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RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 11995
Experience:  Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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My family and I moved to KS from Pa in dec. 20015. After a

Customer Question

My family and I moved to KS from Pa in dec. 20015. After a couple of weeks in a hotel I found a good job....but my wife got tired of living like that and left me when I was in a church asking for help. She toke the van and the 8 children from 1-16 years of age. And left me my cap and ph on the sidewalk. She would not have contact with me for more than a week.
JA: I'm trying to find the right Family Lawyer for you right now. As soon as they are ready, I will let you know. OK. The Family Lawyer will need to help you with this. Have you consulted a lawyer yet?
Customer: I could not keep the job I just got because she had the van and I had to leave KS and go back to Pa to friend and family to stay and get a job and borrow money. My older children want to live with me back here. Is there an age when they can decide to live with the parent of their chosing. We have not gone to court and don't want to. But my wife want to keep them.
JA: They're dead. Is there anything else the Family Lawyer should be aware of?
Customer: They're not dead!!!
JA: OK. Got it. I'm sending you to a secure page on JustAnswer so you can place the $5 fully-refundable deposit now. While you're filling out that form, I'll tell the Family Lawyer about your situation and then connect you two.
Submitted: 5 months ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 5 months ago.
Thank you for using Just Answer. Just to make sure I'm understanding correctly, you are your wife are not looking to file for divorce, but you are separating and wish to go back to Kansas and take the children with you, is that correct? And your wife disagrees with this?
Customer: replied 5 months ago.
Yes. Just the older ones that want to come with me back to Pennsylvania.
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 5 months ago.
Thank you for your reply. There's a couple of issues to consider here. Since you are married, both of you have legal right to custody of the children, which means you could take the older ones to live with you and she could stay with the youngest. There is no court order on matter yet. Even if you left the state with the children, it is not considered parental kidnapping in the absence of a court order; as their father you'd have the legal right to have them stay with you. But, under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), the home state of the children is considered to be where the children resided for the previous 6 months. That means that if your wife decides to file for divorce within 6 months of you leaving, the court will force you to come to Pennsylvania to decide the issues, including custody and visitation --and a family law judge may very well take issue with you having just up and left the state. When it comes to divorce actions in Pennsylvania, a judge will take a child’s preference into account, along with that child’s age, maturity and other factors. It’s subjective and varies from case to case. No attorney can say for certain what the answer can be – it really depends. The Pennsylvania Superior Court stated: “The weight to be accorded a child’s preference varies with the age, maturity and intelligence of that child, together with the reasons given for the preference. Moreover, as children grow older, more weight must be given to the preference of the child.” Wheeler v. Mazur, 793 A.2d 929 (Pa. Super. 2002). Most judges is more likely to consider a child’s choice if it’s based upon sound, mature reasons, versus a preference that seems to be based upon momentary whim or impulse. Of course, much of the decision is still based on the parents. Courts will always look at things like their employment and living situations, geographic locations/ plans to relocate, or a history of substance abuse or violence. Pennsylvania’s family law is pretty similar to most other states in this regard. So the short answer is, the older and more mature a child is, the more credence their opinion has in deciding custody, or who they will live with. But there is no set age where they are legally entitled to make a decision.Pennsylvania has no "legal separation." But, parties can contract for their separation through a private civil agreement in which they can address the division of their martial assets and debts at the time of separation, child custody and visitation, child support, and/or alimony upon any divorce that takes place, life and medical insurance issues, estate matters, and how the interim bills, expenses, accounts and other finances are to be handled during the separation period. Date of separation in PA becomes a crucial question since the marital value of most assets and debts are measured as of this date.This agreement can remain in effect for an indefinite period of time, and can also be amended at any time upon agreement of the spouses. If a divorce is subsequently filed, the agreement may be attached to the divorce petition and presented to the family court for approval and final divorce decree. If you and your spouse both agree later on that your marriage is over, (and especially if you have since physically separated), but do not wish to move forward with a divorce for whatever reason, it is absolutely crucial to have a separation agreement in place which protects you both during this period. If left unaddressed, values of your assets and debts can fluctuate over time, to say nothing over fights you may have regarding custody and visitation. Ideally, to protect both your interests, you should consider drafting such an agreement before you relocate out of state. It's not required, of course, I'm merely suggesting it may be something that the two of you talk with a local family law attorney about drafting for you as a way to maintain people between you during your separation period. If you need clarification or additional information, please reply and I'm happy to assist you further. Thank you.
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 5 months ago.
Your complete satisfaction is my goal. If you need additional information or clarification about my answer, please reply, and I'm happy to assist further. Otherwise, kindly remember to leave a positive rating by clicking on the stars/happy faces (3-5 stars/happy faces) as that is the only way experts such as myself are compensated on this site for our time and expertise, even if you have left a deposit. It doesn't cost you anything extra to leave a rating. Thank you.

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