflect blame for the child’s failure to abide by the custody order is for the custodial parent to request an attorney be appointed to represent the child.
A court ca… Read more
People going through a divorce often wonder, how long does alimony last in PA? The answer depends on a variety of factors, including what type of “alimony” or support is being paid. As we discussed in our previous article, there are three types of “alimony” or s… Read more
Most divorces involve couples with children. Virtually all of these divorces will be impacted by child support issues. If you are divorcing in Bucks County, PA, it is important to have a general understanding of how child support works, how it is decided, and the factors that will influence it to your advantage or disadvantage. Below are the top 11 ways that Bucks County Child Support may aff… Read more
When it comes to custody, every county does it a bit differently. If you are initiating a child custody action or modifying a current custody order in Bucks County, here is what you need to know:
1. Custody ConferenceAfter you file your initial child custody petition or petition to modify, you will be scheduled for a conference with a Bucks… Read more
Most divorcing couples want to get through the process as quickly and cheaply as possible, which can make mediation seem like the perfect option. Unfortunately, that desire to save time and money sometimes means risking a lot more, including your own welfare. Below are a few situations in which you should say no to a divorce mediator and yes to litigation.
Make no mistake, this is a serious decision. The divorce lawyer you choose to represent you will have an impact on some of the most important matters in your life. You should dismiss most of the “information” about divorce attorneys you get from cultural and societal cues, like movies, novels and newspaper stories. Instead, do your research. Look around. Ask for referrals from those you t… Read more
SnapDivorce Makes Divorce Simple Through Modern Divorce Mediation, Arbitration and Agreements.There are well over half a million divorces in the United States each year, many of which ruin couples financially and emotionally. As nearly anyone who has gone through the process can attest, the divorce system is overwhelmed with cases, expensive, f… Read more
What to do? My wife just emptied out the checking account! My husband just withdrew $50,000 from our joint investment account! What can I do to stop my spouse from taking all the money and protect the marital assets? The important thing to know is that you can stop it.
You can stop your spouse from taking all the money… Read more
You see it all around you every January: people starting over. Starting diets, starting exercise plans, and starting, unfortunately for many, the process of divorce. Resolutions are easy to make but difficult to keep, largely because the process is unclear. Nowhere in the world of resolutions is this truer than for something like divorce. What steps for divorce do you take first? Which concer… Read more
In Pennsylvania, as in most states, child custody battles are something of a crapshoot. Theoretically, courts are supposed to enter custody orders that are in “the best interest” of children based on a loose set of factors ranging from parental cooperation to history of abuse to who is adjudged the most emotionally nurturing parent. In practice, however, decisions are mostly entered based… Read more
If you found out that someone was murdered in a home you were interested in buying, would you still be interested in buying it? What if the home were used as a crystal meth lab? What if satanic rituals were performed there? Criminal or traumatic circumstances that might be a deal breaker for the average homeowner are not automatically disclosed – nor are they required to be. The Pennsylv… Read more
Most people get their impressions of divorce from Hollywood and their friends. These are probably the two worst sources of advice for those pursuing divorce litigation in real time and in the real world. The actress Ellen Barkin reputedly received $20 million in her divorce from investor Ronald Perelman. Your neighbor's cousin may have gotten three homes and the family dog in his divorce. You… Read more
If you are a parent with young children, I’m sure you have thought at least once about leaving your children alone in the car while you ran a quick errand. Let’s face it, getting young kids in and out of the car can turn a 3 minute stop into a 30 minute ordeal. On the other hand, you probably haven’t considered locking your kids in the car for an hour while you dropped in Parx Casin… Read more
You May Be Able To Withdraw Money From A Qualified Retirement Account Penalty-Free In Connection With Your Divorce
Spouses involved in divorces frequently have an immediate need for cash at the time their divorce is finalized. Parties may need money to pay bills, make a down payment on a residence, or for other reasons. Unfortunately, they often lack any significant non-retirement assets from which they can obtain such funds. This is where a penalty free withdraw from retirement accounts during the divorc… Read more
Who is Responsible for Maintaining Health Insurance Coverage in Divorce and Child Support Cases in Pennsylvania?
Pennsylvania law provides rules that govern who is responsible for maintaining health insurance coverage in divorces and in child support matters. The law also provides the court with guidance regarding how to allocate the cost of such insurance between the parties.
Who is Responsible for Maintaining Health Insurance Coverage?In child support … Read more
Cooley & Handy is proud to sponsor TALK Institute and School’s 5K Trail Run and 1 Mile Family Walk. The event is scheduled to take place on Saturday, September 21, 2013, at 10:00 A.M. at the Garrett Williamson Foundation in Newtown Square, PA. The benefits will go towards increasing scholarship resources and its intensive programming. TALK’s mission is to seek out and create innovativ… Read more
Accepting the Facebook friend request from her old high school boyfriend seemed harmless enough to Monica, even though she felt a twinge of excitement at the time. At first, he would “like” pictures that she uploaded or comment on posts that she made. Then they started to message each other. Soon they were e-mailing, texting and talking on the phone every day. The flirting soon turned to … Read more
A few months ago I was at a playground with my daughter. Another father was sitting on a bench a few feet away and his son, who looked about three years old, was playing nearby. As I was watching my daughter, I couldn’t help but notice that the boy was very excited about something he was doing and was looking over to his father for acknowledgement and approval. The father, however, had no i… Read more
For adults, the holidays are an opportunity to try to recapture some of the magic and wonder of their childhoods. Children, however, are just forming their memories and feelings about the holidays. Imagine that if, instead of associating the holidays with joy, you associated them with stress and fights. That is the reality of the holidays for many children of divorced or separated parents, al… Read more
Becoming a grandparent is a special event in one’s life, and grandparents often form close and meaningful bonds with their grandchildren. In many families, grandparents spend a great deal of time with their grandchildren and play an important and active role in their lives. The separation, divorce or death of a parent, however, can throw a grandparent’s relationship with their grandchildr… Read more
What steps a person should take to prepare for divorce depends on the person’s individual situation and the person’s relationship with his or her spouse.If you and your spouse are separating on fairly good terms, you may not want to immediately take all of the steps to prepare for divorce as outlined below to minimize the disruption to you… Read more
One morning not long ago, when I was dropping my son off late at pre-school, all of his classmates were already in circle time talking about the day’s weather. As my son joined the circle, I overheard his teacher gently reminding the class that their “mommies” must return permission slips for the library field trip. My heart dropped a bit as I thought of my son’s best friend, sitting … Read more
Maintaining a successful marriage can be hard, even under the best of circumstances. Yet, many couples enter into marriage without the skills necessary to navigate this stressful and complex world with a partner. When relationships become strained, many people seek divorce without seriously considering whether the marriage can be saved through counseling. Even if the marriage cannot be saved,… Read more
Cooley & Handy Obtains Extraordinary Reversal in Supreme Court of Pennsylvania of Superior Court Decision Quashing Appeal of Paternity by Estoppel Case as Moot
After a lengthy and, at times, frustrating legal battle, Cooley & Handy secured their clients’ right to appeal an adverse paternity by estoppel decision in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. On November 9, 2011, the Supreme Court reversed the Superior Court’s decision that quashed the appeal in the paternity by estoppel custody case as “moot.” The Superior Court had quashed the ap… Read more
Cooley & Handy’s attorneys successfully convinced the Superior Court of Pennsylvania to sustain a Bucks County trial court’s award of attorney’s fees and to award their client additional attorneys’ fees for having to litigate a frivolous appeal. The parties in the case were involved in a highly contentious divorce. As part of the parties’ Property Settlement Agreement resolvi… Read more
Karen C. Graham, Esq. has joined the Doylestown law firm of Cooley & Handy. The firm concentrates its practice in family law and personal injury law in Bucks, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties. Ms. Graham is a graduate of Temple University, Beasley School of Law. Ms. Graham served as an Associate Editor for Temple’s International and Comparative Law Journal and… Read more
Divorced Father Challenges Judge's Order Forcing him to Take Down Anonymous Website and Blog About his Ex-Wife and Divorce on First Amendment Grounds.Divorced Father Claims that Bucks County, Pennsylvania Judge's Order Requiring him to Take Down a Website called "thepsychoexwife.com" and Prohibiting him from Ever Mentioning his Ex-Wife or C… Read more
The recently announced separation of Al and Tipper Gore reflects a broader trend of couples divorcing later in life – after thirty, forty or more years of marriage. Divorces among older couples, especially couples at or near retirement age can present difficult challenges in resolving equitable distribution and support and alimony claims in divorce. The Bucks … Read more
The recent recession in the United States has directly affected the economic and personal lives of Americans. A secondary affect of the recession has been on the divorce rate.
A recent article from the Wall Street Journal notes that divorce rates have decreased as the economic crisis has increased.The reason that the divorce rate has decrease… Read more
Cooley & Handy won an appeal today that followed the dismissal of a frivolous “abuse of process” lawsuit filed against one of Cooley & Handy’s clients, a mother, by her ex-husband and the father of her children. The lawsuit arouse out of contentious and on-going divorce and custody litigation pending in Bucks County. Cooley & Handy also … Read more
Cooley & Handy recently obtained a substantial cash settlement in a personal injury case for a 21 year-old Lock Haven University student who was severely injured after he was assaulted while at college. The plaintiff was injured when he attempted to intervene to break up a fight started by six young men who did not attend the university. As he approached the fight, the plaintiff was pushe… Read more
Whether you are unemployed, under employed or are simply the lower-earning spouse in a marriage, the cost of getting divorced in Pennsylvania is an important concern faced by those who are seeking a divorce. This is where alimony pendente lite can help. Our attorneys often encounter clients who sacrificed their careers for the sake of the union, either by opting to work part-time or to sta… Read more
In the past to obtain a divorce in Pennsylvania one spouse had to prove "fault" by the other spouse. That, however, is no longer the case in Pennsylvania. Now a Pennsylvania divorce may be obtained without a party having to prove that the other party is somehow legally at "fault." The Pennsylvania fault divorce, however, still survives as a legal option and in certain circumstances, where gro… Read more
“But I need my car for work…” — DUI License Suspensions in Bucks, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties and the Availability of Occupational Limited Licenses
First time DUI offenders often wonder if their driver’s license will be suspended and, if so, how they will manage to get to work.Because people are so dependent on their vehicles, this is a major concern for those faced with DUI charges. In fact, many of our clients are actually more concerned about their potential driver’s license suspen… Read more
Bucks County Courier Times Editorial Supports Cooley & Handy’s Appeal of Custody Contempt Order Imposing Sanctions on Father for Profanity Use
Thumbs DownTo the Bucks County judge who fined a divorced dad $2,000 for cursing in front of his 9-year-old son. That’s not to condone the practice. It is both shameful and reprehensible for any adult to use foul language in front of any child. But there is such a thing as free speech. And, like it or not, the Supreme Court has ruled that “courts and legislatures cannot… Read more
Cooley & Handy Challenges Sanctions in Custody Contempt Case Based on First and Fourteenth Amendments to U.S. Constitution
Cooley & Handy Challenges Bucks County Order Sanctioning Father $2,000.00 for Cursing in Front of His Ex-Wife and Daughter on First Amendment GroundsFather Claims that Bucks County Judge’s Order which Prohibits Him From Using “Inappropriate” Language and Sanctions Imposed Constitute an Illegal and Unenforceable Prior Restraint on Free… Read more
Cooley & Handy Attorney Establishes that Biological Father may Challenge Putative Father’s Acknowledgment of Paternity on the Basis of Fraud
October 24, 2008 - In a precedential ruling, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania held that a biological father has the statutory right to challenge an acknowledgment of paternity on the basis of fraud, duress or material mistake of fact. Cooley & Handy attorney Susanne M. Wherry, with co-counsel, successfully argued that silence, when good faith re… Read more
Custodial parents face a difficult issue when a minor child refuses to visit with the other parent. This refusal may result from alien… Read more
The State of Pennsylvania recently amended the law affecting relocation in child custody cases. Parents in the midst of a divorce should take time to read the new custody law changes. These are particularly relevant for any parent involved in a Pennsylvania custody case or with a child subject to a Pennsylvania custody order. The law is also important for any parent contemplating relocating. … Read more
"How do I get divorced in Pennsylvania?" This is probably the most frequent and seemingly simple question that Cooley & Handy gets from our family law clients. Unfortunately there is no simple answer. All Pennsylvania divorces are officially started by the filing of a divorce complaint in the Court of Common Pleas, generally in the county in which one of … Read more
If you are in the midst of a divorce, Social Security retirement benefits may not be on your mind. This is especially true if you are relatively young and far from retirement. However, the potential affect of divorce on Social Security retirement benefits is an important consideration in negotiating the terms of a marital settlement agreement. The Bucks County divorce lawyers at Cooley & … Read more
A frequent issue that arises in Pennsylvania divorce cases is how to handle premarital assets.The question is how is a premarital asset contributed to the marriage is handled in equitable distribution. In response, the Bucks County Masters Office employs a "vanishing credit" theory. However, it is first imp… Read more
Cooley & Handy Secures Extraordinary Stay of Alimony Pendente Lite Order Entered in Bucks County Divorce Proceedings from the Superior Court of Pennsylvania
The Superior Court of Pennsylvania took the rare step of staying a completely unprecedented and legally erroneous alimony pendente lite order entered against an ex-husband in a Bucks County divorce action by the Hon. Alan M. Rubenstein.The stay of the alimony pendente lite order was obtained through the efforts of the Bucks… Read more
In May 2010 we wrote about how the great recession had caused couples to put their divorces on hold due to the loss of employment and decreases in the value of their assets. Federal figures suggest the divorce rate fell about 7% between 2006 and 2009. National Public Radio now reports that with the improving economy the divorce rate is once again on the rise.… Read more
Divorce is the legal process of ending a marriage in Pennsylvania. However, when most people think about "divorce," they usually also think about related claims. These include equitable distribution, which is the legal process of dividing up marital property in Pennsylvania. People also think of support claims (such as alimony pendente lite, and spousal support), and sometimes even custody … Read more
Cooley & Handy Successfully Argues for Application of “Paternity by Estoppel” Doctrine in Bucks County Custody Case
February 18, 2009 - Cooley & Handy Successfully Argues in Bucks County Custody Matter that “Paternity by Estoppel” is Applicable where Biological Father Failed to Challenge Putative Father’s Acknowledgement of Paternity for Nine Years Despite Actual Knowledge of Probability that Child was his Biological Child.The trial court in a Buck… Read more
Cooley & Handy Challenges Contempt Order Sanctioning Father $2,000.00 for Cursing in Front of His Ex-Wife and Daughter on First Amendment Grounds
Father Claims that Bucks County Judge’s Custody Contempt Order Prohibiting Him From Using “Inappropriate” Language Constitutes an Illegal and Unenforceable Prior Restraint on Free SpeechDoylestown, Pa (April 24, 2009) - A father in a custody dispute is challenging a contempt order entered by a Bucks County judge that sanctioned him $2,000… Read more
Intelligencer Columnist Lends Support to Cooley & Handy’s Appeal of Custody Contempt Fine Based on Father’s First Amendment Rights
Four Letters, Two Grand By Phil Gianficano, Daily Intelligencer May 3, 2009 - A Bucks County Judge recently instructed a Northampton man involved in a custody dispute to stop cussing when in the presence of his 9-year old daughter. The judge subsequently learned the man violated terms of the agreement and uttered a four-letter word in front of th… Read more