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Convicted Former Attorney General Seeks $1 Million in Divorce Case

The Morning Call reported on September 7 that Kathleen Kane, the former Pennsylvania Attorney General who resigned after being convicted of illegally leaking grand jury documents and lying about her actions, filed a petition immediately seeking $1 million from her estranged husband. Kane contends she should receive about $6 million in marital assets in the divorce, and she claimed she needed “a partial distribution of joint assets held by Christopher Kane to pay her attorney’s fees as she prepares for her sentencing and appeal of her conviction on charges of perjury and several other offenses,” according to the Morning Call.

Kathleen Kane’s petition stated that she is now unemployed and has no income other than the $19,000 in alimony and child support Christopher pays. Kathleen’s attorney told the Morning Call that financial records showed that Christopher Kane received more than $8.1 million from his family’s trucking firm, Kane Is Able, and related entities between 2013 and 2015, and he is expected to receive about $1 million this year from the companies.

The Morning Call described Kathleen’s filing as “the latest in a contentious divorce proceeding” she filed in December 2014. A judge previously ordered Christopher to pay Kathleen $100,000 in marital assets after she accused him of improperly draining about $1 million from a joint investment account without her knowledge.

Christopher, meanwhile, filed a motion earlier this year seeking to halt alimony payments because he says Kathleen intentionally delayed resolution of their divorce. According to the Morning Call, he also alleged that Kathleen spent roughly $500,000 of campaign funds to pay her defense fees prior to her trial.

A hearing to determine the amount of alimony Christopher should to pay was set for September 21. A hearing on the petition for partial distribution of assets and the dispute over financial records was set for September 23.

Lawyer for Equitable Distribution in West Chester, PA Divorce Cases

Under 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. 3502, courts are required to “equitably divide, distribute or assign, in kind or otherwise, the marital property between the parties without regard to marital misconduct in such percentages and in such manner as the court deems just after considering all relevant factors” upon the request of either party in an action for divorce or annulment. When a couple seeking a divorce has a particularly high net worth, it can make the process of equitable distribution much more complex and contentious.

Equitable distribution does not mean that a court necessarily has to somehow determine a perfect 50/50 split of all assets involved in a marriage. It only applies to marital property, which is property or assets obtained during the marriage. Personal property obtained before the marriage or certain aspects of one partner’s situation (such as sole custody of children) can impact the amount of property that is awarded to one spouse as opposed to the other.

If you are contemplating divorce in southeastern Pennsylvania, you do not want to have to deal with any additional and unnecessary stress as it relates to a fair distribution of assets. Contact a West Chester divorce lawyer to get legal help advocating for the property that is yours and fighting for the assets you deserve.

 

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Gray Divorce: Divorce for Spouses over the Age of 50 on the Rise

iStock_000001424183XSmallWhile 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
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

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.

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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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Why do People Still File At-Fault Divorces?

Couple Fight small

Relationships are not always easy, and once you are married things can be even harder. Couples can be faced with major life decisions, financial problems, the stress of children or simply growing apart. In a large portion of marriages, the partners decide divorce is the best option.

Divorce can be a grueling process, no matter the situation. Even if the two people agree to the split, there still could be legal concerns and issues. If you are the person filing for divorce, you carry the burden of choosing whether to file a no-fault or an at-fault divorce.

Several states now are offering no-fault marriage terminations, including Pennsylvania, which was introduced in 1980. A no-fault divorce typically happens when the couple agrees and decides to end it quickly. The process could take as little as 90 days, and no hearing is needed.

So, why do people still file for an at-fault divorce? Not all situations are simple. If you are deciding to end your marriage, chances are there will be disagreements about how to do it. In some cases, only one spouse wants out of the marriage. Consulting a family law attorney can help you decide if an at-fault divorce is necessary.

Before the no-fault divorce was introduced, spouses had to prove the other committed an act that was worthy of divorce, such as committing adultery or domestic violence. The person filing for divorce had to prove the other was “at fault.” It pits the two people against each other and the situation often gets messy.

At-fault divorce still is an option in Pennsylvania, although it is not necessary. It often is much more difficult to obtain, compared to a no-fault divorce, and a hearing likely will be needed to settle the dispute. However, sometimes it is necessary.

When the two parties cannot agree on the divorce, an at-fault divorce is used. This means, if one spouse files for divorce but the other does not want to grant his or her wishes and wants to remain in the marriage, the one filing would need an at-fault divorce to terminate it.

Of course, at-fault divorce still can be filed if one person in the marriage committed an act that would make him or her “at-fault.” For instance, one of the most common reasons people file at-fault divorces is one spouse was guilty of adultery. The other spouse must make allegations and prove he or she committed those actions.

Deciding whether to file for an at-fault or a no-fault divorce can be tricky. Communication with your spouse and attorney is crucial in determining which route to take. A family law attorney can help you make a decision beneficial to you, your spouse and your future. If you would like to learn more or discuss your case with an attorney, please call us at (610) 692-8700.

Ciccarelli Law Offices represent clients throughout Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, Phoenixville, Coatesville, Ephrata, Norristown, Villanova, Newtown Square, Media  and surrounding communities.

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How Pennsylvania Family Courts Award Alimony

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.

  1. The relative earnings and earning capacities of the parties.
  2. The ages and the physical, mental and emotional conditions of the parties.
  3. The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.
  4. The expectancies and inheritances of the parties.
  5. The duration of the marriage.
  6. The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party.
  7. 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.
  8. The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage.
  9. 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.
  10. The relative assets and liabilities of the parties.
  11. The property brought to the marriage by either party.
  12. The contribution of a spouse as homemaker.
  13. The relative needs of the parties.
  14. The marital misconduct of either of the parties during the marriage.
  15. The Federal, State and local tax ramifications of the alimony award.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.

 

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Pursuing a Mutual Consent Divorce in Pennsylvania

Life happens. Divorce isn’t something anyone looks to have happen when they get married, but circumstances arise and it may be unavoidable. However, understanding your options could make it a little easier to get through.

Pennsylvania offers divorce under two No-Fault grounds:

1)      mutual consent, which happens when the spouses agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken and 90 days have elapsed from the date a party is served with the divorce complaint, and

2)      two-year separation, which happens when the parties have lived separate and apart for at least two years.

If you have filed for divorce in Pennsylvania and 90 days have passed, the only thing standing in your way is your spouse’s consent. Even if you both agreed to a divorce at one time, a lot can happen in 90 days – feelings can change, resentment can build, and disputes around property can arise. Despite the initial understanding you had, a spouse is entitled to change his or her mind and decide not to consent. This doesn’t prohibit you from getting a divorce, but now you will have to wait the two-year separation period.

The 90-day mutual consent divorce is not as simple as it may seem. Before going down a road that appears straightforward, make sure you understand complications that may arise. It is important to know your legal rights and to protect yourself during the divorce process. To understand and protect your rights contact Ciccarelli Law Offices.

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Wedlocked: The Issue of Same-Sex Divorce Ineligibility in Pennsylvania

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.

Additional Resources

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