Doylestown Divorce and Family Law – The Perils & Pitfalls

This article appears in the August / September 2014 issue of the Bucks Count Women’s Journal

I would like to start out by saying that I am very honored and excited about being a part of this publication, which I feel does a great service to women, by educating and providing comprehensive information about a variety of topics. I hope to contribute to that endeavor in this article and the articles to come.

By way of introduction, my practice focuses on family law in Pennsylvania (our offices are in Doylestown & Newtown), and I primarily handle divorce, equitable distribution, custody, and child and spousal support issues. No woman, or man for that matter, enters into a marriage or relationship with the thought that it will end by way of a journey through the legal system. Unfortunately, the harsh reality is that many find themselves in this exact situation, and most have no idea where to begin or where to turn. Even more problematic is that a wrong move early on can color all of the remaining proceedings, making everything more complicated and costly. Simply put, one cannot make decisions in a vacuum, because the effects can be far reaching.

Have an Experienced Doylestown Divorce Lawyer in Your Corner

Given these intricacies, it is crucial to have an advocate in your corner throughout the entire process. Even if your goal is to avoid litigation and deal directly with your spouse, largely avoiding attorney intervention (a worthwhile endeavor), it is important to know the framework in which you are negotiating. That way, if amicable negotiations break down, you are in a strong position for purposes of litigation. It is much easier to plan proactively than reactively, and you do not want to be fighting an uphill battle in family court, as it is a particularly fact-intensive area of law, and those facts can haunt you for months, if not years, to come. If you think you might find yourself in a family law situation, or if you know a friend or family member dealing with one, keep the following general principles in mind:

  1. The more information you have, the better. It makes it much more difficult for a Doylestown divorce and family law attorney to assist you in your case and keep your costs down if your most-frequent answer is “I don’t know.” Know what assets you have; know which financial institutions handle your banking and investments; know where your tax returns and supporting documents are, etc. Of course, we understand that full knowledge is not always possible, especially with a controlling spouse who handles all of the finances. However, as the spouse residing in the same residence that typically contains all of the financial documentation, you have a great opportunity to conduct informal discovery, free of charge, and we can take it from there.
  2. Think before you act and then think again. Before you make a decision and take the actions necessary to carry it out, ask yourself whether you can defend your position two weeks from now, two months from now, and two years from now. Also ask yourself whether you can do this with a complete stranger who knows nothing about you and your circumstances, aside from what you reasonably can expect to present in a hearing that lasts at most a few days. If you are unsure, get a second opinion before proceeding, preferably from an experienced family law attorney in Bucks County who will steer you clear of the pitfalls.
  3. Be careful about what you put in any form of written communication, whether it be an email, text message, or Facebook or Instagram post. Would you be comfortable having the contents read in open court, in front of a judge, tipstaff, opposing counsel, and opposing party? Essentially, would you be comfortable with the contents being made entirely public (since the transcript of a hearing is public record)? If the answer is “no,” do not send or post the communication; it is not worth the problems and distress it may cause. While the above principles are not meant to solve all of your potential family law problems, you certainly can rely on them to avoid causing irreparable harm to your case, while you are deciding on the ultimate choice you want to make. Behaving in line with these principles should reassure you and give you some peace of mind, as you proceed day to day in what can be a very uncertain time.