Blog – Pennsylvania Family Law

Mark contributes to the Pennsylvania Family Law Blog, which provides readers with information on and insight into Pennsylvania Family Law issues, including divorce, equitable distribution, alimony, child support, spousal support, alimony pendente lite and custody.

Recent Blog Posts

  • ARE THERE PRIVACY RIGHTS IN FACEBOOK POSTINGS? New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals ruled on February 13, 2018 that a Facebook account holder’s designation of a posting as “private” did not preclude a litigant from obtaining copies of those postings where they may be relevant to the litigation. The ruling comes from a personal injury case where the plaintiff claimed to suffer permanent injury in an equine fall.  The plaintiff’s claims included those typically associated with loss of enjoyment of life. The defendant sought to secure... More
  • PARKLAND This is not a political outlet.  So, I will confine my “political” comment to a single set of facts.  17 people killed yesterday. 32 school days so far this year.  Time Magazine reports 18 school shootings.  So a school shooting every other day. The interviews I heard last night on television provided a haunting reminder of a conversation I had earlier that day with a colleague who treats families going through divorce.  We spoke about a common case.  The child we... More
  • DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND THE “WILLOUGHBY MOMENT” 2017 was a remarkable year in many ways.  In late Spring we watched one of America’s favorite entertainers tried for sexual assault.  In October, prominent producer Harvey Weinstein  was accused of sexual assault by more than a dozen women.  The list of prominent men who have fallen from grace since the Weinstein story broke on October 5 would occupy a blog site of its own.  As this is written, a story has broken that a California legislator and leader of... More
  • ASCENDING MOUNT SCARPACI: A Lesson in Intestacy, Taking Against a Will & Getting Divorce Grounds Established A Superior Court decision last month by Judges Lazarus, Bowes and Ott reminds divorce practitioners that there are distinctions to be drawn between the rights of intestate surviving spouses and the rights of a surviving spouse to elect “against” the will of a decedent. We start with some old news.  When the divorce code first came into effect in 1980 the rule was that the death of a spouse had the effect of abating any divorce action which had not been... More
  • HOW MUCH EVIDENCE DOES A “HAGUE” CASE MERIT? On August 7 of 2017, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals decided a case under the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction.  Since we don’t see much child custody litigation in federal courts nor do we see many Hague cases, this one merits a closer look. J[ay] Blackledge was born in the Ukraine in 2008 but is a United States citizen.  At the time this litigation was before the courts Mother, a Ukranian citizen, resided in Pittsburgh,... More
  • MILITARY PENSIONS ALSO BEING “REFORMED” FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 70 YEARS The recent changes in tax laws have grabbed the headlines but employees of the four branches of the military and the Coast Guard will become part of a new “blended” retirement system passed by Congress in 2016, but effective in 2018. The 20 or nothing system by which those in service had to stay in service for a generation in order to get any retirement has been modified. The 20 year benefits are reduced by about 20% but that remains the... More
  • TAX REFORM IS GOING TO YIELD SOME REAL ESTATE “BLUES” Lots of electronic ink has been spilled this week on winners and losers coming out of the Tax Reform Act passed on December 20.  Much of this is fairly speculative but some is simply common sense. If you are a homeowner, take a look at last year’s bill for real estate taxes, then calculate what the foreseen or unforeseen buyer of your house will pay as a mortgage if he or she finances at 4.0-4.5%.  Realize that, until today, real estate... More
  • ALIMONY ABOUT TO EXPERIENCE AN UNTIMELY DEATH As this is written, the House and Senate this week are scheduled to vote upon a conference report of both houses of Congress which will “reform” tax law in a major way for the first time since the Reagan administration.  In order to secure passage, Congress needed to find some revenue enhancements to offset the tax reductions allocated to corporate and estate tax payers. As we predicted in November, alimony as a tax deduction to the payor and an element of... More
  • Alimony Ambiguity Reach Stage “Critical” We have still not seen a copy of the Senate bill although PBS Newshour reports that the final version adopted by the Senate was not circulated in the Senate until late Friday evening and about 5 hours before the vote.  However, it appears that the Senate bill does not change existing alimony rules.  As noted on Listserve last month, the House version does abandon alimony as a deduction effective January 1, 2018.  If you are negotiating an alimony provision you... More
  • Big Divorce Change: First Draft of House Tax Reform Bill Any American with a pulse knows that 2017 was to be the first overhaul of U.S. Tax Law since 1986.  Until this week, what was circulating through Washington was an 18 page executive summary.  That changed yesterday when the House Republican Tax Policy Committee circulated a draft bill that specified exactly what changes were being proposed. The draft bill summary merits some review because parts of it will affect most of us.  But the divorce bar was shocked to see that... More