Of Love and Lost: A Valentine Prequel to Divorce
It’s that month of the year again when red roses and expensive chocolates are always sold out. February is the month for sweet couples and fully booked, first-class restaurant reservations. And just as you guess, it is during the month of February where the busiest spots will be found in flower shops and gift boutiques.

But you’d be surprised to know that the Pennsylvania courthouses are also usually busy during this month—and it is not because couples are filing for marriage licenses. If you think they are filing for their “I dos”, they are actually filing for their “I don’ts”.

Indeed, the filing for divorce is particularly prevalent on a Valentine’s Day. There’s been even a name for it: the “Valentine’s Effect”. In fact, it has been published that divorce filing shoots up to about 40% during Valentine’s Day. This data is acquired from avvo.com which is a site known for offering general profiles of lawyers across United States.

What causes divorce filings during Valentines’ Day may be triggered by the following scenarios:

A deliberate delay to act on a New Year’s Resolution
There are some partners who have already contemplated the idea of divorce. This may have played in their minds for so long that it becomes an item worth acting upon with their New Year’s Resolution. In a sense, Valentine’s Day becomes the cut-off date to really deliver and do it.
An assessment of the financial standing of the spouse
Some partners can be too emotional when it comes to breaking the bonds of marriage. On the other hand, some are more practical. Financial problems and issues can take a toll on marriage. For financial reporting and tax purposes, it has often been advised that the best time to file for bankruptcy is in January. And since there are many bankruptcy filings during January, it may only take a matter of time for some couples to argue incessantly about money until come February when they have reached the boiling point of their marriage. That’s when they start to file for divorce.
Hanging on for the family
Some married couples who are no longer fit to be together still try and manage to at least tolerate each other for the sake of their family. Among the list of holidays in the year that require family gatherings, Valentine’s Day ranks the last of that list. From Thanksgiving to Christmas to New Year’s celebrations, it is possible for couples to wait until these holidays are over so they can proceed with their divorce proceedings.
Valentines’ Day invokes feelings of romance and expectations
Data gathered from Avvo also revealed that 67% of those who intend to file for divorce on Valentine’s Day are women, so it should not come as a surprise that women appreciate a lot of attention on very special days- Valentine’s Day, included. Women who feel underappreciated and ignored are the same women who did not receive a nice gift or a token of thoughtfulness from their husbands. Unfulfilled expectations on Valentine’s Day breaks the marital deal.

Think with your heart, AND with your brain:

If you are in the middle of a divorce proceeding, or are planning to file one, it is not enough to follow the voice of your heart. In fact, it is best to deal with the whole process rationally and carefully. It can even significantly help knowing the legal dynamics involved in your divorce. Understanding the legal requisites for divorce will help you through the whole proceeding.

In Pennsylvania, the court recognize a no-fault divorce and a fault-divorce. When the marriage naturally falls apart, it falls under a no-fault divorce. On the other hand, in a fault divorce, the spouse who is allegedly the cause of the demise of the relationship is the one who is the reason for the divorce.

If you think that there is no future in your marriage, cry and mourn for the loss. But don’t stop there. Reach out to the Law Offices of Peter J. Russo, P.C. and discuss all the legal options available to you. The divorce process can be long and even challenging as it may involve other legal matters like division of assets, who gets the share of properties, alimony, and child support. With the dedicated and experienced lawyers in the Law Office of Peter J. Russo, you’d be rest assured that your divorce case will be addressed with a balance of competence and empathy.
Navigating Family Court in PA - Child Custody Appeals
Attorney Megan Danielle Strait
You aren’t satisfied with the outcome of your custody trial, and you want to know what to do about it. Well, you can file an appeal, so long as you have valid grounds. However, you need to keep in mind that appealing a custody decision can be a challenge. You have to be able to show that the trial court abused its discretion or committed an error of law.

An abuse of discretion occurs when the trial court makes a decision that is unreasonable in light of the circumstances. It could be that the judge made a determination based upon evidence or testimony that was not part of the record, or the judge allowed testimony to become part of the record that should have been excluded. While this seems like an easy appeal, it is rather quite difficult. Since the trial court has been given a broad range of power to determine the child’s best interest, it is hard to prove that the court somehow made an unsound or unreasonable decision. The Superior Court has even given the trial court broad powers when it comes to determining the child’s best interest, and the appellate court typically won’t disturb a trial court’s decision on the grounds that the trial court abused its discretion.  

You could also seek an appeal on the grounds that the lower court committed an error of law. An error of law occurs when the judge misapplies the law to the evidence and testimony presented. Since a custody trial is based upon several factors, the court would have to blatantly disregard each of the factors when coming to its decision, if you want to be successful on appeal. Otherwise, the trial court has the ability to weigh the factors as it deems appropriate. This means that the trial court can give greater weight to one of the factors, and as long as the testimony and evidence supports the court’s analysis, its decision will not be overturned.

In conclusion, if you are truly not happy with the outcome of your custody trial, it is sometimes best to follow the court’s order and then upon a change in circumstance, file to modify custody. If you have questions regarding an appeal in your custody matter, please contact the Law Offices of Peter J. Russo, P.C. to speak to an experienced custody attorney.
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We are seeking guest writers to contribute to our email newsletter which reaches more than 2000 people per month. If you would like to consider a joint article (for example: How COVID has impacted on the wedding industry and the legal recourse you might have), we would be glad to work on something with you. For more information, please contact Ashley Malcolm via email amalcolm@pjrlaw.com or call 717-610-1639. 
Credit Matters
These days, a credit score can come between you and your dreams. Whether it is your dream home, dream car or dream job, your credit is impacting your price and ability to buy.

Did you know that the difference of even one point on your score can determine whether you can get a loan? The difference between a 740 score and a 739 score can have a REAL IMPACT on the cost of borrowing. That could mean higher rates and/or higher fees. 

So credit matters. Or rather being PURPOSEFUL about your credit matters.

It is critical in these times to that we understand how we can raise our score and thereby improve our capacity purchase and own what we want and need at the lowest possible cost. To that end, here are a few ideas on points to keep in mind when working on raising your scores.

Monitor Your Credit
You may pull your own credit once a year for free at www.annualcreditreport.com. That means that you can pull one of three bureaus every 4 months. For example, you could pull a Trans Union in January, and Experian in May and a Equifax in September. In this way, you are pulling each bureau once a year while monitoring your credit every four months. You may also want to sign up for a free credit monitoring account. These will usually keep you informed as much as monthly of your credit activity. In this way, you will always be aware of what is happening with your credit. 

Pay Your Bills on Time
It is obvious, but it needs to be said. Approximately 35% of your credit score is tied to HOW you pay your bills. Nothing replaces making your payments on time. There is no extra credit for paying early but the impact of paying late will be felt for at least two years.

Keep Your Balances Low
This one might surprise you. Many think that paying off your debt monthly will drive their scores higher when in fact, keeping small balances on your revolving debt may have a higher impact. Additionally, spreading your debt out among all available lines (or credit cards) will reduce utilization ratios important to the algorithmic calculations. I like to share with people trying to build or re-build a credit profile that they should consider holding three major credit cards and use one to buy gas, one to buy food and one for other monthly expenses. In this way, they build a history while being able to see exactly what they are spending through the month. It helps them understand better how to monitor the household budget.

Consider Not Closing Out Your Older Credit Cards
Before closing out accounts, consider that the age of your credit has impact on your score. Closing out your oldest credit card may have long term negative effects. To this point, young people should consider opening and holding open accounts early in life. When my kids turned 18, their mother and I took them a got them their first credit card at the local bank. They learned early how they need to respect their credit, how to handle a credit card (while we were there to correct their mistakes) and the value of creating and monitoring a solid credit profile.

Do Not Let Everyone Pull Your Credit
Be aware that when a creditor pulls your report to determine if they will extend you credit, your score may be negatively impacted. The points you lose will likely be gone for a year. When shopping, do so in short, confined periods of time. Don’t let just anyone pull your credit. If you credit is excellent, tell the lender so. Ask them what they would be able to offer “assuming” your scores are excellent. This will allow you to shop for your loan without damaging your score.

Be Purposeful About the Credit Types You Hold
One should consider having a balanced credit profile of both revolving accounts (credit cards for example) and installment accounts (closed ended loans such as car loans and student loans). Additionally, borrowing from institutions which cater to higher risk customers may have a negative impact to your score.

Be purposeful. I suppose THAT is the best advice. Some say that “Knowledge is Power”. I believe that “APPLIED Knowledge is Power”.  Your credit touches so many parts of your life…. Borrowing… insurance… even getting the job you want can be achieved or curtailed tied to your credit. Taking the time to evaluate and plan your credit profile can save you thousands and help you achieve your dreams.
John Anthony

John Anthony is a mortgage lender in Central Pennsylvania with over 30 years in the industry and has taught for multiple organizations across the country on credit and mortgage related topics. He can be reached at janthony@fairwaymc.com.
When Work Life Gets in the Way of Your Love Life
In this age of modern romance, it is hard to keep up with a stable and lasting relationship especially if both partners are working. Since no one stays at home to prepare and make dinner, it can be a challenge to find quality time after a long and hard day’s work. Is it still possible to balance career and romance? Here are some tips to help reignite some spark in your relationship while maintaining your commitment to work:

1. Set your priorities straight.
This prompts us to reflect on the age-old question “Do you live to work?” or “Do you work to live?” While both are important, at the end of the day, your colleagues can never replace your partner in life. Work will leave you until you reach a certain age but a loving and loyal partner won’t. And the best way to repay his/her act of love is by providing a stable and sustainable life for him/her. Of course, achieving career success is a bonus. But if you ask me, I rather work to live.

2. Support each other’s career growth.
You should never compete with your partner’s career because remember: you will always have to come first. But in the same way, it is important for your partner to feel that you support him/her in the career path he/she is on. Always lend a shoulder and an ear to sympathize and listen to his/her problems and victories related to work.

3. Quality time is always better than quantity time.
It is not in the amount of time you have spent with your partner but in the quality of time that you have spent with him/her. No matter how brief or short, make sure to make the most of it.

4. Love the person, not the title.
If things are going very well career-wise, always be reminded that you already loved that person prior to earning his/her title or prestige—and you will continue to do so in the future whether he/she may lose such title.

Your work life and love life do not have to compete. In order to foster a heathy relationship, it is important to achieve the balance of priority between the two.
"Listen to Your Heart"
It’s the month of hearts! What better way to celebrate it than by taking time to listen to how your heart is doing? It is just but proper to do so because the heart is the most hardworking organ in the body. It pumps blood 24/7 and I do not know how it can keep up with spending hours thinking about that special person whom you love. Let’s cut the heart some slack, shall we? In this month of February, it’s time to give our hearts some TLC!

Sometimes we often tend to ignore common conditions in our body thinking that we are just tired or too much in love. But on the contrary, these are the common symptoms that we have to watch out for as it may signal a heart problem:

This condition may be brought about by a variety of health issues; but this can also be an indication of a coronary artery disease. This means that the heart may have trouble pumping blood. If it is a recurring condition, it is best to consult a doctor.

Unexplained body pains
If you experience pain in the back, arms, shoulders, abdomen, or jaw for no reason at all, it could be a sign of heart trouble. Such unexplained body pains may occur because the blood supply may have been blocked as it passes and goes to the heart muscle.

Shortness of breath
Like fatigue, it may also be attributed to several causes. However, if you feel like you easily get shortness of breath after a few steps when taking the stairs, it can be a cause for alarm.

Heart palpitations
This refers to having an irregular or rapid heartbeat. This may be caused by caffeine intake or anxiety. However, if you are at the state of rest, and you feel like your heart suddenly beats rapidly for no reason at all, it’s time to have it checked.

Roxette is right to say to always listen to your heart- whether it involves matters of the heart or health. While it is something that may not be so serious, it is best to always err on the side of caution. So take time to listen to your heart.
Meet Our Attorneys
Funny Relationship Quotes That Will Tickle Your Fancy
What a wonderful feeling it is to fall in love! But when you get burned by love, it is the worst feeling in the world. It is indeed hard to fight it and when it hits you, it hits you hard. So what better way to deal with such experience than by adding humor in that crazy funny feeling you call LOVE. Here are some of the funniest quotes you can find about love. You may relate with it or you can vehemently deny. One thing’s for sure, though: it helps you relax and cope better with the roller-coaster feeling of being in love:

Love is blind. But your neighbors aren’t.
So make sure to close your windows when you make out.

What is the difference between a husband and a boyfriend?
About 50 pounds.

What do you call a handcuffed man?

Only 60% of married man cheat in America.
The rest cheat in Canada.

Marry a man your age.
So when your beauty fades, so does his eyesight.

Never forget the 3 little words that were engraved inside the engagement ring that you were given.
“Made in China”

Love is patient. Love is kind.
Until your partner leaves the toilet seat up for the ninth time.

If you don’t trust someone fully, don’t give him/her your heart.
But you can give him/her your kidneys. You always have 2 of those.

If you love someone, set them free.
If they come back, set them free again.

Love is blind…and then marriage opens your eyes.
So that is what happened to Adam and Eve!

Love can neither be created nor destroyed, said Newton.
I can create havoc in your life and destroy your wallet, said your partner.

Marry an archaeologist.
The older you get, the more interested he/she is in you.

Let’s face it: Men are from earth. Women are also from earth.
Deal with it.
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