Our attorneys assist clients in dealing with all aspects of family law cases, including pre-nuptial agreements, divorce, property division, alimony, spousal and child support, custody, grand-parent’s rights and adoption.

Our firm has the experience needed to handle even the most complex family law cases. Our attorneys will work closely with each client in an attempt to resolve their case favorably and avoid court intervention. When an acceptable settlement cannot be reached we will provide the litigation services needed to reach the preferred result. Contact one of our attorneys today for the information needed to make the right decision for you.

Divorce

Divorce is a very difficult and emotionally challenging endeavor. Whether you are contemplating ending your marriage or you are ready to end it, it helps to understand your rights and responsibilities in separation or divorce. Involving an experienced attorney as soon as possible in the divorce process is one of the best ways to preserve your long-term financial health.

Before a divorce may be granted, there are usually four basic issues that must be resolved:

1) APL and Spousal support;
2) Property division and Alimony; and, if there are children:
3) Custody and Visitation; and
4) Child support.

If a divorcing couple agrees on all of these issues in writing, it is possible to avoid adversarial divorce litigation and be granted a consent divorce.  Conversely, if there is disagreement on any of these issues, a contested divorce exists. This type of divorce may require a couple to proceed through all phases of litigation, including a hearing before a master.

Our experienced family law attorneys will be able to facilitate a consent divorce, ensuring it is done correctly, or protect your rights during each step of the divorce litigation process in a contested divorce.

Marital Property Division

Marital property is everything that a husband and wife own together from the start of their marriage until the date of separation. Both husband and wife are deemed to own all the money either one of them earns, all property acquired during the marriage, regardless of who purchased it, and any appreciation of non-marital property that occurred during the marriage. Similarly, any debts acquired during the marriage will be deemed to be marital debt regardless of which spouse actually incurred it.

Non-marital property is not included when determining property division. Depending on when the property was obtained or the manner in which the property was obtained could determine whether certain property is considered martial property or not. Because classification of property and its division is one of the most unsettled issues in a divorce, you ought to have the advice of an attorney

 

Custody

Child Custody

Custody is the rights and responsibilities that a parent carries with respect to his or her child. Following separation or divorce, it must decided which of the parents or guardians will retain physical and legal custody of a child.

Physical custody refers to which parent with which the child actually lives. One parent is awarded either primary custody (where the other parent receives visitation) or each parent equally shares physical custody.

Legal custody, on the other hand, allows a parent to make all decisions regarding the health, welfare and education of the child. Generally, both parents are granted shared legal custody of a child, unless there are exigent circumstances.

A court will base its custody decision on the “best interest of the child” standard. In doing so, the court will look to many factors. Because child custody and the “best interest” standard are such unsettled and arguable areas of law, you need an experienced attorney on your side, not only to present the best possible case on you behalf, but more importantly to protect your rights as a parent. Kaminsky, Thomas, Wharton, Lovette & Vigna has the experience necessary to assist you in this important endeavor.

Child Support

A parent has the legal obligation to financially support his or her child. In Pennsylvania, that obligation lasts until the child turns 18, marries, joins the military, or becomes emancipated.

During a divorce action and following the divorce, parents are usually obligated to pay child support to the custodial parent. Support is owed regardless of who the child resides with or whether the custodial parent can afford to support the child on their own. Support may be owed even if the parents have a shared physical custody arrangement.

The support guidelines, which are based on the parents’ combined incomes, are used by the courts to establish the amount of support. There may be adjustments that are made depending on the factors enumnerated in the guidelines. In situations where the parents have a very high combined income, the court will use a separate calculation based on the case Melzer v Witsberger, 480 A.2d 991 (1994).

Regardless of whether the support guidelines or Melzer is used, the courts will look at a variety of sources to determine the paying parents’ income and ability to pay. Income will usually include wages, investment income, government payments, gifts, and inheritances. A court may also assign an income different than a parent appears to have if they believe they are capable of higher earnings.

Child support may be modified, at any time, if there is a substantial change in circumstance for either parent during the period in which support is owed . The result of the change can either increase or decrease the amount of support depending on the change’s effect on the combined income. Support may also be increased because of a child’s specific need for things like tutoring, medical treatment or therapy.

Payments of child support are due at specific times each month, which are dictated by the court’s order. Generally, the payments must be sent to PASCDU in Harrisburg, who then disperses the payment to the appropriate party.

Child custody and child support issues involve the well-being of your children. As such, it is paramount that you be represented by an experienced attorney when confronted with them. Kaminsky, Thomas, Wharton, Lovette & Vigna has the know how to help you in resolving this issues in an efficient and fair manner.

Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two people, who as the name suggests, are about to get married. The agreement spells out how each person’s assets will be distributed in the event the other spouse dies or the couple divorces. The common misconception is that a person must be rich before he or she should consider obtaining a prenup. However, a person who has saved a couple thousand dollars toward retirement has just as much to lose, relatively, as someone who has millions. Actually, you should consider having a prenup if you are in any of the following categories:

  • You have assets such as a home, stock or retirement funds;
  • Own all or part of a business;
  • You may be receiving an inheritance;
  • You have children and/or grandchildren from a previous marriage;
  • One of you is much wealthier than the other;
  • One of you will be supporting the other through college;
  • You have loved ones who need to be taken care of, such as elderly parents;
  • You are expecting a big increase in income.

Contact Kaminsky, Thomas, Wharton, Lovette & Vigna to discuss whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you.