Co-parenting after a divorce or separation can be a challenging endeavor. Both parents should consider the child’s best interests, but practical problems and an uncaring or uncooperative spouse can present serious issues. The parents should act like adults and resolve conflicts, but that does not always happen. The situation may end up in court if the parents cannot fix the problem. We help many clients out of our office in Langhorne prepare to co-parent and can also help renegotiate agreements if there are issues. Here are the most common problems:  

Communication Breakdowns 

One of the most frequent co-parenting challenges is a communication breakdown. Misunderstandings, missed messages, and ineffective communication can lead to frustration and conflict. The parties should establish clear lines of communication using methods that work best for both parents. Whether it is phone calls, emails, text messages, or co-parenting apps, communications should always maintain a respectful tone and focus on the child’s best interests. 

Differing Parenting Styles 

Co-parents often sometimes have different parenting styles and values, which may lead to disagreements about the child’s discipline, routines, and rules. The parents should act in good faith and focus on compromise and consistency. Discuss your parenting styles and establish agreed-upon guidelines for raising your children. Flexibility and a willingness to adapt may be necessary for successful co-parenting. 

Scheduling and Logistics 

Coordinating schedules for visitation, school events, extracurricular activities, and holidays can be a logistical nightmare, leading to misunderstandings and conflicts. Shared calendars or co-parenting apps can help the parties keep track of schedules and appointments. Be flexible when accommodating changes and provide the other parent ample notice if adjustments are needed. Plan for holidays and special occasions to avoid last-minute conflicts. 

Emotional Strain 

Co-parenting can be emotionally draining, potentially requiring constant interaction with an ex-partner, bringing up past grievances and hurt feelings. You can seek emotional support from friends, family, or a therapist. Co-parenting is about your children, not your past relationship. Keep conversations child-focused and keep a business-like tone when discussing parenting matters. 

Financial Disputes 

Disagreements about child support, medical expenses, and other financial matters can strain co-parenting relationships. Child support agreements and orders spell out who cares for the child and pays child support. Agreeing to changes can be a slippery slope where one compromise leads to more. You should call our office for advice on handling this situation. 

Residential Relocation 

Depending on the distance, one parent relocating due to work or personal reasons can complicate or wreck your co-parenting arrangement. You should be cooperative if this is a local move. A long-distance move could force you to rewrite your parenting plans. This is also an important issue that justifies getting legal help. 

Parental Alienation 

The other parent may attempt to alienate your child from you from the other parent, damaging the child-parent relationship. This emotional blackmail and criticism of the other parent is intended to turn the child against the targeted parent. If you suspect parental alienation, document any incidents and contact our office. Courts take parental alienation seriously, and legal remedies may be necessary to address this issue and protect the child’s relationship with you. 

The other parent may fail to comply with court-ordered visitation, child support, or other legal obligations. This may happen because they are chronically disorganized, but it is more likely this is an intentional way to punish you for the divorce and protest what they think may be unfair mandates. Like alienation, this is a serious matter. Keep records of what happens. If the other party is not acting in good faith, contact our office so we can take steps to put a stop to this behavior. 

Do Not Put Up With Co-Parenting Problems. Take Action Before They Get Worse  

Depending on your child’s age, you may co-parent for many years. Ignoring problems will only make them worse. To learn more about handling co-parenting issues or to discuss legal representation, call Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., at (866) 349-4721 or book a consultation online.   

Empty nest syndrome is a complex and emotional situation many married couples face after their children leave home for college, work, or to start their own families. A parent may feel lonely, depressed, and without purpose. They may also feel relieved, happy, and eager to start a new chapter. This emotional mash-up and other marital challenges can lead a long-married couple to divorce. 

What is Empty Nest Syndrome? 

Empty nest syndrome is the label for feelings of sadness, grief, and loneliness that parents experience when their children move out. For many couples, this period marks a significant shift in their lives.  

They must adapt to a new routine, redefine their roles, and rediscover each other as individuals and partners. While some couples successfully navigate this transition, others face considerable challenges that can strain their relationship to the breaking point. 

Why Would Empty Nest Syndrome Lead to Divorce? 

A critical reason empty nest syndrome can lead to divorce is the shift in priorities that often occurs. Parents dedicated their time, energy, and resources to raising their children for years. When they leave, couples may have more free time and the opportunity to focus on their interests and desires.  

This newfound freedom can lead to self-discovery, which may reveal that they have grown apart or developed different aspirations. These parents may struggle to redefine their identities once the nest is empty. Some couples may realize they have grown apart and have little in common beyond their children. 

Raising children often provides couples with a shared purpose and a sense of unity. When children leave, this shared purpose disappears, leaving a void that some couples struggle to fill. Couples may feel disconnected and adrift without a common goal, leading to a sense of emptiness in the relationship. 

Unrealistic expectations about life can accompany empty nest syndrome once the children are gone. Some couples may believe that their relationship will automatically improve or that they will instantly reconnect. When these expectations are unmet, disappointment and frustration can set in, leading to marital dissatisfaction and, in some cases, divorce. 

Middle-aged empty nesters also may face issues that add additional stress. Their health may start to decline. Couples may face financial problems, especially if one loses a job and paying for college dries up a chunk of their savings. They may also be burdened by their elderly parents’ health issues and need for financial help. 

Effective communication is critical to the success of any marriage, and the absence of children can reveal pre-existing communication issues. With fewer distractions and obligations, couples may become acutely aware of communication breakdowns or unaddressed conflicts that have been simmering beneath the surface. These unresolved issues can create tension and push couples toward divorce if not adequately addressed. 

What are Coping Strategies for Empty Nesters? 

While empty nest syndrome can pose significant challenges to a marriage, divorce is not inevitable. Many couples successfully navigate this transition and emerge with stronger, more fulfilling relationships. Here are some coping strategies

  1. Open Communication: Addressing feelings and concerns openly and honestly is crucial. Couples should make an effort to talk about their expectations, fears, and future aspirations.  
  2. Reconnect: Rediscover each other as individuals and as a couple. Rekindle shared interests or explore new hobbies and experiences together. 
  3. Seek Support: If you cannot turn the situation around by yourselves, you may need a therapist or counselor. Professional guidance can help couples work through challenges and improve communication. 
  4. Set New Goals: Create new goals and aspirations together. Whether they are traveling, volunteering, or pursuing personal interests, having shared goals can help couples find purpose and meaning. 
  5. Spend Quality Time Together: Prioritize quality time spent together. This could be through date nights, weekend getaways, or simply spending time talking and connecting on a daily basis. 

Your marriage is unique, so what may work for one couple may not work for another. Both parties need to openly communicate what they want for their future, but that will not be easy when one or both do not know what that is. 

It May be Time for a Divorce 

It may be time for a divorce if your relationship challenges cannot be resolved despite your best efforts. If your marriage is just a shell of what it once was, held together by the desire to remain married “for the sake of the children,” both parties may be better off going their own way. Those divorcing later in life may face health insurance, financial, and housing issues, but they may be addressed fairly through negotiations or litigation. 

Get the Help You Need from an Attorney You Can Trust 

If you are thinking about getting divorced or have decided it is the right choice, call us at (215) 608-1867 or schedule a consultation online now. No matter your age, you can start a new chapter in your life. We can talk over the phone, via a teleconference, or meet in our Langhorne or Doylestown office. 

If you are asking, “How long does it take to get divorced in Bucks County?” you may be looking to ensure the process is quick. An approach to a divorce that will speed up the process will not only save you time, but it may also save you money, emotion, and stress. The less confrontational the divorce, generally, the less time it will take. Even if the two of you are apart on important issues, some things you can do may still shorten the process. While expediency is a reasonable goal, it should not come at the cost of settling for an unfair or inequitable resolution.  

  1. Take an Amicable Approach 

Maintaining an amicable relationship is one of the most effective ways to speed up the divorce process. You do not need to love each other. You just need to be able to work with each other and be civil. Part of that is discussing and agreeing on goals.  

An uncontested divorce, where both sides agree to the terms of the separation, can significantly reduce the time and costs associated with divorce. The more business-like the approach, the less emotion is in the mix, and the easier and faster the process will be. 

  1. Get Legal Help 

Representation by a Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., attorney who will help you navigate legal complexities, provide guidance, and ensure all the necessary steps are taken while protecting your rights and interests should save you time, effort, and grief. Depending on your situation, a do-it-yourself divorce may result in multiple mistakes, making the process longer and negatively impacting the outcome.   

  1. Organize Your Financial Documents 

Gathering and organizing all your financial documents, including bank statements, tax returns, and investment records, can streamline the divorce process. This preparation can help your attorney assess your financial situation more quickly and facilitate negotiations regarding property division and spousal support. 

  1. Commit to Negotiating a Resolution 

Very few divorce issues are resolved through trials. Nearly all divorces conclude through negotiation, with or without the help of mediation. If that is the most likely path your case will take, make the most of it. 

We can help you negotiate a comprehensive divorce agreement that covers all aspects of your divorce, including property, debts, child custody, and support. Presenting a well-structured agreement to the court can expedite the process and reduce the need for further negotiations. 

  1. Maintain Clear Communications 

Keeping open and clear communication with us will help move things along. We will promptly respond to your phone calls, and if you do the same when we contact you, the process will go faster. It will also help if you keep us informed of changes in your situation or actions by your spouse that may impact the divorce. 

  1. Use Mediation or Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) 

Mediation and ADR methods can be faster and less adversarial than traditional litigation. A neutral third party can help you and your spouse agree on various issues, potentially reducing the time spent in court.  

  1. Consider a Collaborative Divorce 

Collaborative divorce is a process in which both parties and their lawyers commit to resolving the divorce without going to court. This approach encourages cooperation and can significantly expedite the process. 

We Can Help You Achieve Your Goals  

Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., attorneys can help you through your divorce in a way that minimizes the time, effort, cost, and emotion you must spend while achieving the best resolution possible. There is no guarantee your divorce will not drag on, but we will do our best to minimize it.  

If you have questions about divorce or need legal representation, book a 15-minute consultation by filling out our online form.  

Adoption is a serious step, whether you are married to the child’s parent or not. It is not to be taken lightly or viewed as a gesture to integrate a blended family better. If you adopt a child, you are legally their parent. If you divorce the child’s parent or they pass away, that responsibility remains. We have helped many Bucks County clients work through the details of adopting a stepchild to ensure they are making the best decision for all involved.  

Marrying someone may not just mean starting a new life with your spouse. Their children from one or more prior relationships may also be part of the deal. Adoption may be an option if you want or need to have the ability to make parental decisions for the child. 

What is the Process to Adopt My Spouse’s Child? 

A stepparent adoption is considered a kinship adoption, so some Pennsylvania statutory requirements are waived. As part of the process, you do not need to have a home study done, but you must have three background checks before filing an adoption petition: 

  • Child Abuse History Clearance 
  • Pennsylvania State Police Criminal Record Check 
  • FBI Criminal Background Check through the Department of Welfare 

Your spouse and the child’s other natural parent would join as petitioners in the adoption matter. Before you can adopt a child, the parental rights of the other biological parent need to end. The other parent may consent to that, or it may have already occurred because they voluntarily gave up their rights or involuntarily had them taken away in the past. 

If the parent is giving up their rights because you are adopting their child, there needs to be at least thirty days from a consent being signed and when your adoption petition is filed with the court. That delay exists because the other parent has thirty days to change their mind and revoke their consent.  

The situation will be more complicated if the other parent’s rights must be involuntarily terminated. The adoption petition will list the grounds for the court to act. You will get a notice of when the hearing will take place after filing the petition. You must notify the parties involved beforehand, per state statute. 

What are Issues I Should Consider Before Adopting? 

There are pros and cons to adopting a stepchild. Each situation is unique, and you must decide what is right for you, your spouse, and, most importantly, the child. 

  1. Pros 

If you have your own kids, all children in the household will have the same status. It may just formalize the reality that you are committed to parent this child. Adoption may be a good idea if the other natural parent neglected, abused, or abandoned the child. You will give the child what that parent has not––love and support. Without that adoption, if that person still has parental rights and your spouse passes away, that abusive parent could make all the decisions for the child unless you adopt them. 

  1. Cons 

Adoption is a lifelong commitment to ending the legal bond with the biological parent. Adoption may not end the tension that can come with a struggling blended family. You should not adopt if you think this is how to control or correct a child’s behavior. You may have all the paperwork done to be a parent legally, but that does not mean the child will accept you as one.  

You should not adopt if you have doubts about the duration or health of your relationship with the child or your spouse. If you adopt, your marriage’s end will not impact the fact you are the child’s adoptive parent. If the child is not on board with the adoption and does not want you as a parent, you should seriously reconsider adoption if it forces the issue. 

We Can Help You Achieve Your Goals  

If you are a child’s stepparent and are thinking about adoption, we can talk about the legal and practical issues so you can decide if it is the right thing to do. If it is, a Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., attorney can help you through the process so it goes as smoothly as possible. Book a 15-minute consultation by filling out our online form so we can start the discussion.

Depending on the circumstances of your job loss, you may be able to modify the child support order. Unless you are desperate, do not lower your payments without at least the other parent’s agreement until you get court approval. 

What is Child Support? 

Parents must financially support their children until they are 18 or are self-supporting. Generally, the parent with more custodial time receives child support payments from the noncustodial parent. The money must be spent for the child’s benefit.  

If the parents cannot agree on how much should be paid, a judge will decide the issue. A state formula for payments considers the parents’ incomes, the number of children involved, and other factors.  

Can My Payments Be Lowered If I Lose My Job? 

Payments can change if a parent’s income increases or decreases. You can ask a judge to modify your child custody order if it is impossible for you to continue making the planned payments. The judge will need evidence about the facts of your job loss. You have the burden of proving through admissible evidence that a material and substantial change of circumstances occurred since the court order was signed. If a parent’s income was involuntarily reduced and it is not part of a scheme to avoid their child support obligation, a court will consider reducing the support obligation.  

Job loss might not be enough to justify a modification. Child support can be collected from many sources, including unemployment benefits and severance pay. If you genuinely cannot make your payments, pay what you can and explain the situation to the other parent. Acting in good faith may help your attempt to change the child support order. 

Can the Court Expect Me to Pay Child Support If My Income is Cut? 

If the judge finds your evidence does not support your request, or there is evidence you got yourself fired to avoid support payments, you may be stuck making the same payments even though you are not working. The court may “impute” income and maintain your obligations. 

Courts, generally, will not do this if the job loss is not your fault. But, if the court finds you are intentionally underemployed or unemployed to avoid paying support, the judge can impute additional earning capacity when calculating child support payments. It would be what you should earn if you had a full-time position in your field, given your experience level. 

We Can Help You Achieve Your Goals 

Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., attorneys believe that, unless the parties agree, no one should receive less child support or be made to pay more support than the law requires. One of our lawyers may obtain a modification of your support payments efficiently and for an affordable fee.  

Whether you are paying or receiving child support payments, if you have questions about modifying a court order or need legal representation, book a 15-minute consultation by filling out our online form

Nearly all family law matters are resolved through agreements, including child support payments. Parents could create a DIY child support agreement. But it is not a good idea if you are the one receiving the payments because you are better protected when the court is involved. 

What is Child Support?  

Child support is a parent’s periodic payment for their child’s financial benefit. This can be done with a private agreement or a court order. Child support payments apply to situations in which the parents never married, the parents are married but living apart, or the parents are divorced. A parent receives the payments, but they are to benefit a child.    

How is the Amount Determined?  

It is based on guidelines established by the state’s Supreme Court. The parents’ incomes are calculated and used in a formula that considers many things, including the number of children. The custodial parent pays child support to help pay for the care of the child. The guidelines are just a starting point, and what is paid could vary significantly depending on the circumstances. 

The parents split expenses based on their incomes and ability to pay. How much is paid is also impacted by whether custody is shared. The amount paid in child support is not always clear-cut because incomes may vary depending on how a parent is paid (hourly, salary, sales commission, bonuses, or a combination). Child support generally continues until a child is 18, but that may be extended depending on the situation. 

Why Not Just Work Out a Child Support Agreement? 

There is not much more work left if an agreement has been reached and reviewed by each party’s attorney. If you are a custodial parent, do not negotiate an agreement without legal help. Your child may be entitled to more support than you realize. 

You could look at court approval as a formality, but that does not make it a waste of time. It adds certainty and protection to the parent receiving the support. There is no guarantee that payments will never stop, come late, or be less than they should be. Court involvement brings a system of enforcement that can benefit your child. 

A child support order protects you in a situation in which the other party does not live up to the agreement. In most orders, when the other parent is a W-2 employee, child support obligations will be attached to their earnings. As long as they are paid, child support will be paid as well. If an order is in place and payments are made directly from one parent to the other, if the payments stop, you can file for enforcement of the child support payments.  

Whether you pay or receive it, if you have questions about child support or need legal representation, call Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., at (866) 311-4783 or complete our online contact form today.   

Children should not be forced or manipulated into taking sides in a divorce or custody matter. But that can happen when they are the focus of emotional blackmail by one or both parents. The parent attempts to make their child a player instead of an interested bystander in the family break-up drama. If you live in Montgomery or Bucks County, PA, we will work with the court to stop parental alienation.  

What is Parental Alienation? 

A parent may seek vengeance against their ex-spouse by poisoning their relationship with the child. They may also leverage their child’s feelings for them to control them to the point they break off or limit the relationship with the other parent. They may offer emotional and material incentives to the child to do so or force them to pick sides by telling them they can only love one parent, so they must choose which one. 

Alienation need not be intentional. A parent may not plan an alienation strategy and carry it out. The child may just witness one parent frequently and openly criticizing and degrading the other parent to the point that the child draws the conclusion that they do not want to be with them. 

What Harm Can Parental Alienation Do? 

The manipulating parent does not have the child’s best interests in mind. These actions can backfire if the child understands what is happening and realizes a parent is trying to manipulate them. The child may also suffer long-term emotional problems as a result. If severe enough, parental alienation could be considered a form of child abuse. 

What are the Indications of Parental Alienation? 

Some signs that one parent is alienating a child from the other parent, include the fact that the child: 

  • Is aware of divorce details only an adult should know  
  • Blames a parent for the divorce or end of the relationship 
  • Asks the targeted parent not to attend events like sports games or school events  
  • Becomes belligerent, defiant, or combative  
  • Is negative about the parent’s gifts or efforts, expressing a preference for the alienating parent’s gifts or time with them 
  • Repeats the alienating parent’s opinions  
  • Falsely accuses the parent of abuse or neglect 
  • Rejects or fears the parent 
  • Refuses to spend time or interact with the parent 
  • Shows a sudden change of attitude, preferring or rejecting a parent 
  • Shows no guilt or empathy when a parent suffers emotionally 

Depending on the child’s relationship with a parent and their ability to process what is going on, it may not take much effort for one parent to turn a child against the other.  

What Should I Do If My Child Starts Turning Against Me? 

There is a danger of falsely accusing a parent of alienating a child, who may be going through emotional problems because their parents’ relationship is breaking apart. The parents are the foundation of their safe and supportive environment, and they fear that is ending.  

If the issue is severe enough, your child should get counseling to work out their fears and feelings and help determine if the other parent is emotionally pulling your child away from you. You should also document your child’s words and behavior to see if there is a pattern (an apparent connection to visits or conversations with the other parent) and if the situation is getting better or worse. 

If you think you may be dealing with parental alienation during a divorce or custody dispute, please call Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., at 215-752-6200. 

Whether or not a child testifies in Bucks County Family Court depends on the situation. Depending on the child’s maturity and what they would testify about, it may be a very good or very bad idea. If you think your child may be a witness in a family law dispute, contact Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., so we can discuss whether there may be potentially more harm than good if this happens. 

Deciding if and when a child should testify in a family law matter depends on many things, including the age, maturity, and emotional well-being of the child; the nature of the case; and the state’s laws and guidelines. Testifying is potentially distressing for a child for many reasons.  

A child could be a fact witness if they did or did not witness a parent doing or saying something. If mature enough, they may testify in a custody matter about their preference and why they feel that way. 

Here are some things to think about: 

  • Age and maturity: Young children might struggle to understand the legal process and express themselves effectively. Older children and teenagers may better grasp the situation and can communicate their preferences more clearly. But age does not guarantee maturity. Depending on the topic, a ten-year-old may be a capable witness while a 15-year-old may not.  
  • Emotional well-being: How might testifying affect your child’s emotional and psychological well-being? If testifying might cause undue stress, anxiety, or harm, it might not be in the child’s best interest to do so. 
  • Nature of the case: If the case involves sensitive issues such as abuse, neglect, or disputed custody disputes, the court might prioritize the child’s input to ensure their well-being and safety. In these cases, the court, with or without a parent making a request, may appoint an attorney (a guardian ad litem) to ensure the child’s best interests are met. Although the judge, not this attorney, has the final say, their position would carry a lot of weight. 
  • Alternatives to testifying in court: The judge may have the child testify “in camera” in their chambers, with the parties and attorneys present, to lessen the stress of the situation. The judge would ask the questions of the child, with the attorneys making suggestions. 
  • Child’s wishes: The child may want to testify. If the child is mature enough and a judge thinks their input in a custody case would be helpful, it may happen. 

Depending on the situation, it may clearly be a good or bad idea that a child testify. If your case is not clear cut, the advice of an experienced family law attorney may be critical to handling the situation in a way that protects your interests and those of your child. 

A Child’s Testimony Can be a Delicate Matter. Make Sure It Is Handled Properly 

Any witness testimony can be critical in a family law matter, especially that of a child. The best way to avoid having a child testify may be to negotiate a favorable outcome prior to a trial so this problem never occurs. To learn more or discuss legal representation, call Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., at (866) 349-4721 or book a consultation online.   

Divorces can be very stressful, and parties rely on their attorneys to help them. You may doubt your attorney as the matter progresses, but that does not necessarily mean you made the wrong choice. There are good reasons to fire one lawyer and hire another, but the costs in time and money may be high. 

  1. Lack of Communication and Responsiveness 

Effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful lawyer-client relationship. If it is a problem, discuss this with your lawyer. Communication is a two-way street. Is your attorney making good faith efforts to keep in touch, but you are the one who is not responsive? 

If your current divorce lawyer is consistently slow to respond to your inquiries, fails to keep you updated on the progress of your case, or seems uninterested in addressing your concerns, it is a clear sign that their commitment to your case might be lacking. A new divorce lawyer who values clear and open communication can give you the peace of mind you deserve during this process. 

  1. Inadequate Expertise in Family Law 

Divorce cases may involve many legal issues, from property division and spousal support to child custody and visitation arrangements. If your current lawyer lacks specialized expertise in family law or has no proven track record in handling divorce cases, you might benefit from seeking representation from a lawyer with a stronger background in this area.  

You may have known your attorney is not the most experienced divorce lawyer when you retained them, but you did not think it would be a problem. If it has become an issue, a knowledgeable divorce lawyer like Karen Ann Ulmer can offer insightful guidance and increase your chances of achieving a favorable outcome in less time and, possibly, with less expense. 

  1. Misaligned Strategy and Objectives 

Every divorce case is unique, requiring a personalized strategy to address your specific circumstances and goals. If you feel your lawyer’s approach does not align with what you hope to achieve from the divorce, it might be time to explore other options.  

Your divorce lawyer should be your advocate, diligently safeguarding your interests and pursuing the best possible resolution. If you do not think this is happening, seeking a new lawyer may be a good idea. 

  1. Questionable Professionalism 

Professionalism is a fundamental trait that every lawyer should possess. If your current divorce lawyer consistently displays unprofessional behavior, such as missing deadlines, arriving unprepared to meetings or hearings, or engaging in unethical practices, it is a clear signal that their dedication to your case is compromised.  

No one is perfect and competent attorneys sometimes make mistakes. But it may be time for a change if you fear it has gone beyond that.  

  1. Conflict of Interest 

If you suspect your current lawyer might have a conflict of interest with a past or current client that could compromise their ability to represent you objectively, you should address this concern. Seeking a new divorce lawyer without any potential conflicts may give you peace of mind that your interests are being put first. 

  1. Lack of Empathy and Compassion 

Going through a divorce is emotionally challenging, and having a lawyer who understands and respects your feelings can make a significant difference in your experience. Attorneys should support their clients, but we are not social workers. You do not want an attorney who sugarcoats your situation and only tells you want to hear. 

But if your current lawyer lacks empathy, appears indifferent to your emotional needs, or fails to provide the support you require during this challenging time, it might be worth considering a switch to a lawyer who is more compassionate and attuned to your emotional well-being.  

Family law is a very “hands-on” practice in which you interact daily with stressed clients dealing with personal and important conflicts. Your lawyer might not be cut out for this type of work or may be burning out and not connecting with clients to limit the emotional toll these cases can take. 

  1. Stagnant Progress and Delays 

A divorce case should move forward efficiently and effectively, with all parties working toward a resolution. Our court system is severely backed up, but if your case has been stagnating without any progress or your lawyer seems to be causing unnecessary delays, it can lead to frustration and extended emotional distress.  

Seeking a new divorce lawyer who is proactive and committed to advancing your case may bring closure sooner. But getting a new attorney will cause an initial, additional delay as they “get up to speed” with your case. There may also be scheduling conflicts between your case and the attorney’s current caseload. Will this delay be worth it? 

No matter the problem, you should: 

  • Discuss it with your attorney. You need to get their side of the story because what you think is a problem may be a misunderstanding or miscommunication that can be cleared up. 
  • Discuss it with another attorney. If you are serious about switching attorneys, get a copy of your file and review it with another attorney. They may find genuine areas of concern, or that what you are experiencing is a typical issue that comes with a divorce case. 

Divorce cases are stressful enough. Getting an attorney who is a better fit may lessen that stress, but needlessly switching lawyers will add to your problems. 

If you are dissatisfied with your current attorney, contact Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., so we can discuss your situation and whether having a new attorney represent you is in your best interests. Call us at (866) 311-4783 or complete our online contact form today.  

Like all things legal, that depends on the facts. Some types of recordings are legal, while others are not. The answer is no if you want to secretly record a conversation with your ex without their consent in Pennsylvania. That applies to face-to-face and phone or electronic communications. Pennsylvania’s wiretap laws are very strict. If you or the other party is located in PA at the time of the call then you must have consent. Therefore, if you feel it is necessary to record another individual, it is best to first consult with an attorney.  

You may be very motivated to succeed at whatever legal challenge you face. You might seek revenge against your spouse who did you wrong, and you think a recording of them making incriminating statements would be frosting on the cake. However, while secretly recording someone is generally legal in some states, it is not legal in others, including Pennsylvania. 

What Is the Law in Pennsylvania? 

The state has a criminal “wiretapping law” that covers recording conversations over the phone or electronically and in person. It requires that all parties involved consent to the recording unless you fall into one of the exceptions (which mainly cover law enforcement). If you are convicted of violating this statute you could face up to seven years in prison, a fine between $2,500 and $15,000, or both.  

This statute states that you would violate the law if you: 

  • Intentionally intercept, try to intercept, or get the help of another to intercept or try to intercept any “wire, electronic or oral communication.” 
  • Disclose or try to disclose to another “the contents of any wire, electronic or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom” while knowing, or having reason to know, the information was obtained illegally. 
  • Use or try to use “the contents of any wire, electronic or oral communication, or evidence derived therefrom” while knowing, or having reason to know, the information was obtained illegally  

If you secretly record your ex, bring it to our office, and play it in the hopes of using it as evidence, you arguably broke the law three times. You recorded the conversation, played it, and tried to use it against your ex.  

If you have such a recording, we do not want to listen to it, and we cannot use it as evidence in a legal matter. If you make a secret recording and play it for us, we cannot represent you because we would be potential witnesses to your criminal prosecution. 

What are the Exceptions? 

Another statute states that you can record conversations when all parties consent. If you do this, you should ask for and record their consent in case they later claim you made the recording secretly. Explicit consent is always a good idea but is not required if you plainly warn the other party of the recording and they speak anyway. 

One Pennsylvania court ruled that recordings are permissible if all the parties knew, or should have known, of the recording. The recording at issue involved communications at a county jail where two people used a closed-circuit system using telephone handsets which gave them a warning the conversation could be recorded. 

If the two of you are in public but not having a private conversation, and the other person has no reasonable expectation of privacy, you could take out your smartphone and start recording. This could be a situation where you are both in a store, restaurant, or busy sidewalk, and the person is yelling at you, not in a restaurant where the two of you are using normal tones of voice while your smartphone secretly records what is said. 

Can I Use Video to Record My Ex? 

Video can be used as long as the audio is not recorded and the person does not expect privacy. If your ex is violating a custody agreement by chronically being late to pick up or drop off your child, a properly set camera with the correct date and time showing when they come and go is fair game. If you have a protection from abuse order against a person, but they violate it by coming to your home or following you, video can document what is happening.  

Before You Record a Conversation, Contact Our Office 

The potential cost of secretly recording a conversation is steep, so do not do it until you fully understand the law. What you want to do may or may not be legal or admissible in court. We can also answer your questions if you are involved in a family law dispute and learn you have been secretly recorded. 

Call Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., at (866) 349-4721 or book a consultation online now.