Family Law Blog

Pittsburgh, PA, Divorce & Family Law Blog

Welcome to the blog for the Law Offices of Scott L. Levine, LLC, an information source for Pittsburgh Family Law news, PA and Allegheny County Family Court developments and articles on specific domestic relations law topics including custody and child support updates.

Law Offices of Scott L. Levine, LLC
425 1st Ave – 6th Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
412.397.7175

Archive

Please freely browse the rest of this website for general information or call us to schedule a meeting to discuss your specific questions.

Contact us to schedule a free consultation with our family law attorney. We proudly serve clients in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Allegheny County throughout Western Pennsylvania.

Attorney Levine recognized as Distinguished Professional by Noticed.co (formerly Expert Network)

Noticed.co has recognized Mr. Levine as a Distinguished Professional and has written the following: https://noticed.co/members/scott-l-levine/223ca42b350cf136 which is also copied below. We appreciate this recognition.

Scott L. Levine is a leading attorney known for his strong, compassionate, and cost-effective representation in all aspects of family law, including divorce, child custody, and alternative dispute resolution. The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania based lawyer is the owner of the Law Offices of Scott L. Levine, LLC, where his legal prowess over the course of his more than ten year career has earned him a myriad of awards, including Avvo’s Clients’ Choice award and being named a top ‘Under 40’ attorney by the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys, The National Trial Lawyers, the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys™, and the American Society of Legal Advocates, among many others.

Some of Mr. Levine’s earliest memories are of watching his father polish his shoes before going to trial. Ever since, he has gravitated towards following in his father’s footsteps. He recalls:

Watching my father over the years instilled in me a desire to help people. The law has been with me for so long; it’s just always what I have been interested in.”

With his sights set towards his childhood goal, Mr. Levine earned an undergraduate degree in legal studies at the University of Massachusetts, graduating cum laude with a certificate in mediation in 2001. He went on to pursue his J.D. at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law where he attained semester honors and was chosen to appear in the 24th Edition of Who’s Who: American Law Students. After graduating in 2004, Mr. Levine practiced civil litigation for several years before turning his focus toward helping families through one of the most difficult times in their lives. In 2008, he opened up the Law Offices of Scott L. Levine where today the 10.0/10.0 Avvo “Superb” rated lawyer is dedicated to achieving the best outcome for every family law client through zealous, thorough, and affordable representation.

Over the course of his career, Mr. Levine’s proven track record and uncompromising ethics have made him one of Pennsylvania’s top family law attorneys. He is motivated by a genuine empathy for his clients and prides himself on remaining personable and accessible throughout every domestic relations case. No matter how complicated a situation is, he strives to create a clear plan of action, using cutting-edge technologies to solve matters efficiently and effectively. Because of the difficult emotions involved with family law, Mr. Levine is a strong proponent of finding alternative dispute resolutions and in 2016 became one of a small percentage of attorneys to become certified in collaborative law. That being said, should a case need to go to trial, Mr. Levine is more than prepared to skillfully litigate on his client’s behalf.

As a nationally recognized family lawyer, it is important that Mr. Levine stay on top of prevailing trends in his field. Of note, last December the waiting period for an uncontested divorce was changed to one year from two years, which affects strategy and moves cases along faster. This not only helps the economic aspects, but more importantly brings custody to the forefront. The custody laws were also changed several years ago and have become gender neutral:

It used to be that Pennsylvania courts may favor mothers in custody actions, but now, especially in Allegheny County both parents are treated equally and decisions are made solely on the details and circumstances that reflect the best interest of the child. Recently, I obtained primary custody for a father who also sought to move to California. The move was also granted after a trial, which had to focus on the changes in custody law with regard to relocation. It was no small feat to prevail on a cross-country move, but the case we presented focused narrowly on the factors we needed to prove and supported them appropriately.”

Outside of his thriving practice, Mr. Levine is an active member of his local community. He continues his commitment to pro bono services through his involvement with the Neighborhood Legal Services Association (NLSA). He is also a member of various professional organizations including the Pennsylvania and Allegheny County Bar Associations, the Collaborative Law Association of Southwestern Pennsylvania (CLASP), and the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (IACP).

After helping countless families over the course of his career, Mr. Levine envisions a bright future ahead. Moving forward, he plans to continue the honest and compassionate legal services for which he is known while advancing and protecting the rights of his clients and their families.”

New Tax Plan and its Impact on Family Law and Alimony

With the new tax bill on the cusp of being signed into law, what does that mean for you?
Alimony status will remain unchanged for 2018, but for 2019 will not be a deduction for payor or income to payee. Spousal Support (allocated) should be treated same.
This will likely cause changes to PA law for support calculations since the current system utilizes 40% difference of net income for those without children and 30% of net income for cases with kids.
This will also touch ancillary issues of who gets relief at tax time, since personal exemptions are gone but child credits are increased slightly.
Largest impact looks to be for divorcing couples with and without children who will have a future support component (Alimony) to the division of their property and are trying to produce a settlement agreement or Order from Judge or Master for Equitable Distribution. Bottom line, strategy will change, planning will change, negotiations will change, we will change too and respond accordingly.

New Tax Plan Could Mean Major Change for Alimony

It appears that the latest version of the newest Tax Reform will have a major impact on divorce negotiations currently in process and all new cases.
In short, presently Alimony is deductible to the payor and includable to the payee.
However, problems with each ex-spouse utilizing different figures for these payments have been the basis for removing them all together.
This will have a huge impact on the person paying alimony and all pending and future settlements or proposals in litigation will need to be scrutinized using a whole different perspective.
While nothing has passed yet, it appears that this aspect of the probable new law will remain when the final bill has its final vote. So stay tuned and be careful if you’re presently in the midst of divorce negotiations.

Pennsylvania Child Support Changes – May 2017

The PA Child Support Guidelines were revised on February 10, 2017 and went into effect on May 1, 2017.
Prior to May 1, 2017, the last changes to the guidelines were back in August 2013 with changes to the minimum reserve amount and amended figures for support. Over the past twenty or so years, the changes have taken place every three to five years with previous revisions becoming effective in: May 2010, January 2005, April 1999 and September 1994.

Scott L. Levine Has Been Nominated and Accepted as Three Years AIOFLA’S 10 Best in Pennsylvania For Client Satisfaction

“The American Institute of Family Law Attorneys has recognized the exceptional performance of Pennsylvania’s Family Law Attorney Scott L. Levine as Three Years 10 Best Family Law Attorney for Client Satisfaction.
The American Institute of Family Law Attorneys is a third-party attorney rating organization that publishes an annual list of the Top 10 Family Law Attorneys in each state. Attorneys who are selected to the “10 Best” list must pass AIOFLA’s rigorous selection process, which is based on client and/or peer nominations, thorough research, and AIOFLA’s independent evaluation. AIOFLA’s annual list was created to be used as a resource for clients during the attorney selection process.
One of the most significant aspects of the selection process involves attorneys’ relationships and reputation among his or her clients. As clients should be an attorney’s top priority, AIOFLA places the utmost emphasis on selecting lawyers who have achieved significant success in the field of Family Law without sacrificing the service and support they provide. Selection criteria therefore focus on attorneys who demonstrate the highest standards of Client Satisfaction.
We congratulate Scott L. Levine on this achievement and we are honored to have him as a Three Years AIOFLA Member.”

Waiting Period for Contested Divorces in PA reduced to ONE YEAR effective December 4, 2016

On October 3, 2016, Governor Wolf signed House Bill 380, which reduces the waiting period for no-fault, contested divorce cases in Pennsylvania to ONE-YEAR.

The change will become effective 60 days after it was signed, so all cases filed on or after December 4, 2016 will be subject to the new law.

All cases filed prior to this time will be subject to the prior waiting period of two-years.

This change should be carefully considered by those persons contemplating filing a Divorce Complaint in any county in Pennsylvania in the next month or two since the timing of the filing could greatly affect certain aspects of the case, most notably the duration of the receipt of, or obligation to pay spousal support or APL.

PA Divorce Law Update – Waiting Period for Contested Divorces

HB 380 was signed by the PA House and Senate on September 27, 2016 and was sent to the Governor for his signature, which is expected soon. This will change the Waiting Period for Contested Divorce Cases in Pennsylvania from two-years to ONE YEAR. The new law will apply only to new cases and will not be retroactive. Once signed, it is expected to be effective in 60 days.

PA Supreme Court issues decision on Grandparent Custody Case

On September 9, 2016 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued an opinion in D.P. and B.P. v. G.J.P and A.P., which greatly impacts grandparent standing in Custody matters in Pennsylvania. This decision was limited in that the Court addressed only the specific issues in the case before it, but included an analysis of prior cases decided by the Court and a review of the law as currently written. The decision represents a big change for the rights of unmarried parents, and could result in future changes to the Statute by the legislature.

Pennsylvania Divorce Waiting Period on Track to be Reduced (to ONE YEAR)

For years, couples in Pennsylvania seeking a “no-fault” divorce have had to deal with a 2-year waiting period from the date of separation if one party would not provide their consent. However, after years of attempts to address this issue, HB 380 was passed in November of 2015 by the PA House of Representatives and has moved on to the PA Senate. This Bill would reduce the waiting period from two years to ONE YEAR.

According to a local Judge, this Bill should be heard by the full Senate sometime in April or May of 2016, and is likely to be passed. If this happens, the Bill would need to be signed by the Governor before it would become law, and thereby Amending the applicable portion of Title 23 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes. Reducing the waiting period for a “no-fault” divorce would put Pennsylvania in line with the surrounding States, which all currently have shorter waiting periods.

More importantly, it would allow economic issues to be resolved faster and should also be better for couples with children who would have to endure shorter periods of uncertainty resulting from protracted litigation over: financial considerations; property division and support issues. This is by no means a solution to the pain that can accompany a divorce, but it would be a big step and welcome change to the existing law.

In the meantime and even after any change, divorcing couples always have the option of choosing to move their matter forward expeditiously by consent through traditional negotiation, settlement and litigation, or via Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) options such as Mediation or Collaborative Law.

Collaborative Law & Mediation Practice – More Options for Pittsburgh Divorce and Family Law

Mr. Levine is proud to announce that he has completed the Civil Collaborative Law training and will be able to integrate Collaborative Law into his practice. This addition will provide prospective clients with an alternative to traditional litigation.

He will also be incorporating his Mediation Training and to the Firm’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) offerings in order to provide families across Southwestern Pennsylvania with more options for resolving their family law matters.