Family Law

Butler, Pennsylvania Family Law and Divorce Lawyer

Family law concerns may give rise to many changes in your life. You are making decisions that will impact your future and the future of your children. It is important to build a strong support network as you face these changes. Having a compassionate, experienced attorney on your side allows you to focus on making life decisions while we focus on legalities.

Contact us today for knowledgeable, approachable divorce and family law representation. We take the time to understand your concerns and help you reach the outcome you desire.

Divorce — Securing Your Entitlements

Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state. In divorce, the term “equitable” does not necessarily mean “equal.” We work to protect your property investments throughout the division of assets.

During your proceedings we can request exclusive possession of the marital residence, pending the final divorce decree. This is especially beneficial if you are the temporary custodial parent.

Financial security following a divorce is crucial. You may be entitled to spousal support or alimony payments from your former spouse. Rely on our knowledge of the factors for determining spousal support as we help you demand fairness in these matters.

We can also help you to secure Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDROs) to regulate the division of 401(k) plans, pensions and retirement benefits.

Child Support

The state of Pennsylvania has set specific child support guidelines. As your legal advocates, we make certain all relevant income is taken into account. We can also request court deviation from support guidelines, if it is appropriate. Following a change in circumstances, we will also help you request modification of an outstanding child support order, if necessary.

Adoption and Guardianship

Changing History One Child at a Time

Adopting a child that has been living with you in can be an amazing opportunity to save the child from a life of abuse and neglect. Although you may be excited at the opportunity to expand your family, there are also many challenges that come with it. We will work with you through the legal process.

Foster Care Adoption

If you have chosen to adopt the child that has been living with your in foster care, the county will give you many benefits. Although this helps with the adoption financially, working to the point can be a complicated process. The may be eligible to receive a subsidy until he or she is 18. If the child has special needs, this period can be extended. In addition, the county will also issue medical cards and reimburse you for the cost of the adoption.

Private Adoption

We work with families throughout the entire adoption process to ensure every step  is completed correctly. We will provide referrals for home studies and application for necessary clearances. When necessary, we accomplish termination of the parental rights of one or both parents, as the situation requires. Following termination, if applicable, we will work with you to finalize the adoption and obtain your child’s new birth certificate.

Types of Private Adoptions

  • Kinship: When there is only one degree of separation between the adopting parent and the child, this is a kinship adoption. In kinship cases, home studies are not required. We will provide applications for necessary clearances, accomplish termination of the parental rights, finalize the adoption, and obtain your child’s new birth certificate.
  • Step parent adoption: When a spouse wants to adopt their step child, this process is used. We will provide applications for necessary clearances, seek consent to adopt from the birth parent or accomplish termination of the parental rights, finalize the adoption, and obtain your child’s new birth certificate.
  • Second Parent: When same sex partners are adopting a child, this process is used. Regardless of whether or not one of the parents is biologically related to the child, we will provide referrals for the required home studies, applications for necessary clearances, accomplish termination of the parental rights, if necessary, finalize the adoption, and obtain your child’s new birth certificate.
  • Identified private adoption: Identified private adoptions are an alternative to agency adoptions. These are often facilitated by friends, acquaintances or familial relationships. In this situation, we will provide applications for necessary clearances, accomplish termination of the parental rights, finalize the adoption, and obtain your child’s new birth certificate.
  • Private agency: Typically done through a private adoption agency, most families have already contacted their adoption agency prior to retaining us. The agency is responsible for identifying the birth parents, conducting the home study and obtaining the necessary clearances. We help with the adoption by terminating the parental rights, finalizing the adoption, and obtaining the child’s new birth certificate.

Guardianship

When a family member can no longer manage their own affairs and they did not create a power of attorney, Elizabeth A. Smith, Esquire can assist their loved ones in filing for legal guardianship. For clients in Butler County, guardianships allow one family member to make decisions for another who may be mentally disables or incapacitated, protecting them from becoming a victim of fraud or theft. Contact our skilled Butler County attorney to discuss your family’s needs.

Established Legal Guardianship

A guardianship is intended to protect the legal and financial interests of someone who cannot manage their own affairs. The power to make legal decisions on their behalf has a significant impact on their lives and a legal guardian must be appointed by a judge. Our experienced guardianship lawyer is available to help clients through the guardianship process – from preparing all the paperwork needed to petition the court for guarianship, to presenting evidence and testimony detailing the reasons why the person in question requires their affairs to be managed.

Since guardianships can apply to minor children as well, the court will also consider the medical, educational, and daily living needs involved and how they will be secured. We also help clients with requests to appoint a guardian ad litem in custody matters to represent the best interests of a child and other family law matters.

In addition, we will create a guardianship over an individual or an estate to help you care for a loved one.

Contact us for more information or to schedule an appointment.