Ciccarelli Law Offices is featured in the February 2016 issue of SuburbanLife, a series of monthly magazines in Bucks, Montogomery, Chester, and Delaware Counties. SuburbanLife highlights the attorneys’ at Ciccarelli Law Offices dedication to their clients and recognizes Attorneys Michelle Power and Ryan W.C. Buchanan as Top Family Lawyers 2016.
Founder, Lee Ciccarelli, describes the firm’s motivation behind their work.
“In areas like personal injury, family law and criminal defense, we are dealing with clients in crisis. Sometimes they are in despair. Sometimes they have no one to believe in them. Our first responsibility in being their advocate is earning their trust, being compassionate about their circumstances and passionate for their cause, and that sometimes includes thinking of the client as a family member.”
Ciccarelli Law Offices proudly represents clients in family and matrimonial law matters, including divorce, child support, alimony, child custody, separation agreements, name-change petitions, mediation, and prenuptial agreements.
With offices throughout the Philadelphia area, including West Chester, Center City, Lancaster, Plymouth Meeting, Radnor, and Springfield, Ciccarelli Law Offices serves clients From Lancaster County to metro Philadelphia.
Read the full SuburbanLife article here.
SuburbanLife article available in PDF format
While divorce at any age can be emotionally and financially devastating, divorce for those over the age of 50 can be especially difficult. Unlike younger married couples, older divorcees must consider the devastating consequences for retirement. Often these couples have been married for twenty or more years and have substantial assets and debts between them.
Commonly, in divorces with older spouses the parties must negotiate the terms of the following:
Alimony, commonly referred to as spousal support, is a monthly payment paid by one spouse to the other so that the spouse in the weaker economic position can financially support his or herself. In Pennsylvania the courts have the discretion to order alimony for a specific time or lifetime.
Lifetime alimony is common in gray divorces, because, ordinarily, the spouses have been married for an extended amount of time and one spouse, generally the husband, has been the sole or primary bread winner. While alimony payments are intended to ensure the receiving spouse can support his or herself, the amount awarded depends on several factors, including the other spouse’s earning capacity.
Should the alimony awarded not be sufficient for support the consequences could be devastating; especially when the spouse in the weaker position lacks employable skills or is in poor or declining health.
Division of Marital Assets
Ordinarily, older divorcees have acquired significant property (and debt) during the marriage, including a home (or multiple homes), vehicles, and jewelry. Unless specifically identified as separate property by proper agreement, inheritance, or gift, these items are considered marital property.
The state of Pennsylvania practices equitable distribution of marital property. During this process the court makes a valuation of the marital property and divides the property according to what is “fair”. The court will consider several factors, including length of the marriage, standard of living established during the marriage, and the income of both spouses.
While the court will weight all relevant factors when determining a fair distribution; however, this might not always be financially fair to the one or both spouses. Often divorce at an advanced age takes away a spouse’s consistent financial support, companionship, and supporting during times of illness or hospitalization. One or both spouses may be forced to downsize, sell certain property awarded in the divorce, or even relocate to a more affordable geographic area.
Retirement accounts are the most important divisible assets in a gray divorce. Person age 50 and above are either quickly approaching retirement or already retired. Spouses have spent most of their careers preparing and saving for later in life when they are no longer working. Now, these funds must be divided.
Ordinarily, married couples save for retirement together. While both parties may not contribute equally, it is widely accepted that these funds will provide for the both of them considering they share a home, vehicles, and other property.
However, once a divorce occurs these same funds are expected to go twice as far because there is two of everything—two homes, including maintenance, repair, and utilities; medical costs, and basic needs. More often than not, the spouses did not anticipate a divorce and did not save enough for retirement. In this case, the spouses may be forced to work longer, downsize, or rely on children and other family for support.
What to do if Considering Divorce Over 50
If you or your spouse is over the age of 50 and considering divorce, it is important to plan. First, consult an experienced divorce attorney. Allow the experienced divorce attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices help you navigate through this difficult time.
Our team of attorneys will intently listen to your concerns and devise a strategy to make you as whole as possible following a divorce. Our team effort is to be both thorough with our analysis and honest with you about our assessment, and we’ll negotiate and argue for your fair share, regardless of your circumstances.
Call us today at (877) 529-2422 to learn more about your options during a free initial consultation. You can meet with one of our attorneys conveniently at an office location in Lancaster, Philadelphia, Plymouth Meeting, West Chester, Kennett Square, Malvern, Springfield, King of Prussia, or Radnor.
When an individual is awarded alimony, it has been determined by the court of law, that he or she has been left in need of financial support after a divorce. The purpose of the alimony is to help stabilize the individual’s life, and ensure that he or she is in a healthy financial situation.
In Pennsylvania, judges use a variety of factors to determine whether or not a spouse should be awarded alimony. If alimony is awarded, many of these same factors are used to determine the amount. Some of the most commonly used factors include the earning capacity of each spouse, ownership of assets, length of marriage, health of each spouse, expenses for each spouse, who the children will live with, and the expenses of the children.
The judge will analyze each spouse’s circumstances and make a determination on alimony. Alimony can either be issued for a lifetime, or a set period of time. If at any moment the spouse who is receiving alimony gets remarried, the alimony will end.
If the individual who has been ordered to pay alimony fails or refuses to do so at the scheduled time, it will greatly impact the other spouse’s ability to live a normal life. Therefore, the court reserves the right to use extreme measures in order to ensure that the alimony paid.
If you are not receiving the alimony you were awarded, it would be beneficial to consult with a family law attorney, who can help you file a motion with the court, which will initiate the processes of having the courts enforce your alimony order.
Under Title 23 § 3703 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes, in order to enforce alimony orders, the court can:
- Seize the paying spouse’s assets
- Seize profit made from real estate or rental property
- Order spouse to pay missed payments, as well as the interest associated with them
- Have the paying spouse arrested for contempt of court
- Sentence the paying spouse to up to six months in jail
- Order wage garnishments for up to 50% of the paying spouse’s monthly income
In order to expedite the process of enforcing your alimony order, it would be best to contact Lee Ciccarelli, an experienced alimony attorney who can help you get started on the process of having your alimony order forced. The sooner you seek legal help, the sooner you can start receiving the alimony payments that you deserve.
Lee Ciccarelli is a dedicated West Chester family law attorney who has years of experienced fighting for spouses and families who are not receiving the alimony payments that they are legally entitled to. Ciccarelli Law Offices has offices located in West Chester, Philadelphia, Lancaster, Radnor, Plymouth Meeting, Springfield, Malvern, and King of Prussia, which allow them to provide quality legal representation to individuals in a wide range of areas in Pennsylvania. Aside from alimony disputes, Lee Ciccarelli also focuses on cases involving child custody, child support, divorce, annulment, prenuptial agreements, among others.
Custody disputes can turn very ugly, very quickly. Anytime there is a child involved there can be very serious and extreme feelings of anger and resentment towards the parties. Allow our Family Law Attorneys, with experience in Delaware, Chester, Lancaster, Montgomery, and Berks Counties, to represent you today and make those uncomfortable family matter more bearable.
In Pennsylvania, a custody action is initiated by filing a Custody Complaint. Once the Custody Complaint has been filed both parties will be required to attend a Parenting Classes. Next comes a Custody mediation.
At the mediation, which you must attend without your lawyer, you can decide to come to some type of agreement about the custody of your child or you cannot come to an agreement and continue down the legal process. If no agreement is made the next step is a Conciliation Conference which is overseen by a Master, much like a judge.
At the Conference, both the clients and their attorneys, and the mediator who was present at the Custody mediation will get the opportunity to speak with the Master. This is a very informal proceeding. At the end of the conference the Master will issue an order stating the grounds for Legal Custody, and Physical Custody. Legal Custody is the right to be the decision maker regarding the child’s general welfare, religion, medical treatment. It is not uncommon for the master to order that the parties will have “shared legal custody,” meaning that they share the responsibility for these decisions, and they must agree on those decisions together. Physical Custody represents who physically has the child at certain times. Typically the court can divide the time anyway it sees fit, as long as the determination is made in the best interest of the child. Lastly the Order may also contain special provisions, at the discretion of the master, including but not limited to, that the parties attend co-parenting classes, undergo psychological evaluations, and/or come back to Court for a follow up Conference at a later date. Also clients unhappy with the Master’s decision can always appeal.
The law regarding child custody in Pennsylvania is that the court will consider the “Best Interest of the Child” standard. This means that the court will not examine the individual parents, but will determine what is in the child’s best interest using the factors listed below. Also to many people surprise the law clearly states that, “In making a determination under subsection (a),factors when awarding custody, no party shall receive preference based upon gender in any award granted under this chapter. In Pennsylvania these factors are considered when determining “the best interest of the child”.
(1) Which party is more likely to encourage and permit frequent and continuing contact between the child and another party,
(2) The present and past abuse committed by a party or member of the party’s household, whether there is a continued risk of harm to the child or an abused party and which party can better provide adequate physical safeguards and supervision of the child,
(3) The parental duties performed by each party on behalf of the child,
(4) The need for stability and continuity in the child’s education, family life and community life,
(5) The availability of extended family,
(6) The child’s sibling relationships,
(7) The well-reasoned preference of the child, based on the child’s maturity and judgment,
(8) The attempts of a parent to turn the child against the other parent, except in cases of domestic violence where reasonable safety measures are necessary to protect the child from harm,
(9) Which party is more likely to maintain a loving, stable, consistent and nurturing relationship with the child adequate for the child’s emotional needs,
(10) Which party is more likely to attend to the daily physical, emotional, developmental, educational and special needs of the child,
(11) The proximity of the residences of the parties,
(12) Each party’s availability to care for the child or ability to make appropriate child-care arrangements,
(13) The level of conflict between the parties and the willingness and ability of the parties to cooperate with one another. A party’s effort to protect a child from abuse by another party is not evidence of unwillingness or inability to cooperate with that party,
(14) The history of drug or alcohol abuse of a party or member of a party’s household,
(15) The mental and physical condition of a party or member of a party’s household, or
(16) Any other relevant factor.
If you’re interested in having the Ciccarelli Law Firm represent you during your custody proceeding, or to appeal from a Master’s decision please contact us today. Our experienced family lawyers have represented clients all over, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Lancaster, and Philadelphia Counties. Please call 610-692-8700 to schedule a consultation today.
There is alimony in Pennsylvania. However, there is no entitlement to alimony and it is awarded at the discretion of the Court. There are 17 factors that a Court is required to consider when determining whether or not to award alimony.
- The relative earnings and earning capacities of the parties.
- The ages and the physical, mental and emotional conditions of the parties.
- The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
- The expectancies and inheritances of the parties.
- The duration of the marriage.
- The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party.
- The extent to which the earning power, expenses or financial obligations of a party will be affected by reason of serving as the custodian of a minor child.
- The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.
- The relative education of the parties and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment.
- The relative assets and liabilities of the parties.
- The property brought to the marriage by either party.
- The contribution of a spouse as homemaker.
- The relative needs of the parties.
- The marital misconduct of either of the parties during the marriage.
- The Federal, State and local tax ramifications of the alimony award.
- Whether the party seeking alimony lacks sufficient property, including, but not limited to, property distributed under Chapter 35 (relating to property rights), to provide for the party’s reasonable needs.
- Whether the party seeking alimony is incapable of self-support through appropriate employment.
There is no formula that can be used to calculate alimony in Pennsylvania and there is no way to predict the amount of alimony a Court will award. There are many variables to account for and each case is different. If you would like to learn more or discuss your case with an attorney, please call us at (610) 692-8700.
Child support is an obligation each parent has for his child. Pennsylvania expects that each parent will meet this obligation by adjusting his other expenditures. If you live in Chester County and need to file for child support, you may go to the Domestic Relation Office in the Chester County Courthouse. Applications are accepted between the hours of 8:30 am and 2:00 pm Monday through Friday.
If you plan to go to Domestic Relations to file for support, an Intake Information Sheet will need to be completed. You will be interviewed by Domestic Relations, which may take about an hour.
After you file for support, it generally takes 3-4 weeks from the date of your completed intake until the date of your conference.
On the date of your support conference, you will be required to bring your most recent tax return, your paystubs for the last six months, a written verification of child care expenses, proof of any medical insurance coverage that you may have and any information relating to your professional licenses.
The conference officer will calculate the child support amount owed by law using the parties’ incomes and the Pennsylvania Support Guidelines. Pennsylvania uses support guidelines to reduce litigation by making child support results consistent and predictable.
If you are looking to hire an attorney or need assistance with the Domestic Relations process, contact us at (610) 692-8700.
The process of divorce is different for someone who has obtained a same-sex marriage or civil union in a state that permits them. Pennsylvania does not recognize same-sex marriages or civil unions, so if you and your spouse are of the same gender, married or civilly joined in one or more states that allow it, and are seeking a divorce, you may wonder if this is possible under Pennsylvania law?
The answer, as the current law stands, is no. In Pennsylvania marriage is defined in 23 Pa.C.S. § 1102 as “a civil contract by which one man and one woman take each other for husband and wife.” This definition was introduced by the 1996 state constitutional amendment, Act 124. In 2010, a Berks County court refused to grant a divorce to a Pennsylvania same-sex couple married in Massachusetts on the grounds that it would have to recognize their marriage first, which would violate this amendment. Therefore, same-sex spouses who are residents of Pennsylvania but married in another state can’t currently seek a divorce in the Pennsylvania court system.
Since the states that do allow marriages or civil unions within their boundaries also often have a residency requirement for divorce, and since same-sex spouses can’t seek divorce in Pennsylvania, this leaves many gay and lesbian couples legally bound by those states to a marriage they no longer want any part of. Additionally, with the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) still in place and no promises of it being fully overturned by the Supreme Court in late June, these same-sex spouses are also left with no federal resolution. This is the definition of being wedlocked.
In March of this year, the Supreme Court heard the arguments of two key cases that may change this on a federal level, a state level, or both. The first case, Hollingsworth v. Perry, addresses the issue of Proposition 8 in California, while the second case, United States v. Windsor could address the constitutionality of DOMA. When these cases are decided in late June of this year, there may be a resulting solution for married or civilly joined gay and lesbian couples to obtain a divorce.
Until there does exist either a federal or state-level divorce solution for resident Pennsylvania same-sex couples, they can either choose to remain wedlocked in the state or states they are married in or meet the residency requirements for divorce – which can be anywhere from 90 days to 2 years. The legal landscape regarding the issue of LGBT divorce is constantly changing, and some states allowing the marriages or unions may offer an out-of-state solution for your divorce.
If you are facing the complexities of needing a same-sex divorce in a state you don’t’ live in, you can sift through the statutes, precedents, and policies of each equal marriage rights state on your own to determine if there is a divorce solution for your wedlocked Pennsylvania same-sex marriage – but you don’t have to. A knowledgeable divorce lawyer can help seek such a solution for you.