A New Bill Seeks to Change the Way Spousal Support and Alimony Pendente lite is Determined.

A New Bill Seeks to Change the Way Spousal Support and Alimony Pendente lite is Determined.

House Bill No. 1250 stands to change the way that spousal support and alimony pendente lite (APL) is determined in Pennsylvania.  Instead of using the Pennsylvania Support Guidelines to determine the amount of support subject to certain deviations, House Bill 1250 will focus on the "basic needs" of the petitioning spouse.

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The Wait Time for a Divorce Just Got Shorter.

How long do you have to wait for a divorce?  This question varies based upon the type of divorce that you are seeking.  However, the wait time for an irretrievable breakdown, no-fault divorce, also known as a Section 3301 D divorce, just got shorter.  In October, Gov. Tom Wolfe signed a bill that reduced the amount of time the parties have to be separated to just one year, instead of two years.  

Where the parties have lived separate and apart for at least ONE year and one spouse files a complaint and affidavit stating that the marriage is irretrievably broken, the court may grant a divorce.  This is for all separations that begin after December 3, 2016.  All separations beginning before that date will continue to follow the two year rule.

Aside from reducing the amount of time a party had to wait to divorce from the uncooperative spouse, this can also affect spousal and alimony pende lite payments.  Before, the non-paying spouse could almost force the paying spouse to wait two years for a divorce and continue to receive payments.  This time is cut down to half.  Of course child support payments could persist.  

Separate and apart does not necessarily mean living separately, though that is an easy way of showing the parties have separated.  There are defenses to spousal support and alimony pende lite payments.  There are other types of divorces, such as fault or mutual consent.  If you would like more information or wish to discuss your case, please contact us for a consultation. 



Which parent is responsible for the cost of transportation when they share custody?

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A custody agreement will create the need for transportation.  At times, the transportation may become significant in terms of time and money.  While there are no set rules for determining who bears the burden of the cost of transportation, a court may find that the parent moving away and creating the need for travel costs may be responsible for costs.  The courts will consider the financial ability of each party to incur the costs. Please also be aware of that Pennsylvania courts have found that where one parent is responsible for transportation costs in order to exercise their partial custody, they may be entitled to a reduction in child support to cover the cost of transportation.

In addition to costs, parents also want to know whose responsibility it is to transport between the parents.  This designation is not always considered, but can cause unnecessary headaches if not defined clearly.  Even if the parties are amicable, it is a good idea to establish who transports where and when, especially if there is considerable distance between the parents.

Will the courts keep siblings together?

In determining which parent will get custody, will the courts give greater weight to keeping siblings together?  What about half-siblings?

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The main focus of the court is to determine the best interest of the child.  Whether the best of interest of the child is to be with their siblings primarily is to be determined.  In all cases, the courts use the 16 factors to determine what is in the best interest of the child or children.  The courts understand that the relationship a child shares with their siblings is an important one that can play a large role in their development.  As such, one of the factors the courts consider is which party is likely to keep siblings together.  The courts will also consider the requests of the child, depending on their age and reasoning.  This is includes if the child is requesting to live apart from their siblings.  

In Philadelphia, the courts have looked at a compelling reason standard.  This means that the courts will usually look toward keeping the child with their siblings unless there is a compelling reason not to do so.  However, if there is a substantial custody arrangement that can still satisfy the goal of significant relationship between the children, the courts will allow the separation of the siblings. These principals can also be applied to half siblings.