Sunday, October 28, 2007

I Am Pleased to Announce . . . (?????)

A Pulitzer Prize winning novelist in New York sent out an email to students and faculty where he taught to announce that his wife had left him for Ted Turner. The email ended up on - much more publicity than the writer ever intended. In hindsight, he probably should not have hit the send button.

But how do you announce your divorce? Some people use email. Now there are announcement cards available -- if you can send out wedding and birth announcements ---then, some figure -- why not for a divorce?

Here are some sites that offer cards just for the occasion:

Divorce can be a devastating, traumatizing event. Perhaps the act of sending out cards or announcements could be therapeutic, telling the world (or at least friends and family): I have moved on. But it could also trivialize the process and reveal too much information -- resulting in, at best, embarrassment or at worst, giving your spouse a handy exhibit to use in court.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


What Does the Court Consider When a Parent Wants to Relocate with Children?

In the recent case of Klos v. Klos, the court addressed dueling custody petitions from a mother who wanted to stay in Pennsylvania and a father who wanted to relocate to Florida. Notably, eight children were born of this marriage, although only five were minors at the time of the custody trial.

The court reviewed the factors that must be considered when one of the parents want to relocate with a child:

1. The advantages of the proposed move and the likelihood that the move would substantially improve the quality of life for the custodial parent and the children, along with a finding that the move is not a result of a momentary whim on the part of the custodial parent.

2. The integrity of the motive of the non-custodial parent for preventing the move and the custodial parent for seeking permission for the move.

3. The availability of realistic visitation for the non-custodial parent that will adequately foster an ongoing relationship with the children.

The court distinguished between cases where there is already a custody order in place versus a new petition. When there is already a custody order, the parent who wants to relocate must bear the burden of proving the above-referenced factors. If the case comes to the trial court without a custody order already in place, both parents stand on equal footing and both must produce evidence and persuade the court regarding their respective living situations and the children’s best interests. Accordingly, in a case where there is no custody order in place, the above-referenced factors are one aspect of the overall analysis because the court must choose a primary physical custodian and decide on the benefits of relocation.

The court reviewed the various evidence presented, including testimony and an expert custody evaluation. In the end, the court affirmed the trial court’s ruling, allowing father to relocate.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Recent Case Law - October 2007

Protection from Abuse - Siblings.

Recently, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania addressed a Protection from Abuse Order that was granted in a dispute between a brother and a sister who are also business partners. The court outlined the purpose of the Protection from Abuse Act and what relationships it was intended to cover. The court also distinguished this case from a 1996 case where feuding business partners had sought dueling PFA’s against the other. See Custer v. Cochran.

Custody - Mom Met Boyfriend Online and Flew to Egypt.

In Gonder v. Buschle, the Court of Common Pleas in Blair County addressed a custody situation wherein a mother and father separated when mother met a paramour online and left her family to fly to Egypt to be with him. She stayed in Egypt almost a year. During the interim, father was incarcerated and asked the children’s aunt and uncle to take custody.

Mother then returned and requested custody of her children and was granted visits and phone calls. However, she missed approximately 75% of her visits and was often late to the others. Accordingly, the court limited her contact with the children until she could demonstrate better commitment.

Support Past the Age of 18?

In Style v. Shaub, the Court of Common Pleas in Lancaster County addressed an unusual situation when a 19 year old child requested support on the basis that he was diagnosed with ADHD, some psychiatric disorders and had an IQ of 78.

Generally, in Pennsylvania, children are emancipated at the age of 18 or upon graduation from high school, whichever is later. However, in certain circumstances, a parent may have a duty to support a child who otherwise would have been emancipated, if the child cannot reasonably support himself or herself due to employment. In this case, the court did not require father to pay support, finding that the child had not met his burden of proving that he was unemployable at a supporting wage.