Can I Attend a Support Conference Without an Attorney?

It is not recommended. If you and your spouse are W-2 wage earners, the process by which a child support obligation and spousal support obligation is calculated is based on a formula. The Pennsylvania Support Guidelines, calculation of support obligations, formula can be located in the Pennsylvania Rules of Civil Procedure 1910.16-4.

The formula itself is not complicated. There are a number of issues you should be aware of before attending a support conference on your own or prior to consulting with an attorney in preparation for a support conference.

  1. Medical Insurance – which parent provides the health, dental, and vision coverage? If you are the parent/spouse providing the insurance coverage, the cost of insurance will be reflected on your pay stub. This figure however does provide the figures for the cost of insurance to the employee only, employee plus children; and employee plus family. This information can generally be obtained from the employer’s Human Resource Department and it will provide a more accurate cost of insurance to the employee/spouse.
  1. Mortgage – If you are married, the spouse remaining in the marital residence may be able to seek a mortgage contribution. For the spouse receiving child support and/or spousal support, you may receive additional support to help pay for the mortgage. If you are the spouse paying support and you reside in the marital residence, you may be able to reduce your support obligation, due to your payment of the mortgage. In order to seek this adjustment in the support obligation, you will need to have documentation evidencing the mortgage, home owners insurance, and real estate taxes. Pa.R.C.P. 1910.16-6(e) sets forth the mortgage contribution formula.
  1. Child Care Expenses – Child care expenses are in addition to the guideline child support obligation. Child care expenses are apportioned between the parties based on their net incomes. If there are child care expenses, make sure documentation as to the cost of expenses is brought to the support conference.
  1. Support Credits – Support Order’s are retroactive to the date the support petition was filed. If you are the spouse/parent, who is going to owe support, and you have been paying bills on behalf of the financially dependent spouse/parent, make sure you provide documentation evidencing the bills and expenses you have paid on behalf of the financially dependent spouse/parent and children from the support petition was filed through the date of the support conference. You are entitled to a credit towards your support obligation, however, this credit must be asked for at the conference.

If you plan on attending a support conference without representation, it is recommended you at least consult with an attorney beforehand.

How do I File my Taxes Now That I am Separated or Getting Divorced?

How do I file my taxes now that I am separated or getting divorced? If you separated from your spouse in 2014, you and your spouse should discuss how you are going to file your Federal and State Tax Returns in 2014. Waiting until April 14th, may be too late to sort out the details and will cause each of you additional stress. If you are unsure if it is to your financial benefit to file jointly with your spouse, stop wondering and ask an accountant to draft two separate returns for you, one filing jointly with your spouse and one filing separately. It will be worth your time and money. (more…)

KRHB Law Litigates a to Enforce a Prenuptial Agreement Resulting in Client Retaining an Over Seven-Figure Sum of Monies

Attorney Marc I. Rickles represented a client, Husband, that had a prenuptial agreement that was entered into on the eve of his wedding over 25 years ago.  The entire agreement was one paragraph in length, far shorter than the standard prenuptial agreements.  Wife sought to invalidate the agreement.  Mr. Rickles filed a Petition to Enforce the Validity of the Prenuptial Agreement and the action was litigated.  The agreement on its face lacked many of the key factors that are necessary to declare such an agreement valid, there were disclosure, duress and ambiguity issues.  However, at trial Mr. Rickles was able to argue that certain ambiguities contained in the agreement allowed for the introduction of extrinsic evidence for clarification.  With that, Husband was able to testify to a course of conduct over the lifetime of the marriage that evidenced it was always the parties’ intent to abide by the terms of the prenuptial agreement.   The court held that the prenuptial agreement was valid and enforceable resulting in our client retaining over a seven figure sum of monies.

Prenuptial Agreements In New Jersey Now More Difficult To Amend

Under recent amendments to the New Jersey Uniform Premarital and Pre-Civil Union Agreement Act, premarital agreements will be more difficult to amend. Therefore, it is imperative that both parties fully understand their rights and obligations before signing on the dotted line.

Essentially, a “prenup” is a written contract executed prior to marriage, which outlines the assets and liabilities of each spouse and determines their rights and obligations, should the couple divorce. To ensure the contract is enforceable, it must be clear and reasonably fair to both parties.

Under the prior law, a spouse could challenge the enforceability of a prenup if terms would result in financial hardship, such as providing a standard of living far below that which was enjoyed before the marriage or leaving one of the spouses without a means of reasonable support. Therefore, if the support payments outlined in the agreement would leave one of the spouses destitute and result in a windfall for the other, a court could deem the contract “unconscionable” and amend its provisions.

However, the revised statute narrows the definition of “unconscionable” to include only situations in which one party:

  • Was not provided full and fair disclosure of the earnings and property and financial obligations of the other party;
  • Did not voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing, any right to disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party beyond the disclosure provided;
  • Did not have, or reasonably could not have had, an adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other party; or
  • Did not consult with independent legal counsel and did not voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing, the opportunity to consult with independent legal counsel

Thus, financial hardships that occur after the execution of the agreement no longer warrant amendment. Given the recent changes in state law, couples should consult an experienced and knowledgeable New Jersey family law attorney prior to signing any premarital agreement. While no one wants to enter a marriage thinking its not going to work out, it is important to understand how the agreement may impact you later down the road.

At Kardos, Rickles, Hand & Bidlingmaier, our New Jersey family law attorneys can explain the benefits and risks of a prenuptial agreement. We can also help negotiate a contract that protects your best interests and answer any questions you may have. Contact us today at 609.989.7995.