From the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry:

PA Dept of Labor Industry

With the introduction of the new Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation System, employers may be searching for a way to report refusals of work. The system does not currently have a designated area where employers can easily make these reports.

Employers are encouraged to continue to use the UC-1921W Online Form. This form can be submitted directly through the PA UC website, or employers can email completed forms to RefusalofWork@pa.govPlease only use one method and do not send multiple reports for the same incident.

A refusal of suitable work issue arises under the following circumstances:

  • An employer offers work to an individual who is NOT already employed by the employer, and the individual refuses the offer.
  • An employee refuses a recall to work after an indefinite lay-off from the employer.
  • An individual discourages being hired, during the interview process.
  • PA CareerLink® refers an individual to an employer and the individual refuses or fails to report for the interview.

Employers should NOT report the following issues using the UC-1921W Online Form:

  • Call-offs/Absent Hours/PTO/Limited Availability
  • No-Show for Shifts
  • Voluntary Quits or Discharges
  • Declined assignments if the individual is still considered employed by the agency
  • Reasonable Assurance for School Claims
  • Any other potential issues involving a current employee or an individual considered, by the employer, to still be employed

So you have represented yourself and a Magisterial District Judgment has been entered again. What do you do? An appeal from a Magisterial District Judge is made to the Court of Common Pleas. The form used to file such an appeal is universal for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The form can be found here.

notice of appeal from magisterial district judge judgment

The form must be completed and filed with the Court of Common Pleas of the County in which the Magisterial District Court Judgment is entered. Once the form is filed, you must serve the filed form on the Plaintiff and the Magisterial District Judge where the judgment was entered. If you are the Plaintiff and you appealed, you must then file a Complaint. If you were the Defendant or one of the Defendants, the burden then shifts to the other party, the other party must file a Complaint.  

Failure to adhere to the strict civil procedural requirements of the law can have a negative effect on your case and even result in your case being dismissed or terminated. Make your next move, your best move and seek a consultation with an attorney at the Law Offices of Fiore & Barber, LLC. 

How to Be Awarded Custody of Your Child - Fiore and Barber, LLC

There are almost 750,000 divorces happening every year in the US. However, each of them is unique and can have long-lasting emotional consequences for everyone involved, especially your children. Making all the right decisions in their best interest is essential to ensure that they will grow up in a loving home where they can flourish.

While child custody and child support are the most important priorities for divorcing parents, they are also the most delicate and strongly disputed topics in most divorces. 

Whether you are looking to obtain full or joint custody of your child, it is vital to understand the steps of a child custody battle and be prepared to present a winning case. The judge will carefully review each piece of evidence you can provide and always make a decision based on the children's best interest. However, understanding what's ahead can help you prepare in the best way.

How to Be Awarded Custody of Your Child - Fiore and Barber, LLC

Consult a Specialized Attorney

If custody of your child is disputed, the first step is always to consult a specialized and highly experienced attorney. While you are not formally required to hire an attorney ("pro se" filing), family law can be challenging to navigate and, without the right knowledge, your chances of obtaining your child's custody considerably decrease. 

During your child custody battle, you will be required to complete specialized forms, file paperwork at the courthouse, and prepare for your hearing. A specialized attorney can prevent you from making mistakes that will delay your court date and help you prepare to present the strongest case for yourself. 

Don't forget that each divorce and child custody battle is unique — understanding the local law and knowing how to behave in front of your randomly assigned judge can be crucial aspects to obtain what you are asking. 

Have Honest and Realistic Expectations

Divorces are undoubtedly complicated, but they can be even more so when the emotions and affection for your child are involved. 

However, before appearing in front of a judge, it is essential to understand what to expect from child custody and what to ask for in child custody. While you might want full custody, you should consider whether that's the right decision for you and your child from various viewpoints, such as financial, environmental, and emotional.

Having a full understanding of your life and pre-existing responsibilities won't only help you present a stronger case but also fight for the right outcomes.

How to Be Awarded Custody of Your Child - Fiore and Barber, LLC

Create a Meaningful Relationship With Your Child

During the investigation process, the court will look for any piece of evidence that suggests that you are the most suitable person to obtain custody. While you might already be covering your children's financial, practical, and material needs, you should also do all that is in your power to build a meaningful relationship with them.

Some evidence of this connection might include knowledge of their academic process, social life, sports they might play, and interests. The judge might also look into whether you are actively involved with their lives, attending events, supporting their education, and being present in their everyday lives.

Create A Positive Environment For Your Child

When assigning a child's custody to one of the parents, Courts look for factors that will benefit the children's future lives. Some factors, such as the wealth and gender of the parent, are no longer discriminated against, but the judge will still investigate what living accommodation and environment are best suited for the child's development. 

They are likely to inquire about your child's living accommodations, looking for signs that the child has a dedicated, special space in your home. You might need to provide evidence that you are regularly at your residence, your child always has a bed to sleep in, and your residence is safe and adequate.

Part of creating a positive environment for your child is also treating the other parent with respect. While you might be disputing child custody, it is essential to remain polite, respectful, and open to communication.

Present A Compelling Case and Be Patient

Here at Fiore & Barber, we know that each divorce case is different and unique, and we are ready to put our 25 years of experience at your disposal and help you fight to obtain the child custody arrangements you deserve. 

How to Be Awarded Custody of Your Child - Fiore and Barber, LLC

The role of the executor of an estate is one of complete trust and supreme responsibility.  Whomever you choose to serve in this capacity will oversee your final wishes to ensure that your Last Will and Testament are carried out as you have set forth. In theory, the person who is the executor of your estate will not have any problems with your beneficiaries. However, unfortunately, there are times when an issue or issues may arise which cause friction between the executor and a beneficiary of the estate.

Here are some of the most frequent issues that can arise:

Conflict of Interest

Often an individual will appoint a person to execute his or her will and that individual is also a beneficiary.  Typically, that is not an issue and the other heirs will understand that being named in a will does not automatically mean that you will not be a fair executor. However, beneficiaries often take issue with an executor based upon the executor fees. There are also times when an executor has abused that position of trust, if they believe that your executor is focusing on his or her own best interest at the expense of their interests and those of the estate.  Lack of trust may lead to claims of a conflict of interest, in an effort to disqualify your executor from continuing to operate in that capacity.

Mismanaging Funds of Estate

The assets of an estate must be managed properly during the probate process. The executor must act in a fiduciary capacity. Securing all assets is one of the most important roles of the position and is vital if the estate has many assets or outstanding debts.  Transactions must be recorded throughout the process of paying debts, filing tax returns, and distributing bequests using the funds or property available.  Sometimes, heirs will believe that the executor is not properly managing the assets of the estate and may file a complaint out of concern for the security of what they expect to inherit.  While an executor is compensated for his or her time, the amount of compensation may seem nominal in comparison to the value of the estate, leading to unease from heirs who believe the executor will find other ways to be compensated.

Lack of Communication

One of the most time-consuming aspects of serving as an executor is communicating with everyone associated with the estate.  Contacting creditors, keeping the courts informed, and talking to the beneficiaries is not always easy.  Unfortunately, some beneficiaries may not be satisfied with the level of communication they are receiving from an executor.  If they believe that they have not been contacted on a regular basis regarding the status of the estate, then they may initiate a complaint or attempt to get your executor removed. Creating your Will and choosing an executor is just one of the many things that you must do in order to ensure your estate is properly and smoothly administered.  The attorneys at the Law Offices of Fiore & Barber, LLC have over 50 years of combined experience to guide you through the entire process, and help you decide who is best suited to manage your estate.  Schedule your free consultation today!

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Receiving a summons or complaint against you can be a daunting experience, particularly when you don’t have an attorney. As the right to an attorney only applies to incarcerated individuals, as many as 90% of individuals go without legal representation every year. But you are not alone; Fiore & Barber, LLC, is on hand for advice on how to respond to a lawsuit without an attorney.

If you receive a complaint or summons, responding is essential. No response is considered an admission of guilt, and the plaintiff (the person with the complaint) may receive everything they’ve alleged as a default judgment will be passed against you. In most cases, you will have up to 28 days to respond, but this will vary by state.

Analyzing The Complaint

In addition to submitting your response on time, you must also include essential information to register your response successfully. Carefully read the complaint and include the same details in your response regarding the plaintiff, your name and address (you will be known as the defendant), the correct court, county, case number, and the judge. When you read the complaint, take note of every point made in the complaint’s body, as these will be what you are responding to. Make a copy of the complaint you can annotate and keep a clean copy of the original document.

Writing Your Response

Your response should cover every paragraph in the complaint and whether you admit or deny each point raised. If you can’t remember whether part of the complaint is correct, it may be safer to deny it and avoid relying on your memory. For each point that you admit or deny, include a brief reason why. An example would be if the plaintiff alleged you never paid back a loan you’ve already repaid. You can include any affirmative defense at the end of these responses, such as the statute of limitations nullifying the complaint. You should also make sure you include any relevant counterclaims that relate to the plaintiff. Then, ask the judge to dismiss the claim and sign your name and print your contact details below.

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What Is A Counterclaim?

If you feel that the plaintiff wronged you in a way that is financially or legally relevant to the claim, you may want to file a counterclaim. The plaintiff in your original complaint will need to respond to your counterclaim. The judge would need to consider your counterclaim alongside the original claim. A counterclaim is different from a defense. The defense is when there is a reason the complaint is incorrect, while a counterclaim is you suing the individual that filed the complaint. 

A counterclaim doesn’t have to be directly related to the same complaint but does have to be relevant to the plaintiff. For instance, if you live in a rented property and are sued for damages, your counterclaim may be that your landlord didn’t pay you back your security deposit. You must include the counterclaim in your answer; otherwise, you may lose your right to sue.

Filing The Response

Make a copy of your response and mail the first one to the Plaintiff’s Attorney’s address. Tracking the post is essential to make sure you have a record of the delivery arriving. Bring the original response and another copy to the county courthouse. They will charge a filing fee, keep the original, and stamp your copy as proof of your response being submitted. This process covers the counterclaim as well, as this is included in your response. Once you’ve filed the response, you should keep the court updated with any address or telephone number changes. If you have any legal documentation that proves any aspect of your defense or counterclaim, you should start compiling this. Keep at least three copies of these ready.

What Happens Next

After you’ve filed your response, you may be invited to a pre-trial hearing with the judge to see if the case can be settled without a trial. Depending on the pre-trial hearing outcome, you may then be invited to court and present your defense or counterclaim. You can call upon yourself as a witness or call other witnesses relevant to your claim.
The information given here does not constitute legal advice and is not state specific, but we hope it is useful when responding to a lawsuit. If you need a little help, you can always contact us at Fiore & Barber, and we’ll be there for legal advice and support.

Many people understandably want to change their name after a divorce. You do not need to explain the reason for the name change. For most divorcees, part of the motivation for a name change is to regain their identity and independence and remove the name that symbolically ties them to their ex-spouse. Whatever the reason, it is certainly possible to replace your name after you get a divorce. The more important question is how to change your name after a divorce. The name-change process varies from state to state, but the general steps are the same. If you want to know how to change your name after a divorce, you may need to consult an attorney to help with both the name change and the overall divorce process. In many states, you need to request to restore your previous name or petition for a name change on your divorce appeal. Even if you do not make this request at the time of your divorce, you can get the name changed later by requesting a court order.

What Are the Steps to Change Your Name in PA?

If you want to know how to change your name after a divorce, you need to understand your state's laws. However, the process is quite simple. There are three main steps required to change your name in the state. First, you need a court order as proof of the divorce name change. After you have acquired the court order, you need to notify the SSA (Social Security Administration) of the change. Also, you will need to change your name with the DMV. Getting a Court Order The domestic relations court has the power to "restore any name that the person had before marriage." You can ask the court to include the restoration of your name in its final divorce or dissolution decree. An important thing to note here is that, while a domestic relations court has the power to restore your former name (as it appeared on your ID before marriage), it cannot change your name to a completely new one. For that, you would have to go to a probate court in your county. In case you don't have the name restoration included in the Final Decree of Divorce, you may still change your name later through your county's probate court. This process involves some paperwork. There are forms to fill out, and you will need to publish the notice of the application in a local newspaper at least 30 days before the official hearing. While publishing your name change in the newspaper may seem unnecessary at first, it is actually for a good reason. The main reason that you have to do this step in some states is to avoid people changing their names secretly to defraud creditors.

Changing Your Name with the SSA

Once you have the court order for a name change, the next step is to apply for a new social security card. You can complete the application online. The SSA will ask you to present legal documents proving the requested name is legally yours. In this case, the court order that granted your name change qualifies as a legal document. Other materials you may need include a birth certificate or passport as proof of both citizenship and identity.

Changing Your Name with the DMV

Once you have applied for a new social security card, you will need to request a name change at a DMV. For this step, you will need your new social security card, your driver's license, and proof of your name change (the court order) along with the payment for any applicable fees. Your driver's license will then be updated to reflect the changed name.

Avoid the Extra Court Order by Including Your Name Change in the Divorce Petition

You may have noticed that applying for a name change after a divorce can be complicated. The fastest and simplest way to get your name changed after a divorce is to include the request for a name change in the divorce petition. The court will then include that new name in its final pronouncement. However, the other processes, such as getting a new social security card and having your name changed at the DMV, are still necessary. Something to note is that, even if the court makes the Decree of Divorce without including the name change, you could still theoretically continue using your pre-marriage name in social situations. You will need a court order as proof of a name change for official purposes and legal situations. Agencies, organizations, and employers will require you to present some proof of the name change before they agree to use it on official documents. As long as you include the request for a name change in your divorce petition, you should receive it as part of the court's pronouncement. If you don't, you can follow the steps above to get it changed after the fact. Once you have the court papers, you can have your name officially changed at school, work, and on official documents.

Notify the Correct Departments and Agencies about the Name Change

Once you have changed your name legally, it is still your responsibility to modify your name on other records and identity documents. Some places you may have to notify include: • Voter registration • Passport • Post office • IRS • State tax authority • Insurance policies • Places of employment • Investment plans • Retirement plans • Credit cards • Subscriptions and memberships You may also have to consider changing other sensitive documents, such as your will, power of attorney, contracts, trust documents and records, and health care proxies. Because of the complexity associated with name changes, you should consult with a qualified lawyer regarding a name change and any other significant legal matter. The attorney may explain the full implications of a name change and advise you on how to navigate the situation. Ideally, your attorney will have the knowledge and experience to help with all aspects of the divorce, as well.

Did you know the DUI laws in Pennsylvania are changing? On October 24, 2018, Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 961 (SB 961) into law, increasing the penalties for driving under the influence. Here’s what you need to know about these new penalties, and how they could affect people charged with a DUI.

How Does Senate Bill 961 Increase DUI Penalties?

For the first time in Pennsylvania history, the state will have felony driving under the influence charges. Drivers arrested for a third DUI charge with a blood-alcohol level of .16 percent or higher will be charged with a third-degree felony. A driver arrested four times or more for drunk or drugged driving will automatically be charged with felony DUI. This intensifies the penalties for repeat offenders. Prior DUI convictions will also factor into penalties when it comes to fatal/injury crashes caused by drivers who were drinking. The current mandatory sentence for a vehicular homicide charge is three years. However, under the new legislation signed by our governor, the minimum penalty for a DUI driver caught in such an accident will be five years. If that DUI driver has two or more previous DUI convictions, that minimum sentence increases to seven years under SB 961.

What Effects Could These Changes Have on Your Life?

Besides increasing the possible jailtime you face, a felony conviction can have serious effects on your life. It can increase how long your license is suspended and it will remain on your criminal record. Anyone who runs a background check will see your felony conviction. This is why an attorney is so important when it comes to defending yourself from these charges. An attorney can investigate to see if there were any flaws in the collection and processing of evidence in your case. Getting such evidence excluded could result in the reduction of charges against you or even a dismissal of your case. If your constitutional rights were violated during your arrest, an attorney can utilize those violations to plea bargain for a lesser offense. These legal changes highlight just how important defending yourself against DUI charges can be. A felony conviction could send your life into a tailspin and seriously affect your future. At Fiore & Barber, LLC, we are experienced DUI lawyers who work diligently to give our clients the defense they need. Call us at (215)256-0205 to schedule a free consultation.

Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel weeks in Pennsylvania. But did you know that it is also an active period for drunk drivers? Police usually come out in force to prevent a surge in drunk driving crashes, but 2018 could be different than most years.

Why Thanksgiving DUI Enforcement Will Go Up in 2018

Last year, the Thanksgiving holiday was busier for Pennsylvania State Police than normal. It reported 981 crashes in 2017, up from 931 crashes in 2016. In addition, 85 of those 2017 crashes were ruled alcohol-related, which was an almost 30 percent increase from 2016. These higher numbers were despite increased efforts to catch DUI drivers by state troopers. The agency reported that it made 629 DUI arrests last year between November 22 and 26, another increase over 2016’s statistics. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) reported that 3,962 crashes happened during the Thanksgiving weekend in 2016, resulting in 38 fatalities. In 2017, PennDOT reported that the number of fatalities had decreased to 26 while the number of crashes had increased to 4,509. Considering that just as many travelers could be on the road in 2018 as there were in 2017, these numbers could easily rise. To prevent another rise in crashes during Thanksgiving, drivers can expect enforcement to increase to levels higher than what we saw last year. That means even more Thanksgiving DUI arrests can be expected. And if you are charged with a DUI, you can expect the effects on your life to be dramatic. A DUI conviction can lead to jail time, fines and the suspension of your driver’s license. This can also result in the loss of your job as well as other social consequences. Knowing your options when facing these charges is essential, and the criminal defense attorneys at Fiore & Barber, LLC may be able to help. We have over 28 years of combined experience that may help our potential clients minimize the damage done to their lives.

With Halloween right around the corner, you might be planning your costume for a big Halloween bash or picking out the bars you are going to visit with friends. Have you planned a safe way home at the end of the night? The last thing you need is a DUI on your record. In Pennsylvania, the consequences of your DUI are determined by your blood alcohol content (BAC) and previous offenses. However, your age, license type and whether you caused injuries or damages to another person can affect the penalties too. Generally, there are three tiers of DUI in Pennsylvania:

Tier 1: Your BAC is between 0.08 and 0.099 percent

  • For first time DUI offenses, you’ll likely face a small fine and be required to take an alcohol safety course.
  • If you have had one or more DUIs, then you’ll receive an automatic 12-month license suspension.

Tier 2: Your BAC is between 0.1 and 0.159 percent

  • If your BAC is between 0.1 and 0.159, then you will receive an automatic 12-month license suspension even if it is your first offense. If you have had three or more DUI offenses, then it will be 18 months.

Tier 3: Your BAC is 0.16 percent or higher

  • You will receive an automatic 12-month suspension for your first offense and an 18-month suspension for additional offenses.
The more DUI offenses you have had in the past, the greater the consequences. For example, if you are charged with a DUI and have had one prior DUI charge, then you will be required to install an ignition lock in your vehicle for one year after your license suspension expires. An ignition interlock is a device that keeps your car from starting if you do not pass a breathalyzer test first. You will have to pass a breathalyzer every time you want to drive your car. In addition, the likelihood of prison is greater once you have accrued more than one DUI. Minors, school bus drivers, truck drivers and drivers who caused injuries or damages to another person could be subject to greater penalties even if their BAC is in the first tier. Driving under the influence of drugs or refusing breath and chemical testing could subject you to the greatest penalties. If you have been charged with a DUI, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The DUI attorneys at Fiore & Barber, LLC represent clients in Montgomery County, Bucks County, Lehigh County and the surrounding areas. We could help you discuss your legal options. Call us today at (215) 256-0205 or contact us online.

Labor Day Weekend is a weekend full of special events with family, friends and celebrations to commemorate the end of summer. However, like other holiday weekends during the year, many people will be drinking alcoholic beverages and putting themselves and others at risk while driving. Law enforcement will be on high alert during this three-day weekend in order to pull over suspected drunk drivers. If you are arrested and charged with a DUI on Labor Day Weekend, it’s crucial that you know what your next legal steps should be.

I’ve Been Charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania, What Do I Do Next?

First, it’s important that you immediately get in touch with a Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the DUI charge and arrest process. You and your attorney will then go over the various factors associated with your specific arrest, such as if a field sobriety test was conducted, what your blood alcohol concentration was, and other important factors. Understand that Pennsylvania has an implied consent law, so if you refuse to take a chemical test you can be subject to fines and a license suspension. Next, you should understand the different penalties you will be facing if you are charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania. If this is your first offense, you are likely to face a $300 fine. In addition, you could also be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on your vehicle if you refuse to take a chemical test. If it is your second or third offense, the severity of your penalties will increase. You could be facing anywhere from six months to two years in jail, $300 to $5,000 in fines, a year-long license suspension, and you could be required to use an IID while your license is restricted. In order to avoid these harsh penalties, it is wise to take preventative measures before going out and drinking on Labor Day Weekend. Consider taking a ridesharing service, finding a designated sober driver, or host a party at your home instead. If you have been charged and/or arrested for a DUI on Labor Day Weekend, you should contact our Pennsylvania criminal defense attorneys at Fiore & Barber today for a free consultation.