Social Media and Family Law In Pennsylvania

Social media has many advantages in today's society. It also has disadvantages especially as it relates to Family Law cases. Information from social media platforms such as FaceBook, Instagram and Twitter are treasure troves for matrimonial lawyers. The kind of evidence that can be obtained from these sites is free and in some cases can be damaging to a client. That's why we advise all of our clients to refrain from using social media when going through a support, divorce or custody matter.

Posts, messages, or tweets could lead one to believe that you are more interested in meeting your friends for drinks than spending time with your children. The posts of friends could lead to problems. If a friend posts a photo of you at a local bar and then tags you in it, it could be used against you in court. The best thing to do is to stay away from all social media while involved in family law matters.

If you have a family law matter, the Mulligan Law Firm can help you. We bring thirty (30) years of experience to your case and up to date knowledge regarding technology and how social media can affect a family law matter.


Can Alimony Be Modified In Pennsylvania?

The question with respect to the modification of alimony comes up frequently in divorce cases. The answer whether alimony is modifiable depends on the facts of the case. In the recent case of Egan v. Egan the Superior Court of Pennsylvania held that the parties' stipulation was not modifiable pursuant to 23 Pa. C.S.A. 3105(c) in the absence of a specific provision allowing for modification. Conversely, 23 Pa. C.S.A. 3701(e) states that a Court Order for alimony is modifiable upon change of circumstances. A change in circumstances typically involves a two part analysis. The Court will look at things like an increase in the dependent spouse's income or a decrease in the payor's income. Secondly, the courts will review the dependent spouse's financial circumstances to determine if a decrease in alimony would hurt that spouse's ability to support himself or herself. Once an analysis of this nature is complete, the court will render a decision.

At the Mulligan Law Firm, our Pennsylvania alimony modification attorneys have over 30 years of experience handling all types of family law matters.


Attorney Mulligan Featured in 'The American Spectator" Article

Learn more about Attorney Jim Mulligan's take on voting fraud in this November's upcoming presidential election with his published article "No Voting Fraud in Pennsylvania? Think Again" from October 16, 2020.


Scranton’s Premier Family Law Firm Enforcing Court Orders

When a party subject to a family law court order fails to comply with the terms of that order, the other party can go to court in an effort to find the other party in violation and possibly in contempt. A finding of contempt is very serious. The party subject to the contempt order can be put in jail, have his or her wages garnished to pay for child support, lose driving privileges and pay the other party’s legal fees.

At Mulligan Law, we represent both sides in contempt and enforcement issues. We understand the law and the procedures concerning these matters. The Mulligan Law Firm will work diligently to protect your rights and to get you the justice you deserve.

Give us a call today for a free consultation and case evaluation (570) 703-0269


Emergency Petition In Pennsylvania Custody Cases

In custody cases, the guiding principle of the court is always protecting the best interest of the child. For this reason, Pennsylvania Courts provide a way to immediately address any potential threats or serious issues concerning children in a custody related case. The petition used to address these emergency situations is called an Emergency Petition for Special Relief. Once the relief is requested, the custody case literally jumps to the front of the line. It’s a powerful tool that can modify the existing custody arrangement at any stage of the process.

A parent who seeks this extreme relief without good cause risks looking like the party who cried wolf in the eyes of the Judge. Filing an Emergency Petition without good cause can ruin a parent’s credibility as his or her case goes through the system. At the Mulligan Law Firm we focus our practice on divorce, custody, and support, and know how and when to use this powerful emergency petition in order to protect children and to serve our clients.

The most common mistake parents make is pressing for an emergency petition when one is not warranted is misreading the basis for filing the Petition. The basis is not when the parent’s interests are at risk but when the child’s interests are not at risk.

The circumstances which lead to the filing of a Petition For Emergency Relief include but are not limited to the following:

  • A parent who takes or makes plans to take a child to another state without permission of the Court or the other parent.
  • A child who is physically or mentally abused by a parent, the parent’s significant other or any other person staying with or having access to the child’s home.
  • A change in the livability of the dwelling, including the termination of utilities, recent damage to the property, or an eviction from the dwelling.
  • The lack of proper accommodations in the home that allow the child to not study, sleep, eat, and attend school, on a regular schedule.

In the event you or a loved one is faced with one of these emergency situations, please call the Mulligan Law Firm in order to obtain the guidance and peace of mind you deserve to move through the custody process.


Coronavirus Complicates Child Custody Issues

Scranton Times article that appeared on 4/19, written as a guest columnist.

Family Matters and Covid 19

The Coronavirus outbreak has raised new issues and concerns for parents and family law practitioners in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and across the country. Many of the newly raised issues are causing chaos for families and children. First responders, especially doctors and nurses, find themselves on the front lines fighting Covid-19 and in a court room fighting to maintain their child custody rights. Indefatigable health care workers are engaged in a war against an invisible enemy and are being told by an ex-spouse or other parent that their custody rights are being withheld or suspended because of fears that they have been exposed to or infected by a contagious virus. Co-parents are finding themselves renegotiating custody agreements all while trying to treat patients and save lives in the middle of the country’s largest public health crisis. Legal issues and arguments raised by both sides of these matters have merit and are being played out all over our country.

On one hand, health care workers argue that they are being punished for doing their jobs and defending our country. It’s true, because of these selfless and heroic individuals, people are being compassionately cared for and lives are being saved. Nurses and doctors are being tested and following the safety protocols established by their health care facilities in order to prevent the spread of a highly contagious virus. They also argue that the ex-spouse or the other parent are attempting to exploit the outbreak by using it to eventually modify the terms of a custody agreement negotiated in good faith. Arguments of this nature make sense but may be difficult to advance now that our entire court system is effectively shut down.

Conversely, the other parent is arguing that it is in the best interest of child or children to shelter in place during uncertain times. These parents believe that any contact with the health care worker/parent is an imminent threat to the child’s well-being. Essentially, they are arguing that the virus is akin to drug abuse or some other safety issue generally advanced in a custody case. Safety is a paramount concern for family courts and is weighted heavily along with other factors when arriving at decisions regarding child custody issues.

I recently had an opportunity to represent a nurse from Monroe County which is one of the hot spots in Pennsylvania for Covid-19. My client has been working in the health care profession for over 15 years and is the mother of an 11-year-old little girl. She has been tested for the virus, has her temperature taken daily and has followed the edicts of the Center for Disease Control. Thankfully, she did not test positive.

A custody agreement between my client and her ex-husband was worked out years ago and things have been going rather smoothly until this pandemic. The natural father’s concerns were raised when his daughter was about to go to her mother’s house for an extended stay. The father maintained it was in the child’s best interest to shelter in place and suspend all visits with mom until the government and health officials say it is safe to resume normal activities. Moreover, the father had consulted with an attorney and was preparing to file a Petition for Emergency Relief with the Court.

Obviously, the mother was in a panic and reached out to me for guidance during these unsettling times. The mother maintained that children need a relationship with both parents especially in times of uncertainty. She too felt as though she was being punished for doing her job. Therefore, we assembled all of her medical and testing records which clearly demonstrated that she wasn’t infected and in good health. Armed with the medical evidence, I reached out to the father’s lawyer. Fortunately, we were able to negotiate an amicable agreement between the parties without the need for court intervention. Had we not reached common ground, we may have found ourselves in a hearing being conducted telephonically or over Zoom. Utilizing this kind of technology is rather new to the courts and clearly uncharted waters for family law practitioners.

Amidst all of the chaos, family court judges are urging parents to abide by their Court Orders but be reasonable with regard to accommodating the other parent. Co-parenting during a pandemic is a monumental task and requires reasonable and measured conduct in these unprecedented times. Joint custody agreements may have to be temporarily modified but it is important to do whatever is necessary to protect the safety of all parties involved. Parents have and will continue to face unique challenges related to Covid-19, but at the end of the day you have to do what is in the best interest of the child or children.

James T. Mulligan, Esq.
Family Law Practitioner


Understanding Domestic Violence

Domestic abuse is a growing problem in our Country and in Pennsylvania. Last year alone there were almost 50,000 protection from abuse cases filed in the Commonwealth. In the event you are experiencing domestic abuse or being terrorized by an intimate partner, you don't have to face it alone. 

Domestic abuse occurs when an intimate partner physically or mentally abuses the other partner. Domestic abuse can involve an assault, the threat of an assault, restricting one's movement or repeatedly terrorizing the other individual mentally. 

There are several remedies which the victim of domestic abuse can pursue in Pennsylvania. One option is a restraining order. The other option is to request the Court to issue a Protection From Abuse Order. These Court Orders are made available to keep the abuser from harming the victims. Violations of these Orders could result in serious consequences which include the possibility of incarceration. Keeping victims of domestic abuse safe is a priority of the Mulligan Law Firm and the Court system. 

Call us at (570) 703-0269 for a free and confidential consultation. 

 


Parental Alienation In Pennsylvania

Parental Alienation is where one parent undermines and interferes with the relationship between the child or children and the other parent. Our custody lawyers have seen our share of malicious parents attempting to alienate a child or children from the other parent. Unfortunately, this type of behavior by parents goes on every day. If you are involved in a nasty custody dispute where you believe the other parent is alienating your child or children against you, let us help devise a strategy to address the problem. We have successfully represented parents who have fought against alienation of their children and have, in extreme cases, secured court orders to take custody away from the alienating parent. 

Seasoned Family Court Judges will typically pick-up on alienation depending on the child's age and maturity. Moreover, a child encouraged to think one parent as bad or evil will generally tell the Court how they have been emotionally manipulated by the other parent if given a chance. This is just one of the warning signs which indicates parental alienation may be taking place. 

Parental alienation can cause a lifetime of psychological harm to a child and not only alienate a child from a parent but also cause problems with future relationships as he or she grow older. At the Mulligan Law Firm, we see examples of parental manipulation/alienation daily. If you need help with an alienation issue, or another family law matter, call us at (570) 703-0269 for a free and confidential consultation. 


How Are Assets Divided During Divorce In Lackawanna County Pennsylvania?

The marital estate is defined as all property acquired by either party during the marriage as well as the increase in value of certain nonmarital property. Equitable distribution requires the Court to identify, evaluate, and distribute marital property pursuant to eleven (11) factors in the statute. The factors which the Court uses are as follows:

  1. The length of the marriage.
  2. Any prior marriage of either party.
  3. The age, health, station amount of income and sources of income vocational skills, employability, estate, liabilities and the needs of each of the parties.
  4. The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the party.
  5. The opportunity of each party for future acquisitions of capital assets and income.
  6. The sources of income of both parties, including, but not limited to, medical, retirement insurance or other benefits.
  7. The contribution or dissipation of each party in the acquisition, preservation, depreciation or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as a homemaker.
  8. The value of the property set apart to each party.
  9. The standard of living the parties established during the marriage.
  10. The economic circumstances of each party at the time the division of property is to become effective.
  11. The Federal, State and local ramifications associated with each asset to be divided, distributed or assigned, which ramifications need to be immediate and certain.
      1. The expense of sale, transfer, or liquidation associated with a particular asset, which expense need to not be immediate and certain.
      2. Whether the party will be the custodian of any dependent minor children.

The court may not necessarily start with a 50-50 distribution. It should be noted that equitable distribution doesn’t mean equal. In evaluating and distributing marital property, the court may consider each marital asset independently and apply different percentages to the assets.

If you would like to discuss equitable distribution in Scranton Pennsylvania or anywhere in Northeastern Pennsylvania call the Mulligan Law Firm at 570-703-0269.


Child Custody Orders and the Coivd-19 Outbreak

Amid the Covid-19 Outbreak, the landscape of family law in Pennsylvania has become temporarily uncertain. Parents are arguing over who comes and goes from each home, whether the child or children should go over to a parent’s house for Easter dinner and if they should be allowed in the local park.

Attorney James Mulligan has received numerous calls since the outbreak of the coronavirus about shared parenting and exposure to the virus. Attorney Mulligan recently said “parents have unique challenges right now but at the end of the day you have to do what is in the best interest of the child or children.” 

During these unprecedented times, the courts are urging parents to abide by Court Orders. Co-parenting during a pandemic could be a monumental task which requires a measured course of conduct. If you need guidance with regard to COVID-19 or any other family law issue, contact the Mulligan Law Firm at 570-703-0269.