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Monday 8:00 AM - 12:00PM / 1:00PM-4:00PM
Tuesday 8:00 AM - 12:00PM / 1:00PM-4:00PM
Wednesday 8:00 AM - 12:00PM / 1:00PM-4:00PM
Thursday 8:00 AM - 12:00PM / 1:00PM-4:00PM
Friday 8:00 AM - 12:00PM
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed
Off Hours and Evenings By Appointment

Kayden Vaporis and Associates | 26 South 6th Street | Indiana, PA 15701 | Ph: 724-465-5653 | Fax: 724-465-5654

Kayden & Vaporis, LLC. © 2022 All rights reserved.

FREE 30 Minute Consultation

Navigating Family Law with sensitivity.

Kayden Vaporis and Associates will guide you through all of life's events: the good, the bad, and everything in between.

Is there a specific age when my child can decide where they want to live?

No.  There’s a common misconception that children can choose which parent to live with when they turn 12.  That is not the case.  However, under Pennsylvania’s Custody Factors, one of the factors that a court must consider when making a custody determination is “the well-reasoned preference of the child, based on the child’s maturity and judgment.”  It is up to the court as to how much weight to give this factor, and it is not necessarily the “deciding factor.”

Does Common Law Marriage exist in Pennsylvania?

Common law marriage was abolished in Pennsylvania as of January 2, 2005.  That means that no new common law marriages can be entered into as of that date.  However, Pennsylvania still recognizes common law marriages that were entered into before January 2, 2005.  It is important to note that there is no specific length of time that you have to live together to establish a common law marriage.  To establish a common law marriage, there must have been an exchange of words in the present tense expressing an intent to be married (“You are my husband/wife/spouse.”), and it must have occurred on or before January 1, 2005. 

Can I terminate the parental rights of my child’s other parent and become a single parent?

No.  At this time, while Pennsylvania law allows a single person to adopt a child, it does not allow a person who already has a child with someone else to legally make themselves a single parent.  If you wish to terminate the parental rights of the other party, there must be someone else who is willing to adopt in their place.  This is true even if the other biological parent would agree to terminate their rights.  The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has further specified that the person who is adopting in place of a parent cannot be a grandparent.  For example, Mother cannot terminate Father’s rights so that Grandfather can adopt in Father’s place.  Put another way, Mother and Grandfather cannot legally be the child’s parents together. 

Divorce

Divorce is one of the most difficult decisions you can make. It not only affects you but, in many cases your children and extended family.

We, at Kayden & Vaporis, LLC, will work on your divorce with empathy while never forgetting about your future, and protecting your rights and your assets along the way.

NO-FAULT DIVORCE

In order to file for a divorce in the state of Pennsylvania, you or your spouse must be a resident of the state for at least six months.  Either spouse may file – there is no stigma associated with the terms “Plaintiff” and “Defendant” in a divorce matter.

Most divorces today are “no-fault” divorces.  This means that you are asserting that your marriage is “irretrievably broken” and you are not specifying a reason as to why.  If you and your spouse both agree upon a divorce and how to distribute any assets and debts, the process can be done within about 3 and a half months from start to finish.  Pennsylvania has a mandatory 90 day waiting period between one party being served with a divorce complaint, and the parties executing the final paperwork.   

If your spouse is not in agreement with the divorce, but you have been separated for at least one year, you can still request that the court grant you a no-fault divorce without your spouse’s consent.  There are special requirements for a court to grant a divorce over a spouse’s silence or objection – the biggest one being that there cannot be any pending/unresolved asset or debt issues.

FAULT DIVORCE

If you have been separated for less than 1 year or don’t agree on the divorce, we can still file on one of the following fault grounds: 

 

  • Adultery 
  • Bigamy 
  • Cruel and inhuman treatment 
  • Imprisonment for years two or more 
  • Personal indignities 
  • Confinement in a mental institution 

Fault divorces are uncommon today, as they require the parties to have a divorce trial, which is quite often avoidable under a no-fault divorce.  At trial, there would be testimony and evidence taken to establish the particular fault ground.  If the court finds that you have established a fault ground, and the other side has no valid defenses, the court will grant your divorce. 

NEGOTIATION or TRIAL

If you and your spouse can agree on the issues that need to be addressed — such as property, debt division and support — then we can finalize your divorce without a trial. We will draw up a document called a Marriage Settlement Agreement, which is a legally-binding contract that specifies how your marital estate is to be divided.  

 

If you can’t agree on these issues, then it is time to request that a divorce master be appointed to your case.  A divorce master is an experienced family law attorney, who is appointed by the court to preside over your divorce case in lieu of a judge.  The divorce master will schedule your case for a pre-trial conference, where they will act as a mediator to help you and your spouse resolve the outstanding issues.  If a resolution is not reached at the pre-trial conference, then the divorce master will schedule the matter for a trial date, and, after hearing evidence and testimony, will ultimately make the decision as to how to divide your property.  Divorce masters are typically paid by the parties in a divorce, and typically the court requires that they be paid a certain amount upfront.  If you do not agree with the divorce master’s recommendations, you may have grounds to file exceptions, meaning that you would be asking a judge to review the transcript of the divorce trial and decide if the divorce master’s findings are consistent with the law and the facts of the case. 

Child Custody

Pennsylvania custody law doesn’t favor either the father or the mother, but rather expects the courts to look at the relationship each parent has with the children. Pennsylvania places great importance on your children continuing their relationships with both you and your co-parent after separation or divorce. The courts encourage you to come to a reasonable agreement regarding custody on your own and seriously consider what you decide. However, sometimes a case requires court intervention in order to reach a resolution. While Pennsylvania used to have the somewhat vague “best interest of the child” standard, there are now 16 different factors that courts must consider in making a custody determination. These include, but are not limited to, the level of conflict between the parties; which parent is more likely to promote a positive relationship between the child and the other parent; and what duties each parent performs for the children.

Taking it one step at a time

We will counsel and prepare you for each step of the custody process as your case moves forward.  Each of the counties that we practice in have different variations of the Pennsylvania custody process.  Therefore, the county where your case is being heard will determine how many steps the custody process is, and what those steps are.  We are familiar with all of them, and will explain the process that applies to your case at your free consultation.  We will walk those steps with you, providing guidance and advice along the way.

Types of Custody

When discussing what kind of custody arrangement you are looking for, it is helpful to be familiar with the different types of custody.

Legal custody is your right to make major decisions that affect your children, such as medical, religious or educational decisions.  In most cases, legal custody is shared equally between the parties, meaning that they must consult with each other prior to making any major decisions for the children.  However, it is possible for one party to obtain “full” or “sole” legal custody, which means that one parent/custodian would have the right to make all decisions for the child without needing to consult the other parent.  Courts typically require a compelling reason in order to grant one party sole legal custody.

Physical custody is the right to have the children in your care. There are many different descriptions of physical custody arrangements:

Sole Custody

“Full” or “sole” physical custody means that you have the child 100% of the time, to the exclusion of the other parent.

Shared or Joint Custody

“Shared” or “Joint” custody is typically used to mean that each party has custody of the child for 50% of the year, whether it is done week on/week off, 2-2-3, or some other way.

Primary Physical Custody

“Primary physical custody” means that you have the children in your care the majority of the time.

Partial Physical Custody

“Partial physical custody” means that you have the children in your care for less than 50% of the time.  One of the most common schedules for this arrangement is every other weekend and one evening during the week.

Supervised Custody

“Supervised custody” means that a party cannot be left alone with the child.  These arrangements are typically intended to be temporary, either to allow a child time to bond with a parent/custodian in a comfortable setting, or to allow the parent/custodian to have time with the child while they deal with a problem, such as addiction issues. 

Custody Agreements aren't set in stone

Custody agreements don’t have to be permanent.  In fact, they often change for many reasons.  As children get older, their needs and wants change, often a new arrangement.  One parent may wish to relocate out of the area to stay employed or be near family.  The holiday schedule may no longer suit the new traditions that the families have developed.  Our attorneys stay with you throughout the entire process and revisit your custody agreement as often as needed throughout the years to come. 

Third Party Custody Rights

Parents aren’t the only parties who have the right to file for custody.  Anyone who is found to be “in loco parentis” (someone who has acted as a parent to the child) has the right to file for any type of custody of the child.  In many cases, grandparents (including great-grandparents) have the right to seek partial, or even primary physical custody of their grandchildren.  These third party situations are very fact-specific and detail-oriented, so it is important to consult with an attorney to determine what kind of custody rights, if any, you have to a child.

Custody Relocation

Whether or not you currently have a custody order in place, if you are considering relocating with your child and without the other parent, you should consult with an attorney prior to taking any steps towards that relocation.  Pennsylvania law has specific requirements for relocation, and if a relocation is outside of the school district, further than a 25 mile radius of your current home, or would impair the ability of the other parent to see the child, then you may need to go through the court process prior to relocating. 

Child and Spousal Support

Achieving a favorable outcome for you and your child

Spousal and child support issues are commonly contested among divorcing couples. Support awards are dictated by the court if both spouses cannot come to an amicable agreement. The attorneys at Kayden & Vaporis, LLC know how sensitive and volatile these situations can be, and we have the necessary skills to help you achieve workable support settlements.

Factors in Determining Spousal Support

Spousal support, sometimes referred to as alimony, is called for when one spouse requires the financial assistance of the other one after divorce. Support may be requested by either party regardless of gender. There are a number of factors that determine whether an individual is eligible for spousal support and how much support is awarded. These factors include:

Whether you are seeking spousal support or being asked to pay it, Kayden & Vaporis, LLC can help. Our spousal support lawyers know what it takes to assist divorcing spouses in the establishment of fair alimony payments.

Child Support

Child support is an emotional, stressful and highly contested issue in a large number of divorce cases. Your child’s best interest is a vital factor in determining the amount of support that will be paid, so it is important that you sit down with experienced family lawyers in Indiana County to determine an appropriate payment. The initial estimate takes a number of factors into consideration, including:

The child support lawyers at Kayden & Vaporis, LLC have experience helping clients settle child support issues. We can help you maintain your ability to properly take care of yourself and your child.

Name Changes

There are many reasons as to why a person may wish to change their first, middle, and/or last name.  In many cases, this can be accomplished by filing a petition with the court.  A lien search must be performed, and the person must be fingerprinted so that the Pennsylvania State Police can do a criminal background check.  These requirements are intended to prohibit people from changing their names for the purpose of avoiding their creditors or evading criminal penalties.

After the petition has been filed, along with the fingerprint card and proof of lien search, notice of the name change hearing will be published in two newspapers, in order to give anyone who may have an objection to the name change an opportunity to be heard.  For minors, parental consent should be attached to the petition.  If one parent consents and the other objects, it will be the court’s decision as to whether or not to grant the name change.  The court will make its decision based on the testimony and evidence presented at the hearing, as well as relevant Pennsylvania law.

After the petition has been filed, along with the fingerprint card and proof of lien search, notice of the name change hearing will be published in two newspapers, in order to give anyone who may have an objection to the name change an opportunity to be heard.  For minors, parental consent should be attached to the petition.  If one parent consents and the other objects, it will be the court’s decision as to whether or not to grant the name change.  The court will make its decision based on the testimony and evidence presented at the hearing, as well as relevant Pennsylvania law.

It is rare, but not impossible, for a court to deny a name change, even when no one objects to the change, and all of the appropriate documents have been filed.  Pennsylvania case law requires that courts assess the affect that the name change will have on the public, and whether it will cause distrust or suspicion in business or social settings.  Based on this, courts have denied name changes in situations where a request was made to use a single letter as a last name, and in another case where “a.k.a.” was requested as part of the full name. 

Some Exceptions and Special Cases
Retaking Your Maiden Name During or after Divorce

To retake your maiden name, there is a simple document that needs to be filed with the court in the divorce case. Your right to do this is automatic, and does not require court permission. It only requires that the document be of record with the court. You can then take a certified copy of that document to obtain a new driver’s license and social security card.

Correcting an Error on a Birth Certificate

Depending on the change that you are requesting, you may still require court involvement to make the change that you want. However, Pennsylvania Department of Health has a special form, to be filled out in front of a notary, that can be submitted for permission to make a change on a birth certificate. If both parents are in agreement with the change, it may be worth your time to start with this form, prior to taking the matter to court. PA Gov. Birth Certificate Correction Form

Changing the Name of a Minor as Part of an Adoption

For minors who are being adopted, a name change request can be made in the adoption petition, testified to during the hearing, and granted by the court as part of the adoption proceeding. Note that an adult who is being adopted cannot change their name as part of the adoption case, but rather must still go through the name change procedure set forth above.

Adoptions

Adoption is of the happiest celebrations that a family can experience. The process of getting there can also be one of the more stressful times, for a multitude of reasons. We are here to help you through the intricacies of the process so that you can focus on the wonderful new addition to your family unit.

Families are not “one size fits all,” and neither are adoptions. Pennsylvania provides for many ways to adopt a new member into your family, and we are experienced with all of them.

ADOPTION IN GENERAL

Typically, before adopting a child, there are a few steps that the adoptive parents must follow, including having a home-study performed by a licensed agency, having criminal background checks, and filing a document called a Report of Intention to Adopt. However, if the adoptive parents are both related to the child by consanguinity (blood) or marriage, then none of these requirements apply, and the adoption can move forward without them. 

It is also important to note that children over the age of 12 must consent to the adoption in order for it to take place.

Step-Parent Adoption

Before a step-parent can adopt and formally be a co-parent with their spouse, the parental rights of the other biological parent must be terminated. This can be accomplished with the consent of the biological parent. If the biological parent does not consent, you may have grounds to seek involuntary termination. The facts of every case are different, just as every family is unique. We are here to advise you as to whether your particular case is ripe for involuntary termination.

Second Parent Adoption

This is an option for an unmarried person to adopt the biological child of their partner. This is similar to the step-parent adoption process, except that the adoptive partner would need to obtain a home-study and criminal background check if they are not otherwise related to the child by consanguinity (blood) or marriage.

Same Sex Couple Adoptions

It is important for same sex couples to be aware that simply listing both partners on the birth certificate does not always protect their family unit. Therefore, it is important for same sex couples to go through the process for a step-parent or second parent adoption in order to ensure that both partners are the legal parents of the child, and that any rights of the biological parent, including sperm or egg donors, have been terminated.

Surrogacy and Donor Contracts

If you are considering surrogacy or assisted reproductive technology with an egg or sperm donor, you should consult with an attorney before you begin the process.  Pennsylvania law does protect Intended Parents in many situations, provided that certain steps are taken, and the written contract has specific provisions. We can work with you to ensure that the proper steps are taken to protect your rights as you move forward with this journey.

International Adoptions

If you have already adopted a child from another country, then there are steps that you need to take in order to have the adoption formalized in the United States. There are two ways of formalizing international adoptions.  The first is simply registering the adoption, without the need to go to court.  The second is treating it as an entirely new adoption, filing a petition, and having a hearing in front of a judge. The option that applies to your case depends on which kind of Visa that your child has been issued. We have experience with both types of international adoption processes, and will work to make the process as easy as possible for you and your family. 

 

Other unique issues may arise in international adoptions, such as a misspelling of your child’s name on the other country’s adoption certificate, or your child being assigned a birth date that does not accurately reflect their biological age.

These are issues that we can help to remedy. 

Post-Adoption Contact Agreements (PACA)

Pennsylvania allows adoptive parents and biological parents and/or relatives to enter into a Post Adoption Contact Agreement (PACA), which allows for a biological relation to continue having contact with the adopted child or family. This could encompass many types of contact, including but not limited to: adoptive parents sending annual pictures and updates to the biological family member; the biological family member exchanging cards/letters/gifts with the child; telephone contact with the child; or occasional visits with the child. These contracts cannot be grounds for voluntary termination of parental rights, meaning that the biological parents cannot contract away their parental rights in exchange for a PACA. The issues must be kept separate. The PACA is presented to the judge at the time of the adoption hearing, and the judge has the final decision as to whether the PACA is in the child’s best interest. These contracts, if approved by the Court, are enforceable by the Court.

Adult Adoptions

There is no maximum age requirement for adoptions, meaning that adults can seek to be adopted. An individual who has reached the age of 18 does not need to seek their biological parents’ consent or in order to be adopted.  If an adult wishes to have their name changed after their adoption, they must file a separate matter for the name change.

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Featured Services
Navigation
Contact Us / Find Our Offices

We're ready to help you.

Monday 8:00 AM - 12:00PM / 1:00PM-4:00PM
Tuesday 8:00 AM - 12:00PM / 1:00PM-4:00PM
Wednesday 8:00 AM - 12:00PM / 1:00PM-4:00PM
Thursday 8:00 AM - 12:00PM / 1:00PM-4:00PM
Friday 8:00 AM - 12:00PM
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed
Off Hours and Evenings By Appointment

Kayden Vaporis and Associates | 26 South 6th Street | Indiana, PA 15701 | Ph: 724-465-5653 | Fax: 724-465-5654

Kayden & Vaporis, LLC. © 2022 All rights reserved.

FREE 30 Minute Consultation