As long as there has been litigation, there have been parties willing and able to use fraudulent evidence. It’s used to sway a judge or jury or pressure the other party into an unfavorable settlement. The only thing that’s changed is that the technology used to create these fakes has improved, but they can still be exposed as fraud.  

Why This is a Really Bad Idea 

Using fabricated evidence is an all-or-nothing strategy. Depending on the situation and the materials used, a spouse could get away with this and reach their goals. But if it’s exposed, no judge will tolerate a party trying to engage in fraud against the court. If this happens and your case goes to a trial, the judge may not permit your spouse to present any evidence, so the case will be decided based on your side of the story. 

No competent attorney will be involved in knowingly presenting falsified evidence in any legal matter. If they do, they risk being professionally sanctioned and their reputation tainted. No client is worth it. If your spouse falsifies a government document or forges your signature, they may be criminally charged. 

That Doesn’t Mean Your Spouse Won’t Try It 

The fake evidence someone may use is only limited by their imagination and ability to produce it. It can be as simple as falsely describing a conversation the two of you had. If there are no witnesses or recordings, it’s your word against your spouse’s. Other kinds of fake evidence are more complicated: 

  • Text messages or emails can be altered or fabricated, but you should have copies of the messages you send. You should keep copies of any messages sent by your spouse in case they later change something sent to you.
  • Faked phone messages would require changes by audio editing software. This software is free, openly available, and with a little practice, your spouse may be able to create a new message that sounds natural. If this happens, its authenticity can be challenged. If they claim you left it on a specific date and time, through your phone records you should be able to show you didn’t call your spouse then. A judge should only accept a voicemail recording from your husband’s service provider, not one downloaded from your spouse’s laptop. 
  • Your spouse may alter or create pictures and videos using Photoshop, Filmora, or similar software. You and others present when the event took place may testify what’s presented didn’t happen. An expert can also analyze the images and testify that the photos or videos have been altered and how it was done. 
  • The next frontier of fakery is using artificial intelligence to create audio or video recordings. Software and apps are available to do this, but the result would need to be convincing if someone wants to use it as evidence. There can be testimony asserting that what’s in the video never happened, and expert testimony could show it’s the result of video and audio manipulation 

If your spouse presents you with faked material they threaten to use, don’t panic. It may be good for your case. After it’s shown to be fake, your spouse will have no credibility, which is critical in divorce and child custody cases, and it may substantially hamper their ability to tell their side of the story to a judge. It also shows how desperate your spouse is and how fearful they are of your evidence. 

Get the Help You Need From a Lawyer You Can Trust 

If you need help with a divorce or child custody dispute, use our online calendar to schedule a free consultation or call us at (215) 752-6200. 

Smart devices and social media are integral parts of our lives. But they can cause problems if you’re getting a divorce or preparing for one. The biggest issues are making damaging statements on social media and losing your privacy on your smartphone, laptop, or computer. It may be best to put your hands up and step away from your smartphone.  

Your Spouse the Casual Snooper 

Your smartphone may be how you make phone calls and view and send emails and texts related to your divorce. If you’re still living together, your spouse may look through your smartphone to see who you’re calling and who’s calling you. Your spouse may also read your texts and emails.  

You should make your devices as secure as possible. Change the password on your phone, shut off notifications, and delete unnecessary apps. Cancel accounts you own jointly, like Netflix or Apple. 

All remaining accounts and apps should have two-step authentication. If someone tries to access the account or change a password, you should get an email or text confirming that you’re the one taking the action. If you weren’t, don’t permit the change to happen. 

You should also go “old school” to protect your privacy by getting a post office box. If someone mails something divorce-related to you, your spouse won’t have access to it. 

Spyware and What You Can Do About It 

Changing passwords will make devices hard to use if your spouse is physically looking at your device when the opportunity arises. But if your spouse is knowledgeable and under-handed enough, your spouse may install illegal spyware, which may render your security efforts useless. 

Spyware is hidden software that secretly records information and tracks your activities. It may monitor and copy everything you enter, store, upload, and download. It also may be sophisticated enough to track your location and, without you being aware, turn on a device’s camera and microphone so your spouse can spy on you in real-time. 

Instead of trying to find and delete spyware, you could use your devices for everything other than divorce-related matters but buy a “burner” phone or laptop. You pre-pay for time using a “burner” phone, then dispose of it when you’re done. If possible, keep it secret, locked away when you’re not using it, and password protected. You could do the same with an inexpensive Chromebook which you can use for emails and internet research. 

Social Media is Not Your Friend 

You need support from friends and family to get through a divorce. Just don’t use social media to discuss it with them. Talk on the phone or in person. Anything you post on social media could be evidence that may be used against you. Complain about your spouse and the divorce process all you want, but not in a way that could damage your case.  

If you’re disciplined enough, maintain your accounts and post about things unrelated to your spouse and divorce. If you’re someone who blows off steam online, stop using social media to avoid the temptation. 

Get the Help You Need From a Lawyer You Can Trust 

If you want help with preparing for a divorce, have questions about the process, or need legal representation, use our online calendar to schedule a free consultation or call us at (215) 752-6200. 

Legal representation in a divorce costs money. But it’s an investment that helps you prevent serious problems that you may encounter during and after your DIY divorce. A lawyer can save you time, energy, stress, and in the long run, money, by avoiding mistakes that you’ll make representing yourself.  We help couples here in Bucks and Montgomery Counties efficiently negotiate their divorce to save money on legal bills while still providing all the protection necessary.  

The more you have going on in your life, the more you risk in a DIY divorce. You may make it through the process alone, but you can’t go back for a do-over if serious problems arise after your divorce is final. If you agreed to something or an issue is decided by a judge, it might be impossible to change. 

Ignorance is Not Bliss 

Are you ready for these issues?  

  • You’re a stay-at-home parent while your spouse earns an income, or you worked to help your spouse improve their education and make more money. Are these factors impacting alimony or asset distribution? 
  • Your spouse owns a business. Is it profitable or not? How much has your spouse invested in it? Is it used to shelter marital assets so you won’t get a share? Is your spouse or the pair of you in debt due to the business? How will these issues impact your divorce? 
  • Your spouse has had extramarital affairs. Does that affect your divorce or your child custody claims? 
  • You have children. How are custody and child support determined? Do you feel your child should not be with your spouse? If so, how do you convince a judge you should get custody? 
  • You and your spouse have strong disagreements over how your child should be raised. How will they be resolved after your divorce? Who will decide what? 
  • A divorce will impact your current and future finances. Tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars may be at stake. Nearly all divorce cases settle through negotiations. How much negotiation experience do you have? Would you be comfortable negotiating a settlement with so much on the line? 
  • Your spouse has legal representation. Do you still go through the process by yourself? 

The time to learn about divorce, the law, and court procedures is not while representing yourself in your divorce. Mistakes can be costly. 

Your Life is Already Stressful. Do You Want to Add to It? 

It’s very stressful if you file legal documents and they’re rejected by the court clerk or a judge denies your motion. You may or may not be able to try again. Your spouse (or maybe worse, their attorney) may become very demanding and put you under a lot of pressure to agree to something that’s against your interests. How will you respond? 

Benefits of legal representation include the fact that we will handle the details, map out the strategy, execute our plan, make adjustments as needed, and deal with your spouse, their attorney, and the court system.  

Karen Ann Ulmer, PC, will save you time you don’t have to spare and prevent stress you don’t want. We also have knowledge and experience that you lack. We will zealously defend your rights and protect your interests during negotiations and in court so you won’t have to. 

Get the Help You Need From an Attorney You Can Trust 

If you have questions about divorce or want representation, use our online calendar to schedule a free consultation or call us at (215) 752-6200. 

A prenuptial agreement, if properly executed, can make a divorce much simpler, so the process consumes less time, energy, and money. If you plan on getting married, it’s something worth considering. Here in Bucks and Montgomery Counties, we make sure that you have an airtight prenup when you get married and also skillfully use your prenuptial agreement should you get divorced.  

What is a Prenuptial Agreement? 

A prenuptial agreement, or a premarital contract or “prenup,” is a contract between two people planning to marry. It’s a written, signed document containing mutual promises. It goes into effect when the two marry. The parties release their rights when they divorce, or one dies.  

It can cover who pays what expenses during the marriage and what will happen if there’s a divorce: 

  • Who will receive how much alimony 
  • How property will be divided 
  • How assets and debts will be divided 

Who will get what kind of child custody and who will pay how much child support are not topics in a prenup. Those agreements will be part of your divorce agreement.   

What Makes a Prenup Valid? 

To be enforceable, the agreement must be: 

  • Written 
  • Voluntarily signed by the parties 
  • Not severely unfair and one-sided (one party will not be left destitute)  
  • A result of both parties fully disclosing their financial information 
  • Free of fraud or duress 

Both parties need to have attorneys help them put the agreement together and review it. This is a significant component in ensuring that the prenup is enforceable.   

Can a Prenup Be Disputed? 

A prenup can be challenged if a party can make a good faith argument that it isn’t enforceable. A court should uphold the prenup unless there’s clear and convincing evidence showing legal requirements weren’t met. A prenup may have been very fair when it was written but due to a change of circumstances, one party is going to now be left destitute.  That will not be allowed.  

What are Potential Complications? 

When a marriage starts, both parties make assumptions based on what they want to do or what they think will happen. But life is complicated: 

  • Both parties may be employed, so the agreement may be made based on that continuing. One or both may be temporarily unemployed at some point. One may suffer a disability, so that person has a lower or no income.  
  • A party may own a business before the marriage or start one after the wedding. The business may do very well, so there’s more income and assets than expected, or very poorly, so the income is much lower than what they planned for, or a spouse (or both spouses) may be deep in debt.
  • The two may have a child and one spouse may become a stay-at-home parent. If they weren’t planning for a child, expenses might be much higher than expected and income much lower 

Prenups should account for many possibilities, not just what the couple plans to do. If they encounter financial challenges that aren’t covered, it can cause conflicts during the divorce. 

Get Help With a Prenup From an Attorney You Can Trust 

If you have questions about prenups, want help creating one, or feel the one you signed shouldn’t be enforced, use our online calendar to schedule a free consultation or call us at (215) 752-6200. 

Traditionally, American couples got married, lived together, and when they had enough money, they bought a house. However, the country is constantly changing. Now fewer couples are getting married, but people still want to buy a home. If you and your partner plan to purchase one without getting married and want legal protection if the relationship ends, a cohabitation agreement is worth considering. We have helped many couples in the Greater Philadelphia area put together cohabitation agreements.  

Fewer Marriages, More Demand for Houses 

Marriage rates have generally declined from 1982 to 2009, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). They stabilized from 2009 to 2017 but dropped again during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Meanwhile, people are eager to buy houses. The inventory of houses for sale can’t keep up with demand and prices are moving skyward. The median house price in Bucks County in February 2018 was $277,250. Four years later it’s up to $400,000, according to Redfin. Currently, the average time a Bucks County house is on the market is three weeks. 

State Statutes Cover Married Homeowners. Contracts Can Cover Homeowners Who are Not Married

Under Pennsylvania statutory law, if you’re married, buy a house, then divorce, your marital assets and debts are divided. If you’re not married, you can use contract law, through a cohabitation agreement, to do the same whether you’re of the same or opposite sexes. Without marriage, there aren’t statutes you can rely upon to fairly resolve shared housing issues if the relationship ends. 

Such an agreement can include many things, but topics that could be covered include: 

  • Assets like real estate, bank accounts, and vehicles 
  • Debts such as the mortgage, car loans, student loans, and credit card debts 
  • How housing-related bills and obligations will be paid 
  • What will happen if one or both of you become unemployed or too disabled to work 
  • Whether each party will obtain life insurance with the other party as a beneficiary so their share of the mortgage can be paid if they die unexpectedly 
  • How the home is titled  
  • How the home and property (including household goods and furnishings) will be split if the relationship ends 
  • What happens if a party breaches the agreement 

What’s in a cohabitation agreement is up to the parties, but an experienced attorney can suggest language that’s needed to protect your interests. 

An Oral Agreement May be Valid, But Proving It May Be Difficult 

If the two of you make a verbal agreement on splitting mortgage payments, taxes, insurance, and maintenance, it may or may not be legally binding. More importantly, it’s generally much more difficult to prove one was made and, if so, its terms. You may claim the two of you agreed. Your partner may deny it. Without further proof, your claim will go nowhere. 

A written agreement is literally on paper, in black and white, signed by both parties, with the terms spelled out. One party could claim it’s invalid (because you engaged in fraud to induce them to agree to it or because performing the contract is impossible), but when both parties are represented by attorneys and the agreement is negotiated in good faith, establishing that should be very difficult. 

A Cohabitation Agreement May Only Be the Beginning 

If you share not only a house but have children together too, you should also have child custody and support agreements even if you’re on “good terms” on these issues. Situations change, so it’s best to work these issues out now in case the relationship ends in the future and the parties become angry and emotional. 

Get the Help You Need From an Attorney You Can Trust 

If you have questions about a cohabitation agreement or want help putting one together, use our online calendar to schedule a free consultation or call us at (215) 752-6200.

Going through a divorce is one of the toughest experiences a person can have. This is true even when the divorce goes rather smoothly. The reason divorce is so difficult is intimately linked to our emotions.

Love is an emotional experience. But it can be hard to maintain a relationship and over time your emotions can move from love to hate or frustration with them. This then often leads to self-doubts about ourselves. Were we not good enough people for them? Were we not good enough people for love? Do we even deserve to find love again if we’ve messed it up this time?

Dealing with questions like these is a normal, though extremely difficult, facet of going through a divorce. All of these emotions can be mixed up and confusing, especially when there was physical or mental abuse present in the marriage.

That’s why divorce counseling exists. Today we’re gonna learn what divorce counseling is, the purpose it has, and what you can expect from a divorce counselor should you decide to visit one.

What Is Divorce Counseling?

There are many different types of counseling available for a variety of different reasons. Divorce counseling is the type we use to explore, understand, recognize, and then resolve the conflicts that have arisen due to the divorce.

As a type of psychotherapy, it focuses on discussion with a trained counselor. Depending on where in the divorce process you are, you may start at a different point in counseling. For those who are just considering divorce, divorce counseling might be an option to determine if a divorce is the right choice.

A safe space is provided for individuals to discuss the challenges that they face in the relationship and their emotions, as well as their feelings about their partner as well. Your counselor will likely have some tools they can offer you to help you better manage all the emotions you are dealing with as part of the process.

Divorce counseling can be pre-divorce or post-divorce. Each presents its own issues that can be worked through and counseling can help with both.

What Is the Purpose of Divorce Counseling?

The purpose of divorce counseling, first and foremost, is to help those who are considering divorce, going through a divorce, or those who’ve just finished a divorce to better cope with their emotions during and throughout this turbulent experience.

It’s impossible to overstate how emotionally charged divorces are. Countless studies have shown that divorces bring up a range of negative emotions, even when separating from each other is the right choice to make.

The reason makes sense when you break it down. When we get married, we promise ourselves to each other until death does us part. But divorce is not death. It might be the right choice because the relationship is toxic, but it still represents a failure of the original stated goal. This can leave a lot of confusing feelings. We wonder if it was our fault or theirs. We wonder if we can ever get married again if our word, our vows, turned out not to be true.

There is an incredible amount of self-doubt involved in a divorce. This self-doubt may be mixed with anger and resentment but it is often a source of that anger and resentment rather than a separate emotional experience to it. When all sorts of emotions like these get mixed together, it can make it impossible to move forward with a divorce in a reasonable manner.

By meeting with a divorce counselor you are taking a proactive step in untangling this emotional web. As a result, you will build better tools for managing your anger, resentment, and self-doubt. These in turn can allow you to react with more calm and thoughtfulness during the divorce proceedings. Rather than just arguing and fighting because of all those pent-up emotions, you can develop the tools that allow you to deal with the situation in a healthy manner, one that allows the proceedings to move forward smoother and thus finish up quicker.

How Does Divorce Counseling Work in Practice?

Divorce counseling can be quite varied in practice. Some divorce counselors may work in a private practice while others work at a counseling center and still others only practice online. These will all function differently in the minutia, such as arriving at the practice and checking in with the receptionist or logging onto a designated website or video conferencing program.

However, the actual meetings will follow a much similar format. Your counselor will want to meet with you to get an understanding of the reasons behind the divorce. This will also allow them to get a much better sense of the situation, not just the divorce itself but where each party lies in terms of their emotions and rationalizations.

This will be done through discussion and conversation. But the conversation can actually be much broader than people expect. A divorce counselor wants more than to just help with the divorce. They want to provide you with tools and resources that will allow you to heal and grow into a stronger individual. To this end, they may teach coping skills for dealing with your emotions or offer self-care advice for individuals whose emotions make it hard for them to care for themselves. They can also help you in developing a new plan for your life now that you are going forward on your own again.

How Can I Tell If I Need Divorce Counseling?

If you are having a difficult time with the divorce then divorce counseling could help. But it may be hard to tell because everything is so stressful.

That stress is a sign that you could use counseling. Other signs include:

  • Irritability
  • Lack of appetite
  • Lack of personal hygiene
  • Destructive tendencies
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Random crying fits
  • A reliance on drugs and alcohol

These are just a few of the signs. If you are going through a divorce, chances are good that you could benefit from divorce counseling. At the very least, it is worth reaching out to a divorce counselor to ask their opinion.

Making the decision to get a divorce is difficult, inciting many stresses and uncertainties. It may be challenging to envision what a life without your relationship, your routine, and your home might look like. But the fact of the matter is that you may walk away from your divorce without ownership of some of your most valued assets, like your house. That’s why it’s important to know your rights and enlist the help of a divorce attorney who can guide you through the process as you divide assets between you and your spouse.

In order to move on after divorce, you and your spouse must reach an agreement on which of you will keep the house, and which of you will move elsewhere. To ensure you’re receiving all that you deserve and making the best decisions for you and your family’s future, we’ve come up with a guide to help you navigate how to decide who gets the house in your Pennsylvania divorce.

Analyze Your Assets

An important concept to understand as you navigate divorce is your assets. An asset is anything that holds real value. There are many types of divorce assets, including:

  • Real estate (marital property)
  • Liquid (cash)
  • Retirement investments
  • Personal property
  • Business (owned businesses or streams of income)

Any items acquired over the duration of your marriage could be considered assets, and the list can become long and complex. In this article, we’ll focus on the house as an asset, as it’s often one of the most significant deliberations amongst divorce mediations.

Assess Ownership

The first step in the process is to figure out who owns the house. Is the house marital property or separate property? If the house was purchased before marriage, it’s considered separate property, and that spouse may have rights to keep the house. However, if both spouses have a history of making mortgage payments (assets are commingled), both spouses have rights to ownership post-divorce. If the house was purchased during marriage, it’s marital property, which makes splitting things a bit simpler. Knowing this information will help you understand the possible next steps.

Discuss With Your Spouse

As you follow the steps for divorce in Pennsylvania, have a discussion with your spouse. Each partner should express what their goals are regarding where to live after divorce. Should you want to keep the house and your partner does not, or vice versa, you may be able to come to an agreement or a buyout without the help of an attorney. If you both want to keep the house and are unable to agree on how to go about it, the court will analyze your situation and come to a decision for you both. Think deeply about your emotional attachment to the house before you take it to the court, as this will require a lot of time and money. That said, the harder you work as a couple to sort through this, the smoother the separation process will go. 

Determine What You Can Afford

Whether you hope to keep the house or find alternative housing, you need to take a deep dive into your finances to determine the most affordable option. Your emotional attachment to the house may leave you fighting to keep it, however, your new single income may not be sufficient for staying, especially with children. Consider your individual income, child support payments, and credit health in order to decide whether or not you can afford to keep the house, or if you can afford to buy one of your own. Buying a house on a single income will likely shrink your selection of available homes compared to your combined income. Apply for a mortgage preapproval to see how much house you can afford and compare it to prices of homes in your desired area to determine if buying a home, keeping your existing one, or renting is a viable option.

Understand the Court’s Decision-Making Process

Should you decide to put your fate in the court’s hands, it’s important to know what’s taken into consideration when designating ownership. The court will take a look at each spouse’s financial situation and consider any children the couple have, along with their custody plans. Also, know that the court will always rule in the best interest of the children. If you don’t have children, the court can rule a buyout as the best option, or order that the house be sold, splitting the profits evenly between the couple. To split accurately, the court will also consider the amount paid toward the mortgage if the house is considered separate property.

It can be difficult to navigate how to handle your house during a divorce, but with the help of a reliable attorney, you can come out the other side of divorce happier than ever. Contact Karen A. Ulmer, P.C. for additional guidance centered around family law, custody agreements, and all things divorce.

Money is one of the most common causes of divorce. Some studies show it as the number one cause. When a couple has different values regarding money, or when one or both partners make poor choices with their money, serious marital stress results, and this stress can flow into the divorce process and continue to be a problem after divorce.

Before divorce

Not surprisingly, most couples who divorce over money issues do not keep a budget. When there is no clear understanding of how much money is coming in and where it is going, there will be more disagreements. Overspending and credit card debt are major issues in divorce, often because one spouse spends more than the other. This is because the partners have different views about money.

This often leads to “financial infidelity” – keeping secrets from the other partner about how money was spent or on what, which naturally causes arguments and resentment when the secrets are discovered.

Financial infidelity is much more common when couples keep separate finances. Couples who keep joint finances are less likely to divorce over money and are also less likely to experience financial cheating. Couples with separate finances often know little about each other’s financial choices, often not even knowing their partner’s salary.

Spouses might keep separate accounts so they can have control over their “own” money. If they have different views about the use of money, a spouse might keep a separate account just to keep the other partner from “wasting” his or her “own” money. The problem with this view is that in marriage and in divorce, money is communal. It affects the whole household and is meant to support the whole household. Thus, hiding financial information from a spouse can cause serious distrust and strain on the relationship.

During divorce

If you fought about money while you were married, this will certainly spill into the divorce. That is why it is so important to have a divorce lawyer act as an experienced third party who can help you navigate the difficult waters of divorce.

During a divorce, you will be dividing your property and assets as well as your debts. The first thing to do is to cancel all joint credit card accounts and open separate ones. The debt on those closed accounts will become part of the divorce process, but by canceling joint accounts you can avoid any future debt that your spouse incurs being applied to you.

If financial infidelity has happened during marriage, expect that it will continue. Sometimes a spouse tries to spend money in order to draw down the joint assets (this is called dissipation). An experienced divorce lawyer will be able to recognize this. You may also need to contract the services of a forensic accountant who is an expert in going through finances and finding fraud or hidden money. Your lawyer should be able to recommend someone.

Tax changes, pension and retirement plan issues, life insurance, and costs of ongoing child support will all be important issues to discuss with your lawyer.

After divorce

If you did not do it during the divorce, as soon as possible afterward change your beneficiary information. Also make sure you close other joint accounts, like iTunes, streaming services, frequent flyers, etc. This article lists some other common steps to take.

If your money habits and attitudes contributed to the divorce, you may need to examine them. Recognize any bad habits in the use of money that need to change, and create a budget. Refrain from major purchases for some time after divorce. This gives you time to judge the situation and make decisions that are not emotionally charged. This also includes avoiding spending sprees.

When money issues fuel a divorce, it is important to obtain expert guidance so you avoid making decisions that will negatively impact you and your children in the future. Talk to one of our experts to see what we can do to help you through your divorce.

In any parenting, the stakes are high. But after divorce, they’re even higher. Creating a healthy co-parenting arrangement is crucial for helping your children to grow into emotionally healthy, confident adults. Co-parenting well is difficult, but for the sake of the children, it needs to be done.

If you and your ex don’t have a comfortable personal relationship, you should both try to think of it as a business relationship instead. Treat your co-parent like a colleague, communicate respectfully and create agreements that you keep. And ask yourself: Would I trash talk my colleague to other people? Would I blow off a meeting or be purposely late? If you wouldn’t do it to a team member at work, don’t do it to your team member in parenting. The danger of bad behavior at work is poor job performance or job loss. The danger of bad behavior in parenting is emotionally damaged children or loss of parenting rights.

Here are some important steps to healthy co-parenting.

  • The right attitude will make all the other steps of co-parenting easier, and that is to have an attitude of empathy. Try to put yourself in your children’s shoes and in your ex’s shoes. How do they feel? How would you want to be treated if you were in their position? Try to act accordingly.
  • Maintain an open dialogue, sharing the children’s schedules and important information. There are websites designed for this. Be sure to keep your co-parent informed of important news, both positive and not-so-positive (like an A on a big test as well as being sent to the principal’s office). That way you can both congratulate your child or help guide him or her into healthier choices.
  • Be flexible. If a big event comes up and your ex wants to take your kids to it, let them go. It will build positive memories for them while also building positive relationships between their parents, which can only be good for them.
  • Have some agreed-upon rules that apply at both houses: bedtime, chores, homework, internet use, manners. Knowing they have the same expectations at both Mom’s and Dad’s place gives your children a sense of consistency, stability, and security. Kids will always try to test boundaries. But it’s important to stay firm on these agreed-upon rules. Allow each parent to have other rules about less crucial things. Recognize people have different parenting styles and respect them. If no serious harm is done, let it go.
  • One rule should be no trash-talking the other parent – that goes for both you and the kids. Focus on the positive traits your ex has, speak to your children about them and think about them yourself to improve your feelings when you have to communicate about parenting.
  • Resist fighting or speaking rudely to each other in front of the children. Conflict between parents creates a sense of helplessness and insecurity in children, increasing the incidence of drug abuse and other unhealthy comfort-seeking behaviors. This example of conflict can also cause future problems in their own personal relationships, and anxiety can suppress the immune system, increasing illness.
  • Avoid being the “Fun Dad” or the “Cool Mom.” Kids need calm, quiet downtime with their non-custodial parents, too. And having a marked imbalance between parents increases a child’s dissatisfaction and insecurity and creates problems for the not-so-fun parent.
  • Agree to roles played by extended family members. They love the children, too, and are also affected by the divorce.
  • Get together regularly for family meetings about parenting decisions. You can include the children, but also have regular meetings yourselves. Update your agreements every year or two to make sure they are current and appropriate as the children grow.
  • When exchanging children for time with the non-custodial parent, have a short, pleasant goodbye so the children get a positive feeling about their visit. Don’t call unnecessarily and take time away from their other parent.

Following these steps may be difficult at first, but remembering that the goal is to help your children thrive should help it become easier in time. And that will be a win for everyone.

Divorcing when you have children brings on many questions. Here in our Langhorne, PA office, we help couples determine many post-divorce logistics related to their children. This can include how much child support you are going to pay or receive, as well as where your children are going to spend their time. Determining your parenting time schedule can be a bit difficult for parents.

First and foremost, for most parents, the most difficult part of setting up a custody schedule is realizing they are not going to be spending every day with their child. Children have the right to spend time with both parents, during the week, on weekends, and then on special occasions.  

There are many factors that can complicate a parenting schedule including where parents live, their work schedules, where the child attends school, and his/her activities. If parents can sit down together, alone or with their attorneys, it is best to collaborate on a plan. If they can not do this, then the matter will go in front of a judge who will determine the parenting schedule.  Judges often hear cases in which one parent would like sole custody for the sake of moving far away, making it prohibitive for the other parent to enjoy a 50/50 custody arrangement.  

How does a judge determine a parenting time schedule in PA?

There are 16 factors that the court can use to determine the custody of a child. They include:

  • the likelihood of the parties to encourage the child to remain in close contact with the other parent
  • any past abuse
  • what each parent currently does for the child and could that be continued
  • how stable the child’s life is
  • the availability of extended family to help
  • the existence of siblings
  • the child’s preference
  • whether the parents put the child in the middle of their disagreements
  • whether one parent is more likely to take better care of the child than the other
  • the distance between the parents
  • who will care for the child if the custodial parent is at work
  • whether there is significant conflict between the parents
  • any drug use, mental or physical abuse, or other relevant personal characteristics that may be present in the home

Most parents realize that when a judge makes a decision it is legally binding and must be followed. This is why it is best to work it out between the parties before the matter winds up in court. If your spouse is unreasonable we can negotiate child custody and a parenting schedule for you. Sometimes it is just easier to have legal representation in the room with you or to review your plans to get both parties to be a bit agreeable.