We are delighted to announce that our physical office is re-opening to our existing and new clients. To provide safety to both our clients and staff, we are adapting the CDC guidelines for social distancing while we are in the yellow phase. Rest assured, that we have and will continue to regularly clean all areas of the office especially the high-traffic areas. All attorneys and staff will have their temperature taken daily and will be wearing masks when interacting with clients. Any attorneys and staff with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will work remotely. They will then be required to follow CDCrecommended steps, including not returning to work until the CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation are met.

As the health and safety of our clients and their families is our top priority, we are asking that our clients follow the procedures below during the yellow phase:

  1. Upon entering the building, we ask that all persons wash their hands or hand-sanitize. We will be providing access to soap, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
  2. We will also be taking temperatures with non-contact thermometers upon entering the office.
  3. Our office is set-up to comply with social distancing of six feet. In the conference and mediation rooms we are asking that each person sit a minimum of one chair apart from attorneys and/or staff at all times.
  4. Masks are available and will be provided open request.
  5. Teleconferences Zoom meetings, and FaceTime are available in lieu of inperson meetings if requested.
  6. We will continue to have the drop-box available for delivery of documents.

In the event that anyone is sick or have been exposed to COVID-19, we ask that you reschedule your appointment or utilize the electronic forums listed above.

As each county determines the procedures that will be followed, please ask your attorney of the specific procedures regarding the county in which your case in pending.

Please note that we will also continue to accommodate the needs of new clients, who are welcome, and as always we encourage and appreciate referrals. During this uncertain and unprecedented time, please stay safe and remember that Sweeney Law Office, LLC will remain by your side for all of your family’s legal needs. We ask that you have patience during this challenging time.

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How do Pennsylvania courts divide property in a divorce?

There are a number of factors that a judge may consider when dividing assets during a divorce in Pennsylvania.

One of the most common issues facing people in Pennsylvania who are ending their marriage is how their assets will be divided. In some cases, a couple may be able to come to an agreement on their own. They may be able to assess the items and come up with a fair split. Even in these circumstances, a judge has to approve the division to ensure its viability.

When people cannot agree on how property will be allocated, a judge will do it for them. Here, we take a look at the factors that come into play when this occurs.

Equitable distribution

Pennsylvania is one of many states across the country that uses an equitable distribution approach to property division. This does not mean that assets are split equally; instead, it means that they are split fairly. Before actually determining who gets what, however, it is important to understand which items are even eligible for division.

Marital property

Only marital property may be divided between the spouses. This refers to items that were acquired after the marriage. Separate property or items owned solely by one spouse is not eligible. This would entail assets acquired prior to the marriage. However, some items acquired after the marriage – such as inheritance or a gift – may be considered separate property and would be excluded from the division process.

It should be noted that even assets that only one spouse seemingly owns may still be divided. For example, if, after the wedding, the couple buys a house but only puts the home in one person’s name, the property is still considered marital and would therefore be subject to a split.

Key considerations

Once all the assets have been determined to be either separate or marital, the division procedure begins. Under Pennsylvania law, some of the main considerations a judge may take into account include how long the marriage lasted and each spouse’s contribution to the marriage. Other factors include the following:

  • Each spouse’s income and benefits
  • Any prior marriages
  • Each spouse’s health and age
  • The standard of living during the course of the marriage
  • Any tax implications

A judge may also make special considerations when there are children involved. The judge could base a property division decision on which spouse will have custody of a child.

The law states that if either party violates a court order, the other party may seek legal action. Property may even be seized, depending on the case.

Although divorce is a highly emotional and stressful event, it is imperative to remain logical when property is at stake. Anyone who has questions about this issue should speak with a family law attorney in Pennsylvania.