Practice Areas: Legal Services Centered around You
When I take on a new client, I see it as the beginning of a new partnership. No matter what issues your case presents, I will provide personalized and focused representation.
If you are filing for divorce, the selection of your attorney is one of the most important decisions you will make. Your choice will influence your future, including:
- How you will divide up your assets with your former spouse
- Whether you are entitled to, or will have to pay alimony
- The child custody arrangement you will have with your former spouse
- How much child support you will receive or pay
I have been practicing Family Law exclusively for 25 years. Although my office is located in Jenkintown, Montgomery County, I practice in all five South Eastern Pennsylvania Counties (Montgomery, Bucks, Philadelphia, Delaware and Chester). I see my role as helping you through what is most likely one of the most difficult and emotionally draining situations you will ever face. Unfortunately, it is common for people to become bitter and angry during and after a divorce. My goal is to help you get through the process as a functioning human being and a functioning parent as cost effectively as possible and as quickly and easily as the law will allow.
Pennsylvania is a no-fault divorce state. Therefore, the conduct of the parties is irrelevant to obtaining the actual divorce. However, a parties’ conduct may be relevant for purposes of determining alimony and custody.
There are two ways to get divorced under Pennsylvania's no-fault system.
- Consensual No-Fault Divorce: In this instance, a divorce complaint is filed and served upon the other party. There is then a 90-day waiting period, during which time nothing can be filed with the court with respect to the divorce. This is called the "cooling off period." However, if there are any other claims raised, such as child support or custody, those can proceed to a conference or a hearing within the cooling off period. Once 90 days have passed, if the parties have agreed upon all of their financial issues, they can each sign a document called an “Affidavit of Consent” and the court will process the divorce.
- Non-consensual Divorce: If one of the parties will not agree to be divorced, the party who wants the divorce must then wait one year from the date the parties separated (not from when the divorce was filed) before that party can request the court enter a Divorce Decree. The date of separation is not always clear or agreed upon. It can affect not only when the one-year waiting period begins, but also what is and is not marital property to be divided. After this one-year period, if there are no economic issues in dispute, the court will divorce the parties, even if one party does not consent. If there are economic issues in dispute, the court will hear the issues and make a decision before granting the divorce.
Whatever your situation, I can provide the advice and legal representation you need to protect and assert your interests. As part of my representation, I help you decide whether using an alternative dispute resolution method, such as mediation, will produce a more favorable outcome. This method is less adversarial than going to court and can save the parties time and money. However, I am an experienced trial lawyer and am ready and willing to litigate on your behalf if necessary.
I often have people call me because they would like to obtain a "legal separation". Despite what they may have heard, there is no such thing in Pennsylvania. However, depending on their situation they may be considered separated under Pennsylvania law. In fact, two people can be living in the same house and even sharing the same bed and be considered separated. The date of separation can be very important as it begins the one-year period for a non-consensual divorce. It also can determine what is and is not marital property subject to being divided.
I am David I. Dubin, Esquire, a family law attorney with 25 years experience. Although my office is in Montgomery County, I also practice in Bucks, Philadelphia, Delaware and Chester Counties. I often draft separation agreements before clients even begin the divorce process. Sit down with me to discuss your rights, obligations and options if you are thinking about separating from your spouse, or if your spouse has separated from you.
A separation agreement can determine how much spousal support and child support you will pay or receive. It can also address child custody.
The question of the date of your separation can be very fact-specific. The only way to determine if you are separated and when the triggering event occurred is to consult with an experiences family lawyer.
During a separation, a spouse will sometimes use a child as a weapon against the other party by denying access to the child. If your spouse is keeping you from seeing your child, I can help you obtain a child custody order signed by a Judge that lays out specific dates and times for visits.
Many people incorrectly believe that Pennsylvania is a state where alimony cannot be awarded. It can be, but is not always. There are two purposes for alimony (sometimes called spousal maintenance or spousal support). It allows the family court to attempt to somewhat equalize the incomes of the two parties after a divorce. It is also designed to allow the spouse who makes less income (the dependent spouse) to make a fresh start.
I am David I. Dubin, Esquire, a family law attorney with 25 years experience. Although my office is in Montgomery County, I also practice in Bucks, Philadelphia, Delaware and Chester Counties. In many of my cases, I am required to counsel clients regarding how much alimony they may be entitled to receive or may be required to pay.
In Pennsylvania, alimony awards vary greatly from county to county. Each county treats alimony differently (whether it is awarded and, if so, how much and how long). “Fault" issues such as abandonment and adultery can affect both the entitlement to support as well as the amount received.
A general rule of thumb in Pennsylvania is that the dependent spouse will receive one year of alimony for every three years of marriage, up to the date of separation. Therefore, if two parties are married for 15 years before the date of separation, and one party a has greater income than the other, five years of alimony may be awarded. However, in the same situation, if the dependent spouse receives substantial marital assets, a court might not award any alimony. There are even some situations where a party might qualify for lifetime alimony. In contrast, in very short marriages the Court often will not award any alimony. After analyzing the income and the assets of each party, a good family attorney can tell you whether there will be alimony and, if so, a ball park figure of what the award of alimony might be.
Orders of Protection
Division of Property
In Pennsylvania, unless you and your spouse signed a premarital agreement, the starting point for dividing marital property in a divorce is a 50-50 distribution of assets. This means that generally, spouses will equally share in the property that is accumulated between the date of their marriage and the date of separation. However, in most cases, the actual property division does not end up being 50-50. The Pennsylvania Divorce Code lists 11 factors that a family law judge should consider when determining whether to award one spouse a greater percentage of marital assets.
I am David I. Dubin, Esquire. I have practiced family law exclusively for 25 years. Although my office is in Montgomery County, I also practice in Bucks, Philadelphia, Delaware and Chester Counties. Whether through mediation or litigation, I often help clients resolve the property division issues in their divorce. If you are contemplating a separation or divorce, sit down with me to discuss and fully understand your rights and obligations when it comes to marital property.
There are many factors a family law judge considers in deciding the precise division of marital assets in Pennsylvania, including:
- Age of the parties
- Health of the parties
- Length of marriage
- Difference in income
- Whether one party was a stay-at-home parent
- Whether one party has a large amount of non-marital assets
Pennsylvania is no-fault divorce state, so fault is not a factor in property division.
What is a marital asset?
Generally, any asset acquired or accumulated from the date of marriage through the date of separation is a marital asset, regardless how it is titled or who paid for it. These assets include real estate, household items, vehicles, IRAs, 401(k) accounts, pension plans, cash, investments, stock options, and other assets.
If a party brings an asset into the marriage, that asset generally will remain that person's property. However, any increase in the value of an asset brought into the marriage by either party is also a marital asset unless a premarital agreement says otherwise. Inheritances are generally not considered marital property. However, the increase in value of an inheritance can be marital property, even though the inheritance itself is not.
There are many property division issues that a good family lawyer must analyze. While many lawyers handle divorce cases, there are few lawyers such as me that concentrate in only family law matters.
Child custody arrangements in Pennsylvania can be as creative as the parties need it to be. When parents separate, most people think that one party will have primary custody while the other can expect every other weekend visits. This is still true is some cases, but there are many other possible arrangements, including 50-50 or a shared custody arrangement.
I am David I. Dubin, Esquire. I have been practicing Family Law exclusively for 25 years. Although I am located in Jenkintown, Montgomery County, I practice in all five South Eastern Pennsylvania Counties (Montgomery, Bucks, Philadelphia, Delaware and Chester). I help clients determine a child custody schedule and to deal with disputes on custodial issues in a way that make sense for everyone involved and serve the best interests of the children.
If you want to craft a flexible arrangement, consider sitting down with me as your family lawyer. I will apply my significant experience in child custody law to help reach a solution that works best for you and your child. Contact me today to discuss your concerns.
Child Custody in Pennsylvania
There are two types of custody in Pennsylvania: legal custody and physical custody.
Legal Custody is the ability to make major decisions for a child on the issues of health, education and religion. Legal Custody is shared between the parents in most cases. Physical Custody: If a parent has primary physical custody, it simply means that the child sleeps at their house more than half of the time. The parent who has primary physical custody typically makes the day to day decisions just because the child is with him or her. When one party has primary physical custody, the other party, by definition, has partial physical custody (because the child sleeps at their house less than half of the time).
If both parents are actively involved a child’s life, it is not uncommon for the parties to have “shared physical custody”. This means that the child spends an equal amount of overnights with each parent. There are many ways to do this. One is that each parent can alternate exercising custody of the child on a weekly basis. Another option is for the parents to alternate exercising custody on the weekends (Friday after school through Monday morning); one party would have custody on Monday and Tuesday nights and the other party would have custody on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Whatever scheduled is worked out is based upon each parent’s schedules and what is best for the child.
What is Supervision and How Does Visitation Work?
There are some cases where the party who normally would receive partial physical custody is not given overnights with the child, but instead given supervised visitation with the child with a third-party monitoring the visit. This occurs because that party has a troubled history (for example drug or alcohol abuse or physical abuse) and cannot be trusted to be alone with the child.
Court-Ordered Custody and Modifications
A custody order is a court order establishing the type of custodial arrangement the parents will follow. The order generally sets forth a custody schedule and also may address vacation, holidays and transportation issues.
I help negotiate these agreements through mediation or in court, as part of a divorce settlement, separation agreement or when the parents were never married. My goal is to ensure the best interests of the child involved, which ideally would have both parents equally involved in the child's life.
In addition to helping parents establish custody arrangements, I can help those seeking to modify a custody order due to a change in circumstances. You can be found in contempt of court for failing to follow a custody order, so it is important you talk to a family law attorney if the current arrangement no longer works for you or your child.
In Pennsylvania, child support is determined by the Pennsylvania Support Guidelines. Based on the parties' incomes and the number of children, the Guidelines provide an overall figure that is supposed to represent what an intact family would spend for the basic needs (meaning food, clothing, and shelter) of those children. Each parent's obligation will be a percentage of that figure, based on their relative incomes. The guidelines only apply when the parties' total monthly net income is less than $30,000. If the total monthly income is greater than $30,000, then child support is based upon the reasonable needs of the children involved.
I am David I. Dubin, Esquire. I have been practicing Family Law exclusively for 25 years. Although my office is located in Jenkintown, Montgomery County, I practice in all five South Eastern Pennsylvania Counties (Montgomery, Bucks, Philadelphia, Delaware and Chester). In any case involving children, I advise clients how much child support they will be required to pay, or be entitled to receive under Pennsylvania Law.
The guidelines only consider the income of the mother and father. Household (mortgage or rent) and monthly expenses (credit cards, car payments) not directly related to the children are not considered in calculating a support obligation unless one has what the law considers an "extraordinary expense." However, expenses that are for the benefit of the children such as child care costs, summer camp, medical expenses and in some cases private or catholic school are typically shared by the parents in the same proportion to their incomes. A child support order is never permanent. It can always be modified if there has been a significant change in either parties’ financial circumstances.
For more information or to discuss your child support case, contact me, Montgomery, Bucks, Philadelphia, Delaware and Chester County family law attorney David I. Dubin.
High-end child support process
If the net monthly income of both parties combined exceeds $30,000, the basic Pennsylvania Support Guidelines do not apply. Instead, the monthly obligation is based upon the reasonable needs of the children involved.
I cannot emphasize strongly enough that your selection of legal counsel in a high-end child support case may be critical. You should consider only very experienced family law attorneys to represent you. The pitfalls are many. Unless your lawyer has experience with this particular sub-specialty, you could be very disappointed with the results, and will either pay far more or receive far less than you should.