Family Law Services
The paramount aspect of Family Law for one to understand is that the issues of Divorce, Support, Custody, and Property Division are for the most part completely separate legal actions. For example, if a mother has primary physical custody of the child and refuses to allow father visitations, that does not give the Father the right to withhold child support. While custody will determine how child support is calculated, the two do not determine the parents’ required compliance with custody and support orders.
The area of Family Law is without question the most emotional and personally challenging areas of law. The parties in family law matters are dealing with the raw emotions of love, rejection, betrayal, anger, child protection, and financial protection.
The stakes are extremely high in family law matters as they impact ones ability to be involved in their children’s lives, protect assests they have worked hard to accumulate, facing the possibility of losing retirement funds they planned on having, or faced with uncertainty how they will pay bills and provide shelter for themselves.
The Peters Firm, PLLC has a unique bedside manner in Family Law matters given the unwavering compassion, empathy, patience, and understanding Attorney Paul S. Peters III, Esq. possesses in these matters. Attorney Peters has a calming yet confidence inspiring impact on his clients. He is able to see things from the client’s perspective, understand and appreciate the emotions involved, know the correct words, tone, and explanations that will work with each specific client, and never takes anything a client does personally. Attorney Peters prides himself on his ability to effectively and generously listen and respond with the words and emotions required.
Attorney Peters also instructs college students in the area of Family Law, therefore, has exemplarly skills in clearly and effectively educating clients on the Family Law system, laws, and realities. Attorney Peters does not shy away from being blunt and realistic with clients, it is not his goal to tell clients what they want to hear, but what the need to hear and the reality and limitations they face.
The Peters Firm, PLLC has extensive experience in all areas of Family Law including:
- Divorce and post-divorce issues
- Civil unions and domestic partnerships
- Domestic abuse and restraining orders,
- Property settlement issues related to divorce or dissolution
- Child and spousal support
- Child custody and parenting time
- Adoption and legal guardianships
- Department of Human Services Matters
- Paternity issues
- Pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements
When faced with a Family Law challenge, you need a fierce and zealous advocate, but also an advocate that does not make things or you feel worse, or inflame an already contentious situation. The Peters Firm, PLLC will provide you with the strong advocacy you need as well as the compassion, understanding, and preparedness you deserve and need. Unfortunately many attorneys use the high emotions of clients to the attorney’s advantage for larger fees and extended litigation. You will never experience that with The Peters Firm, PLLC as the goal is a swift, as painless as possible, and reasonably priced resolution to your family law matter.
If in need, seek out the dignified, supportive, and aggressive representation you deserve by calling The Peters Firm, PLLC at 215-291-2944.
Family Law – Child Custody
In a typical child custody arrangement in Pennsylvania, one parent will have primary physical custody while the other parent will have partial custody (which is sometimes called visitation). There are also shared custody arrangements in which children spend approximately 50 percent of their time with each parent. If a child custody arrangement cannot be resolved through negotiations between the two parents and their respective attorneys, there will be a court hearing.
The Peters Firm, PLCC believes the best interests of children are served by resolving disputes through negotiations. However, in those situations where the search for common ground is not successful, the Firm will take an aggressive stance in advocating on behalf of our clients.
Child custody in Pennsylvania is based on the best interests of the child or children. The family court will look at a constellation of criteria such as who is currently the primary care giver, the parents’ work habits, and finances. The children and the parents will be assessed by psychologists. Child custody battles can also involve private investigators, videotaping, and testimonials about conduct and behavior of the parties. The Firm is experienced in gathering all the evidence we need to support your child custody case. We also have access to experts who can testify on your behalf.
Family Law – Divorce
In Pennsylvania, one way to get divorced is through an uncontested divorce, also known as a no-fault divorce. Essentially, a husband and wife who both want a divorce are not required to demonstrate fault or wrongful actions by either spouse.
MUTUAL CONSENT NO-FAULT DIVORCE
If both spouses agree to the divorce and wish for it of move forward as quickly as possible, the following actions may be taken:
- The first step in initiating a divorce is the filing of a Divorce Complaint. The complaint identifies the parties and asks the court to grant a divorce. The complaint may be filed in any Pennsylvania County, but typically is filed where both or one of the spouses reside.
- The complaint must then be served on the non-filing party (Defendant).
- After the complaint is served, the filing party (Plaintiff) files an Affidavit of Service or the Defendant files an Acceptance of Service with the court.
- After the complaint is served on the other party, there is a 90-day waiting period that must elapse before the divorce can be finalized.
- After the 90-day period, each party files an affidavit consenting to the divorce (Affidavit of Consent).
- If there are no other issues, such as property division, the parties file the appropriate paperwork to obtain the Divorce Decree. These forms allow the judge to grant the divorce without a court hearing. The Decree may also contain a provision for a name change.
Although a mutual consent uncontested divorce is straightforward, the time it takes for the divorce to be finalized depends on the court. It can take several months. Even though the waiting period is only 90 days, it may take an additional couple of months beyond the waiting period because it takes time for the court to process the paperwork. Also, if there are issues regarding property division or transfer of retirement funds, additional time may be required. Therefore, it could take anywhere from 4 to 6 months, or even longer, to be completed.
While it is possible for No-fault divorces to be finalized without the help of a lawyer, it is always a good idea to consult with an attorney to ensure your rights are properly protected.
MUTUAL CONSENT – 2 YEAR SEPARATION
If a couple in Pennsylvania has lived separate and apart for at least 2 years (with the understanding that “separate and apart” does not require the spouses to be physically separated), a party may file a complaint based on the ground that the marriage is irretrievably broken.
In the realm of family law, separation means an abandonment of the martial bed or absence of sexual relations between the parties.
For the court to grant a divorce, the other party must not deny either that the parties have separated for at least 2 years or that the marriage is irretrievably broken. Because there is no 90-day waiting period, the divorce process may only take a couple of months, if the other party fully cooperates with fulfilling all the procedural requirements.
Even if the other party does not consent to the divorce and denies that the parties have been living separate and apart (again, not necessarily physically apart) for at least 2 years or denies that the marriage is irretrievably broken, a judge may still grant a divorce after a hearing to address such claims. At the hearing, the judge will hear the other party’s objections and may decide that the parties have, in fact, lived separate and apart for at least 2 years, or that the marriage is irretrievably broken, even though one party may not agree to one or both facts.
However, if the judge decides that there may be a possibility of the parties reconciling, the judge will continue the case for a period of no less than 90 days and no more than 120 days, unless the parties agree to a period in excess of 120 days, in order to give the parties an opportunity to resolve their issues and reconcile. In such a case, the divorce can take some time before it is finalized.
If faced with the unfortunate situation of filing a divorce or responding to a spouses’ filing, it is important you seek out legal advice and guidance to protect you interests, rights, and property. The Peters Firm, PLLC can even guides and assist both parties if the divorce is 100% mutual and all issues are resolved after acknowledging informed consent regarding dual legal representation.
Do not go it alone in a divorce, call and consult with The Peters Firm, PLLC at 215-291-2944.