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Michael Bruce Greenstein
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Michael Greenstein’s Answers

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  • Child Custody - Relocation Notice, do you have to send it 60 days in advance?

    Our Custody Order doesn't set a timeframe, simply states a relocation notice must be served and that he has 30 days to respond. I thought that meant I had to send it 30 days prior to our moving date. However, when I looked up the PA statute it sta...

    Michael’s Answer

    A notice might not be required. "Relocation," for purposes of Pennsylvania child custody law, has a much narrower definition than it is used in casual conversation. It does not refer to any move from one house to another, but instead to, "A change in a residence of the child which significantly impairs the ability of a nonrelocating party to exercise custodial rights." Since the other parent is already out of state, it is very possible that the desired move will not have even a slight effect on his/her ability to exercise custodial rights. Obviously, no one on this forum can give you a truly useful answer without knowing much, much more about the situation than is possible in a forum like this, but I urge you to explore the matter more deeply with a local family law attorney. When it comes to family law in general, and child custody matters in particular, one size very definitely does *not* fit all.

    Attorney Michael B. Greenstein
    Pittsburgh, PA

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  • Is the Spousal Support law in my state that requires me to provide health insurance to my spouse overridden by the ACA?

    I am currently separated. I am under a court order to pay spousal support to my wife, and to provide her with health insurance. She is creating many headaches for me because she does not like the coverage, provider network, etc. that my employer...

    Michael’s Answer

    No, the ACA does not supersede the obligation imposed upon you by the support order. You get points for seeking a creative approach to the situation, but I can offer you no joy from it. That said, nothing requires her to like the coverage as long as you haven't played any games about it. If she deliberately goes outside-of-network and then tries to hit you up for your assigned percentage share of her unnecessarily-inflated unreimbursed medical expenses, you can use her choice as a possible defense; but in a case like that I would suggest being proactive and addressing the matter through Motions Court the moment you get wind that she is playing that kind of game.

    Attorney Michael B. Greenstein
    Pittsburgh, PA

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  • Can I get visitation rights for my little cousin?

    My little cousin is 6 and she's really like my little sister. But since I am in college I don't get to see her as much as I would like to and her mother. Sometimes will play around and say she'll bring her and never does. I am honesty tired of pla...

    Michael’s Answer

    No, you cannot. The courtroom door is closed to you in this situation, because you have no standing to make the claim of which you speak. Pennsylvania child custody law is very specific when it comes to who has the right to ask for relief relating to the custody and welfare of a child. Unless you are a parent, a grandparent or a great-grandparent of a child, or you have served "in loco parentis" to a child (i.e., assumed a parental relationship to the child by invitation of a parent), a Pennsylvania child custody court will not recognize any right for you to claim access to your cousin.

    Based on the situation as you describe it, your best choice is to improve your relationship with your cousin's mother. I am sorry not to be able to offer better news.

    Attorney Michael B. Greenstein
    Pittsburgh, PA

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  • Do I need a lawyer to give custody of my niece back to my sister, if we r both mutually on the decision?

    My husband and I were given physical and legal custody of our niece last year. It was a mutually decision between my sister the courts and I. However we now want to mutually give custody back to my sister. Not sure how to do so.

    Michael’s Answer

    If the decision did not involve Children, Youth and Family Services, it may be a relatively simple matter of drafting an appropriate "consent order," having the three of you sign it, and scheduling it for presentation before the assigned judge along with a Motion stating the basic facts of the situation and requesting that the consent order be issued by the court. There is only a small amount of information provided, and so with one exception I am in no position to evaluate whether there might be other factors that would change my assessment.

    The exception I mention is that you make no mention of your niece's father, who has the right to be served with a copy of anything you intend to present before the court, with sufficient lead time (in Allegheny County, a minimum of seven days) to have the opportunity to appear and be heard.

    Any question like yours is best answered by a lawyer with access to information about the history of the situation, and to the court paperwork that will give him a clear picture of where the court thinks things are right now. It's always a good idea to have a clear picture of your options, risks and foreseeable outcomes when making decisions like this.

    Attorney Michael B. Greenstein
    Pittsburgh, PA

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  • Is my daughters father still able to gain custody of any sort if he felt like it in the future?

    My daughter is 5yrs old. Her father has never been in her life and doesn't do anything (the court dismissed for any child support to be paid twice) and she never met him. Since she been born my sons father been raising her as his own even. I just ...

    Michael’s Answer

    The courtroom door is never closed to a parent. That's not to say that he would go from zero to sixty in one press of the pedal if he ever decided to wake up and be a parent, but yes, he will be heard.

    My colleagues have pointed out that your situation could well be ripe for adoption, although if you are not married to your son's father you have an extra challenge that you will not have to face if you *are* married to him.

    Attorney Michael B. Greenstein
    Pittsburgh, PA

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  • I have child support hearing exceptions filed. I am pro se does opposing party have to provide me a copy of the transcripit?

    Mothers lawyer referred to the transcript in his legal brief. opposing party filed for exceptions. I filed cross exceptions. I was wondering if opposing council has to provide me the transcript since the lawyer is referring to items in the transcr...

    Michael’s Answer

    You are not entitled to a free copy of the transcript, but even if you can't afford to buy a copy from the court reporter who produced it, don't lose hope. The original has been filed with the court. If your support matter is running through Allegheny County, you should be able to go to the Department of Court Records, ask to review your file, and read it there. I am not able to say whether it will have been filed at the main office on the first floor of the City County Building or at the support office on the second floor of the Allegheny Building, but they're less than a block apart, so I would recommend trying them in that order. Be sure to have your docket number handy.

    Attorney Michael B. Greenstein
    Pittsburgh, PA

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  • Child support through Allegheny county?

    No matter who sues for child support will it be given to the person its owed?

    Michael’s Answer

    Technically, the answer is, "yes." A portion of Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1910.3, relating to child support, makes this clear: "The trier of fact shall enter an appropriate order based upon the evidence presented, without regard to which party initiated the support action, filed a modification petition or filed a petition for recovery of support overpayment. The determination of which party will be the obligee and which will be the obligor will be made by the trier of fact based upon the respective incomes of the parties, consistent with the support guidelines and existing law, and the custodial arrangements at the time of the initial or subsequent conference, hearing or trial. If supported by the evidence, the party named as the defendant in the initial pleading may be deemed to be the obligee, even if that party did not file a complaint for support."

    In practice, if you have been sued for child support and think that you should be the one entitled to support instead, it is still a good idea to counter-file, simply because it is such an unusual situation that when you appear for your conference/hearing there is no guarantee that the court personnel handing your case are familiar enough with that particular rule that they will apply it. It's better to be sure.

    Also on the subject of "it's better to be sure," reality-checking your understanding as to who might be entitled to child support, and what kind of proof might be necessary to have at your conference/hearing, is also a good idea. In many areas of family law, an ounce of prevention really can be worth a pound of cure. Sit down with a family law attorney who can crunch the numbers and give you a sense of the full context in which you are making your decisions, and you will be better able to make the most informed choices possible under the circumstances.

    Attorney Michael B. Greenstein
    Pittsburgh, PA

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  • Tax returns who has the right to claim child

    For the last 5 years my husbands ex has been claiming their child on her tax returns. He has been paying her daycare bill alone also he always had the child during the day and after work. Taking child to school and picking her up. Buying her clot...

    Michael’s Answer

    Please take note that none of the other attorneys who have answered your question so far are licensed to practice in Pennsylvania.

    Generally, the parent who has the greater amount of physical custody is going to be able to declare a child as a dependent for tax purposes. That said, a Pennsylvania child support court has the authority to award an exemption to the other parent, but generally will only do that if your husband is able to show that doing so maximizes the amount of combined income available for support. The silver lining in that cloud, such as it is, is that if she is indeed declaring the child each year, for support purposes that will bump up her income (and lower his, from his greater tax burden), resulting in a reduced child support obligation if he has any obligation at all based on how the numbers work out. Much is likely to depend on the particular facts of his case, and on each parent's income.

    It gets my particular attention that your husband is stuck paying the daycare bill alone; for child support purposes in Pennsylvania, such payments are generally considered the responsibility of *both* parents. If I was advising a client with that problem, I would say that we need to review the custody situation, and run income/support calculations to see whether he has any more cost-effective alternatives.

    Attorney Michael B. Greenstein
    Pittsburgh, PA

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  • Can the father of my children not disclose his new address or phone number?

    The father of my children just moved and got a new cell number. He only takes boys Thursday's from 12-7. He refuses to give them to me. Is this even legal? Could the courts do something about this?

    Michael’s Answer

    There needs to be a way for you to communicate with the children when they are with him. If you don't have that, then you are indeed in a position to ask the court for this, presuming that the court's jurisdiction has already been invoked via a custody filing.

    Before you consider taking any custody matter to court, though, be sure to speak with a local child custody lawyer. There are situations in which taking an issue to court can leave you worse off than if you had left well-enough alone, and without knowing the detailed particulars of your situation no lawyer is likely to be able to give you more than the most general of "one-size-fits-all" responses. Custody law in PA is one of those areas in which an ounce of prevention really can be worth a pound of cure, and so before you take any action at all, I urge you to get fully oriented not only about your options, but also about your risks and foreseeable consequences.

    Attorney Michael B. Greenstein
    Pittsburgh, PA

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  • Can I sue my children's father if his wife and him got a settlement?

    My children's fathers wife got a malpractice settlement which the malpractice effected everyone involved. He no long takes his children and there has been no support even though court ordered. Since they are married can I sue for time lost money etc?

    Michael’s Answer

    The question may come down to, "Who *did* get the settlement?" If the settlement came to your ex's wife alone and she has kept the funds in her own name, she has no obligation to support your children and you may be out of luck. Marriage to your ex doesn't change that in the slightest. If both your ex and his wife were parties to the claim, the result might be different. "Income," for purposes of calculating child support in Pennsylvania, includes "other entitlements to money or lump sum awards, without regard to source, including... insurance compensation or settlements; awards and verdicts..."

    It gets more interesting if your ex's wife took a settlement that was just awarded to her, and deposited it into a bank account that is titled jointly with your ex. Frankly, I'm not sure how the court would treat that in terms of whether it could then be identified in whole or in part as income to him, but in that event it certainly does make it more difficult for him to claim hardship when you go after him for his delinquent support arrears.

    Attorney Michael B. Greenstein
    Pittsburgh, PA

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