When custody matters are resolved in court, the judge typically enters a ready-made custody schedule that is largely blind to a family’s unique needs. In our legal system, it is generally impossible for a judge to receive and process enough information to make a decision that is carefully tailored to the needs of each family. As a result, when child custody is decided in court, families usually receive cookie-cutter custody orders, and from there they simply have to make do.
Even spouses who agree on very little else typically agree that they want to protect the best interests of their children. We help parents create parenting plans that protect the best interests of their children and meet the specific needs of both parents.
When that doesn't work, however, we can help you navigate the court process, from mandatory court-ordered mediation, meeting with the judge, psychological custody evaluations, and all the way to a custody trial. Beth Pride has over two decades of experience helping parents through custody litigation.
In Pennsylvania, child support is set by a formula. However, there are many factors that influence how much child support is owed and by whom. An experienced family law attorney can answer questions about earning capacity, unusual needs, extra income and other issues that can turn a simple calculation into a court case.
At Pride Law, we educate our clients about the factors that influence child support payments, and when the time comes, we help them negotiate support amounts with the other parent or present the case to a hearing officer in court.
Because child support is determined by a statute, it can be one of the easiest things to negotiate out of court. There can be variables to determine — such as what other things will be paid for outside the monthly support amount, how income is calculated, and what is included as income — but we work with our clients to help identify commonsense solutions and engage in rational negotiation.
When child support is determined, it is based on the current situations of both parents. However, substantial changes in circumstances may create a need for modified child support. If one parent receives a raise or involuntary loss of income or the needs of children change, that may affect the amount of money parents are expected to pay. Until a new child support amount is determined, it’s critical to continue paying the agreed-upon support amount.
Whether you expect to pay or receive child support, it’s important to work with an experienced lawyer who can help protect your rights and the rights of your children.
When people think about divorce, they often imagine a financially crippling process that will overwhelm their lives. In reality, it’s possible to work through the divorce process without losing your sanity or your savings account.
We believe that it is in almost every client’s best interest to settle out of court if possible, and our practice is dedicated to helping people resolve their divorces through the collaborative process, mediation or with client-driven negotiated settlements whenever possible.
If divorcing spouses’ financial and child-related issues are difficult or if there is animosity between them that prevents productive discussions, divorce becomes more complicated. A resolution may be obtained by litigation or by settlement through any number of approaches that may be the best fit for your family. We can help you sort out the complicated issues related to your divorce including your process options, and we always advocate effectively for your interests, in or out of court.
Spousal Support and Alimony
Alimony or spousal support is a financial award that may be paid to one spouse during the marriage or after the divorce to help maintain financial equity between the two parties and meet both parties’ needs.
Courts in Pennsylvania typically award spousal support or alimony pendente lite (APL) prior to entry of a divorce. Although the terms are often confused and the amount is calculated in the same way, there are differences between these two forms of support. We help clients understand spousal support and APL, and determine whether they might be eligible to receive support or be required to pay it, and how much it is likely to be. Finally, we help them negotiate an appropriate payment, conserving their resources to meet their own needs rather than spending them on an expensive court process.
Alimony may be awarded to enable a dependent spouse to rehabilitate his or her earning capacity in order to become self-supporting after a divorce, or to help achieve economic justice between divorcing spouses when only one of them can support themself. Alimony is also sometimes used to achieve economic justice where marital assets that cannot be divided are awarded to the other spouse, or where a disparate earning capacity that was achieved through the partnership of the marriage is the only meaningful resource available to help achieve justice in a divorce. Unlike spousal support or APL, alimony after divorce is not calculated by formula, but by balancing the needs of the dependent spouse with the ability of the other spouse to pay in order to achieve economic justice.
When most people get married, they expect the marriage to last forever. In reality, we never know what the future will bring. Sometimes, despite the best intentions of a couple, they learn that they live better separately than together. One way to help control what happens in the future is by being prepared in the present.
Pre-marital contracts — also called prenuptial agreements or antenuptial agreements — can reduce the potential for conflict by setting conditions for support, asset and debt distribution, child custody and parenting plans, and other potential issues involving finances and children before negotiation of these important points is hampered by the breakdown of your relationship.
Post-marital contracts — also called postnuptial agreements or marital settlement agreements — can also be used to determine your rights and obligations in the event your marriage ends while you are still able to work effectively together, and are the means to ensure enforceability of your out-of-court resolution when a divorce is imminent or underway.
When divorce issues are resolved in court, important decisions are handed down by the judge. Rather than custody or asset division plans that are tailored to your unique needs, these typically cookie-cutter arrangements are more reflective of the general needs of all the litigants who have been in court before you, as well as the efficiency needs of the court system. Working with your fiancé, spouse or soon-to-be ex-spouse when you’re both clear-eyed and rational can help ensure you have an agreement that is durable and mutually beneficial. Pride Law can help with that.
When individuals in Pennsylvania are getting divorced, their marital assets and debts must be distributed equitably. However, what is equitable to a court may seem unfair to you. With the help of financial experts when necessary, we can help you understand your marital estate and your rights, and negotiate or fight for your share of marital assets, as well as to protect assets that are important to you. Pride Law is committed to balancing satisfying outcomes with managing the expenses of achieving those outcomes.