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FAQs About Support, Custody, And Divorce

  • Q: My wife and I are separated and she’s filed for child and spousal support. Is it true you don’t need a lawyer because the court just looks at your income and uses a chart to figure out support?
    • A: Sometimes it’s that simple, but most times it’s not. There are so many variables – like health insurance, self-employment, and child care – that have to be factored into a support order. Pennsylvania has support guidelines, but they’re exactly that: guidelines.
  • Q: I’ve been living with my partner for seven years. Are we common law married?
    • A: Maybe. The number of years is not important. But if you both think you’re married, and you’ve had some sort of a ceremony, and you’ve held yourself out to the public as being married, it may be true. In which case, if you go your own separate ways, you will need a real divorce. And, the common law marriage had to occur prior to 2005. Any common law marriage that began after January 1, 2005, is invalid and nonbinding.
  • Q. If I file for a no-fault divorce and my husband agrees, can I be divorced right away?
    • A: After you file for divorce, you have to wait at least 90 days until you can file the documents to have the divorce finalized. And, if there are assets to be divided, like a house or a retirement account, it can take longer.
  • Q: My wife and I know how we want to split up our assets and debts. So why do we need a lawyer?
    • A. A couple of reasons. First, you need someone to prepare the deed, the Court Order necessary to divide the retirement account, and any other document necessary to accomplish the plan you and your spouse have agreed upon. Second, you and your spouse might have overlooked some important aspect of getting divorced, and a lawyer can give you the necessary information so that the settlement you reach is comprehensive and complete.
  • Q: My grandchild’s parent won’t let me see my grandchild! My grandchild and I love each other and we’ve always had great times together. Do I have any rights?
    • A: Yes. If parents are involved in their own custody case and they don’t agree with each other about whether or not you should see your grandchild, you may be able to petition the Family Court for visitation or even partial custody (overnight visits). If you don’t want to involve the court, we can try to negotiate an agreement to allow visits, but, if the negotiations don’t go anywhere, the court is there to back you up and enforce your rights to see your grandchild.

If you have a question you would like to see answered in this space, let me know. Contact me online or by calling 412-567-6143 with your question or comment. Then check back a week later, and you may see the answer printed here! I look forward to hearing from you.

*I practice law primarily in the areas of domestic relations and consumer debt. My law office is designated as a debt relief agency that helps people file for relief under the Bankruptcy Code.