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Doylestown Family Law & Personal Injury Blog

Proposed changes could impact child custody nationwide

Legislatures across the country are responding to developments in the way Americans view traditional parenting roles. Lobbying efforts from fathers' rights organizations have been at the forefront of a movement to make equal parenting time the starting point for child custody arrangements in divorce litigation. At least 20 state legislatures are considering changes to laws that have historically been interpreted to favor mothers over fathers in custody disputes.

Most of the proposed legislation changes follow the model adopted last year in Kentucky, which makes joint physical custody and equal parenting time the standard when courts are considering how to approach the difficult task of breaking apart divorcing families. In many states, child support calculations are based upon parenting time, and an equal split could lead to the elimination of child support in many cases. Some women's rights organizations and family law attorneys are critical of proposed changes and maintain the rolling back of child support for divorced women is not in the best interests of children when working mothers have historically received lower wages than their male counterparts. Critics also argue that changes will further enable abusive spouses by granting them an initial presumption of fitness as a parent.

Getting a good price when selling a home after divorce

The majority of divorces result in the sale of the family home. Sometimes a spouse in Pennsylvania has the income to buy out the ex; however, that route is often impossible or undesired. A splitting couple that needs to sell a home could benefit from the services of an experienced real estate agent. An agent will strive to get the maximum value out of the property, but sellers might need to make a conscious effort not to undermine success with emotional disputes and intractable positions.

A real estate agent will recommend how to fix up the home so that it entices buyers. If the sellers choose not to invest in major repairs, they should at least attend to minor fixes such as broken cabinet hardware and holes in the walls. These little things will enhance the appeal of the property. The divorcing couple should also make a plan for paying for these repairs to avoid disputes later in the process.

Road rage in Pennsylvania

Most drivers in Pennsylvania have witnessed or been involved in a road rage incident at one time or another. Remaining calm in these situations can help maintain safety. However, this can be difficult to do when anger is added to mundane road frustrations. While it may be impossible to avoid enraged drivers altogether, there are ways motorists can lower their chances of becoming embroiled in potentially perilous situations.

Most experts warn against engaging with enraged motorists, and they point out that maintaining proper distances and avoiding sudden or extreme maneuvers could be all that it takes to squash road rage. Keeping an eye on one's rearview mirror and moving over when more aggressive drivers wish to pass may also prevent tempers from flaring. Drivers should remember that safety, and not the rights and wrongs of a given situation, should be the primary concern of all road users.

Liability issues arise in ride-share car accidents

Rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft are becoming increasingly popular over traditional taxis. This may leave Pennsylvania residents wondering what recourse they have if they're in an accident involving a driver for these services.

Pennsylvanians should not start dreaming of a huge personal injury settlement because, in all likelihood, they may not be able to sue Uber, Lyft or a similar company. That's because drivers for these services are independent contractors, not employees of these companies. Under this scenario, victims would sue the driver if that person is at fault, though any settlement compensation could come from the ridesharing company's liability insurance. If the other driver is at fault, he or she would be sued first.

Tips for dividing bitcoin accounts in a divorce

Pennsylvania couples who are getting a divorce may need to divide assets and debts, and for some, bitcoins may be among the assets. The currency has increased in value and become better-known in the process, and it might increasingly feature in divorce cases.

The nature of bitcoins means that they can be easy assets to conceal in a divorce. Some websites actually encourage this. A person could claim to have given away the bitcoins to someone else, and this would probably be untraceable. A bitcoin account might even be a trigger for the divorce itself since a person might have spent a lot of time building it up.

How the NHTSA is warning against drunk driving

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has kicked off its annual Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign in the effort to keep motorists from driving drunk during the holiday season and beyond. The campaign consists of TV commercials, which are being aired in Pennsylvania and all over the U.S., and a 360-degree virtual reality web program that allows users to explore the scene of a drunk driving crash.

Drunk driving is a serious problem, leading to 781 traffic fatalities in December 2016. In the past five years, an average of 300 alcohol-related traffic fatalities have been reported between Christmas and New Year's Day. Moreover, a study from the NHTSA has shown that one-third of all drivers arrested for DUI are repeat offenders.

The decreasing rate of vehicle deaths

Though many are aware that vehicle deaths have decreased since the early 1980s, some may not be aware of how dramatic of a drop there has been. Few people in Pennsylvania are aware of the large disparity between vehicle models and deaths attributed to each model, or how much safer later model vehicles may be.

A compilation of highway statistics shows that vehicle fatalities range from 148 per million miles driven down to zero in some vehicles. According to statistics gathered between 2009 and 2012, there were 12 vehicle models that had a fatality rate of 60 or more per million miles, including three with a rate of over 100. But the good news is that nine models recorded an incredible zero fatality rate in that time period. Of the models recorded, 19 saw a rate of five or fewer deaths per million miles.

Drawing on an ex-spouse's Social Security payments

When people in Pennsylvania get a divorce after 10 or more years of marriage, a lower-earning spouse may be eligible to draw Social Security benefits based on the earnings of the higher-earning spouse. A former spouse who receives these benefits will lose them upon remarriage. In some cases, if that marriage ends in death or divorce, the person might be able to resume receiving the benefits.

For a person to start receiving an ex-spouse's Social Security benefits, the ex-spouse must have reached the age of 62. The person receiving the benefits must also be at least 62, and it must have been at least 2 years since the divorce. The ex-spouse's benefits are not affected by the other person's receipt of them.

The financial impact of divorce over 50

In most states around the country, including Pennsylvania, divorce rates are decreasing with every age group except those over 50. In fact, one in four couples over 50 will go through what many call a gray divorce, and this age group has experienced a staggering 50 percent increase in divorce rates over the last 20 years. Often, these individuals are retired and have their own unique set of financial consequences of divorce to deal with.

The possibility of losing assets after people stop working can be a severe blow to their financial stability and future. Making decisions on how to divide property, retirement accounts, business assets and stock options can have a real impact on the kind of lifestyle one can maintain after a late-in-life divorce, and for many, a wrong move can be financially devastating.

About divorce mediation

Pennsylvania couples have multiple options when it comes to the method they use to get a divorce. While divorce mediation is a viable option, it is ideal only in certain situations. Before engaging in mediation instead of hiring an attorney, individuals should first consider some important issues.

Mediation is a process in which a neutral party assists divorcing spouses with resolving their divorce legal issues without engaging in litigation. The neutral party, or mediator, is typically an attorney who specializes in divorce mediation. The mediator can act as a buffer while assisting both parties through difficult issues.