Again in 2016, Wilder Mahood McKinley & Oglesby supports the Allegheny County Bar Foundation and Public Service Committee with its donation to the Backpack Project.
The Project provides underprivileged students in Allegheny County neighborhoods with backpacks filled with school supplies.

Congratulations to Matthew Marcello – recipient of this year’s Wilder Mahood McKinley & Oglesby Family Law Award.
Each year, Wilder Mahood McKinley & Oglesby provides a cash award to the University of Pittsburgh Law School student who receives the highest grade in the Family Law course. Congratulations again to Matthew!

Dad with Daughter: Child SupportIn Pennsylvania, child support terminates when a child reaches the age of eighteen (18) and graduates from high school.  In Pennsylvania, a parent does not have to pay college expenses for a child who is over 18 unless this has been agreed upon as part of a divorce case.

For a family that separates prior to children completing college, these rules can be devastatingly burdensome to the custodial parent as college age is probably the time when children become most expensive.  However, because children are considered adults at this age in Pennsylvania, the court will not order child support or college tuition payments.  While difficult for the custodial parent, this type of law also protects the non-custodial/support paying parent from being directed by the court as to his or her financial participation in an adult child’s life.

What is the process for ending child support?

According to the Pennsylvania Code, a parent paying child support receives a copy of a notice six months before a child support order is scheduled to terminate. The original notice is sent to the parent receiving the payments. This notice seeks to verify items such as graduation date, residence of the child and other information to ensure the child is no longer a dependent of the parent receiving child support. Parents have thirty days to respond and the order is terminated if no response is received.

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Family Child Support PaymentsWhen spouses separate, the support of their children is considered a “priority obligation” under the law; if necessary, parents are expected to adjust their other expenditures in order to meet a child support obligation. As a parent, you will want to ensure that the amount of child support paid meets the needs of your children while remaining fair to both spouses.  The number one role of child support is to ensure that the child’s needs are meet and to maintain a standard of living for the child as if the marriage were still intact.

A parent’s obligation to support his or her children is nearly absolute, and parents cannot bargain away their duty of child support. Typically, the parent with the majority of custody time, as defined by overnight custody, will receive child support from the other parent. However, in rare cases, if there is a large disparity in incomes, the custodial parent might have to pay support to the other parent.

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In Pennsylvania, the best interest of the child is the overriding consideration in child custody decisions. What courts consider to be the best interest is influenced by numerous legal factors and how a judge interprets those factors.

The formal legal process begins when a parent files a custody complaint. A custody action has to be filed in the state and county where your child has lived for the past six months. Before any scheduled court dates, some counties require both parents to come to court and attend a seminar that explains the court process and your responsibility to protect your child’s emotional health as you go through it.

The process determining child custody is decided based on a series of rules established at the county level.  It’s wise to review your court’s website in the county where your child lives, call the courthouse or visit them in person to gain valuable information.  In many counties, you will attend a mediation session with a court-appointed mediator. If you are unable to reach a mediated agreement, then you may move on to a hearing before a judge or another court employee with expertise in custody matters.

The court may order home studies or psychological evaluations of the parents and children. Once the court receives the report on these evaluations, it will hold a trial to determine the custodial arrangement that is in the best interests of the child.

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Wife and Husband Unhappy DivorceIssues facing high net worth individuals entering a divorce are often much different from the issues faced by lower/middle income individuals.  As such, they must be planned for and approached in a manner befitting the unique issues that need to be addressed.  There are simply more financial resources to fund, support and to share. Substantial business assets are often involved and extensive categories of personal expenses must be sorted out.

While this short list of Do’s and Don’ts should provide some guidance, consulting with an attorney to get legal advice is always best.

 

DO:

Enter a prenuptial agreement before the marriage or during:  The reality is that many marriages end in divorce, and of those that don’t, 100% end in death. In either case, there are assets to be distributed. While it is certainly unromantic to discuss and negotiate a prenuptial agreement between the time of your engagement and the wedding, an agreement can save a lot of heartache and money when it comes time to distribute those assets.  These agreements can address property division, spousal support and virtually every financial issue that may arise during a divorce. If there is no premarital agreement in place, a divorce may expose the family wealth to possible division.
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Divorce Attorney Questions Wedding RingsIn the Pittsburgh area, there are many divorce attorneys to choose from, but which one is the best divorce attorney? Which one is right for you?  Remember this important fact – The decisions you make as you begin the divorce process and the settlement you receive upon your divorce will affect the future course of your life. The right divorce attorney can help you make wise decisions and serve as your strong advocate in court and in settlement negotiations.

Spend some time on the phone or in person with the potential divorce attorney.  You should have the opportunity to explain your particular situation, ask questions and outline your goals. Several factors will affect the outcome of your divorce. Legal advice is among the most critical. Think of your divorce attorney as your advocate, your trusted advisor, your negotiator and your guide through the divorce process. You are hiring an attorney to lead you through a life-changing event, and it is important that you feel comfortable with your choice.

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Child Support Child CustodyIn Pennsylvania, the best interest of the child is the overriding consideration in custody decisions. What courts consider to be the best interest is influenced by numerous legal factors and how a judge interprets those factors.

Even if a divorce, legal separation, or child custody action is not initiated, a party having custody of minor children may be able to seek child support from the non-custodial parent. However, absent a voluntary agreement between the parties, it is likely to arise only in the event of abandonment by the non-custodial parent of the child.

After the divorce paperwork is filed, and if the parties cannot agree on support payments, the court may order one to pay temporary or permanent support. This order will generally be based on the child custody schedule, the number of children, and the comparable income of the parties.

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Married Couple DivorcingWhile divorce between couples with low- to mid-level wealth is focused on ending the partnership peacefully, high net worth individuals (HNWIs) must evaluate the effect of a divorce on accumulated wealth through self-owned business operations. If both parties within the marriage contributed to the revenue from operations or growth of the business, the business is categorized as a joint asset.

It’s unfortunate but, too often, entrepreneurs are so busy getting their businesses off the ground that they don’t consider what could happen if one of the founders gets divorced.  There are many variables to consider when protecting your business from a divorce. Here are a few:

Marital Agreement

First and foremost, the best way to protect your business is to have a marital property agreement in place.  These agreements are one of the most effective tools in protecting a business from divorce.  They can be made pre or post marriage and can be modified at any time by written agreement.

Family agreements, including the settlement of disputes by agreement between spouses, are favored in Pennsylvania and are generally presumed to be valid, binding, and non-modifiable by the courts.  Accordingly, if you are contemplating marriage, or divorce, you should be aware that even agreements that foreclose certain rights under the law will be upheld as long as such agreements are not obtained through fraud, misrepresentation, coercion or duress, and as long as there was full disclosure by both parties.

If you are already in the process of a divorce and do not have a marital agreement in place, read on.

Business Valuation During a Divorce

To protect a business during a high-net-worth divorce, it is important to obtain a business valuation from a reputable firm or an accredited valuation analyst. It is sometimes beneficial for both spouses to agree on a single valuation firm or individual to complete the process because the process of valuing a business is time-consuming and expensive. However, there are cases where the legal issues involved might require the retention of an expert solely to advocate your position.

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Marital Property Divorce

Let’s start with defining what is not marital property, also known as non-marital property.  Non-marital property refers to the following:

  • Property acquired prior to marriage or property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage.
  • Property excluded by valid agreement of the parties entered into before, during or after the marriage.
  • Property acquired by gift, except between spouses, bequest, devise or descent or property acquired in exchange for such property.
  • Property acquired after final separation until the date of divorce, except for property acquired in exchange for marital assets.
  • Property which a party has sold, granted, conveyed or otherwise disposed of in good faith and for value prior to the date of final separation.
  • Veterans’ benefits exempt from attachment, levy or seizure pursuant to the act of September 2, 1958 (Public Law 85-857, 72 Stat. 1229), as amended, except for those benefits received by a veteran where the veteran has waived a portion of his military retirement pay in order to receive veterans’ compensation.
  • Property to the extent to which the property has been mortgaged or otherwise encumbered in good faith for value prior to the date of final separation.
  • Any payment received as a result of an award or settlement for any cause of action or claim which accrued prior to the marriage or after the date of final separation regardless of when the payment was received.

The presumption is that all real or personal property acquired by either party during the marriage is presumed to be marital property regardless of whether title is held individually or by the parties in some form of co-ownership such as joint tenancy, tenancy in common or tenancy by the entireties.

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