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

  • 401(K) Loans and IRA Distributions May Be a Lifeline As this is written, the bill has not yet passed the House of Representatives, but the CARES Act probably will be law before the week’s end.  The newest federal stimulus package is renowned for the distributions it is scheduled to make to families earning less than $100,000 per year.  That topic has been much reported.  What has secured less notoriety are provisions allowing hardship withdrawals from IRAs and hardship 401(k) loans.  Again, the bill is not final and it is... More
  • Family Law Triage When Courts Are Closed. Play safe. Be Smart. If you are watching the news today, (3/24/20) you have some impression of what New Orleans must have been like in the hours before Hurricane Katrina hit.  The Coronavirus storm is hitting New York City and the lower counties with a fury.  The numbers are rising fast throughout our region as well, although New York is clearly getting the thrust of the storm.  Last evening Pennsylvania’s governor announced that its Southeastern residents are to “shelter in place,” meaning travel should... More
  • Superior Court Weighs In On Uniform Gifts v. 529 Plans In a precedential decision issued on March 16, a panel of the Superior Court offered a helpful analysis of how plans established under the Pennsylvania Uniform Transfer to Minors Act, (PaUTMA, formerly PaUGMA) differs from accounts established under Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code.  This is an area of importance because we are seeing clients conflate the two when they are legally different animals.  In many cases, these accounts hold assets of significant value and sometimes in quite disparate... More
  • TIME TO HIT THE “PAUSE” BUTTON I’m not going to refer to “it”.  I have read a hundred emails in the past few days referring to “it.”  “It” is frightening for all of us. “It” is affecting every aspect of our life. It is coming across my desk as fear for future financial security. It is also causing people to fight over custody issues where the underlying motivation is, “I need to see my kid and make sure he/she is OK.”  And I need it NOW. Panic... More
  • GRANT OF THIRD PARTY STANDING IS NOT APPEALABLE AS A COLLATERAL ORDER. It comes in a non-precedential decision but the ruling is important nonetheless. In a panel opinion authored by Judge Daniel McCaffery and published on March 2, 2020, the Superior Court held that a decision of a Crawford County judge to allow a paternal grandmother to intervene in a child custody proceeding was not appealable as a collateral order under Pa.R.A.P. 313. The father of two young children filed a petition for partial custody in spite of his incarceration. A temporary order... More
  • IN AN AGE OF FINANCIAL UNCERTAINTY MARRIAGE IS ONE OF THE VICTIMS. The March 9, 2020 Wall Street Journal’s front page described marriage as a new form of “luxury good.” According to the Journal since 1980 the middle 40% of U.S. workers have seen the sharpest decline in the number of people who are married. These are households reporting income ranging from $25,000 to $125,000 per annum. The preference of this large swath of America’s middle class is to simply live together avoiding any formal arrangement. The reasons given by those asked relates... More
  • Section 1983 Civil Rights Claim by Grandparents Arising from Dependency Action Permitted to Proceed This is an action brought by grandparents against Westmoreland County concerning their grandchild.  The County had initiated dependency proceedings involving the grandchild based upon allegations that the biological parents were drug dependent.  The County had initially placed the child with the grandparents who were then hosting not only the grandchild but the natural parents.  When drug testing of the natural parents came back positive, the County decided to pull the placement and shift to non-kinship care.  This placement culminated in... More
  • FINANCIAL INFIDELITY: CHAPTER 2 As I started this, it occurred to me that I had been to this topic before.  Last April 19 I reported on a story published by PBS about spouses who accumulate debt in secret and then want to “share” the debt when the marriage collapses.  The February 2020 issue of The Magazine of the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) contains an article titled “Living with a Thieving Spouse.”  The article broadens the topic beyond what I wrote about before. A... More
  • COLONNA LIVES!?!?! In the perhaps “too many years” I have been reading and reporting on family law cases, there are times when a reported case inspires a collective shrug from the family law bar.  One prominent example is Beasley v. Beasley, a case that held that because a law firm was owned by a single lawyer, it could not have goodwill value associated with it.  That ruling seemed to ignore the fact that Jim Beasley, the owner of the practice, employed a... More
  • TAX REFORM + 2: WHAT DOES IT MEAN & WHERE DOES THE AVERAGE JOE STAND? Since the most recent tax reform was adopted in December 2017, this writer has been wondering what it really meant to average people.  My averages will be a bit on the high side, but when I ran across a 1995 tax table I decided to try running some tests.  Here are the results and I welcome comments and criticisms to my methodology.  I am happy to publish any comments or corrections that merit consideration. My test case is a single person... More