Thursday, March 15, 2007

An Anna Nicole Smith Issue - Here in Pennsylvania

The tragic life and death of Anna Nicole Smith involved a plethora of litigation issues including wills, estates, trusts, custody and burial rights.

Recently, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania released an opinion regarding a case from Schuylkill County wherein a Husband and Wife are litigating the issue of the ultimate disposition of their son's remains.

According to the opinion, the lower court directed that the son's ashes be divided between the parties. Husband appealed and the Superior Court ordered that additional proceedings be held at the trial court level. Apparently, Wife originally filed the divorce in December 2004 and it is still ongoing. So, in addition to the trauma of divorce, these parties also face teh death of their son, and a bitter fight over his final resting place. Read the opinion here. (You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader.)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Bobby Brown Child Support Woes

Being Bobby Brown means owing lots of child support. He was arrested this week while attending a sporting event for his daughter for owing thousands upon thousands of dollars. And this was not the first time he has had domestic legal woes.

His lawyer made a statement that he is no longer making the money he used to make as a popular touring artist.

Here is the lesson in this for the regular people: file a petition to modify your support. Child support is generally modifiable based on a change in circumstances. Do not wait until you owe so much that you will never be able to recover from the mounting debt. If your situation changes (income goes down, job disappears, etc.), then file a petition to modify.

Bobby Brown was lucky -- apparently a local radio station paid almost $20,000 in back child support for him to be released and work at the station for the week. But this type of good luck will not happen to most people. You may sit in jail until you or your family or friends pay your back support.

Recently in court, I saw a judge sentence a defendant to 60 days of community service for not paying his support. I almost think that particular defendant would have preferred to sit in jail, than work for the county for sixty days. Luckily the judge was practical and told him if he had a job, he could do his community service on weekends. Hopefully, this will teach him a lesson - do not get behind in your support - and if you do - file a petition to modify to see if you can get the amount reduced.

And remember -- situations and fortunes change. Do not agree to pay a high amount simply because you are in a generous mood, or you want the litigation to end, or you think your high salary will last forever. Remember, child support lasts a long time, and while it is modifiable, it can sometimes take time to get a court date. So think about now -- and about later, when you are negotiating a support amount.

To read about Bobby Brown, click here.