Viewing entries in
Legal Developments

New PA Law Grants Guardianship Rights to Grandparents While Parents Undergo Drug or Alcohol Treatment

New PA Law Grants Guardianship Rights to Grandparents While Parents Undergo Drug or Alcohol Treatment

By Elizabeth J. Billies | Esquire

The opioid epidemic continues to ravage many communities around the country, including those in Pennsylvania.  As a result, many of the Commonwealth's children are being raised by family members and not their parents struggling with addiction.

Those custodial relationships are often informal and not memorialized by any court order. This can be because the parents are reluctant to relinquish legal custody of their children to another without an end date. As such, these family members have difficulty obtaining benefits for these children as they do not have actual legal rights to them, causing financial strain on the family members and denying these children access to medical and education services that they desperately need. 

On October 23, 2018, Governor Wolf signed a bill into law that would assist those family members, particularly grandparents, by allowing them to obtain temporary guardianship (in three month increments) of such children, thus providing them with access to benefits only afforded to those who have actual legal guardianship.  Governor Wolf also signed a second bill which would give these guardians access to kinship benefits which can assist them in providing financial resources and other services. 

Click here for NBC10's coverage of this bill, which includes a link to the legislation.

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.

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.