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The importance of consent in a stepparent adoption

A wedding signifies the beginning of a new era for a married couple. No marriage is without its ups and downs, but when there are children involved from previous relationships, the new era can be marred with difficulties. One way parents can help ease their children's transition is by providing them with the stability they need to flourish. A stepparent adoption is one way to achieve this.

When a parent adopts their spouse's children, it gives the child a sense of security and belonging. As their legal parent, the stepparent becomes responsible both emotionally and financially for the child. Pennsylvania residents looking to adopt their stepchildren may want to consult an experienced attorney for guidance on how to proceed, as the law varies from state to state.

Common lies told to avoid estate planning

While it is true that thinking about one's estate plan is not fun, not everything in life is fun. To justify the delay in creating an estate plan, people tell themselves lots of lies, such as talking about one's death only makes it more imminent. However, dying without a will can leave loved ones confused on how to handle everything from the good china to the funeral.

One of the most common lies people tell themselves is that they do not need an estate plan because they do not have a lot of money. Even if one has a modest bank account or a family home, the decedent will want to know that their family members will be taken care of after they have moved on. Even if someone has no assets to their name, having a will can protect something more important than one's finances-one's family. A will can dictate who will take care of their children after their death and the manner in which their body should be handled.

What does reasonable suspicion have to do with your DUI stop?

You're driving along, and all of a sudden, you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror. A police officer is pulling you over, but you have no idea why. You know that you must pull over, but you instantly get nervous. Perhaps you aware of your rights when dealing with law enforcement. The first thing you need to know is that there must be valid grounds in order for a law enforcement officer to stop a driver.

The law states that police must have reasonable suspicion for making a DUI traffic stop. This means there must be a clear reason to pull you over, such as specific behaviors often associated with intoxicated driving. Without reasonable suspicion, a traffic stop is invalid, with could invalidate the case against you. If you are facing DUI charges in Pennsylvania, it is in your interests to review the circumstances of your traffic stop.

Reasonable grounds to seek modification of a child support order

As a Pennsylvania parent, one of the main priorities of your life is to properly care for your children. You love your kids, and you want to take care of them, but your circumstances may not allow you to do that as you want. After your divorce, you may find that your financial situation is different, and you are no longer able to meet the terms of your support order.

If you are unable to pay child support or pay the full amount you owe according to your order, that does not make you a bad parent. At this point, you will want to find out if you have grounds to seek a modification to your existing child support order. Before approving this request, the court will review your situation to determine if there are valid grounds to change the terms.

Is it possible to defend against DUI charges?

Whether Pennsylvania residents realize it or not, driving is an essential part of their daily lives. Without a driver's license, it is more difficult to get to work, get groceries, pick up children from school and even get a bite to eat from the corner restaurant. Someone convicted of drunk driving could end up losing driving privileges and be unable to complete these tasks, disrupting not only their own lives but also the lives of their family members.

Many people facing DUI charges may not be aware that it is possible to present a DUI defense to avoid the consequences of a conviction. While it is difficult to give an affirmative defense for a drunk driving charge, it is possible to attack a police officer's observations that led up to the arrest.

How can I avoid common estate planning mistakes?

Realizing the importance of creating an estate plan is just the first step to ensuring one's loved ones are taken care of in the future. Pennsylvania residents should know that while their estate plan is unique to their situation, there are still a number of mistakes that can negatively impact the distribution of their assets after they are gone.

The most important way to avoid these mistakes is by understanding what one has just signed. While it may seem like leaving estate planning to the experts is the best way to get things done properly, this does not mean one does not have to understand the fundamentals. Often, the person involved in estate planning will have to take certain steps upon the creation of the plan, but without knowing about it, may fail to do so. As a result, a carefully and lovingly crafted plan may not be implemented and become worthless over time.

Choose the executor of your estate wisely

When a loved one or family member asks a Pennsylvania resident to become the executor of their estate, it is natural to feel honored at the request. If the testator is near death, then there is an even more pressing need to agree and ease their stress. However, it's important to know that being an executor is a difficult role and one should know what they are getting into before agreeing.

The first and foremost concern is whether the potential executor has time. The executor must sort through years of a testator's life, and this often requires lengthy and repeated phone calls, trips to the county courthouse and standing in long lines to send registered letters. Collecting information from financial institutions is also tedious, especially when someone is grieving for the loss of a loved one. Not only does one have to think about the time completing these tasks requires, but also the skill. An executor must be highly organized, so if they have financial difficulties of their own, it might not be the best idea to appoint them. An executor must also be aware of the rules regulating their responsibilities, along with the timeline for completing these tasks.

What is Pennsylvania's 'best interests of the child' standard?

What began as a passionate relationship can often go sour, with the passion evolving into heated arguments about everything from who keeps the paintings to who keeps the house. If there are children involved in a split, legal disputes can become even more contentious and drawn out as couples struggle to come to a parenting plan that both of them can agree on.

When a couple is able to present the court with a parenting plan that they both have committed to, then the court is likely to adopt that. However, when this does not happen due to disagreements between the parents, the court is left to make child custody determinations on the basis of the best interests of the child in Pennsylvania.

Aggravating DUI factors enhance potential penalties

If you didn't know it already, you may be discovering how quickly and completely a drunk driving arrest can affect your life. You may have already lost time from work, faced the expense of paying your bail and relinquished your driver's license, and you haven't even had your day in court. Even if it is your first offense, you may be concerned about how a conviction could change your future, your job and your relationships.

While all these things and more may be at risk with a simple DUI conviction, imagine how seriously any aggravating factors may impact your life. Aggravating factors are those circumstances at the time of your arrest that increase the severity of a DUI. With increased charges often come harsher penalties.

Do you know your fourth amendment rights?

Simply alleging that someone has committed a crime is not enough for criminal charges or an arrest to be made-allegations must be supported by proof. Law enforcement authorities and prosecutors need to collect evidence in a lawful manner, which means that they should not violate an individual's right to privacy and freedom from unreasonable intrusion from the government. Pennsylvania residents facing criminal charges may not be aware that they have certain rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and this includes the protection against unlawful search and seizures.

This means that warrantless searches are prohibited under the Fourth Amendment, unless the situation falls under very specific exceptions. If someone has given consent to a search, then a warrantless search can be lawful. Similarly, if the search is incidental to a lawful arrest, a warrantless search may again be lawful. Lastly, if there exists a probable reason to conduct a search and exigent circumstances exist, it might be possible to allow a warrantless search.

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