A child’s education has lifelong effects. If you’re divorced or separated from the other parent, you may not agree on how to handle your child’s education. You must resolve this issue between yourselves with the help of an attorney, or a judge in Bucks or Montgomery County may need to make the decision.

Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., is a team of lawyers and staff in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We have significant family law experience and have worked hard to build a law firm that can address your child custody needs, including disputes over your child’s education. If you have any questions or need help, call us at (215) 608-1867, book a free consultation online now, or contact us by email.

Parents usually make educational decisions about their kids. If parents are divorced or never married and had their parental rights formalized in court, a judge decided who has legal custody. This includes the ability to make important decisions for the child regarding such issues as education. In most cases, legal custody is shared by both parents. In relatively rare cases, a parent may give up their parental rights, or a judge decides it is not in the child’s best interests for a parent to have any legal custody.

Educational Issues That Can Split the Two Parents

If the two of you agree on issues, it’s not a problem. But if your child’s life is complicated and as more issues come up, there are more opportunities for disagreement:

  • Your child may have learning disabilities or other special needs. Your child will need more help from his or her school, but the school may not want to provide it. Parents may disagree on whether the child should attend another school or get private tutoring.
  • Your child may be gifted and have their own needs to be successful. Your child’s learning opportunities and how hard they should be pushed to excel can lead to disputes.
  • There can be public, private, and religious schools in the area. One parent may prefer one, the other parent may want the child to go to another.
  • Education can be part of a dispute when one parent wants the child to move with them away from the area. The child would attend a new school and the other parent may believe that is not in the child’s best interests because their education and friendships would be disrupted.
  • An athletically gifted child can present challenges. A parent may want the child to stay back a grade to perform better in sports at school. A private school may have a better athletic program, so one parent wants the child to transfer, while the other disagrees and doesn’t want to pay half the tuition.

If you can’t agree on important educational issues, Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., can represent you to help negotiate a decision both parties can accept. If not, these issues can be litigated and eventually decided at a trial. But that’s an expensive, time-consuming option that should only be used for very serious issues critical to your child’s success in school.

Your Attitude Toward Your Child’s Education Can Impact Your Child Custody Order

If you’re thinking about divorce or considering getting a child custody order, or one is already in place, you must think about your child’s education and your role in it. One way to show you should keep or be given shared or sole legal custody is to be actively engaged in your child’s education. Communicate with the teacher, attend meetings, and actively address problems as they come up. If you’re not interested in your child’s schooling and are indifferent to their success, it can be used against you by the other parent. They might argue that you having legal custody of your child is not in the child’s best interest so it shouldn’t be granted or it should be taken away.

Get the Help You Need From an Attorney You Can Trust

If you have questions about child custody or need help enforcing or changing a custody order, call our office at (215) 608-1867 or book a consultation online now. We can speak over the phone, via a teleconference, or meet in one of our offices in Doylestown or Langhorne.

If you own a business, or your spouse does, and you plan on divorcing, it is potentially a big issue that must be addressed.

Marital property is usually divided during a divorce. That can be done through an agreement by the spouses or a judge’s order if no agreement is reached. That marital property can include ownership in a business. 

Every divorce and business is unique and how it’s handled in your case can vary depending on your circumstances.   

Karen Ann Ulmer represents clients who are ending their marriages. Her divorce practice can help you whether you, your spouse, or the two of you own a business. Dealing with this issue can be very stressful and emotional, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you have any questions, call us at (215)608-1867.

Issues Outside Divorce Law May Determine What Happens to the Business Ownership

Different agreements can impact the division of business ownership in a divorce:

  • Ownership: If it’s a small business with more than one owner, there should be an agreement between them. It should clearly spell out what happens to the divorcing partner’s share. It could state that their share needs to be sold to the other partner(s) at a given price or the price may be calculated based on the company’s value or some other calculation.
  • Partnership agreements: If there was a partnership agreement in place before the marriage, it may have required that a prenuptial agreement be signed specifically stating how the non-ownership spouse will be compensated (or not) should the marriage end in divorce.  
  • Pre or post-nuptial agreements: Before or during the marriage, a couple may have agreed on financial matters if they get divorced. How business ownership would be handled may be part of that agreement.  

If you and your spouse both own a business, you need to decide if you want one or both of you to sell your interests. If the divorce is amicable and you both feel you can work together, you can both keep your interests and see if you can work it out. However, the details of this arrangement, including what happens should a spouse want to cash out, should be clearly spelled out. It is important to remember that you are divorcing for specific reasons and working together may be very difficult. We recommend giving this a trial run with very detailed scenarios detailed in agreements to protect the business and both spouses in the future.  

How Should the Business Ownership Be Divided?

Marital assets (generally what the couple obtained during their marriage) are supposed to be split equitably or fairly under state statute 23 Pa.C.S. § 3502(a). If one spouse has an ownership interest in a business, it could be split with the other based on the following factors:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The age, health, income, vocational skills, employability, estates, liabilities, and needs of each party
  • The contribution by one party to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other
  • The opportunity for each party to acquire capital assets and income in the future
  • The income sources of both parties, including insurance or other benefits
  • The contribution or lessening by each party of the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as a homemaker
  • The value of property set apart to each party
  • The parties’ standard of living established during the marriage
  • Each party’s economic circumstances when the property will be divided
  • How taxes and costs impact the property division
  • Whether the party will be the custodian of any dependent minor children

Either through an agreement or court order, it would be decided if the business ownership is marital property to be divided, and if so, by how much and how that would be accomplished.

How Might This Play Out?

A common outcome is the value of the ownership would be determined and the party owning it would pay the other spouse for their share. That payment could be in cash or as part of a larger asset agreement. If the husband owns the business and must pay his wife $100,000 for her share of ownership, he could give up claims to $100,000 worth of other assets (cash, investments, share of the house, vehicles) which would go to the wife to satisfy what’s owed.  

It is also common for this amount to be paid out over time so the business can remain solvent. However, we recommend putting safeguards in place in case the business is sold or starts to encounter financial trouble. Both the paying and receiving spouse need to be protected.  

Get the Help You Need From an Attorney You Can Trust

Whether you, your spouse, or the two of you together own a business and want to learn more about how a divorce may impact you, call our office at (215) 608-1867 or book a consultation online now. We can speak over the phone, via a teleconference, or meet in one of our offices in Doylestown or Langhorne.

What if you had a joint account with a decedent? How the account will be treated depends on a number of factors. First, when was the account made joint? Pennsylvania requires that a joint account have been created at least a year before the death of one of the owners for it to be treated as a joint account. If meeting this one year requirement, only half of the account is potentially subject to inheritance tax. If the account was made joint within a year of death, the entire account is subject to tax. Second, what was your relationship with the decedent? If you were their spouse, the account would not be taxed at all since there is no inheritance tax for assets passing to a spouse.

If you have a different degree of kinship or no relationship at all, the decedent’s half is subject to inheritance tax and the account should be reported as a joint asset on the inheritance tax return for the decedent’s estate. Third, how was the account titled? If the account was titled as joint tenants with rights of survivorship then the balance of the account automatically goes to the surviving owner. This just means that the account does not need to go through probate. Again, depending on the relationship between the co-owners, the half of the account belonging to the decedent may still be subject to applicable inheritance tax. It is important to consider all of these scenarios if you intend to make joint titling of accounts a part of your estate plan.

It makes sense to revisit your estate plan after any major life change, including new child, marriage and divorce. You want to ensure you are leaving your assets to the individuals you intend to and that can change over time. Sometimes, individuals do not get around to updating their plan leaving their heirs to deal with the fallout. Luckily, in the case of divorce, there is some protection offered by law. Specifically, any provision in a will relating to the testator’s spouse will become ineffective upon divorce unless it is clear the provision was intended to remain post-divorce. The same is true if the testator is in the midst of divorce proceedings and grounds for divorce have been established. Establishment of grounds is by order of the court and requires more than just the filing/service of a divorce complaint.

 

The rule for wills is also applied to beneficiary designations. The law provides that any designation naming a prior spouse shall become ineffective upon divorce. However, a prior spouse would still be entitled to receive their share of the asset if awarded to them pursuant to equitable distribution, where applicable. Your estate plan may also be automatically modified in the event of marriage. If a testator marries after making a will, the surviving spouse shall at least be entitled to what they would have received without a will if they are not named. Intention is also a factor here. If the document notes the upcoming marriage, the law does not apply to change the will.

If you have children and have previously been through the custody process with the Court it is likely that it resulted with a Court Order. A Court Order for custody is issued in a Custody proceeding. This Order will direct which parent has legal and physical custody. Legal Custody is the right to make decisions for your child. Decisions such as where they go to school, what doctors they see, if they are involved in any religious activities would all fall under legal custody. The Custody Order will specify if one parent has sole legal custody or if legal custody is shared. If parents have shared legal custody they must consult each other about decisions in their children’s lives. A Custody Order will also direct who has physical custody. Physical custody is who the children are physical with. An Order could direct that one parent has sole physical custody or that the physical custody is shared. If the physical custody is shared the Order will probably also set out a schedule as to when the children are with each parent.

If you have a Custody Order and circumstances have changed or new developments have occurred you might think that the Order needs to be changed because the situation has. That is ok. Custody is always modifiable. If you have a Custody Order and you are seeking it to be changed we can help you with that. We would file a Modification of Custody requesting that the Custody be modified. If you are in Pennsylvania and have a Custody Order that you need to have changed, please call our office for a free 15 minute consultation to discuss your options.

It has been 30-60 days since an anonymous complaint was made on the Child Line accusing you of child abuse. The investigation has been completed and a report issued. What does that report say? Children and Youth/DHS will send a letter giving the finding and explaining what it means. The letter will contain one of three results. These are Unfounded, Indicated, or Founded. What do each of them mean.

An Unfounded report is defined as any report that is not Indicated or Founded. That means that there is no proof that any actions of the accused person rose to the level of child abuse as defined in the Child Protective Service statutes.

An Indicated report is one where there is substantial evidence that an action of the accused rose to the level of child abuse based on available medical evidence, a child protective service investigation, or an admission of the alleged abuser. Typically this will be a one time act with no on going threat to the child.

A Founded report is one involving a perpetrator that is made pursuant to this chapter, if any of the following applies:

(1) There has been a judicial adjudication based on a finding that a child who is a subject of the report has been abused and the adjudication involves the same factual circumstances involved in the allegation of child abuse.

(2) There has been an acceptance into an accelerated rehabilitative disposition program and the reason for the acceptance involves the same factual circumstances involved in the allegation of child abuse.

(3) There has been a consent decree entered in a juvenile proceeding that involves the same factual circumstances.

(4) A final protection from abuse order has been granted when the child who is a subject of the report is one of the individuals protected under the protection from abuse order.

Typically, this means there is an ongoing threat of abuse and the Court has stepped in to declare the child(ren) dependent and they must be removed from the abuse perpetrator’s presence.

Abuse can occur in several forms both physical, mental and emotional. If you find yourself in an abusive relationship you should know that there is help,. Getting out of an emotional relationship can sound a lot easier than it might seem. You might have fears that if you leave they will come after you. You could fear for your physical and mental safety. There are actions you can take to protect yourself. In Pennsylvania you can file for a Protection from Abuse Order (PFA). The process of filing for PFA is filling out the paperwork and then likely you will talk to a Judge and a temporary order will be granted. After the temporary is granted then a hearing is scheduled in front of Judge to see if the temporary needs to be extended or if a final order needs to be put in place.

Even if you do get a PFA however, you might have concerns that your abuser will not comply with the order. Do you have any recourse and if so what would that be? If someone violates a PFA Order they can be found in contempt of the Order. If they are found in contempt the result could be that the order is extended for a longer period of time, they could face fines, or they might be incarcerated. The result will depend on how serious the contempt violation was. If you are in Bucks County and are in an abusive relationship know that you do not and should not stay. There are ways of protecting yourself so that you can get out and start living your life safely. If you find yourself in this type of scary situation please contact our firm today for assistance.

If you have children, and are going through a divorce or separation a major thought on your mind is probably what is going to happen with the kids? Who is going to get custody? How is custody decided? What are the different types of custody schedules? These are all very valid and important questions and I know these thoughts can cause anxiety, fear and worry as well. This will give you a little overview on how custody in Pennsylvania is decided to inform you of more information and try and answer some of your questions.

There are several factors that the courts in Pennsylvania consider when deciding on custody. The standard the court uses to determine overall is the best interest of the child. The court will always consider what is in the best interest of the child when determining custody. Using the standard of the best interest of the child there are 16 factors that the court will look to when trying to determine custody. The following are the 16 factors the court will use look to:

  • Which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and another party.
    • They will look which parent actively promotes a relationship with the other parent. The courts do not like to see that one parent is preventing or intentionally hurting the relationship between the other parent and child.
  • The present and past abuse committed by a party or member of the party’s household, whether there is a continued risk of harm to the child or an abused party and which party can better provide adequate physical safeguards and supervision of the child.
  • The parental duties performed by each party on behalf of the child.
    • They will look at who takes them to school, helps with homework, schedules and takes them to doctor’s appointments. Basically what the parties do for parental duties.
  • The need for stability and continuity in the child’s education, family life, and community life.
  • The availability of extended family.
  • The child’s sibling relationships.
  • The well reasoned preference of the child.
    • Depending on the child’s age and maturity a Court may consider their opinion as part of the decision. The decision will not solely be based on the opinion or preference of the child but could be considered.
  • The attempts of a parent to turn the child against the other parent, except in the cases of domestic violence where reasonable safety measures are necessary to protect the child from harm.
  • Which party is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with the child adequate for the child’s emotional needs.
  • Which party is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child.
  • The proximity of the residences of the parties.
  • Each party’s availability to care for the child or ability to make appropriate child care arrangements.
  • The level of conflict between the parties and the willingness and abilities of the parties to cooperate with one another. A party’s effort to protect a child from abuse by another party is not evidence of unwillingness or inability to cooperate with that party.
  • The history of drug or alcohol abuse of a party or member’s of a party’s household.
  • The mental and physical condition of a party or member of party’s household.
  • Any other relevant factors.
    • The Court will consider any other relevant factors in order to determine what is in the best interest of the child.

These sixteen factors are what the Court considers when determining custody of a minor child. At a hearing evidence is presented and a Judge will consider that evidence with these sixteen factors. If you find yourself in a custody situation in Bucks County and need representation please call our firm today to schedule your free consultation.

Being in an abusive relationship is very scary, stressful and difficult. You may have found yourself in an abusive relationship suffering from abuse from your partner, either physically, mentally or emotionally. If you are in an abusive relationship you can and should seek protection from the court. A Protection from Abuse order (PFA) is an order from the court that orders the abuser to have no contact with you. These orders can last anywhere up to 36 months. If you are in an abusive relationship and seek protection, a PFA is a way to get peace of mind that your abuser will stay away from you.

You may be wondering, even if you get a PFA your abuser might not follow it. What happens then? If the person you have a PFA against in any way violates any part of the order they could be found in contempt. You would want to file a contempt complaint with the court. That person would then be ordered to a hearing about the contempt where testimony could be presented regarding the particular contempt violation. The consequences for a contempt violation vary on the seriousness of the violation in particular. Those consequences range from extension of the PFA, fines, and incarceration.  by Meghan Fleming

All parents dread being contacted by Children and Youth/DHS. It is the dread of a stranger misunderstanding or misinterpreting a situation they observe. There are a couple of things everyone must understand. The concept of mandatory reporters. There are certain professions, such as teachers, doctors, nurses, and therapist, that are licensed by the state. They are required by law to report even the suspicion of child abuse/neglect. If they fail to report, they could end up losing their license to do the job they love. Therefore, the mandatory is more likely to air on the side of caution and report.

The next thing to know is that Children and Youth is required by law to investigate any complaint made. When they investigate, they will talk to all the parties involved. They will want to speak to the child (age dependent) and the parents. They will also want to see the residence to make sure it is appropriate living space for a child. You are not required to allow them to enter your house or to speak to them until there is a court order saying otherwise. However, it is not recommended that you take this adversarial stance. They will assume you are doing so because you have something to hide. Once the Courts are involved with an Order, the process escalates into something much more If you are contacted by Children and Youth/DHS, immediately contact an attorney to discuss the best way to handle the situation.  by Russell Manning