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LGBTQ Adoption for Unmarried Parents

Same-Sex Adoption for Unmarried Couples

According to the 2010 Census, approximately 27% of Pennsylvania’s LGBTQ population is raising children. Moreover, according to Allies for Adoption, same-sex couples are four times more likely to be raising an adopted child.
Same-sex couples are six times more likely to raise foster children.

Considering that there are approximately 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, helping parents in the LGBTQ community understand which areas have same-sex couple friendly laws and helping them understand their rights is an important task for equality.

Alternatives for LGBTQ and Adoption

Most LGBTQ couples in Pennsylvania that are raising a child together are married. With that said, some couples chose not to get married and others may divorce. Establishing parental rights of an adopted child under either of those circumstances is important.
Other considerations for adoption that unmarried same-sex couples in Pennsylvania can consider include:

• Second-parent Adoption
• Joint Adoption

Second-Parent Adoption in PA

A common scenario that many same-sex couples face is one, or both, partners in a relationship have children, and one partner wants the other to become their child’s adoptive parent. Second-parent adoption allows a parent in a same-sex relationship to adopt his or her partner’s child.

Same-sex adoption gives the child two sets of parents who have established parental rights under Pennsylvania law. Unlike stepparent adoption, second-parent adoption does not require marriage.
Pennsylvania is one of fifteen (15) states and D.C. that allows LGBT parents to petition for second-parent adoption.

Joint Adoption in PA

Joint adoption allows LGBT parents to adopt a child together. Some laws require the parents to be married, but in general, joint adoption does not require marriage. Pennsylvania, along with the rest of the United States, allows LGBT couples to petition for joint adoption. While some states have laws that allow child welfare adoption agency to deny a couple the ability to adopt based on religious beliefs, P.A. does not.

Find an Attorney for Same-Sex Adoption in Chester County, PA

Remember, once an adoption is final, all parental rights afforded to natural parents are then available to the adoptive parents. Adoption means having the ability to make healthcare, education, and visitation decisions regarding a child.

If you or someone you know is attempting to petition the state for second-parent adoption or joint adoption in Chester County, Montgomery County, or Delaware County, in Pennsylvania, contact the experienced family law attorneys at [[$firm]].

Our firm represents clients from all walks of life throughout the Greater Philadelphia region, including areas such as Lancaster County, West Chester, West Goshen, Coatesville, East town, West Caln, and Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

Call [[$firm]] at [[$phone]] now for more information about how an experienced family lawyer at our office can counsel you through the adoption process.

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Options Enforcing a Custody Order

iStock_000000377682XSmallWhen 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.


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Custody Issues in Central Pennsylvania


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.

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Filing for Child Support in Pennsylvania

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.


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