Do you have questions regarding divorce proceedings, criminal defense or another area of the law? Here are the answers to our most frequently asked questions from clients just like you.
MY WIFE AND I HAVE BEEN EMOTIONALLY DISTANT FOR YEARS. RECENTLY, I MET SOMEONE AT WORK WHO LISTENS TO ME AND I HAVE BEEN SPENDING EVENINGS AT HER HOUSE. MY WIFE IS THREATENING TO TAKE OUR HOUSE, THREATENING TO FILE A DIVORCE CASE AND TO “GET ME” FOR ADULTERY, BUT I KNOW FOR A FACT SHE HAS CHEATED ON ME BEFORE. CAN SHE TAKE THE HOUSE?
When it comes to distributing property in a divorce case, a divorce court generally could care less about who cheated on whom when. If the marriage truly is broken beyond repair, then it doesn’t matter anymore how it got there. Unless the two of you reach an agreement about what to do with the house, then the Court will make that decision while figuring out how to divvy up the rest of the marital assets in a fair way so that each of you can go on with your lives in peace. The Court may decide the house has to be sold or that one of you should buy the other out. At least as to distribution of property, “marital misconduct” is not relevant.
It is important that you be represented by a lawyer, not as a paid mud-slinger to help you feel good about making the other person look bad, but as someone to help you make sure you come away with from the marriage with a fair share of whatever financial value the marriage has. There are at least 11 factors the law tells the Court to consider when distributing the property, and a lawyer can help you present your case as favorably as possible with those factors in mind so that you receive a fair portion of the marriage’s assets and are able to continue on with your life.
The Court will appoint a “Conciliator” and schedule a “Conciliation Conference” between you, the Conciliator, and the other parent. You cannot bring witnesses to the Conference. The Conciliator will try to help you reach an agreement with the other parent. If you simply can’t agree, then the Conciliator will dictate an “Interim Order” for the Court to review and sign, and the case then will proceed toward trial at a later date. In the meantime, the Interim Order will control who has the kids when. If before trial you both end up accepting the Interim Order, then that will become the Court Order the parents have to follow into the future. If on the other hand one of you still wants a trial, then the Court will hold a trial, listen to witnesses, and issue a new Order.
It makes sense to be represented by a lawyer during that entire process. Emotions concerning one’s children probably are the most extreme emotions that humans experience. Expressing emotions is the worst way to try to convince a Conciliator or Judge to decide in your favor. Judges have seen a million tears and yours aren’t going to have much effect. It is best to be represented by someone less emotional than yourself to express your position calmly to the Judge, such as a lawyer. There are at least 16 factors the law tells the Judge to consider when deciding a custody case. You should have a lawyer who can express clearly to the Court how those 16 factors apply to your case so that the Judge can make a decision that is in your childrens’ best interests and protect them as they grow.
MY HUSBAND TORMENTS ME AND HAS NO PROBLEM PUTTING HIS HANDS ON ME. I WANT TO LEAVE OUR HOUSE TO PROTECT MYSELF AND OUR CHILDREN, BUT I DO NOT WANT TO LOSE MY RIGHTS TO THE HOUSE. I WANT TO RAISE OUR CHILDREN THERE. WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Leave the house for now with your kids to protect yourself and them, call my office to see if you can obtain a protection from abuse order against him, and to consider immediately filing for custody and divorce. You do not need to stay in the house right now to preserve any property rights you have in it. Do what you have to do in the interest of your physical safety and that of your children. But, don’t leave it at that afterward. You need to get into Court immediately so that later he can’t make it look like you tried to keep him from the children unreasonably, and so that you in fact do not appear to have given up on the house in the long run.
No need to panic. He probably is at the County Booking Center and you may be able to find out what’s going on by calling the Sheriff’s Office to find out if he will be released upon payment of a fine still tonight. If not, then you will have to wait until bail is set, which may well be in the morning. Either way, he will be fine. It’s not dangerous in there; just boring..and nerve wracking if you don’t know what’s going on outside. Email me and I will schedule you an appointment in the office so we can see how for along he is in the process and work toward getting him out.
NO. It’s BS. Whether you are guilty or innocent, they already are criminally investigating YOU and are hoping to get a statement from you to help them with their case against you one way or the other. The chances that they simply are gathering information during an impartial investigation and have a completely open mind about it are roughly the same as the chance that they want you to go down there so they can give you a million dollars in cash. It is true that if you don’t go down there then that may draw their attention to you even more, somewhat similar to a stray dog starting to trot after you if you run away from it down an alley. It also is true that they may decide to arrest you and bring you to the station involuntarily if you don’t go voluntarily. It is entirely possible that the only reason they invited you down voluntarily is so that later you would not be able to argue that you were in custody when they questioned you; that helps them if you later try to keep your statement out of the trial. They will want to make it seem like you just dropped by socially to discuss things.
Your goal should be to not give them any statement at all. Anything you say can be twisted around and taken out of context, or inaccurately reported. If you do not give a statement and if you are charged with a crime, which can happen whether you are guilty or not, then your lawyer will not have to try to keep your statement out of the trial, because there won’t be a statement to keep out. If you do get charged, and your lawyer then asks you whether you gave a statement to the police, you want to be able to say, with a happy smile, “No, I didn’t say a damn thing.”
The hard part is ignoring your own desire to talk your way out of being arrested and charged. They know that is a big temptation for you: to “make it all go away right now” by starting to babble. Don’t. Better to be silent, get arrested and lose some time until you bail out, rather than be charged and have to hope your lawyer can keep your statement out of the trial.
You aren’t going to be able to talk your way out of anything; the police are more experienced than you at this game. Don’t even try. No matter whether you are being threatened with arrest or not, there is only one correct answer to police questioning: “I want to talk to a lawyer”.
If it turns out later that it all in fact was a big misunderstanding, and they are not all that focused on you, and you may in fact have some information that you wouldn’t mind sharing with them so that they can do their job, then let your lawyer talk to them for you.
No. There are two types of consumer bankruptcy cases: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. Before filing a case under either Chapter, it is important to list the property that you own, no matter what kind of property it is. We can help you with that and also help you with figuring out the market value of each property. Next we will discuss the amount of any liens against each property, including mortgages. Then you will know the equity that exists in each property. That is important because there is a certain amount of equity in each property that you can tell the Court to ignore, or “exempt out” by applying “exemptions” to that property. If there is no equity left in any property after you apply the allowable exemptions, then you can safely think about filing a Chapter 7 case if it appears it would be useful for you to do so in order to get rid of debt. In that instance, no, you would not lose any property. If on the other hand there is in fact ”unexempt equity” in property that you want to keep (like your residence), then you may want to file a Chapter 13 case if it appears it would be useful to for you to do so, maybe to catch up your mortgage or real estate taxes, for instance, and perhaps get rid of some other debt.
Either way, no you would not lose your property. Fear of losing property often causes people to erroneously believe that they can’t file a bankruptcy case. We can help you figure out whether bankruptcy might be something for you to consider and if so under which Chapter?
If you actually have in fact been sued, then that probably means either that you have received a civil complaint against you in the mail from a District Justice, or that that someone, maybe the Sheriff’s Office, has tried to “serve you” in person with a civil complaint filed in the Court of Common Pleas. Either way, you should contact a lawyer at once. You are welcome to contact my office as I do defend people who have been sued. Whether you have been sued in the District Justice Office or in the Court of Common Pleas, you most likely will end up with a judgment being entered against you if you ignore the suit. Once someone gets a judgment against you, then there are various things they are permitted to do to you in an effort to obtain money from you, including garnishing you bank account. Even if you do not have any money saved in the account beyond the amount of bills for which you have written checks, the bank now will not honor those checks as they are deposited, causing chaos for you. If you own real estate in the County in which the judgment was entered, the judgment automatically becomes a lien against your house. So, you don’t want a judgment against you.
We can help you prevent a judgment from being entered against you be default by filing the correct response to the suit in Court. We then can defend you in the suit in an effort to show that you do not owe the money they say you owe and/or to try to settle the case for an amount you can afford, in payments.
The important thing is not to ignore the suit. It is not going to go away on its own. The case will grind forward until there is a judgment against you, which you do not want. Beat the important deadlines and contact my office quickly.