Dischell Bartle Dooley Sponsors Race Benefitting Special Needs Community

Dischell Bartle Dooley Sponsors Race Benefitting Special Needs Community

Dischell Bartle Dooley is helping bring Ainsley’s Angels Inaugural Yellow Stairway 6K/12K to Montgomery County.

The Lansdale law firm is the presenting sponsor for one of the newest races on the Ainsley’s Angels Race Series circuit. The 6K/12K race is Saturday, May 12. It begins at 8:30 a.m. in the parking lot of the Pennbrook Parkway office complex, where Dischell Bartle Dooley is headquartered.

The Ainsley's Angels Race Series travels around the country working to ensure everyone can experience endurance events. What makes this Race Series so unique and special is that it encourages individuals of all abilities to participate—whether on their own feet or with provided racing chariots. Runners can enter an Ainsley's Angels Race Series event on their own or join an Angel Team, which consists of one rider and at least one runner. 

“We are proud to support Ainsley’s Angels works to build awareness of the special needs community through inclusion in all aspects of life,” said Dischell Bartle Dooley Managing Partner Frank Bartle.  

“These races are wonderful examples of what can be achieved when we come together as a community and all work together to foster such inclusion; the possibilities are endless,” said Bob Iannozzi Jr., a partner at Dischell Bartle Dooley. 

Dischell Bartle Dooley’s involvement and sponsorship helped make the first Ainsley’s Angels race in Pennsylvania possible.

Ainsley's Angels in Southeast Pennsylvania is thrilled to have Dischell Bartle Dooley be our presenting sponsor of the inaugural Yellow Stairway race," said Ainsley's Angels ambassador Amanda Piccirilli-Hall. "It means so much to us to have a local business support our message of inclusion and truly believe that at the end of the day, everyone should be included in all aspect, especially endurance sports. We can't wait to roll with the wind on May 12."

Registration for the race is open. Volunteers are needed on May 11 during runner packet pick up and on May 12 between 6:30 a.m. and noon. Race day duties include runner registration, water stations and helping athlete riders into chairs. To volunteer, email jennalauren80@hotmail.com

Five Years of Client Satisfaction!

Five Years of Client Satisfaction!

For the fifth year in a row, DBD Family Law attorney Elizabeth J. Billies was honored as one of the 10 best Family Law Attorneys for Client Satisfaction in Pennsylvania by the American Institute of Family Lawyers. Congratulations Liz!

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A Messy Process Made a Little Messier...

A Messy Process Made a Little Messier...

By Inna G. Materese | Esquire

In December, we touched upon an emerging challenge for family lawyers and litigants alike: crypto-currency. Unfortunately, this new form of asset acquisition continues to be an ephemeral safe-haven for those determined to shield assets in a divorce action and, in the process, makes an already messy divorce process even messier. 

As reported by Bloomberg, not only is crypto-currency volatile, making it difficult to value, but it can be traded with relative anonymity. Crypto-currency holdings that are traded online can be traced and valued with a bit more ease, while holdings that are moved offline (and to a USB) are much more difficult to assess.  

As regulatory agencies grapple with the best method of tracking, disclosing and reporting crypto-currency, it is safe to say that some couples may encounter even more bitterness and frustration in their divorce matter. 

Two Years of Client Satisfaction

Two Years of Client Satisfaction

For the second year in a row, DBD Family Law attorney Inna Materese was honored as one of the 10 best Family Law Attorneys for Client Satisfaction in Pennsylvania by the American Institute of Family Lawyers. Congratulations Inna!

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KIDS DON’T DECIDE THEIR OWN CUSTODY AND FAULT DOESN’T MATTER

KIDS DON’T DECIDE THEIR OWN CUSTODY AND FAULT DOESN’T MATTER

*This article was written and originally publish by Judy Malmon on SuperLawyers.com and can be found in its original form here.

By Judy Malmon

Divorce is ubiquitous. Many of us know someone who’s been through the process, or have been divorced ourselves. Stories of divorce are on TV, social media, the internet—nearly everywhere you look. Despite this, there remain a surprising amount of misconceptions.

What you think you know about divorce isn’t necessarily true.

Kids Don’t Choose

Lansdale family law attorney Elizabeth Billies, of Dischell Bartle Dooley, says that one of the most common errors she encounters is the belief that children over a certain age (usually 12 or 14) can decide their own custody arrangement. I have so many people that come in and say, ‘My kid can decide where they want to live.’ And I have to tell them, ‘No, that is not what the law says.’”

Pennsylvania custody law outlines 16 factors that go into a judicial determination of custody based on finding what would be in the best interest of the child. Within these factors is one that takes into account a child’s “well-reasoned preference.” But this is only a factor, not dispositive in itself, and is considered in light of their maturity and judgment.

Billies shares a story from early in her career to illustrate the rationale behind this law: “In one memorable case I worked on, the girl was 15 or 16, back when MySpace was popular. The dad lived out of state, and he found evidence in his daughter’s MySpace postings that she was hanging out with guys who were 19 years old and drinking. They showed in the custody trial that mom was trying to act like a friend, not like a parent, and exercising poor judgment. In that case, custody was transferred to dad, and the child had to move. Obviously, that was not the child’s preference, but it was in her best interest, and is an example of why preference can’t rule the day. Because why should a 12 year-old know what’s best for them?”

No Fault Means Exactly That

Another common misconception Billies sees regularly has to do with property distribution under no-fault divorce. “People think if someone cheated on them, abused them, was not good with money, that should really count for something in the division of property. And it just doesn’t.”

In a no-fault divorce there is no examination of the behavior of the parties related to the dissolution of their marriage. “When it comes time to divide up assets, I tell my clients to look at it as a dissolution of a business,” says Billies. “It’s a business transaction. That makes the emotional piece really different.”

Billies recommends working on emotional issues with a therapist or friend, while keeping the legal end of things more practical. This also helps keep the legal bill down, as fighting with your ex through your lawyer can be very costly.

Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, meaning that property between divorcing spouses is not divided evenly in half, but apportioned according to what a judge considers fair in light of factors such as relative income of each spouse, anticipated retirement income of each, duration of the marriage, and other factors deemed relevant (but not fault-related behavior). Assets that were owned prior to the marriage or a gift or inheritance are generally not part of the marital estate.

Prevalent misinformation can leave you with incorrect assumptions about your divorce or custody situation. Talk to an experienced family law attorney to make sure you have the best information and advice.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Consultation

How to Get the Most Out of Your Consultation

By Inna G. Materese | Esquire

Most people don’t visit an attorney’s office happily. After all, why would one need an attorney if everything is going swimmingly? It is therefore understandable that most clients are unsure of how to proceed when scheduling a consultation with a lawyer. However, the solution to your legal question often begins to form at that initial meeting with competent counsel and it is important to get the most out of the first visit. So, how does one get the most out of a legal consultation? So glad you asked.

  1. Choose (your counsel) wisely. Many clients (understandably) shy away from consultation fees and only seek out free consultation. In doing so, they are potentially eliminating the attorney they need. Consultation fee avoidance can cost you big time in the long run. Though you may ultimately choose not to work with the attorney with whom you consult, it is important to ensure that the attorney you’re meeting with takes the time to get to know and understand your specific circumstances. You will likely find that a paid consultation lasts longer and is more in-depth than those offered free of charge. It is quite likely that you will walk out of a paid consultation with an evaluation of your specific case and a strategy for tackling your legal issue. If you shy away from an attorney you believe can aptly handle your matter because he or she charges a consultation fee, you may be shortchanging yourself down the road.
  2. Do your own recognizance. Before you meet with an attorney (or sign a retainer, for that matter), understand whom you are hiring. There are many, many attorneys out there and many, many resources to help you find the right one. Consult the local bar association for active bar members who practice in the field you are looking for. You may wish to consult with an attorney with a certain number of years of practice or certain credentials. This information, as well as attorney disciplinary records is likely available online. Evaluate whether the attorney you are considering has relevant experience, participates in relevant associations, is respected by the legal community, and/or has positive client testimonials.
  3. Get your ducks in a row. Being prepared is the best way to get the most out of your time with an attorney. Know as much as possible about the facts of your situation and identify the things you don’t know. It is often helpful to jot down notes regarding specific timelines, dates, details, and other pertinent descriptions. Compile any and all documents to support your understanding of the situation. For example, if your legal issue involves a dispute over a contract, make sure to have the contract handy at the meeting, as well as any documents evidencing your position. The easier it is for your attorney to assess the situation, the more productive your consultation will be.
  4. Remember that details are essential. Your attorney will likely ask you extremely specific questions about every detail of the issue. They are not doing so to be nosy. Instead, he/she is attempting to truly assess your case. Though it may be frustrating to clients at times, most cases turn on small threads of information and the manner in which the law applies to those very particular circumstances. Include all possible details regarding your issues, even if you may not believe it is relevant or noteworthy. Don’t be afraid to share with the attorney in your consultation. While some information may be personal and/or feel embarrassing, your attorneys needs to know anything that can affect your case to properly advise you and your consultation is confidential.
  5. Facts, Facts, Facts (and more facts). Nothing is a bigger shock to a potential client’s system than to hear an attorney redirect him/her away from their feelings about an issue to more mundane facts. But, remember those details we mentioned above? Your attorney needs as many of them as possible during your meeting. While we always keep in mind that the situation that brought you to our office is sensitive and can be extremely emotional, keeping your focus on the factual circumstances is the best way to get the most bang for your legal buck.
  6. Bring your goals but leave your prejudices at the door. When you meet with an attorney, it is important to have an idea of what you’d like to accomplish, even if it is not quite fleshed out yet. Make sure your attorney is aware of your goals so he/she can advise you appropriately. However, it is equally important to remain flexible, adaptable, and receptive to input. Your consulting attorney may advise you that your goals, in their original form, are not quite feasible or, well, legal. Or, an attorney may advise you that the process for accomplishing your goal may look quite different than what you envisioned. Be open to professional advice. After all, that’s what you’re here for!
  7. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask questions during your meeting. While your consulting attorney may wish to explain a certain concept or obtain certain information before answering, it is important that your questions are addressed. Before you leave, address any questions you may have about legal options, fees, retention of your attorney, possibility of success, attorney experience, etc. Doing so allows you to not only evaluate your legal circumstances but also helps you evaluate whether this attorney is the right man or woman for the job.

Keeping these tips in mind when you visit an attorney will help you have a more effective consultation and help you find the best attorney to collaborate with.

DBD Family Law Attorneys Serve in Leadership Roles in 2018

DBD Family Law Attorneys Serve in Leadership Roles in 2018

Elizabeth J. Billies and Inna Materese, DBD Family Law attorneys, are serving in leadership roles in the Family Law Section of the Montgomery County Bar Association for 2018. Ms. Billies is serving as the Chairperson of the Friends of the Court Committee, while Ms. Materese is chairing the Dickman Seminar Committee. 

Both attorneys are also on executive committee of Doris Freed Inn of Court for the 2017-2018 term. Ms. Billies serves as the treasurer of the organization, while Ms. Materese serves as secretary. 

 

The Expanding and Evolving American Family

The Expanding and Evolving American Family

By Inna G. Materese | Esquire

"What do you call, for example, your stepmother’s son’s live-in girlfriend’s 11-year-old son?" inquires Ben Steverman of Bloomberg. This question gets to the heart of a consideration many family law litigants and practitioners may be encountering more and more.

Us family law practitioners are mostly consumed with what occurred during our clients' marriages, what is taking place during the pending litigation, and protecting our clients' future financial prospects. However, though we may wish our clients well and love to receive updates, we don't always know how their families evolve and grow after the completion of their family law matter. 

With many American families reconfiguring through divorce and remarriage, there is no doubt that many families expand in unexpected ways. Perhaps taking the complexities of post-divorce families into consideration is an important part maintaining familiar relationships. 

The New High Tech Trend in Hiding Marital Assets in Divorce

The New High Tech Trend in Hiding Marital Assets in Divorce

By Inna G. Materese | Esquire

It's hard to read or see the news  these days without running into mention of bitcoin, the crypto-currency that has exploded onto the scene and exponentially increased overnight. Even so, most of us are left scratching our heads when it comes to understanding how it all works or what it all means. 

For family law litigants and practitioners, the prospect of a "bitcoin divorce" is even more of a puzzler. Are bitcoin divisible in equitable distribution? If so, are these asset in the nature of currency or personal property or stocks? Are bitcoin transactions traceable and able to be regulated? Perhaps most importantly, can bitcoin and/or other crypto-currency be withdrawn or sold for actual dollars?

There are currently few definitive answers to these questions. However, we are already seeing the impact of the electronic cash system on divorce matters as some appear to be using the currency as a high-tech method of hiding cash

If you or your partner own crypto-currency, consult with an attorney regarding the best way to deal with this new type of asset. 

Tax Reform Bill Takes Aim at Adoption and Alimony

Tax Reform Bill Takes Aim at Adoption and Alimony

By Inna G. Materese | Esquire

The recently-released House Tax Reform Bill has seemingly sent analysts and experts in all kinds of field scrambling to determine how the proposed changes may impact the rest of us. 

Family law practitioners, litigants, and policy-makers are no exception. Indeed, the Bill would eliminate certain deductions and exemptions many of our clients rely upon. Some family law veterans are concerned about the Bill's plan to eliminate the adoption tax credit. Others debate the choice to eliminate the alimony deduction used by many litigants and attorneys alike to negotiate as mutually acceptable deal in their divorce. 

As the House and Senate continue to debate the merits of the new Bill, it is important to consider how these changes may impact your case, if your matter is still pending. Be sure to speak with your attorney regarding the possible tax implications of your family law matter.

DBD Partner Jon Young Follows Up Trial Victory with a Win in the Superior Court

DBD Partner Jon Young Follows Up Trial Victory with a Win in the Superior Court

By Inna G. Materese | Esquire

What happens when a home seller refuses to return escrowed funds in a home purchase gone wrong? Attorney Jon Young knows.

The home purchase began like most others. The buyers agreed to purchase a home from the sellers and put a deposit in escrow, pending an inspection of the property. The inspection revealed that the septic system was not appropriate and the well water to the home was not portable. This is where things went awry.

Though the buyers refused to repair the septic system or negotiate a credit for the repairs, they also refused to return the buyers' $70,000 deposit. That is, until Jon Young stepped in. Jon was able to secure a judgment at trial ordering the return of the funds to the buyers. In an October 26, 2017 decision, the Superior Court affirmed the ruling.

Congratulations to Jon and his clients!

 

Keeping Your Case Information Confidential

Keeping Your Case Information Confidential

By Inna G. Materese | Esquire

Beginning January 6, 2018, a new Pennsylvania Supreme Court rule will impact who can access information regarding your legal matter. The rule, which applies to all trial court or appellate cases filed in Pennsylvania, formally recognizes the idea that public records, including court documents, are, well, indeed public. 

In recognition of this fact, the new policy governs how records will be accessible to the public, how requests for access to records will be handled, and how litigants must file documents that are sensitive or contain confidential information. 

Attorneys and their clients must now take care to protect confidential information, such as dates of birth, financial information and social security numbers, from public access and certify that they have done so in accordance with the new policy. To remain private, this information should be kept out of filed pleadings and, instead, listed only in Confidential Information sheets, which do not become part of the public record. While all counties will utilize the Confidential Information sheet format, litigants in Montgomery County may have an extra layer of protection. Montgomery County is currently working on establishing a local rule that would require the filing of redacted and unredacted versions of pleadings, such that only judges and the parties (as well as their attorneys) can view unredacted documents.