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Tag Archives: divorce case

spousal spying

Spousal Spying in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

If you are contemplating divorce, you may be of the mind that would should engage in a course of spousal spying. If that is what you are considering, you most definitely are not alone. The reality is that many individuals facing problems in their marriages, or the prospect of divorce, engage in spousal spying. The reality is that taking this course of action can be problematic and even illegal in some cases.

Spousal Spying: Telephone Interception

One area in which individuals engage in spousal spying involves telephone communications. You may be thinking about the possibility of recording or otherwise intercepting telephone communications in order to collect evidence for a divorce proceeding. The reality is that telephone call interception generally is illegal in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If you engage in this type of activity, even when your own spouse is the target, you can be charged with a Class C felony.

Exceptions to Telephone Interception Prohibition

There are three primary exceptions to the prohibition against intercepting phone calls in Pennsylvania, including when such an interception involves spousal spying. First, this type of interception may be considered appropriate if it involves collecting information about a crime of violence. In other words, the interception may be deemed legally permissible if targeted communication involves a crime of violence. This includes a crime of violence previously committed or one that appears to be in the planning stages. The second exception involves telephone calls and similar communications to emergency services. Finally, an exception exists if both or all parties to the transmission agree to it being intercepted and recorded.

Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

In order for the prohibition against interception to be at issue, the spouse involved in the communication must have a reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, if your spouse is yelling into a phone for all around to hear, he or she would not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, if your spouse were whispering in another room, that individual would indeed have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

The Divorce Spectrum

Not all divorces are “created equally.” In fact, psychologists and legal professionals have crafted a divorce spectrum that illustrates the different types of divorces. The divorce spectrum focuses on factors that include the complexity of a particular case, the emotional state of the parties as well as the actual state of the relationship between spouses seeking to end a marriage.

The Nuclear Divorce

The Nuclear Divorce is one in which the parties seem to want to pursue a scorched earth policy. The spouses assume a take no prisoners posture when it comes to addressing issues in the case.

In reality, the Nuclear Divorce element of the spectrum is not as commonplace as many people might assume. A Nuclear case exists when the parties face a highly complex divorce case. The parties are also highly emotionally charged, in deep turmoil over the end of the marriage and their other spouse. Finally, the relationship between the parties is so degraded that it has become impossible for them to speak to one another or communicate in any constructive manner.

Divorce Decree Playbook

Most divorces fall into the middle of the divorce spectrum. These divorces are so commonplace that they appropriately can be called part of the Divorce Decree Playbook.

At this point on the spectrum, the divorcing couple face a variety of easier to resolve as well as more complex issues. Emotions are not necessarily in check all of the time, but the parties are able to communicate in some manner fairly effectively. The relationship between the parties has turned colder, but they do not disdain one another.

The Make It Work Out Divorce

At the other end of the spectrum from the Nuclear Divorce is the Make It Work Out Divorce. In this situation, the parties sometimes able to pursue an uncontested divorce. Even if the divorce proves to be not fully uncontested, any disputed issues can be negotiated and settled without tremendous drama.

The Make It Work Out Divorce proves to be more commonplace than many individuals would imagine. A Make It Work Out case exists when the parties have a fairly simple set of issues to resolve in the case. Emotions are in check, generally speaking, at this point on the divorce spectrum. Finally, the parties commence a divorce case with a decent enough relationship. In fact, oftentimes a Make It Work Out case features parties that still love one another. The marriage just was not working for one reason or another.

Keep in mind that no matter where a case commences on the divorce spectrum, circumstances can move it in another direction. A Nuclear Divorce can calm down while a Make It Work Out Divorce can degrade.

divorce mediation

Four Benefits of Divorce Mediation

Divorce proceedings represent some of the most contentious types of legal proceedings in courthouses. An objective of a judge in divorce cases is to try and employ resources that may work to lessen the tension between the parties in marital dissolution proceedings.

A resource being more widely used by courts across the country to aid in making divorce cases smoother running proceedings is mediation. There are four fundamental benefits associated with divorce mediation.

Divorce Mediation Saves Time

Barring a settlement of a divorce case, this type of judicial proceeding can drag on for a significant period of time. When a mediator is involved in the process, the prospect for a settlement increases, according to the American Bar Association. A faster settlement of a case necessarily shortens the period of time a divorce case pends, which is to the benefit of everyone involved in the process.

Divorce Mediation Saves Money

A mediator does charge a fee for services, which usually is split between the parties in some manner. Nonetheless, by engaging the services of a mediator, other costs associated with a divorce usually lessen, including attorney fees are reduced.

Divorce Mediation Lowers Emotions

Emotions naturally can run high and hot in divorce cases. Another benefit of a mediator is that such a professional is trained to work with a couple in reducing the level of acrimony between them. By lowering the passions of the parties, a couple in a divorce case are able to make wiser, more objective decisions in settlement negotiations in an efficient manner.

Fairer Outcomes

Although some individuals enter into divorce proceedings with what fairly can be described as a winner take all attitude, divorce laws are designed to achieve fair and just resolution of marital dissolution cases. A benefit of mediation is that it does achieve a fair, balanced and just settlement of disputes in a majority of cases in which a mediator is involved, according to the American Bar Association.

A mediator assist a divorcing couple in negotiating with each other in a manner that involves overreaching. A mediator is trained to understand the parameters of divorce laws and how those statutes are to best be applied.

Divorce mediators are available in nearly all jurisdictions in the United States. Indeed, some courts now require certain matters to be mediated before a judge schedules a full-blown hearing on those particular issues. This particular is the case in regard to issues surrounding children, including custody and visitation.

divorce communication

Five Tips to Enhance Divorce Communication Between Spouses

The breakdown in communication between spouses is a common occurrence in divorce cases. Indeed, communication between spouses likely broke down before the commencement of marital dissolution proceedings and oftentimes is a factor contributing to the breakup.

Proper communication between spouses actually makes the divorce process easier for both parties. Five tips can assist to enhance divorce communication between spouses.

Divorce Communication: Establish and Respect Boundaries

A fundamental practice to employ in divorce related communication is to establish and respect boundaries. Each spouse must make clear what he or she perceives to be appropriate, acceptable means of communication. Once established, each spouse must strive to respect these communication boundaries.

Divorce Communication: Listen Intently

Communication during a divorce enhances mightily when the spouses listen intently to what is being said to them by the other party. This cannot be merely some exercise in so-called “active listening.” Rather, it must be listening to understand and digest rather than listening merely to frame a tactical response.

Avoid Deception

Honesty truly is the best policy when it comes to communication during a divorce case. In the final analysis, parties to a divorce avoid a great deal of acrimony if they endeavor to be as forthright as possible in their communications with the other spouse.

Avoid Grand Promises

Some people in divorce make large promises that simply cannot be kept. For example, a divorcing person might promise the other spouse that he or she will obtain a certain type of employment which, in reality, is beyond that individual’s skill set. Grand promises unnecessarily heightens expectations which then leads to disappointment and more conflict in divorce proceedings.

Avoid Insults

Insults many times fly in divorce cases. Marriage dissolution proceedings do have the potential for bringing out the worst in people. One strategy that must be used to keep this (somewhat) understandable discord to a minimum is to avoid trading insults between the parties. Leave the wrangling to lawyers and the jabs to standup comedians. If a couple seem to naturally gravitate to insults and destructive commentary, they should consider severely limiting the amount of contact and communication they have with one another.

Keeping the lines of divorce communication open using these tactics will work to lessen the time spent in divorce court and to lower the fees from attorneys. Adopting these strategies advances a divorcing couple to their new lives in a much more expeditious manner.

uncontested divorce

Uncontested Divorce Overview

Divorce can be nasty business. Many divorce cases become hotly contested and highly emotional. However, there are instances in which an uncontested divorce is possible, and the spouses are able to settle the primary issues involved in ending the marriage without the need for protracted courtroom litigation. There are some essential facts a person needs to understand about an uncontested divorce.

Is an Attorney Necessary in an Uncontested Divorce?

Just because a divorce is uncontested does not automatically mean no legal representation is necessary. There are instances in which an uncontested divorce involves complicated issues. For example, the couple may jointly own a business, a situation which typically requires the assistance of a capable lawyer to address during divorce.

If a divorce truly is uncontested, attorney fees will not mount as they would in a hotly contested divorce. Legal counsel will focus on drafting important documents, including a settlement agreement to be presented to the court.

An attorney will schedule an initial consultation to discuss a divorce case. There typically is no fee charged for this type of consult.

Can Each Spouse Have the Same Attorney?

Divorcing spouses may not share an attorney. The Code of Professional Responsibility (and similar rules of conduct) in each of the 50 states regulates attorney conflict of interest. An attorney representing both parties in a divorce case would face a conflict of interest. If only one party retains a lawyer, it is important for all involved to understand that this legal counsel has an allegiance only to the spouse that hired the professional.

Does the Court Have Documents or Forms Available?

Nearly all courts in the country have standardized forms available for use in divorce cases. These typically can be obtained online or through the court clerk's office. In most cases, the court does not charge for these forms. Keep in mind that although forms can be helpful, they are designed for people without legal representation. Hiring a lawyer remains the best course for a person in a divorce case.

Will an Uncontested Case Move Faster?

Yes, an uncontested divorce typically moves through court faster than a contested one. Another consideration regarding the speed of a case is how full a divorce court's calendar is at any given juncture. Courts that are clogged with cases will slow the process down for everyone, including individuals who pursue an uncontested divorce.

There are benefits associated with an uncontested divorce. However, a party to a divorce must keep in mind that a divorce that seems uncontested on the surface can prove to be complicated and acrimonious in the end.

consider filing divorce

Tips to Make a Divorce Case Easier

No matter the best intentions of spouses seeking to end a marriage, a divorce case is not only a legally buy also an emotionally challenging process. There are some strategies that a couple can employ in an effort to lower the tensions and make a divorce case at least somewhat easier to navigate.

Hire a Divorce Lawyer

The number one step to take in an effort to tamp down the emotions and conflicts associated with ending a marriage is to hire a divorce attorney. Yes, when a divorce lawyer is retained, that professional will stand his or her ground and will do what is necessary to protect the rights and interests of the client. But, in the end, it is the divorce lawyer who is doing battle (hopefully with another qualified divorce attorney). This leaves the parties to a divorce case a margin of space to stay out of the fray, at least to some degree.

Write Things Down Before and During a Divorce Case

Everything of consequence in a divorce case needs to be in writing. This includes the taking of notes about matters that may be an issue in a divorce case before such a legal action is filed with the court.

Obviously, major agreements are placed into written form. In addition, if spouses reach agreement during a divorce about when the kids will be picked up for parenting time, confirm the arrangement in writing. Email provides an excellent tool for inter-spousal communication during a divorce. It also provides a means of creating a record about a vast array of smaller, but important, agreements that occur throughout a divorce case.

Keep Third Parties Out of the Mix

Do not involve third parties – except for attorneys – in a divorce case. Do not drag friends into disputes. Do not rely on friends to communicate, unless there is a clearly designated, mutually agreeable individual who can serve in such a capacity without incident.

Practice the Art of the Time Out

When it appears emotions are about to flare, or if some sort of impasse is reached, a divorcing couple should take a breather from each other. Rome wasn’t built in a day and a divorcing couple does not have to address every issue immediately or when it is raised. Time outs works to lower emotions and gives a couple time to contemplate a situation and put it into perspective.

divorce documents

Divorce Documents Needed to File a Case

If you are contemplating ending your marriage, there are divorce documents you need to collect prior to filing your case in court. In order to make sure you round up all necessary documents, you should engage the services of divorce attorney in a proactive manner.

Personal Divorce Documents Checklist

There are various essential personal documents that you need to pull together in advance of filing for divorce. These are:

  • birth certificate
  • Social Security card
  • Immigration and naturalization papers

Financial Divorce Documents Checklist

A variety of different types of financial documents also need to be collected in advance of beginning a divorce case. These include:

  • Federal, state and local income tax returns for past three years
  • Payroll statements or paystubs for past six months
  • Insurance policies
  • Retirement plan documents
  • Real estate documents, including deeds or leases
  • Checking and savings account documents
  • Mortgage and car loan documents
  • Recurring bill states (like cable television or phone bills)

Business Divorce Documents Checklist

If you and your spouse are involved in a business, or have business investments, additional types of documents need to be gathered in advance of filing for divorce. These include:

    Business tax returns of all types
  • Profit and loss statements
  • Balance sheets
  • Organizational documents
  • Insurance policies
  • Contracts
  • Deeds and lease agreements
  • Mortgage and other loan documents

Divorce Documents in Your Spouse's Possession

You need to take care in the manner in which you collect divorce documents. Any documents in your possession or located in your residence in a commonly utilized digital or brick and mortar world filing system can be collected. However, you need to be cautioned about accessing document storage devices that have been secured intentionally by your spouse. For example, do not try to hack into your spouse’s computer to glean information that you feel will be helpful to you in your divorce.

Pennsylvania law and court procedures include resources and procedures to be utilized in collecting documents and information from your spouse. Engaging in self-help tactics that skirt (or perhaps even violate) the law can result in you facing significant sanctions or other difficulties in a divorce case.

divorce facts

Divorce Facts

Are you thinking about divorce? There are some divorce facts to keep in mind. These divorce facts are interesting. And, they may help put your divorce case into perspective.

First Marriages

The U.S. Census Bureau tracks divorce facts. The agency reports that when a first marriage ends in divorce, it lasts an average of eight years.

Second Marriages

People in second marriages have a lower divorce rate. Experts say this is because of what was learned from the first go-around.

Children and Divorce

There are many research studies about divorce facts. Some of these studies focus on children and divorce. Studies suggest that children with divorce parents are more likely to drop out of school.

Who Moves on Faster?

Conventional wisdom is that men get over divorce quicker. Divorce facts suggest something else. According to divorce facts, a woman remarries about 3.1 years after divorce. A man takes a couple months longer. On a more serious note: men are eight times more likely to commit suicide following divorce.

Who Files?

More than two-thirds of U.S. divorce cases are filed by women.

Divorce Facts and Smoking

A research study looked at smoking and divorce. The study reports that divorce is more likely if one spouse smokes. In fact, divorce is upwards to 91 percent more likely if one spouse is a smoker.

Professions with Highest Divorce Rates

Lawyers? No. Doctors? No.

Dancers and choreographers have the highest divorce rate. They are followed by bartenders. (Probably not surprising.) Third on the list are massage therapists. (Probably not surprising.)

Professions with Lowest Divorce Rates

Quite a few make the cut.

Members of the clergy, podiatrists, nuclear engineers and sales people.

More Divorce Facts – Children and Divorce

Parents with kids are less likely to divorce, overall. The divorce rate rises if a couple has twins. It rises even more with triplets.

Divorce and Commuting

One study examined this issue. People who commute more than 45 minutes daily – more likely to divorce.

Divorce and Weight Gain

Who gains weight after divorce? Conventional wisdom says women. Divorce facts says it’s the men.

Legal Representation and Divorce

If you are contemplating a divorce … remember this crucial fact. You best protect your legal rights and interests by hiring an experienced divorce lawyer.

parenting post divorce

What is Parenting Time?

Issues related to child custody represent some of the most emotionally contentious and legally complex aspect of divorce and paternity proceedings. As a consequence, a person facing this type of legal matter is best served by having a basic understanding of the essential elements of child custody issues that can arise in divorce proceedings.

In addition to understanding the essential elements of child custody itself, a parent must also have a grasp of the issues surrounding what is now called "parenting time" in a majority of jurisdictions in the United States today. The concept of parenting time replaces what historically was known as visitation. Indeed, despite the implementation of parenting time concepts over two decades ago in many locations, a significant number of people still refer to visitation.

Overview of Parenting Time

Both visitation and parenting time address ensuring that the noncustodial parent has appropriate access to and time with the minor child born of the relationship.

The movement to parenting time was made in large part because the noncustodial parent should not be deemed to be a mere visitor in the life of his or her child. The noncustodial parent must be able to develop a full and meaningful relationship with the child, which is facilitated through reasonable and regular time spent with that minor.

Scheduling Reasonable and Regular Parenting Time

Courts generally encourage parents to attempt to develop their own parenting time arrangements. Reasonable and regular parenting time requires an examination of the needs of the child as well as the objective of ensuring that both parents develop and maintain a solid relationship with that child.

Courts have developed guidelines to assist parents in attempting to develop a parenting time schedule through negotiation on their own. In addition, these guidelines are used by courts to establish a parenting time schedule when the parties to a case are not able to do so on their own.


Keep in mind that if parents cannot come up with a parenting time schedule on their own, a growing number of courts make experienced, professional mediators available to assist in the process if necessary. Through mediation, parties to a custody and parenting time case oftentimes are able to avoid protracted and unpleasant litigation to address issues associated with their children.

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