Family Law / Divorce

The Family Law Team at Lamb McErlane provides clients with sensitive yet aggressive legal representation for a variety of family law proceedings while always recognizing the stressful and personal nature of this area of law.

The Family Law team has extensive knowledge pertaining to divorce, child custody, adoption, financial support, distribution of assets, as well as cases involving complex interstate support enforcement and custody issues.

Each family law case is handled individually, receiving a tailored approach. Lamb McErlane attorneys bring knowledge of the juvenile and orphan’s court systems and associated agencies, having served as solicitor for the Chester County Department of Children, Youth, and Families and as legal clerk to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania in appeals of family, civil and criminal cases.

Lamb McErlane attorneys use their experience in the system to secure the best possible solution for the client and involved children.

Practicing Attorneys

Related Articles

FAQs

Family Law Resource Links
Tips for Preparing to Meet with Your Family Law Attorney

Tips for Preparing to Meet with Your Family Law Attorney

As you prepare for your first meeting with your family law attorney, you should obtain and organize certain documents and information to bring with you. This information you provide will help your attorney assess your situation and develop a plan that will best fit your objectives. This list is a guide to help you get started. Not all items below will be applicable to your situation, and we may ask you for additional information and/or documents that are not listed here as well.

Financial Information (be sure to include account names, numbers, balances and current statements)

  • Individual income tax returns for the past three to five years (state and federal)
  • Business income tax returns for the past three to five years (state and federal)
  • Recent income/pay stub
  • Bank statements
  • Statements from trusts, stocks, bonds or US Treasury notes
  • List of safety deposit box contents
  • Investment accounts (annuities and mutual funds)
  • Retirement Savings Information (including balances, beneficiaries, outstanding loans and current statements)
  • 401(k)s
  • 401(b)s
  • IRAs
  • Life insurance policies (including cash value)
  • Social security statement
  • Pension statement

Property Information (including property description, address, ownership interest, market value, outstanding mortgage and loan balances, source of mortgage and loan payments and most recent tax assessment)

  • Primary residence
  • Rental properties (including any rental income)
  • Vacation homes
  • Business property
  • Personal property of values (automobiles, electronics, antiques, collectables, jewelry, art, clothing, furs, etc.)
  • Inheritance (current or anticipated)
  • Interests in trust (current or future)
  • List of property owned by each spouse prior to marriageAutomobile(s), boat(s) or other recreational vehicle(s)

Bills and Outstanding Debt (including balances, statements, source of payments/funds)

  • Credit card statements
  • Loan documents
  • Utility bills
  • Other bills (school tuition, medical bills, etc.)
  • Provide a monthly budget worksheet

Legal Agreements

  • Wills
  • Living wills
  • Powers of attorney
  • Durable powers of attorney
  • Advance directives (also termed power of attorney for healthcare, healthcare proxy)
  • Prenuptial agreements (also termed premarital agreement or antenuptial agreement)
  • Divorce decrees or child support from previous marriage

Non-Financial Contributions

  • Contributions of a homemaker
  • Contributions made by one spouse to further the educational and/or career goals of the other spouse

Finally, you will also want to start thinking about other issues that may or may not be applicable to your situation. These are matters about which you should speak with your attorney and may include:

  • Child support
  • Child custody (legal & physical)
  • Visitation
  • Residence in the marital homestead
  • Beneficiaries of insurance policies and other benefits
  • Spousal support / alimony
  • Domestic violence issues (including child abuse)
  • Post-divorce non-financial support
  • Attorney’s fees and expenses

For more information contact family law attorney Carla Marino 610.430.8000 / email or Lawrence Persick 610.430.8000 / email

*The materials contained in this web site do not constitute legal advice, and contact with us through this web site does not establish an attorney-client relationship. We provide these materials for general information purposes only.

Divorce or Legal Separation Parenting Plans

Divorce or Legal Separation Parenting Plans

A parenting plan, parenting arrangement, parenting agreement or access schedule is a voluntary agreement created by a child’s parents that lays out specific terms of child-rearing that the parents will abide by. Such an agreement is incorporated into the divorce decree or legal separation.  The parenting plan allocates parenting tasks and divides duties such as financial responsibility, creating a stable, loving environment for the child, caring for the child’s physical and emotional needs as well as other things. A parenting plan may have specific obligations and conditions as agreed upon by the parents. However, most plans include decisions regarding the following:

  • Legal custody
  • Physical custody
  • Visitation schedule with each parent, including holidays
  • Child support payment and payment schedule
  • Alternative dispute resolution (what law would apply if the case of a disagreement or agreement to complete mediation if a dispute arises)
  • Education
  • College expenses
  • Healthcare
  • Childcare
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Transportation arrangements

Temporary or Permanent Parenting Plans

Parenting plans are temporary or permanent depending on if the agreement has been filed with the court or has been finalized and implemented in the dissolution of marriage. A temporary plan will be filed with the court and is enforceable regarding child custody, visitation, etc., until the plan has been finalized. There may be a time delay between the filing of the temporary order and the final court decree. This is why it is important to file such a plan right away. A temporary parenting plan may be filed by the child’s parents or be initiated by the court. A permanent parenting plan has been finalized by the court and the agreement has been incorporated into the divorce, dissolution or marriage or modification decree. (Your final decree of divorce is the court’s formal order granting a termination of your marriage)

Court Mandated Parenting Plans

If the parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, the court may decide to create a plan for them. When creating the parenting plan the court may require each parent to submit his or her own plan for consideration. If the parents (or one parent) need help with this task, the court may appoint a guardian ad litem to review the case and make recommendations to the court. The parents must agree to the parenting plan to have it finalized in the divorce decree. If the court discovers evidence of child abuse, they will not create a parenting plan.

Modification

If there is a change in circumstances, such as a relocation of one parent, a parenting plan may be modified. The parties must make a motion to the court for a modification of their parenting plan and the court must confirm the modification. If a motion for modifying the parenting plan is made to the court, the court will consider the best interests of the child when making their determination.

For more information contact family law attorney Carla Marino 610.430.8000  / email  or Lawrence Persick 610.430.8000 / email

*The materials contained in this web site do not constitute legal advice, and contact with us through this web site does not establish an attorney-client relationship. We provide these materials for general information purposes only.

Effects of Divorce or Legal Separation on Property Ownership

Effects of Divorce or Legal Separation on Property Ownership

If a married couple is going through a divorce or legal separation, ownership of property may become a point of dispute. The main issue is if the property has increased value and which spouse has ownership rights over the appreciation. In general, if neither spouse has contributed to the increase in any way, the amount of appreciation is owned by the spouse who owns the property. If the property is considered non-community, the spouse who acquired the property has ownership rights over the property value increase. Likewise, if community property increases in value, both spouses own the appreciation equally.

However, if either spouse (or both) contributed (or caused) to the appreciation of the property, ownership rights may differ. It depends on the jurisdiction that the couples reside in; courts treat ownership rights differently according to the jurisdiction and the facts of the case. For instance, some courts may consider the increase in value of non-community property as owned by each spouse (community property). The court will make their determination based on the actions, efforts and contributions of the couple. Based on the evidence, the court may determine that the increase in value was due to martial funds or equal effort by each spouse, thus making the appreciation community property. The outcome of each case is dependent on the jurisdiction, the court and the contribution or action of each spouse.

Community and Non-Community Property

When spouses purchase property, ownership rights may be an issue. Property may be considered community or non-community property. It depends on the jurisdiction the married couple resides in. If the couple lives in a community property state, the state laws will consider each spouse owners of the property acquired during the marriage. Unless the property was acquired by an inheritance or by a gift from the other spouse, each individual will have one-half ownership rights to the property. Accordingly, there are only nine states that have community property laws (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin) If a married couple resides in one of these nine states and acquires property while living in the state, that property will be considered owned by each spouse. Alternatively, if a couple purchases property in a non-community property state (the majority of the states are non-community property states), the spouse who purchases the property may be considered the sole owner.

Property ownership may be questioned if a married couple lives in a community property states and moves to a non-community property state or vice versa. The state in which the couple lived when they (or one spouse) acquired property is the law that applies when determining ownership of that property. Therefore, if a couple purchases property while living in a community property state, that is considered owned equally by each spouse. If the couple moves to a non-community property state, the previously acquired property is still considered owned equally by each spouse. The same is true for a couple living in a non-community property state that moves to a community property state, the property is still owned by the spouse who acquired it.

For more information contact family law attorney Carla Marino 610.430.8000  / email  or Lawrence Persick 610.430.8000 / email