As an experienced family lawyer in Delaware County, PA, attorney Michael T. Malarick, pursues your family law issue in a compassionate, caring, and practical manner. Legal questions arise with many PA families. Practice areas of Family Law include divorce, custody, elder law, and juvenile law. In resolving family related disputes, it is important to be fair to all family members so that all family members may enjoy a brighter future.
Michael T. Malarick is an experienced family lawyer located in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The law office of Michael T. Malarick handles family law cases in and around Delaware County, Boothwyn, Philadelphia, West Chester, Upper Darby, Drexel Hill, Springfield, Aston, Marcus Hook and more. Call for a free initial family law consultation today.
Child Custody Law
Child custody issues are best resolved through agreements between the spouses. If an agreement between the spouses cannot be reached, litigation may ultimately decide child custody issues.
Either through agreement or litigation, the first decision to be made in child custody disputes is who has legal custody (the right to make major decisions affecting the child including medical, religious, and educational decisions) and who has physical custody (the right to have the child in your care).
Legal custody may either be sole custody (where custody lies solely with the mother or father) or shared custody (where custody lies with both the mother and father). Shared custody requires the mother and father to confer amicably with one another before making decisions in the best interest of their child.
Custody support issues may also be determined through agreements between the spouses or litigation. Custody support issues are administered in Delaware County, PA through Domestic Relations. As with all family matters, a family attorney can help achieve custody determinations, can negotiate custody agreements, and can litigate custody disputes.
In Pa, there are four categories of divorce. One is a Mutual Consent Divorce, also known as an uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, once the divorce complaint has been filed by one spouse and served upon the other spouse, and, after 90 days have passed, both parties can then file an affidavit consenting to the divorce and the divorce will be granted.
A second category of divorce is the Two Year Separation Divorce. Here, if one of the parties has refused to sign an affidavit in consent of the divorce, then the other party can file an affidavit stating the spouses have been separated at least two years and the marriage is irretrievably broken. The non-consenting party may contest the two-year separation affidavit for the divorce.
A third category of divorce is Fault Divorce. Here, the plaintiff husband or wife files a divorce complaint against the defendant husband or wife stating the plaintiff is innocent of any wrongdoing in the marriage while the defendant is at fault of acts, such as, adultery, desertion of the plaintiff for one year, is imprisoned for a number of years, or has otherwise mistreated the plaintiff. The financial costs of an at fault divorce are high due to the contested nature of the litigation.
A fourth category of divorce is a Mental Hospitalization Divorce. In this situation, the defendant spouse has been in a mental hospital for eighteen months due to a serious mental disorder and is expected to remain hospitalized an additional eighteen months.
For any category of divorce, a family attorney should be consulted. Many issues, such as, alimony and the equitable distribution of marital property, should be determined through agreement or mediation prior to the final decree of divorce.
In PA, grandparents may have either legal or physical custody of their grandchild. If grandparents have legal custody, then the grandparents make major decisions for their grandchild, such as, medical care, educational decisions, and the religious upbringing of their grandchild. If the grandparents have physical custody of the child, the grandparents can only make minor day to day decisions for the child, such as, the grandchild’s daily meals and activities.
A grandparent may also seek visitation rights with their grandchild if the child’s parents have died, are divorced, or separated for six months. Grandparent’s visitation rights are classified as either ‘partial physical custody’ or ‘supervised physical custody’. In these situations, a court keeps the best interest of the child in mind, considers the amount of personal contact there was between the grandparent and the grandchild, and whether grandparent’s visitation rights would interfere with the parent-child relationship.
In PA, a juvenile’s delinquent act is an act that would be considered a crime if the act was committed by an adult. A child is not found guilty of a crime, but is adjudicated delinquent of a delinquent act in a juvenile court proceeding.
Juvenile court proceedings in PA are governed by The Juvenile Act (42PACSsec.6301,et.seq.). The stated purpose of this act is to preserve the unity of the family whenever possible consistent with the protection of the public’s interest, to provide the juvenile with supervision, care, and rehabilitation which also protects the community’s interest, and to impose accountability on the juvenile for the delinquent act in order to allow the juvenile to be a productive member of the community. The Juvenile Act seeks to assure the juvenile a fair hearing in which the juvenile’s Constitutional and other rights are recognized.