Family Law

Prenuptial Agreements

More couples are opting for prenuptial agreements in order to avoid ugly, drawn-out battles in divorce court later on. These contracts are meant to protect both individuals by defining how to divide their assets if the marriage comes to an end. Prenuptials agreements are especially recommended for couples with certain circumstances. For example, let’s say your fiancé(e) has debt and you own property and your own business. You’d be smart to get in writing how to handle those issues if you were to get divorced. We can help you come up with a plan while watching out for your best interest.

Divorce and Annulments

In 2012, there were 36,345 divorces and annulments in Pennsylvania, according to the State’s Department of Health. If you’re considering dissolving your marriage, it’s crucial to have an attorney on your side. Many couples—especially those without prenuptial agreements—struggle with messy divorces for a variety of reasons including children, property and sacrifices they’ve made during the marriage. Those in very short-lived unions may have an easier time getting an annulment, which renders the marriage as if it never happened. However, courts only grant annulments in specific instances like fraud.

Visitation and Child Custody

Coming to a resolution on child custody and visitation rights can often be the most contentious part of ending a relationship. Maybe you’re a mother who believes that splitting your child’s living situation in different households would be detrimental for your child. Or maybe you’re a father simply trying to spend more time with your kids. If you’re a parent facing a legal battle over your child, you need an attorney who has the legal expertise and emotional intelligence to represent you. We understand that adversarial situations involving family can be extremely trying. It all comes down to convincing the judge that what you’re fighting for is in the best interest of the child. We’re here to do that for you.

Alimony

If you’re entering divorce proceedings and one partner earns significantly more income than the other, you should talk with your attorney about alimony, also known as spousal support. These are payments that the higher-earning spouse must pay to his or her soon-to-be ex. One common scenario is that one spouse has been a stay-at-home parent for years and must now grapple with making a living. Alimony—which may be a one-time, temporary or permanent monthly payment—is intended to protect people from sudden, unfair economic impacts of divorce.

Paternity and Guardianship

In court, there are different ways of establishing who is the father of a child, including DNA testing and circumstantial evidence. Typically, paternity issues arise in cases related to child custody and child support. Guardianship, on the other hand, may or may not involve paternity issues. A guardian has the responsibility of making decisions on behalf of the child, such as those related to school or medical care. If you are caring for a child and plan to continue in the long term, you may want to establish legal guardianship through the court—particularly if there’s a chance a parent will attempt to take custody.

Adoption and Name Change

The legal adoption process consists of a petition to the court and a hearing. If you are attempting to adopt a child, you’ll need the help of an attorney who has successfully represented clients seeking to adopt. We can assist you in drafting your petition. We’ll need to include compelling statements about what makes you the appropriate choice to parent the child, as well as why the adoption would serve the child’s best interest. We can also help you prepare for the adoption hearing, where the judge will make the final decision. If the judge approves the adoption, he or she will typically order the name change upon request.