Our Attorneys Answer the Most Frequent Questions Asked by Divorcing Couples in PA
Individuals facing divorce or those involved in a custody matter, no doubt, have many questions. In addition, family law matters often cause emotional stress. It is natural to feel alone, lost, depressed or overwhelmed.
Our divorce and custody lawyers are here for our clients. In addition to providing legal support, we are emotionally supportive of our clients. We know you have a lot of questions. Can parents sue for sole custody? How long does it take for a divorce to become final? Can men collect alimony from their wives? Read through our FAQ page to find out what couples are most likely to ask when preparing to separate for good.
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My Ex is Often Late to Custody Exchanges. What Can I Do?
Question: My ex-wife and I had an ugly divorce in Doylestown, Bucks County, PA. We have 2 daughters, and my ex and I have shared physical custody. My ex is often late to custody exchanges. I have asked her politely via phone and text to let me know when she will be late or asked her to be on time. However, she always says it’s traffic or just does not respond to me. I understand that traffic can make her late, but almost every time? She is usually 10 to 15 minutes late, and there have been several times she has been late at least 30 minutes or more. I believe she is doing this to spite me and annoy me because we did not end on great terms. I tried to talk to her about this, but to no avail. My custodial time is shortened very often. I know 15 minutes is not a lot, but almost every time is ridiculous. Is there something I can do?
Answer: Like you said, there are going to be times when your ex will be late to a custody exchange due to circumstances out of her control, such as traffic. In such instances, it would be unreasonable to file a petition for contempt. Typically, Pennsylvania divorce and custody courts would consider this a “minor” issue and would want the parties to work it out themselves.
The other factor you would need to consider is if the custody order allows time for parties to be 15 minutes late. If so, then you really do not have recourse because the custody order allows it. However, if she is often more than 15 minutes late, you may then file a petition with the court.
If there is no provision in the custody order for parties to be 15 minutes late, and you think she is doing it out of spite, you may file a petition for contempt and modification of the current custody order. It is very unlikely the Court will hold her in contempt unless she is consistently late and late for more than 15 minutes each time. You should be aware though, the Courts expect parties in a custody dispute to work together as much as possible and work out minor issues themselves. It would paint you as unreasonable if you file a petition for contempt for her being 15 minutes late only a handful of times over the course of a few months.
If she is consistently late, you should start documenting the times that she is late and how many minutes she is late. You should send her emails or texts politely asking her to be on time. If she doesn’t not respond, that only works in your favor. Make sure you print those emails or texts and store them in a safe place. We have had clients lose years of texts or emails lost due to losing or damaging a phone or computer, so keep a backup.
If the Court finds she intentionally disobeyed the custody order, the court can take away custody time from your ex or let you have make up time. The court may also modify the custody order in your favor, fine her and/or make her pay reasonable attorney fees and expenses you incurred to file the petition.
Are There Different Types of Holiday Custody Schedules? Answer by Newtown Custody Lawyers
Question: What kind of holiday custody schedules are there? My wife and I recently decided to divorce, and the thought of not being with my children during some of the holidays is very upsetting to me. I want to make sure that the schedule is fair.
Answer: I have seen all kinds of holiday custody schedules. There is no one holiday custody schedule that works for every divorced or separated family, but you should seek counsel from a custody attorney to make sure you can reach a holiday custodial agreement that is best for both of you.
If you and your soon to be ex-wife are divorcing on good terms, you may be able to agree on a holiday custody schedule without a court order. Even if you are on good terms that relationship may break down in the future so you should always plan ahead, hoping for the best but expecting the worst. I always recommend the holiday custody schedule should be a part of the custody order. Below are 2 different types of holiday custody schedules.
Divorced or separated couples may decide to alternate holidays. This is the most common division of holidays when both parties celebrate the same holidays. For instance, in year 1, the mom may have custody of the child during Labor Day weekend, while the dad has custody of the child during Memorial Day weekend. In year 2 of such an alternating arrangement, the mom will have custody of the child during Memorial Day weekend, and the father will have custody of the child Labor Day weekend.
Parents do not have to agree to alternate every holiday during the year. In other words, they can decide to only alternate Labor Day and Memorial Day, and not alternate Thanksgiving and Christmas. They may decide to divide the holiday, which is discussed in the next section.
Dividing the Holidays
Parents can divide each holiday, sometimes in conjunction with the alternating schedule. Christmas, for instance, can be divided so that each parent gets time with their children during the holiday. For example, a parent can have custody of the child beginning on December 24th at 8:00 am and ending on December 25th at 2:00 pm. The other parent then has custody of the child beginning on December 25th at 2:00 pm until December 26th at 8:00 pm.
The parents can further agree that the above arrangement will alternate each year. Therefore, one year the mom has custody the first half of Christmas, and the dad has custody the second half of Christmas. Then the next year the dad has custody the first half of Christmas, and the mom has custody the second half of Christmas.
If the parties do not celebrate the same religious holidays it makes it somewhat easier but the national holidays such as July 4th and Memorial Day would still have to be addressed.
Another consideration is if one of the parent’s extended family has an annual get together for one of the holidays. In cases like these, the parents often “trade” for the other like holiday period (i.e. Memorial Day for July 4th), particularly if it requires travel to a distant location.
Other than the above examples, there are many other types of custody schedules in Bucks County custody disputes. In addition, there are other factors we need to consider when planning custody schedules, such as the specific terms of the schedule. See Planning a Newtown and Doylestown, Bucks County Holiday Custody Schedule.
It is difficult to face custodial issues during the holidays, but you are not alone. We, as Newtown custody lawyers, can help you devise a holiday custody schedule that is fair for all parties and in the best interest of your children.