Author Archives: James E. Mahood

In the recent case of U.S. v. Windsor, 133 S.Ct. 2675 (2013), the United States Supreme Court struck down a major provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This was a sea change in the law, and many observers believe this will usher in same-sex marriage as a constitutional right. In Windsor, the […]

In the recent case of U.S. v. Windsor, 133 S.Ct. 2675 (2013), the United States Supreme Court struck down a major provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This was a sea change in the law, and many observers believe this will usher in same-sex marriage as a constitutional right. DOMA was passed […]

A child support obligation generally terminates at age 18, or when the child has graduated high school, whichever date occurs later, despite the fact that the age of majority in Pennsylvania for purposes other than support is 21. Because the obligation of child support is based upon the parent-child relationship, the obligation ends when a […]

Support awards may be enforced by contempt proceedings against the person failing to pay, by seizing assets to satisfy back-support, or by wage attachment. The court may also order the suspension of licenses for non-payment. Where support is paid according to a court order, a wage attachment is typically mandatory. Employers must comply with wage attachment orders, or contempt proceedings may be brought against them. Most forms of government payments to a person are also subject to attachment to pay support, but special rules apply in the case of veterans’ benefits; support may be obtained directly from the Veterans Administration. Tax refunds may be intercepted for the payment of past-due support. Where support is paid according to an agreement between parties, the agreement may be enforced under the Pennsylvania Divorce Code to the same extent as a court order. A person’s wages may not be garnished in an amount greater than fifty percent of the person’s wages. Agreements or orders entered in other states are similarly enforceable under the Code. Generally, support obligations are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Alimony obligations may be enforced in the same

What date is used to value marital property during equitable distribution of the marital estate? Because the value of some assets fluctuates from time to time, the valuation date of marital property is generally the time of distribution unless the property is no longer in existence. In some instances, a date of separation value may be appropriate, where an asset, such as a business, is in the sole control of one of the parties during the period of separation. A date of separation value does not necessarily require the imposition of prejudgment interest, although such a claim may be asserted. The marital property increase in value of separate property is as of the date of separation or date of distribution, whichever date produces the lesser increase in value. In instances where marital property was disposed of prior to distribution, a pre-distribution valuation date will be employed. The valuation date selected by the courts is intended to effectuate economic justice between the parties. Therefore, a party can suggest a valuation date to the court; however, the party

Stock options are considered deferred compensation, much like a pension, thus marital property subject to distribution in a divorce. As options are usually not transferrable, a “buy-out” of the non-employee spouse is required. The simplest method to value a buy-out is to subtract the exercise price of the options from the market value. However, this […]

A party may be ordered to maintain health insurance for his or her spouse and/or children as part of a support order, where the health insurance coverage is available for the payor spouse at no cost or at a reasonable cost. The payment of health insurance for a spouse and/or children is factored into the […]

If an interest in a closely held business arises during the marriage, divorce will typically involve the┬ádistribution of the business to one spouse; a buy-out of the other’s interest is often necessary, as divorcing spouses cannot be expected to work together. However, where spouses will have little contact, the court may award the business to […]

The Pennsylvania Divorce Code provides for Equitable Distribution of Marital Property. What does this mean? Marital Property is a property interest acquired between the date of marriage and final separation of husband and wife. Property is marital regardless of whether it is held in joint or individual names if acquired during this time period, unless […]

A major component of the resolution of a divorce is the payment of alimony. The determination is complicated, and is dependent on 17 factors specifically set forth in the Pennsylvania Divorce Code. These factors include: 1) the relative earnings and earning capacities of the parties (that is, the actual earning capability of each party at […]