Letters to the Editor

New state law will cut divorce wait time in half

3d1adfd24c5365b115d5_5b0969680de0a2b560de_letter_to_the_editor.jpg
3d1adfd24c5365b115d5_5b0969680de0a2b560de_letter_to_the_editor.jpg

The anxiety, acrimony and expense of a no-fault divorce may diminish after a new state law takes effect in December.

Act 102, signed by Gov. Wolf earlier this month, rolls back the waiting period for a divorce from two years to one year.  While this change may seem like tinkering around the edges of a labyrinthine Divorce Code, that one-word change – and one-year difference -- can spell a world of positive change for children of divorcing parents.

Protecting the best interests of young children is the reason this enactment was a long-standing priority of the Family Law Section of the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

Sign Up for E-News

I was honored to lead that section from July 2014 to July 2015, and to work with Dan Clifford, now a judge on the Court of Common Pleas in Montgomery County, on this shared objective, along with legislators and fellow lawyers.  

While interest in this new law runs high among couples in the process of divorce, it is important to note that the law’s provisions affect only those who begin to live separate and apart after the law’s effective date, which is December 4th, 2016.

Far from advocating a “quickie” divorce or “fast-forwarding” the breakdown of a marriage, the new law is designed to help families move on with their lives and put major decisions in place after a marriage is already “irretrievably broken.” Resolving larger economic and custody issues can then proceed more quickly, affording all parties a greater opportunity to adjust and move forward in their new reality.

To fully appreciate the genesis and ramifications of the new law, an understanding of current law is essential.

Pennsylvania’s statute delineates three ways to prove that a spouse is entitled to a legal divorce. The first occurs when both parties consent and sign. Mutual agreement allows divorces to be completed in as little as 90 days after the filing and service of a complaint.  The second is if one party will not consent and sign for a divorce, the court will not grant it until the parties wait two years from the date of separation.  The third way is to prove grounds for fault.

The new law deals with only the second eventuality.

The goal of the two–year waiting period was to promote reconciliation, a worthy and well-intentioned objective. However, in its implementation, family law attorneys witnessed a host of unintended consequences.

During this mandated waiting period, uncertainty and insecurity reigned, and both parties were suspended in an emotional, economic, co-parenting and marital limbo. Separated but not divorced, litigation often escalated to more heated and high-priced heights. Stress increased along with the legal fees, and money intended for children went to attorneys instead. Lawyers and judges found that, after two years, parties do not change their mind and miraculously reconcile.

Frequently, young children cannot move on with their lives until the “money” issues are settled and unresolved questions are answered, including “Should we sell the house?” and “Should we send the kids to a new school?”

It has become increasingly apparent to lawyers and Judges handling family law matters that this uncertainty, and this long wait, is harmful to children, financially, academically and emotionally. It is an axiomatic that the biggest indicator of children’s success after a divorce is the level of conflict in the dissolution to which the children are exposed. 

In my 28 years of practicing divorce law, I have observed first-hand that the fighting often magically evaporates – not during the two-year period -- but once a divorce is finalized.  This new law helps to accelerate families progress to this point of peace and acceptance.

It still gives the married parties a one year cooling off period -- a time to reconsider and perhaps reconcile. And it does not automatically hit the “delete” button on the marriage.  A second hurdle must be scaled, dealing with economic issues, such as alimony and the distribution of property.  If these economic issues cannot be resolved by agreement, the court will not even start to address those issues until grounds for divorce have been established. The change allows divorcing parties to “get in line” more quickly to deal with the economic component of their case. 

Some legislators have wondered aloud why family lawyers are advocating a change that will allow consumers to pay less for a divorce. 

In a sentence, it is the right thing to do.  When the law fails to accomplish its intended goals in an already heart-wrenching process, it must be corrected.  Indeed, New York and New Jersey only have a six-month waiting period; Indiana, a 60-day; and Ohio, none.

Like Pennsylvania, these states have seen that a family enduring the anguish and uncertainty of divorce is helped by closure.

The sooner a family can move through the divorce process once it is inevitable that it will occur, the better.

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TAPinto.net or anyone who works for TAPinto.net. TAPinto.net is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer. Click here to submit a Letter to the Editor.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Morristown

AtlantiCast

AtlantiCast: Episode 12

On this week’s episode of AtlantiCast, decade of excellence makes headlines, as Atlantic Health’s place on Fortune Magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For List leads off the newest episode of AtlantiCast. Also on this week’s show, check out the newest “hybrid” operating room at Morristown Medical Center and find out how Atlantic Health is helping local ...

Guest Column: Help! My Boss is A Bully and Harasses Me

Women in all fields have experienced sexual harassment as well as sexual assault by the famous and the merely inconspicuous. Too often the powers that be in the workplace turn a blind eye or protect the harasser.  Worse yet, the harassment is often accompanied by bullying and intimidation.

What should you do if you find yourself in a situation where your boss or supervisor is sexually ...

Morris Animal Inn: February is National Pet Dental Health Month

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Throughout the month of February, when you schedule your dog's teeth brushing at Morris Animal Inn's Salon, your dog will receive a FREE Dental treat.

Schedule now at 973-532-5030 or visit www.morrisanimalinn.com

Roxbury Teacher Union Plans Rally Over Contract as Mediation Begins

February 23, 2018

ROXBURY, NJ – Teachers and other members of the Roxbury Education Association (REA) are asking the public to show up Monday for a rally they hope will pressure the Roxbury School Board into signing a new contract.

The rally is scheduled to take place right before representatives from the union and the board meet in front of a mediator.

The “Rally for a Contract ...

NBA Star Dennis Rodman Enjoys Life in Livingston

February 24, 2018

LIVINGSTON, NJ — Former National Basketball Association (NBA) star Dennis Rodman’s friends say he is “living like a Livingston kid” while he is in town doing an outpatient program for Turning Point Rehab Center.

Livingston native Chris “Vo” Volo, an agent for Prince Marketing Group, has been representing Rodman for seven years and the two quickly became ...

Law Enforcement Night At Mennen Arena March 2

February 23, 2018

MORRISTOWN, N.J-The Morris Area Coalition for Education and Positive Choices is rapidly becoming a household name in Morris County.  Word is spreading about the many initiatives being instituted by this unique, powerful group that provides the community with facts and information in the fight against drug and alcohol abuse. Everyone is quickly realizing the benefit to families when they ...

Grand Reopening Activities for Morristown National Historical Park this Weekend

MORRISTOWN, NJ - The schedule of events for the Grand Opening of the Morristown National Historical Park's Discover History Center has been announced. From February 17 through February 20, visitors can attend a variety of talks, walks, interactive exhibits, and performances.  

All events will begin or occur at the Washington’s Headquarters Museum, 30 Washington ...

Morristown High School Presents 'Anything Goes'

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Rehearsals are underway for the 2018 Morristown High School production of Anything Goes. There will be four performances; Thursday March 8, Friday March 9, Saturday March 10 and Sunday March 11

Tickets are on sale and available at www.mhstix.com

Sign up to get all the news as it happens at www.TAPinto.net/enews and follow us on Facebook ...

Registration is Open for Morris Elite's Spring and Summer Camps

February 19, 2018

Morris Elite Soccer Camp will be offering four weeks of camp this summer. Don't miss out! Register now at https://www.morriselitesoccer.com/page/show/3890035-camps

Celebrate Presidents Day with Photography Exhibition on George Washington’s Headquarters

MORRISTOWN, NJ - The museum at New Jersey’s Morristown National Historical Park kicks off Presidents Day with the debut solo exhibition George Washington’s Headquarters:  Photographs by Xiomáro, curated by Jude M. Pfister, D.Litt, the park’s Chief of Cultural Resources.  Admission is free and the 24 large images of the Ford Mansion, which served as ...

Macculloch Hall Historical Museum Remembers Abraham Lincoln; Feb. 19

MORRISTOWN, NJ - Macculloch Hall Historical Museum is hosting a program for children on Monday February 19 titled, "Abraham Lincoln Remembered".

Kids can learn about Lincoln’s whistle-stop train trip that began on February 11, 1861 when he traveled from his home in Springfield, Illinois to Washington, DC, where he took the presidential oath of office and began his first term as ...

The HOPE ONE Van Comes to Morristown Library Feb. 8th

February 8, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ -  The HOPE ONE van will be at the Morristown & Morris Township Library on today, February 8 from 9am - 2pm. 

The  HOPE One vehicle, which previously was used in police tactical operations is now a mobile recovery access vehicle. The vehicle, which  has trained staff on site, provides individuals with information about rehab, detox services, ...

iCan Bike, a Bike Riding Camp For People With Disabilities, Comes To CCM in Randolph

RANDOLPH, NJ- iCan Bike, a camp to teach individuals with disabilities to ride a conventional two-wheel bicycle, is coming to County College of Morris in the summer of 2018.  CCM is generously providing the use of their gymnasium for the iCan Bike organizers to run their program in.

The camp, which will be held August 6-10, is one of several programs run under the auspices of iCan Shine, ...

Spring Registration Now Open at The Adult School

The Adult School of the Chathams, Madison and Florham Park announced on Monday the opening of its spring registration.

Classes are offered in a diverse range of subject areas, including computers, foreign languages, arts and crafts, food and cooking, dance and music, career and finance, home and garden and sports and fitness. 

This spring will see the return of many of the ...

Morristown Announces Youth Spring Sport Programs

February 24, 2018

MORRISTOWN, NJ - The Morristown Recreation Department has announced that registration for Spring soccer, multi-sport, track and field and flag football is now open

Soccer will take place on Saturdays, beginning April 14 through May 19, 2018 at Lidgerwood Field     

Soccer Squirts

Ages 3-5          ...

Morrisown Students Invited to the Morris County Public Safety Youth Academy

MORRISTOWN, NJ - The sixth-annual Morris County Public Safety Youth Academy program will be held this July for students entering grades 9-12 in the fall. Enrollment will begin March 1 and close April 8. The program is designed for students entering Grades 9 – 12 in the fall of this year.  

The 2018 program will be held the week of July 23 – July 27 (Mon – ...

Brendan Fletcher of "The Voice" Named as a Judge for Morristown ONSTAGE

MORRISTOWN, NJ – The Morris Educational Foundation (MEF) has announced this year’s panel of professional judges which includes 2016 semi-finalist on The Voice and New Jersey native, Brendan Fletcher.  Brendan was introduced to Morristown ONSTAGE last year when his friend and fellow musician, Jay Phatak, competed for the top prize and won last year’s 19 and over ...

Height during childhood associated with increased stroke risk in adulthood

Researchers in Denmark studied the health records of more than 300,000 people born between 1930 and 1989 and found that those who were shorter than average height between ages 7 and 13 had a greater risk of stroke as adults. The results of this study were published in the February 15, 2018 issue of the journal Stroke.

Summary: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320922.php

Journal ...

Don't Miss This OPEN HOUSE Saturday for a 3BR Parsippany Trophy Home

Treat yourself to this newly-priced trophy home in majestic Puddingstone Estates in Parsippany, NJ!   See the details here or stop by the OPEN HOUSE on February 24th, 1 to 3 pm. If you can't make it, call Team Nest Builder's Lynn Garafola at 973-222-3777 for a private tour. 

You must experience this beautiful home to believe it!  It's ...

Prayers the Devil Answers by Sharyn McCrumb

Prayers the Devil Answers by Sharyn McCrumb (Altria, 2015)

 

Years later, after the tragedy, someone remembered the Dumb Supper and what had happened there. That was the cause of it, they said, because the ritual wasn't a game after all. It really was magic, but magic has rules, and she broke them. Even when they call it a 'senseless tragedy,' people always try to find a ...

Game of Thrones: A Definitive Ranking of Seasons 1-7

Groundhog Day. The day a tiny mammal’s shadow tells us when winter will come to an end. Me? I prefer my weather forecast in the form of a white raven (the telltale changing of seasons in Westeros).

For a few days, rumors spread that Game of Thrones will not return for its final season until April 2019, and while it was clarified that the April return date was likely a false rumor, HBO ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...

Letter to the Editor: Police Presence is the Best Short-Term Solution

February 22, 2018

To the Editor,

There is only one short-term solution that can help protect our children right now. There needs to be a police officer in every school, every day from now on and in perpetuity.  

In a perfect world, it would be nice to imagine that there were no private homes that housed military level assault weapons, but that is not short-term reality.  It would also be ...

Good News in NJ for Veterans

February 21, 2018

Beginning in the 2017 tax year, New Jersey will give an additional $3,000 exemption for military veterans. You are eligible to claim this exemption NJ state income tax return if you are a military veteran who was honorably discharged or released under honorable circumstances from active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States on or before the last day of the tax year.

 

The ...

Guest Column: How to Talk with Kids About the Florida Shooting

Guest Column

The tragedy of the Florida school shooting is devastating leaving 17 killed and 15 injured. Our children can easily identify with what occurred yesterday. It will be the topic of conversation today in schools everywhere. School administrators are doing all they can to provide support and guidance. The shootings affect children, teachers, and school personnel. The ...

Upcoming Events

Sun, February 25

Scherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary, Bernardsville

NJ Audubon: Volunteer Art Show!

Arts & Entertainment Green

Sun, February 25, 12:00 PM

Morristown

Morristown Vegan Pop Up Shop

Sun, February 25, 2:00 PM

Macculloch Hall Historical Museum, Morristown

Curator's Tour

Arts & Entertainment

MORRIS COUNTY PARK POLICE BLOTTER 2-5 through 2-6, 2018

February 21, 2018

2/5: ARRESTS FOR NARCOTICS: Officers executed a motor-vehicle stop for a moving violation in Hanover Township. An investigation led to Om A. Patel, age 26, of Iselin, and Ranbir Singh, age 26, of South Plainfield, to be charged with Possession of a Controlled Dangerous Substance and Possession of Drug Paraphernalia. They were both released with a court date pending.

2/5: ARREST FOR ...

CCM Library to Offer Free Workshops in Grant Writing and Fundraising Workshops Provided by Foundation Center’s Funding Information Network

February 19, 2018

RANDOLPH, NJ – The County College of Morris (CCM) Library’s Foundation Center Funding Information Network is offering three free workshops on the Foundation Center products during the college’s Spring Break, March 12-15.   The CCM Library is a participant in the Foundation Center’s Funding Information Network. Network partners provide a suite of ...