Family law is a broad practice area, encompassing marriage, divorce, division of assets, equitable distribution, child support, alimony, alimony pendente lite (APL), child custody, paternity, and other matters relating to families. The attorneys at Shemtob Draganosky Taylor seek to provide answers to help you manage your family matters. While we take the time to understand all of the details in the wide range of family law matters handled by the firm, we know how important it is to educate our clients.

To help you through one of the most difficult times in your life, we have developed this Resources page to help answer some of the questions you may have regarding divorce, child custody, support, separation, and any other family law matters in the state of Pennsylvania.

Please contact us if you have any questions.

Family Law Frequently Asked Questions

    1. Does my spouse have to contribute to the college education of our children?
      The law in Pennsylvania does not require a parent to pay for college. If, however, your spouse agrees to contribute to college and that is reflected in a written Property Settlement Agreement, the obligation will be enforced by the Court.
    2. How is child support determined?
      The Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines will determine the amount of child support you will receive in high income cases; however, the court may deviate from the guideline.
    3. Am I entitled to a portion of my spouse’s 401(K)?
      If the 401(K) was acquired during your marriage, you are entitled to a portion of it. If it was started prior to your marriage, you are entitled to a portion of the increase in value during the marriage.
    4. My spouse inherited $1 million dollars ten (10) years ago, and kept it in her name. Am I entitled to a portion of that?
      You are not entitled to any of the $1 million dollars. However you are entitled to a portion of the increase in value over the past ten years. Therefore if that $1 million dollars grew to $5 million, the first $1 million is 100 percent your spouse’s, but the additional $4 million is marital property subject to equitable distribution.
    5. Do I automatically get 50% of all of our assets?
      Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state which means the Court takes into consideration many factors to determine the percentage division of assets.
    6. How long does one have to be married in order to receive alimony?
      There is no set amount of time. The Court considers 17 factors in determining whether an award of alimony is appropriate.
    7. Are pre-nuptial agreements valid?
      In most cases they are valid provided there was full and fair disclosure of assets.
    8. At what age can our children decide which parent they want to live with?
      There is no set age. A Court will talk with your children and weigh what they have to say taking into consideration their maturity level.
    9. How does a Court determine who will get custody of our children?
      The standard is the “best interest of the child”. The Court will take into consideration many factors including but not limited to who was the primary custodian prior to separation, the preference of the child, the mental and physical health of the parents, the parent who can provide the best guidance for the children, the age and gender of the children, the home environment including half-siblings, and many, many other factors. Each case is extremely fact specific.
    10. What assets are divided between the parties?
      All assets acquired during the marriage are marital property and subject to equitable distribution (unless excluded in a prenuptial agreement). This includes, but is not limited to, retirement accounts (such as IRAs, pensions, and 401(K), brokerage/investment accounts, real estate, vehicles, businesses, bank accounts, cash value of life insurance, stock and stock options, deferred compensation, personal property, such as furniture, TVs, jewelry, etc.)
    11. I have been married for 30 years and inherited $100,000 about seven years ago.  I invested it in various stocks, bonds and mutual funds in my name alone.  It is now worth $170,000.  My husband and I are separating and he thinks he should get half of this, but  I think it is mine.  It is in my name and I inherited it.  What is the law?
      Under PA law, the inheritance of $100,000 is yours. It is non-marital as long as you kept it in your name alone. However, the increase in value of the $100,000 is marital. So, of the $170,000 $100,000 is yours and $70,000 is both of yours and should be divided equitably between you and your Husband.
    12. Unbeknownst to me while we were married my wife obtained a credit card in her name and ran up debt of $25,000.  I had no idea she even had this card, and did not find out until we separated. She did not buy anything for me or for the house. It is all clothes and lunches out with her friends. Now she wants this credit card to be paid from the proceeds of the house when we sell it. I say this is her problem, her credit card, and she should pay it. What is the law?
      Debt acquired during the marriage but before separation is marital debt regardless of whose name it is in. This is also true of assets. Therefore under the PA Divorce Code the $25,000 credit card debt is marital and is the responsibility of both of you.  That does not mean that your attorney could not argue that it is not equitable for you to be responsible for any of it or that your wife should be responsible for the lion’s share of it.  That is where creative lawyering comes in.
    13. My Husband and I have both worked all through our marriage of 17 years and we have three children. He always made a lot more money than I did. He earns close to $300,000 a year and I make about $30,000. His 401K is worth about 10 times as much as mine. Now we are divorcing and he says his pension is his since it is in his name and he worked for it and saved it. I do not think that is fair. I raised our children and worked. I just could not make or save money.  What is the law?
      Under PA law anything acquired during the marriage but before separation is both of yours regardless of how it is titled.  (There are some exceptions.)  Therefore, even though that pension is in his name, it is as much yours as it is his pursuant to the Divorce Code. Keep in mind however that anything he contributed to the 401K prior to your marriage or after your separation is his, and not a marital asset.


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