Applying For Adoption Under the Pennsylvania Adoption Law

Child adoption under Pennsylvania adoption law – or under any law for that matter, takes a very long process with many complicated legal issues. Although adoption may be the best alternative for childless couples, it is always best to learn more about the whole procedure.

The first thing to do is to know is which agency you is ideal for making your application. Under the Pennsylvania law, public and private adoption agencies are and licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (DPW). These agencies are authorized, in various capacities, to help in the facilitation of the placement of an adoptive child into a permanent. Learning about how these agencies work is another important key to your application.

There are three licenses that may be issued to adoption agencies under this state’s law. These three licenses are:

– Having Full Service License – DPW issues this license both to private and public adoption agencies and gives them the authority to assume care and custody of an adoptive child. Asides this, a full-service adoption agency may also provide other services like placing a child up for adoption, initiating the evaluation of prospective adoptive parents; and supervising the placement of an adoptive child into a new permanent home.

With a full service Texas adoption, the agency has the authority under the Pennsylvania law to recall a child from an unhealthy and unsuitable adoptive home environment, and proceed with steps to relocate him or her to a better and more caring permanent home.

– A Non-custodial License – This license allows certain adoption agencies to work hand in hand with public or private full service agencies by specializing in certain areas of the adoption process. They may act as intermediaries between a full service agency and the birth parents, the adoptive parents and the agency, as well as between both the birth and adoptive parents.

A non-custodial adoption agency can perform adoptive placement process. They offer follow-up and support services as well, especially after the child has been placed into their permanent homes. Certain services, under Pennsylvania adoption law, are our of non-custodial licensed-adoption agencies. They may not remove a child from an unsuitable home environment, nor are they authorized to assume the care and custody of a child, as well as initiate adoptive placement processes.

– Inter-country License – This license is issued by DPW as an additional suite of services under the Pennsylvania adoption law. The inter-country license allows these agencies to initiate final adoption proceedings that would allow placement of foreign-born children into permanent domestic homes. If you are interested in adopting a child from Asian countries such as Korea, China, or the Philippines, you may only do so with a private agency, because under Pennsylvania law, these are the only agencies that may provide these services.

Make sure you go for adoption agency authorized and licensed under the law of Pennsylvania. It ensures that you have not overstepped your own boundaries, and that your future son or daughter’s welfare has been taken cared of before they are placed with you.

Ear Cropping Laws in the State of Pennsylvania

In January of 2009, the Pennsylvania House passed a law concerning what supporters of the law call cruelty to animals. This law was a knee-jerk reaction to the killing of 80 dogs by Ammon and Elmer Zimmerman, breeders in Berks County, Pennsylvania. At that time it was perfectly legal to kill your dog in Pennsylvania. Instead of addressing this issue, the House went after the “cruelty issue”.

This so called cruelty comes from docking tails and dew claws and cropping ears of Dobermans, Boxers, Great Danes, and any other dog that is recognized by these features. These particular breed features are what the American Kennel Club considers to be breed standard characteristics. In other words, when showing a Doberman, the dog is expected to meet the required standards, including ears that stand erect, a docked tail and no dew claws.

You can certainly show a Doberman or other breed that is not cropped and docked, but the dog will not be a very successful show champion. Winning dog shows is how breeders prove the worth of their stock and maintain the integrity of the breed. Champion dogs guarantee the care and quality of the breed lines. Until the American Kennel Club adjusts its standards, this new law will cause much grief in the show ring.

The basis of the law states that any dog owner must be able to prove that the ear cropping and tails and dew claw removal were done by a veterinarian. So, if you’re walking down the street and an humane society officer or animal cruelty officer sees your Doberman or Boxer with cropped ears and docked tails, you can be given a summary offense, unless you have a certificate that states a vet did the work. If the crop/dock was done before this law went into effect, you must show a certificate from your county treasurer stating this. In Pennsylvania, you have to pay $1.00 for this certificate.

There are several problems with this new law. It is not clear how it will be handled if you have a cropped/docked dog which you got from a rescue or a shelter. There is not likely to be any paperwork available that indicates when the procedure was done, or if it was done by a vet. The law states that you will not be fined if the tails and dew claws are done within 5 days of birth. If an animal cruelty officer or humane society officer sees the puppy before they are healed, that is considered proof of violation of the law. If the breeder is going to do the tails and dew claws, records must be kept. The law does not specify what type of record or what is necessary to be exempt from being charged with a summary offense.

 Instead of addressing the real issues, the headline grabbing and photo-op seeking politicians decided to go after the innocent hobby breeders and non-commercial breeders. This is twisted politics at it’s best. Unless you are a big breeding operation that makes lots of money, there is no way you can continue to breed your dogs. This means the smaller, more personal, and less competitive breeders can no longer produce litters of these certain breeds. Good, reputable breeders do not just randomly decide which dog they want to breed. They get involved in breeding Dobermans, Boxers, Great Danes, German Pinschers and other cropped and, or docked breeds because they truly love that specific dog and everything that breed represents.

Many states are passing similar legislation regarding this issue. This will eventually completely eliminate smaller, or hobby breeders. This is truly sad.

Parking Lot Towing Enforcement Signs Under The Pennsylvania Code

Like much of the Pennsylvania Code, state regulations on the posting of signs for private parking lots is somewhat wordy and can be difficult to understand. One key provision to notice, however, is that it is illegal to tow any vehicle unless the signs posted in the parking lot are fully in accordance with Pennsylvania law. Thus, it is very important that any Pennsylvania business owner with a private parking lot fully understand the regulations in place to ensure the business lot contains the proper signs in the proper places.

The Code covers two different types of signs used in any private parking lot. The first is defined as “Public Notice Signs,” which show messages referring to the entire lot, such as “Parking for XYZ Business Customers Only,” or simply “Private Parking.” These signs must be posted in specific areas, and must also follow several other regulations. If the parking lot has clearly defined entrances and exits, the law is fairly straightforward and states that a sign must be posted at EVERY entrance to the lot and that each sign must be facing traffic. Unfortunately, the Pennsylvania Code is not as clear on what is required in parking lots with no clearly defined entrances, such as those that are simply open to the street on one or more sides. In these cases, the Code states only that signs must be posted so that they are “readily visible to an ordinarily observant driver.” How many signs are necessary, or where exactly to place them, is difficult to pin down, so business owners may be best off following the law of “better safe than sorry,” and posting signs very clearly at relatively small intervals throughout the lot. It may also be helpful to speak with a representative from a towing company or even local law enforcement to make sure the signs are posted properly.

Of course, having signs posted in the right locations is only half the battle. Business owners must also ensure that their signs are displaying the correct message in the correct way. To this end, it is important that any signs posted in a parking lot contain three pieces of information as follows:

  1. The primary restriction: essentially the basic message of “Private Parking,” “Parking by Permit Only,” or another phrase along these lines. This message needs to use letters at least 3 inches high. If the sign is more than 75 feet away from an entrance, an extra inch has to be added for every additional 25 feet. As for the width, the letters must be at least 1/8 wide as the required height.
  2. The secondary restriction: this includes the additional information such as which hours of the day or days of the week the sign applies. This can also include a warning that unauthorized vehicles will be towed and/or the charge that will apply. The secondary restriction is NOT required for a sign, but is generally helpful, even if it simply states “No Parking, Any Time.” The secondary restriction requires letters at least 2 inches high. If the sign is larger, the secondary restriction letters must be at least half the size of those in the primary restriction.
  3. The name and telephone number of the owner (or other person in charge) of the lot. The towing company will likely also post their own signs containing their own information.

While the majority of business owners may opt for some version of a pre-made sign, these regulations should always be kept in mind. Finally, one last thing for business owners to consider is the requirement for signs which apply to hours of darkness. If a “No Parking,” sign applies at all to hours in which it may be dark, it is required that the sign be either illuminated or “retroreflectorized.” A retroreflectorized sign must also be placed so that it will be seen in the headlights of any car entering the lot.

The second type of sign regulated under the Pennsylvania Code are “Reserved Parking Signs,” which have messages regarding individual parking spaces. These include Handicapped signs or signs designating a space or area for a specific person or type of vehicle. The first essential regulations for these signs pertain to their size, which must be at least 12 inches by 12 inches, and the height of their lettering, which must be at least two inches high. Such signs should be posted in front of each individual parking space. In the case of parallel parking, the signs must be posted at intervals of no more than 100 feet. Business owners can also choose to mark specific spaces using the pavement or curb, but it is required that these markers be easily visible (again to an “ordinarily observant driver”) AND that the parking lot have a Public Notice Sign stating that the spaces require a permit.

Spaces for the handicapped, along with their accompanying signs, are required by law for all business parking lots in Pennsylvania. It is important to note however, that each handicapped space must be marked not only by the standard handicapped parking sign but also by a second sign indicating that violators will be towed along the minimum and maximum fines for this offense. The second sign is to be posted below the first, which should be posted below any other signs for the parking space, at least 60 inches off the ground. Finally, if either of the signs is missing or “obsolete” (written on, mangled, etc.), it is the responsibility of the parking lot’s owner to replace it as quickly as possible at his or her own expense. While all of this may seem rather convoluted and complex, the task of establishing a business’ parking and towing services is an important one. In most cases, standard signs can be purchased for a lot, and must simply be posted properly. As mentioned before, it may be helpful for business owners to consult someone with more knowledge on the subject, such as a police officer or towing company.

Pennsylvania Car Insurance Shopper’s Guide – PA Auto Insurance Basics

How does one find the best Pennsylvania car insurance? What are some of the cheapest auto insurance companies in Pennsylvania? What are the PA minimum auto insurance coverage requirements? What are some things to look for when comparing Pennsylvania car insurance rates? How does one find Pennsylvania rental car insurance – and should it even be purchased in the first place? These are all key questions for PA residents that are of legal driving age. Read on to learn some of the PA auto insurance basics and see if maybe you can end up saving yourself some money in the process!

Pennsylvania No Fault Auto Insurance Laws

The state of Pennsylvania uses a no-fault system in regards to car accidents. This means that your insurance company will pay your injury claim regardless of who was at fault in the event of an accident. Since no-fault laws vary from state to state and can change over the years, you might want to call or visit the website of the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance if you have any questions.

PA Car Insurance Minimum Coverage Requirements

Under Pennsylvania law, you are required to have bodily injury coverage in a minimum amount of $15,000 per person, up to $30,000 per accident. Bodily injury insurance will cover such things as medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any legal defense costs you may incur as a result of an accident.

Pennsylvania also requires that you carry a minimum of $5,000 worth of property damage liability car insurance. Property damage coverage will pay for damage to another person’s property such as a fence, house, or car, as well as any legal costs that may arise from that damage.

Personal injury protection, or PIP, is required by Pennsylvania state law as well. There are different levels of personal injury coverage available, but the minimum amount required is $5,000. Pennsylvania calls the minimum amount required First Party Benefits-Medical. If you are in an accident, this coverage will pay for related medical and surgical expenses, rehabilitative services, such as physical therapy, any necessary dental, psychiatric, and optometric expenses, ambulance and nursing services, and required medications, medical supplies and prosthetic devices. The policy will only provide benefits to you, any other drivers listed on the policy, and any relatives living in the same home as you.

PA Tort Laws

In Pennsylvania, you must choose a tort option. A tort option defines your right to compensation if you, or any members of your household, are injured by another driver in a car accident.

The limited right to recover damages, or limited tort, provides limited benefits. While you will be covered for all medical and other expenses as a result of an accident, you will not be able to receive compensation for pain and suffering, or other non-monetary damages unless your injuries are serious, such as a life long disability or death. If you choose the limited tort option, your premiums for property damage, full first party benefits, and income loss coverage will be lower than if you choose the full tort option.

If you opt for the full tort coverage, your rights to recover financial compensation are not restricted. Under full tort, not only will you and other members of your family be able to recover damages for medical and other expenses, but you can seek full financial compensation for pain and suffering, and other damages for injuries you received that were caused by another driver in an accident. If you choose the limited tort option, your premiums for property damage, full first party benefits, and income loss coverage will not be reduced.

Optional PA Auto Insurance Coverage

Optional liability coverage in Pennsylvania includes first party extraordinary medical coverage. This type of coverage may give you and any members of your family medical benefit coverage in an amount up to $1,000,000. If you choose this coverage, it will take effect once the limit for your medical expenses has been reached under your personal injury protection insurance.

First party income loss coverage will pay you up to 80 percent of your lost earnings if you are unable to work after being injured in an accident. This coverage is limited to $2,500 per month with a cap of $50,000.

You may also personal the optional first party accidental death car insurance coverage. This type of coverage will provide a death benefit of up to $25,000 if you or a member of your family living in your home dies from injuries sustained in an accident for a period of 2 years after the accident occurred. The $25,000 will only be paid to the designated beneficiary that you will name at the time you purchase this coverage.

First party funeral coverage is another car insurance coverage option you can choose in the state of Pennsylvania. This policy will pay $2,500 toward any funeral expenses if you or a member of your family living in the same household dies as a result of a car accident.

While not required under Pennsylvania law, you may want to also purchase uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) bodily injury coverage. This will pay for any expenses such as medical, lost wages, injuries sustained in a hit-and-run, and other general damages in the event you are injured by another driver who is either underinsured or uninsured.

You can also purchase the optional uninsured motorist bodily injury car stacking policy. This option will let you increase the limits for uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage. This coverage will, however, increase your car insurance premium.

In addition to all the liability insurance options available in Pennsylvania, you may want to purchase some type of vehicle coverage such as collision, comprehensive, emergency road service, rental car limits, loan/lease gap coverage, and customized equipment policies.

Collision coverage will pay for repair or replacement cost of your car if it has struck another car, object, or has rolled over. Collision coverage cannot be purchased without purchasing comprehensive coverage as well.

Comprehensive coverage will pay for damage from such things as falling objects, fire, certain natural disasters, vandalism, theft, glass damage, and damage caused if you hit an animal.

If you have a loan on your car, or lease your car, the bank or other financial institution may require you to have both collision and comprehensive coverage on your car.

Customized equipment coverage will pay for any special equipment permanently installed on your car, truck, or van such as running boards, brush bars, roll bars, fog lights, bed liners, etc. You can only purchase customized equipment coverage if you have both comprehensive and collision coverage as well.

The optional loan/lease gap insurance available in Pennsylvania will cover the actual cash value of you car at the time of loss, and any greater amount owed at the time of the loss, if your car gets damaged in an accident. This does not include any deductible, unpaid finance charges, excess mileage, or wear and tear charges, and any payment under this type of coverage will not exceed 25 percent of the actual cash value of your car at the time of the loss.

Pennsylvania High Risk Car Insurance

The state of Pennsylvania also has an Assigned Risk Plan. This program offers high risk Pennsylvania car insurance to drivers who are not able to get certain types of coverage. You may need to use this plan because of your driving record, type of car you own, or if you have an unavailable motor vehicle record.

Pennsylvania Rental Car Insurance

Many PA drivers agonize over whether they should purchase rental car insurance. While it is true that your regular PA auto insurance policy will travel with you and cover you even while driving a rental car it is important to make sure that your regular auto insurance policy has all of the coverage that you will want while driving the rental. For example, if you have a very bare bones regular Pennsylvania auto insurance policy then you may want to consider purchasing the rental car insurance.

Finding The Cheapest Pennsylvania Auto Insurance Company

While no one PA car insurance company is the cheapest for everyone it is certainly true that PA has a number of top auto insurance companies. Here is a listing of some of the best:


SF Insurance



Progressive Direct


Liberty Mutual

Be sure and compare rates from at least 5 different companies in order to find the best policy for your needs.

Compare Pennsylvania Car Insurance Quotes Online

With all the options for car insurance available in Pennsylvania, it may be wise to shop around online for the best rates and coverage. You might want to do a side-by-side comparison of rates, and services available at several different car insurance companies. A little time and research may save you hundreds of dollars on your car insurance policy in the state of Pennsylvania.

The Dreaded Pennsylvania Hoop Snake

Back in the late 60’s my parents still owned a lot of property, in fact they owned over 350 acres, and milked roughly 75 cows per day. One summer day I encountered something that I will never forget, in fact almost 40 years later the incident still remains strong in my mind.

On a lazy August afternoon I was out in a field with my dad, watching him work on the PTO shaft of a tractor, when all of a sudden my dad hollered for me to come to him. He had me climb up on the tractor, and listen to something. Hear that whistle he said, listen…. sure enough I soon heard what sounded like a wolf call, like when the teenage boys see a pretty girl go by, they whistle at them, will, this sorta sounded like that. The noise seemed to be coming from the top part of the field, which was a pretty steep hill. Dad, said, they do that a few times to try to lure people out in the open, or to come closer to them, before they attack.

What is it? I asked dad, a hoop snake, he replied. I’ve seen them twice in all of my years here on the farm. They grow up to 5 feet long and are thicker than a normal snake, they crawl to the top of fields and lay there silently watching for farm animals or even humans to wander into the fields below them. Once they spot a target they will start a series of whistling that can mimic a humans, this often causes the target to wander closer to the snake to investigate the whistling source.

Then the snake will tighten it’s muscles and will bend it’s self into a circle or hoop shape, and being to roll down the hill using its body and gravity to propel it’s self towards the intended target. As the snake is near the target, it leaps and thrusts it’s tail at the victim, on the end of the snakes tail is a very sharp hook or barb that can pierce through a piece of wood. Inside this barb is a strong poison, even stronger than a diamond back rattlesnake.

Dad and I listed and we clearly heard 4 distinct whistles coming from the field above, soon we could see a snake come rolling down the field in our direction. Dad started up the tractor and waited a bit as the snake got closer, as it neared us, Dad moved the tractor forward just as the snake passed by and flung it’s self in our direction. It missed both of us but the barb on it’s tail had become deeply embedded in one of the large tractor tires, punching a hole into it, allowing air to escape. Dad was quite upset, because the tires were very expensive and often were difficult to patch, so he climbed down off the tractor and killed the snake with a rock, while it was attached to the tire. He pulled out his pocket knife and cut off the barb, for me to see. It resembled a spine I had seen before in bullheads and catfish.

I have never seen a hoop snake after this incident, but to this day some folks around this area still mention them. I believe they are now very rare and seldom seen. Just like the small green grass snakes that live here, my brother and I saw one years back, but never again. Some folks say there are no such things as hoop snakes, well they are wrong, I seen one first hand, and I still have the barb that was embedded into the tractor tire back in the summer of 1969.

You may publish this article in your ezine, newsletter or on your web site as long as it is reprinted in its entirety and without modification except for formatting needs or grammar corrections.

Alimony, Support and Division of Assets Explained in Pennsylvania

Spousal Support

Spousal Support is available to a married spouse, when the couple resides in separate homes and one spouse earns more than the other spouse. There are defenses against spousal support and it is important to have an attorney assist you in your claim for or against spousal support.
Alimony Pendente Lite

Alimony Pendente Lite is a type of support that is limited in nature and paid to the lesser income earning spouse by the higher income earning spouse in accordance to a statutory formula until the divorce is finalized. This support was enacted to equalize the parties incomes during the divorce proceedings and allow each spouse to afford the divorce process and expenses.

In Pennsylvania, there is not a set formula to determine post-divorce alimony. Whether or not to award post-divorce alimony payments lies within the exclusive discretion of the court. The court relies on the following 17 factors to determine whether to award post-divorce alimony.
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The 17 Factors of Alimony

The relative earnings of both spouses.

The duration of the marriage.

The ages and physical, mental and emotional states of the two spouses.

The sources of income of both spouses. This includes medical, retirement, insurance or other benefits.

The expected future earnings and inheritances of the two spouses.
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The degree to which one spouse has contributed to the other spouse’s education, training or increased earning potential.

The degree to which a spouse will be financially affected by their position as the custodian of a minor child.
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The standard of living of the spouses established during the marriage.

The relative education of the parties. This also considers the amount of time it would take for the spouse seeking alimony to acquire the education or training necessary to find employment.

The relative assets and liabilities of the two spouses.
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The property each spouse brought to the marriage.

The degree a spouse contributed as a homemaker.
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The relative needs of the two spouses.

The marital misconduct of either of the spouses during the marriage.

The federal, state and local tax consequences of the alimony.
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Whether the spouse seeking alimony lacks sufficient property to provide for their reasonable needs.

Whether the spouse seeking alimony is incapable of supporting themselves through appropriate employment.

[1] Title 7, Pennsylvania Code, ยง6102.

Division of Assests

In Pennsylvania “marital property” means all property acquired by either party during the marriage and the increase in value of any non-marital property acquired. However, marital property does not include:

Veterans’ benefits exempt from attachment, levy or seizure pursuant to the act of September 2, 1958 (Public Law 85-857, 72 Stat. 1229), as amended, except for those benefits received by a veteran where the veteran has waived a portion of his military retirement pay in order to receive veterans’ compensation.

Property to the extent to which the property has been mortgaged or otherwise encumbered in good faith for value prior to the date of final separation.

Any payment received as a result of an award or settlement for any cause of action or claim which accrued prior to the marriage or after the date of final separation regardless of when the payment was received.

Property acquired prior to marriage or property acquired in exchange for property acquired prior to the marriage.

Property excluded by valid agreement of the parties entered into before, during or after the marriage.

Property acquired by gift, except between spouses, bequest, devise or descent or property acquired in exchange for such property.

Property acquired after final separation until the date of divorce, except for property acquired in exchange for marital assets.

Property which a party has sold, granted, conveyed or otherwise disposed of in good faith and for value prior to the date of final separation.

Pennsylvania states that the increase in value of any non-marital property acquired pursuant to subsection shall be measured from the date of marriage or later acquisition date to either the date of final separation or the date as close to the hearing on equitable distribution as possible, whichever date results in a lesser increase.

Legal Claims in Pennsylvania Involving Stormwater Onto Your Property

In Pennsylvania, there is a law of surface waters found in legal case law. That is, a municipality or another property owner is responsible for harm to an adjoining landowner if that first owner or municipality artificially diverts or channels surface water (including storm water) onto that adjoining property.

Even if there is not additional volume of water, if the storm water is diverted resulting in higher intensity or concentrated flow, then there is liability if damages result.

A municipality has the right to manage storm water and to protect public health and safety. However, it must balance that with the rights of adjoining landowners.

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If a storm drain system or runoff pipes are negligently constructed such that they do not adequately control the runoff, then there is liability for harm caused.

This can be found at the Pennsylvania Storm Water Management Act (32 PS Section 680.13 et seq). The Act requires that there be a plan in place to handle water runoff resulting from construction that involves drainage or alteration of storm water runoff.

If the soil disturbance from a construction project is large enough, or if the soil disturbance is close enough to a protected waterway, then a permit and/or a soil erosion control plan must be filed with the PA Department of Environmental Protection.

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So, there are two main things to be aware of that may give rise to a legal claim in Pennsylvania regarding storm water. First. if you are doing construction involving a large amount of soil disturbance or you are within proximity to a protected stream or waterway, you should determine whether you need a permit and soil erosion control plan. Second, if you are a homeowner or landowner in which you believe that storm or surface water is being diverted onto your property at a greater flow or intensity, then you may have a claim if you have resulting damages.

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In the second instance, if you believe your property is being damaged, or there is a resulting injury to a person, then you should investigate the source of the problem. If there is recent construction of culverts or some drainage system, you should check with both your local government and PA Department of Environmental Protection.
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Find out what the project was and whether there needed to be a permit and/or erosion and soil control plan. Even if a permit or plan was not required, it still may be a violation of the Storm Water Management Act or Pennsylvania case law if the diversion of the surface water was negligently constructed or otherwise artificially channels water at an increased flow or velocity onto your property.

In such legal claims, there may be legal causes of action for: negligence, trespass, nuisance, or violations of the PA Storm Water Management Act or the PA Clean Streams Law. The Clean Streams Law (35 PS Section 691.1).
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The Clean Streams Law does allow for private citizen legal claims for pollution runoff into a waterway. It more often applies to PA Department of Environmental Protection or other governmental actions against polluters.

Usually, a legal claim involving an argument that there was a negligently constructed storm water drain or system or artificially channeled water runoff, requires use of an engineer. That engineer would need to inspect and possibly do a study to compile engineering findings to support the claims.

Pennsylvania Custody Explained

Legal Custody

When a parent has legal custody of their children, it means they are responsible for making decisions about the important things in their lives, such as what educational instruction they receive, their religious preferences, any important medical decisions, and where they go to school. When a couple is together, they usually jointly make these decisions, but upon separation either one or both parents can continue making these decisions.

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The couples can jointly share legal custody or a parent can request sole legal custody, which would mean that parent would make all of these decisions and keep the other parent informed. The default option is usually shared legal custody.
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If parents frequently fight over decision making, one parent lives far away, or if one parent is abusive and neglectful, a court may find that is in the best interest for one parent to have sole legal custody.

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Physical Custody

When you have physical custody of their children, it refers to which parent the children are residing with on a day to day basis.
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If parents choose to share physical time of their children, they can request “joint physical custody,” which means that each parent will have equal time with the children. Joint physical custody works in situations where parents live close to one another, so the children can move back and forth between their parents house and maintain their school and recreational activities.

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If you have more than fifty percent of the physical custody time with their children, then this parent would receive primary physical custody and the other parent would receive partial physical custody. Situations where parents would choose this arrangement are where one parents lives further away. The partial custodial parent could request alternating weekend visits and a few weekday evening visit with their children.

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If one parent has the children the majority of the time and would like to maintain this type of custody, this parent may be granted sole custody of the children. This is usually granted in situations where one parent is deemed unfit due to abuse or neglect.

Child Support

When parents separate they have an obligation to provide support on behalf of their children until the children are emancipated, which is until the children graduate from high school or reach the age of 18 years old, whichever occurs at a later date.
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Pennsylvania’s support guidelines are based upon the concept that the children of separated, divorced or never-married parents should receive the same proportion of parental income that she or he would have received if the parents lived together.
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A custody lawyer will help parents file for child support on behalf of their children.

The court will determine the amount of support to be paid based upon the custody schedule. Parents must additionally continue to pay any un-reimbursed expenses in proportion to their respective salaries. An experienced custody lawyer in child support can assist you in the process.

Settlement of Minor’s Personal Injury Cases in Pennsylvania

In, Pennsylvania, the Settlement of Minor’s personal injury cases, that is, anyone under the age of 18, requires approval by a Judge. Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 2039 requires that any claim involving a Minor as a party must have a Court Order approving the settlement of the case. Rule 2039(a) says that “No action to which a minor is a party shall be compromised, settled or discontinued except after approval by the court pursuant to a petition presented by the guardian of the minor.”

A Petition is a legal paper requesting the Court take action. The parent or legal guardian must filed with the Court a Petition for Minor’s Compromise. This is a legal document that is or should typically be filed by a lawyer on your behalf. The Petition will tell the Court what the amount of the settlement is, what the case was about, it will include relevant medical records and any legal costs and fees. The parent or legal guardian must sign a verification that they believe the settlement is fair and reasonable. The Judge will then schedule the case for a hearing.

At the hearing, the parent or legal guardian must be there with the child. The Court will look to determine whether the settlement is fair and reasonable first. They want to protect the interests of children. The Judge will go by the medical records and the child’s current medical condition. The other reason a Court Order is needed is because Minors can not enter into contracts or agreements and in Pennsylvania a contract entered by a parent on behalf of a Minor might be nullified by the Minor once they turn 18.

Usually, at the hearing, the Judge will have the parent or legal guardian of the minor sworn in and ask them questions about the medical treatment, the condition of the child, how the injury happened and whether the parent understands that the settlement of the case is final..

If the Minor’s personal injury settlement is approved by the Court, the Judge will require that the funds payable to the minor go into an FDIC interest-bearing account until the child turns 18. The funds will not be permitted to be withdraw without a Court Order approving (it would require extenuating circumstances such as medical bills or a legitimate emergency). If the case involves an insurance company paying a settlement, then that Insurer will be aware of these Rules. You would need to provide them with the Court Order approving the settlement before they will send a settlement check.