Dissolving a Church or Nonprofit in Pennsylvania

When a church or nonprofit organization comes to the point where it is no longer large enough to sustain its purpose, there are a number of steps to take to properly dissolve it. To avoid creating personal liability for any of the directors or officers, it is important to dissolve the nonprofit organization legally and distribute its funds and property pursuant to Pennsylvania law. This article will give you a few of the steps that are involved so that you can prepare for the road ahead.

At the outset, we should note: this article is meant to give you helpful tips but is not legal advice. Every situation is different, and you should speak with an experienced nonprofit attorney who can help you through the process.

1. Take an Official Vote of the Board of Directors/Members

Who gets to decide to dissolve the nonprofit? Under Pennsylvania law, your organization can either be member-run or run by the board of directors. Whoever holds the power should be the body to take the vote. Sometimes organizations take a vote of both, and this isn’t bad if everyone is in agreement. However, you can create a conflict where the board votes for dissolution and the members vote against it.

In most cases, if you have members of your organization, they’re probably the body empowered to vote to dissolve the corporation. In old-style nonprofit corporations, there were even stock certificates that were held by members, and their voting share was often different depending on how much stock they held. In most modern organizations, this is no longer the case. Regardless, members vote in a member-run organization on a major decision such as a total dissolution.

Churches can be a particularly confusing situation because they may have “members” who are not members within the meaning of Pennsylvania nonprofit law. To be sure, check your articles of incorporation and see if your organization was elected to be a member organization or not. You should also consult your by-laws. If there is a conflict between these documents, it’s important to discuss this situation with your attorney.

Once you’ve taken a vote, you need to document the vote. For a board of directors, this usually involves either meeting minutes or a corporate resolution documenting that everyone is in agreement (or noting the number of dissenting votes and showing that you had a majority). For a member vote, it’s important you have some sort of meeting minutes kept by a secretary, documenting the precise vote. This is done so that there can be no question that it was agreed that the organization should be dissolved.

2. Obtain Tax Certificates

For most nonprofits and churches, this part won’t be an issue, but you will need to ensure that you have no outstanding tax due to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue or the IRS. You may be wondering how a nonprofit could ever owe taxes. In most cases this has to do either with property tax for a property that was never granted tax-exempt status or for sales tax that was collected as part of some sort of business venture. There are other times that taxes can be collected from a nonprofit that are fairly rare. However, you should still obtain tax clearance certificates through the Bureau of Charitable Organizations in Harrisburg. Having these certificates will smooth the process for the rest of the way.

3. Obtain Attorney General Approval

The Attorney General of Pennsylvania is granted power by statute to oversee all nonprofit organizations in Pennsylvania. This means that the Attorney General has the power to review dissolutions, mergers and other major changes to nonprofits. The idea of the Attorney General’s approval is based on ensuring that a non-profit does not collect donations and then simply dissolve, either giving those donations to a private party or giving that money to a nonprofit for a totally different purpose.

As a simple example, one could imagine that a nonprofit collecting money for a conservative cause and shutting down only to give that money to a liberal cause would incite a lot of consternation among individuals who’d given large amounts of money to the initial organization. Similarly, if a church were to shut down and give all of its money to an atheist organization, there would be many donors who would be wronged. The Attorney General’s approval is usually not hard to obtain, and simply requires showing that the final funds are being given to a similar organization.

4. Obtain Court Approval to Sell Real Estate

As an important part of the process, any real estate owned by the nonprofit or the church needs to be sold and the sale or transfer will need to be court-approved. In many cases, a buyer will insist on court approval before the sale goes through, as title companies typically don’t insure purchases from dissolving nonprofits until the court order is obtained.

This is sometimes known informally as a “comfort order,” because even in situations where it is not legally required under Pennsylvania law, buyers and other third parties are often not comfortable until it is obtained.

5. Ensure that Money Left Over is Transferred to a Similar Nonprofit

As discussed above, dissolving nonprofits should typically give their money to a similar organization. Churches often choose a church within their denomination or a church with similar doctrine. Nonprofits look for organizations with similar missions. A veterans group that is winding up will look for other groups that serve veterans, for example.

Another factor to be considered is geography. If your nonprofit serves the people of one county, a nonprofit that will be similarly invested there is a good choice. Ultimately, the Attorney General’s office gives broad latitude to the choice as long as it is a similar nonprofit, and as long as no one person is taking personal benefit from the dissolution.

Having said that, there is an appropriate way to pay out salary and other costs to the executive director, pastor or other employees of a nonprofit. Many of these individuals may have spent years trying to keep the nonprofit afloat during difficult times. There are legal ways to pay out extra salary, bonuses, and even retirement funds or annuities for these individuals without running afoul of the rules.

Conclusion: A nonprofit attorney can help dissolve your entity

When it comes to winding up a nonprofit, there are many choices you’ll face. Contact the attorneys at Cornerstone Law Firm for a full review of your situation and to discuss next steps in your process.

How Do I Get the Police Report After a Car Accident?

When you’ve been in a car accident that causes you an injury or property damage, you may want to view the police report that was filled out at the scene of the crash by the responding police officer. Depending on whether it was a local police department or the Pennsylvania State Police, this can be a rather involved process.

Some police departments actually charge for their police reports, and others claim that they cannot give them out without a court order or subpoena. You may face opposition trying to get the basic official information that was gathered. This can be particularly frustrating if you’re trying to make an insurance claim based on your injuries from the accident.

Police reports are not technically considered a public record, and if anyone was charged in the accident, whether with a traffic ticket or something more serious, then the police department will usually refuse to provide the report in response to Right-To-Know Requests.

After someone has died in a car accident, the process can be particularly difficult. You may have to open an estate to pursue getting information on the accident or to set up a wrongful death claim. In these instances, police departments often refuse to give out the police reports except to an authorized representative of the opened estate.

Accordingly, if someone in the department won’t provide it to you, and if the police refuse to include it in a Right-To-Know request, what else can you do? Sometimes the only option is to retain an attorney to begin working on your personal injury case, or to pursue a small claims lawsuit for property damage to your car. An attorney can file a Writ of Summons or a Complaint to begin a civil action to recover damages and can advise you on the discovery rights this gives you. Most of the time, a simple subpoena can be sent—but only after a lawsuit is filed. Subpoena power does not arise under Pennsylvania law until a suit is filed.

If you’ve had trouble getting hold of a police report or have questions after your car accident or personal injury claim, give us a call today at Cornerstone Law Firm. Our personal injury attorneys can discuss with you how to move forward.

Pennsylvania Death Certificate

Why You Can’t Photocopy Pennsylvania Death Certificates

Pennsylvania Death Certificate

An example of a Pennsylvania Death Certificate

When a loved one passes away, one of the first steps in the estate administration process is the issuance of death certificates. Death certificates are required for many things, including opening probate and obtaining a short certificate. At the top of the death certificate is a notice that you are not permitted to photocopy the death cert. Why is this?

Death certificates are one of a very small number of documents that, under Pennsylvania law, you are not legally allowed to photocopy. The reason for this is allegedly to prevent fraud. Of course, like many things, it also means more money for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. By restricting the photocopying of death certificates, more of them have to be purchased, which means more money for the state.

However, beyond the economic benefits to the state, the practical benefit of not photo-copying death certificates is to prevent fraud. Because it is sometimes difficult to tell if a scan or photocopy has been doctored, the state requires originals to be used.

Today, however, because so much work is done by email, many of the entities that will ask for death certs—such as banks, life insurances companies, creditors and others—will ask for them as attachments to emails. This means that by virtue of scanning and emailing them, some of the benefits of requiring original certificates are being bypassed in practice.

Technically, this is still illegal, and we recommend only using originals to be safe. When it comes to probating an estate, you may have many questions about how the process works and the best way to avoid costs and maximize the recovery for everyone involved in the estate. If that’s you, call Cornerstone Law Firm so that we may help you through the estate process, including probate, obtaining short certificates, and more.

Nonprofit Best Practices

When you are on the board of a nonprofit organization, you are handed the important trust of ensuring that your organization is complying with all legal obligations and is adhering to financial best practices in how it handles donor money. In addition to having a good accountant to help you figure out the best way to handle funds, it is important that you keep up with legal requirements for your nonprofit. Here are a few important steps every nonprofit should take to ensure long-term stability and legal compliance.

1. Draft a Constitution and Bylaws

Most people are vaguely aware of the requirement that nonprofits have bylaws that govern their existence. Once a nonprofit is properly formed, it is important to have an operating agreement that governs the rights and responsibilities that directors, officers, employees, and even sometimes the general public have in regard to the nonprofit. This includes answers to the following questions:

How many members are on your board?

How many committees will the board have?

Will you require more than one signature on checks before expenditures of a certain amount are made?

Does your organization hold to a specific statement of faith or political creed (and what hiring and other decisions will this affect)?

In your bylaws, these questions should be answered. They do not have to be lengthy and shouldn’t be hard to understand. Your bylaws should be setup like an owner’s manual—but one that you’ll actually consult! Good bylaws are empowering, allowing everyone to know their obligations and responsibilities, and foreseeing how to resolve difficult conflicts that inevitably arise in even the best-run nonprofits. Best of all, a good set of constitution and bylaws relieve everyone of the nagging fear that they’re not doing something right.

A common question we hear is what the difference is between a constitution and bylaws. As you can see above, we’ve used the term interchangeably. There once was a difference, but today, one document, called the “bylaws,” is more than enough to get your organization set and running on the right path.

2. Draft Resolutions and Keep Meeting Minutes

Once your bylaws are in place, it is important to produce “meeting minutes” at all of your meetings. These minutes can be the notes that your secretary takes, but ideally are typed up in a standardized format, reflecting the general flow of discussion of the board, and approved at the following meeting after everyone has had a chance to see them.

So what’s the point of meeting minutes? Meeting minutes act as the history of your organization showing what actions were authorized or rejected at various meetings. At first, it can be tempting to rely on one individual’s memory or on the board’s collective memory for these actions. However, in the case of legal action against the board by a donor or government agency, or even by a disgruntled board member, having meeting minutes can strongly support the validity and propriety of actions that the board has taken on behalf of the nonprofit.

Furthermore, organizations which keep track of minutes and are consistent with them provide helpful information for new board members and new officers of the organization to look back on and understand the trajectory of your organization. Meeting minutes are one of the first things to be sacrificed by nonprofits who have just formed. Often, officers and directors feel that they are a lot of work to keep up with. But meeting minutes are a vital form of guaranteeing that your nonprofit is operating according to law and protecting it from threats within and without.

What is the difference between minutes and resolutions? In general, minutes are for meetings that were held, while resolutions are actions the board takes by vote without a formal meeting being called. They are number of situations where this is necessary and many more situations where it is merely the most convenient. Sometimes the organization authorizes bonuses annually, or an emergency comes up in everyone’s absence. A resolution can be signed by everyone authorizing action and confirming that the board is in agreement with a specific proposal.

There’s no reason that meeting minutes are required over resolutions or resolutions over minutes. Both serve the same essential function in different ways.

3. Ensure no excess benefit

For smaller nonprofit organizations, this piece is easy, but as you grow, it presents new challenges. You must avoid excess benefit to any individual or group of individuals arising out of a nonprofit’s property. A few examples of this are when your organization enters into a transaction with a private party or group to give them a piece of real estate at less than full value. Any property exchanged that is not in an “arms-length transaction” can fall under suspicion and can put the nonprofit corporation at risk. Another common example is when an executive director and his family are all driving vehicles owned by the corporation, making money off of their private company’s services to the nonprofit, and bringing in large paychecks from the nonprofit for their labors. While any or all of these can be legal, they must be done in a way that does not transgress the IRS’s rules on excess benefit.

This is a complicated area of law, and sometimes the best you can do is manage the risks. But working with an experienced nonprofit attorney is an important step in ensuring that your nonprofit doesn’t lose tax exempt status or otherwise expose itself to lawsuits or other challenges.

Conclusion: Contact a Nonprofit Lawyer today

At Cornerstone Law Firm, our attorneys help nonprofit boards and leaders to manage their legal responsibilities and ensure compliance with best practices. If your organization could use a helping hand, call us for a consultation on your next steps.

Can I legally fly a drone in Pennsylvania?

With the rise of inexpensive drones (or Unmanned Aircraft Systems, known as UAS), the number of remote pilots is growing by the day. If you live in Pennsylvania, can you operate a drone legally? What drone regulations in Pennsylvania should you be aware of?

The short answer is yes: the Federal Aviation Administration retains exclusive jurisdiction to regulate the National Air Space (NAS), and their regulations allow operation of a drone for recreational purposes as long as the drone is between .55 and 55 pounds, including anything attached to the drone.

If you are flying a drone for commercial purposes, including for video, photography, construction inspections and more, then you must obtain a “Part 107 Certificate” through the FAA to fly your drone.

However, many states and localities are trying to jump in and regulate drones also. These regulations are, in most cases, legally unenforceable because Federal Law preempts state law whenever Federal Law is intended to “occupy the field.” Because the FAA’s regulations are meant to be exclusive, state laws are almost certainly pre-empted in most cases.

In Pennsylvania, the legislature has made it easy on remote pilots by explicitly preempting any regulations at the county or local level. Harrisburg retains the power to make any state regulations. And the Commonwealth has passed only one statute so far dealing with drones: 18 Pa.C.S. Section 3505, which makes it a crime to do things with a drone that would be criminal if done otherwise, such as harassing someone or invading their privacy.

Pennsylvania’s law also provides certain common law rights to individuals, and invading privacy or standing on their land while operating a drone may come with legal consequences, even if it is not technically “illegal.”

At Cornerstone Law Firm, our attorneys are experienced in regulatory and criminal law, and can help you navigate your drone legal issues. One of our attorneys is even registered as a Part 107 Certificate holder, so you can be confident you’re getting advice from attorneys who understand your industry. Call us today.

May 2021 Update

May 2021 has been filled with trials and advanced litigation for the attorneys of Cornerstone Law Firm. On the civil side, attorney Joel Ready spent time litigating a partnership dispute in Lehigh County court, giving advice to several businesses to avoid personnel and human resources litigation, promulgating discovery in personal injury cases based in Berks County and preparing for a summer of trials. A number of Cornerstone Law’s criminal clients were able to obtain trial dates this month, allowing them to finally pursue their innocence in a proceeding before a jury.

On the transactional side, several businesses hired Cornerstone Law Firm to draft contracts and to create new bylaws and other operating agreements for their businesses and nonprofits. These ranged from employment agreements to more complex inter-business cooperation agreements, and also agreements to resolve potential areas of dispute between rival businesses.

Attorney Crossett has been involved in several mediation for personal injury clients, obtaining settlement for car accident victims and those injured in other accidents. Furthermore, Attorney Crossett has finalized complex land deals this month for clients with conflicting real estate claims.

At Cornerstone Law Firm we are happy that the world is slowly getting back to normal, and we are looking forward to the nice weather in the summer months!

Slander on Facebook

The new age of social media has made it possible to communicate with a broader audience than ever before. Thanks to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and many others, it is now possible for us to gather all of our professional and personal acquaintances into one place and communicate with them simultaneously.

But, as anyone who has ever spent time on a social media platform knows, for all its benefits, social media has also created a monster. Fake news and slander can spread very quickly, and when someone speaks out of turn or speaks ill of someone else, those statements can be spread far and wide. Here are three things to consider in weighing whether you have a claim for defamation based on someone’s comments on the internet. 

1. Is the Post Clearly About You? 

One of the first elements you’ll need to prove in establishing a claim for defamation, is that the speaker or writer was talking about you and made clear to his audience that he was talking about you. Vague statements about a group of people or even generally about certain types of behaviors will not typically satisfy this requirement.

Obviously, if the person uses your name or posts a picture of you in conjunction with a defamatory message, then this element is satisfied. Even without a name or picture, if there’s no way that a reader would mistake the message as being about anyone else, then this element will be satisfied. Furthermore, even if part of the audience doesn’t get that the message is about you and part of the audience does, that should still be enough to satisfy this requirement. The fact that some people wouldn’t have known this was about you while others did may affect the amount of damages you’re entitled to, but you’ll still have a valid claim under those circumstances. 

2. Is it a Matter of Opinion? 

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution broadly protects speech in the United States. Accordingly, courts are weary of punishing negative speech when it is clearly just a matter of opinion. If someone says that they don’t like your cooking, your politics or your religion, then it’s not defamation—it’s merely a matter of opinion. This doesn’t mean that someone can’t talk about religions, politics or some other disputed issue without making a defamatory statement. It simply means that it has to be more than a mere dispute over an opinion. 

For a defamatory statement to be actionable at law, it must have been about a matter of fact which was known to be untrue by the person who posted it and made with malice. For example, courts have found that statements alleging someone had a sexually transmitted disease, that someone committed a crime or that someone was otherwise of questionable moral character, have all been found to be defamatory statements. So, before you go rushing off to file a lawsuit over a statement made online, ask yourself, “Was this a matter of opinion, or was this a malicious false statement?”

3. What Damages Have You Suffered? 

The hardest part of any defamation claim is proving one’s financial damages. Even where a statement is false and made with malice and is clearly directed at you, the statement is only defamatory if you suffered damages of some kind. To put it differently, if someone posted a message online and only one hundred people read it and all hundred people commented back to the post and told them that was a terrible thing to say and that it was wrong, then there aren’t any damages. You haven’t been hurt by the statement that’s been made. Perhaps your feelings have been hurt and there’s been some sort of emotional toll on you, but the reality is that no one believed the false statement. 

Of course, this isn’t how the world works and unfortunately, even people who should know better often believe malicious statements that are made on the internet. But you will still need to prove how you were damaged by people believing that statement.

It has probably affected your personal life and your emotional wellbeing, perhaps causing you loss of sleep or even requiring you to go see a psychiatrist. Have you lost your job? Have you missed out on a higher paying opportunity at work because a manager seems to have believed what they read about you on LinkedIn? Did you face disciplinary action at a school when a Dean was handed printed materials said about you online claiming that you did something that you didn’t?

All of these would be examples of how your damages might accrue. Of course, there are many other ways that you can prove damages, but the point is that you have to have some. How have you been damaged by the defamation in your case? This is an important factor in determining whether to go forward with a suit. 

Call Cornerstone Law Firm Today

If you believe that you have been defamed by either slander or libel, you should call the Cornerstone Law Firm. Our attorneys have expertise in handling and defending against these types of claims, and we know the ins and outs of what you have to prove under Pennsylvania law in order to be successful.

Injured in a car accident in Berks County, Pennsylvania? Here’s what to do

When you have been injured in a car accident in Berks County, what steps should you take to protect yourself? Dealing with an insurance company can be very difficult and having your case prepared properly is very important. Here are three steps you should take if you have been injured so that you can set up a proper claim with your insurance company.

1. Get all medical treatment your doctor suggests

The first and most important suggestion that anyone should consider when they are injured in a car accident is to get the medical treatment that their primary care physician tells them to get. This may mean an initial ride to the hospital and treatment in an emergency room, but also can include follow up rehabilitation visits and meetings with the orthopedic surgeons or other doctors and specialists. It’s tempting to try to be tough in situations like this, and it’s also natural to be concerned about the medical bills that might result. If you’ve been injured in a car crash, you should know that your car insurance includes personal injury protection (PIP) coverage.

Pennsylvania state law requires your insurance to cover at least $5,000.00 of medical bills. Depending on your particular policy, you may have even more coverage than that. And because this PIP coverage is given greater buying power under state law, this represents a lot of medical treatment. So, if your doctor tells you to get counseling, see a rehabilitation specialist, or suggests any other course of treatment, do it and make sure to submit the bills to your car insurance company. This is one of the only times in life where your medical treatment will be paid entirely by someone else without a copay or any other cost to you, so there is no reason not to pursue it. In addition, pursuing this treatment will build your claim regarding your car accident.

2. Don’t speak to an insurance adjuster without legal advice

The requirements of politeness often make people think that they have to speak to an insurance adjuster who calls them shortly after an accident. This is not the case. An insurance adjuster, even for your insurance company, may not have your best interest at heart. They may call you and ask you how you are feeling, all as part of trying to get a statement out of you that can be used against you later. There is really no need to correspond with your insurance company until your treatment is complete or until the statute of limitations on your case is about to run out. For this reason, it’s important that you speak with a lawyer before you take the call from an insurance adjuster. A personal injury attorney in Berks County can help you to determine whether speaking to an adjuster is in your best interests or not.

3. Know your rights

The most important thing you should remember after a car accident is to know your rights. You have a right to be compensated for the injuries that you suffer. This compensation can include pain and suffering that you have experienced as a result of the accident, lost wages, and of course, any medical bills your PIP coverage did not take care of. In other words, it’s not just about getting your medical bills paid. It can also include your lost wages and the trouble you’ve had getting back to work. All of these should be factored into an appropriate settlement.

Conclusion – Call a Reading, PA Personal Injury Lawyer Today

At Cornerstone Law Firm, we help people who have been injured here in the Berks County area with their injury claims, ranging from car accidents to wrongful death. Our office is in Blandon, just outside of Reading and we help people throughout the county to gather what is necessary to present their claim and to make sure they’re getting the best settlement possible. If you have a question, call us at 610-926-7875 for a free consultation about your injury case.

Four steps to take when you’re served with a false Protection from Abuse Order

Protection from Abuse Orders, or PFAs, are the mechanism that Pennsylvania uses to protect someone claiming to be the victim of domestic violence. Some states refer to this as a “restraining order,” but in Pennsylvania, the concept is strictly limited to former or current sexual partners or members of the same household. Furthermore, to obtain a PFA, someone has to show that they are afraid of imminent harm at the hands of the defendant. If you’ve been served with a PFA Order and told not to contact someone, here are four things you need to consider immediately in preparing to defend yourself.

1. Do not contact the person who filed the PFA

First, it is important for you to know that a Protection From Abuse Order is first entered against you “ex parte.” This means it is ordered by a judge without you present or knowing about it. Under Pennsylvania law, you will almost always first hear about someone’s allegations that you abused them from a Sheriff serving you with an order. Shockingly to most defendants, this Order is entered by a Court before you ever have a chance to defend yourself. It is vital that you not contact the person alleging abuse, as this is illegal pursuant to the Court Order. Unfortunately, many PFA defendants make that their first course of action. It’s natural to think this is a misunderstanding that can be cleared up, or to confront the person about what’s in the PFA. It’s natural—but it’s also illegal, and will land you in hot water. This is true even if the victim contacts you and says it was a mistake to file against you. Don’t respond to them: call an attorney.

Until your hearing, you are legally prohibited from contacting the person who filed the PFA against you and doing so is a criminal offense. You can be charged with an Indirect Criminal Contempt, which is a misdemeanor, and which can come with jail time. In other words, you can end up in jail for violating a PFA based on false facts. Your violation of the PFA is an independent crime known as Indirect Criminal Contempt in Pennsylvania. Your first call should be to a PFA attorney—not to the alleged victim.

2. Determine your goals—and the other person’s—in formulating a response.

PFAs are usually not filed in a vacuum. They often precede a divorce or custody action. Is the person filing the PFA against you doing so out of spite or are they hoping to get you out of a house so they can change the locks? Do they really believe you’ve been emotionally abusive, or is this a cynical ploy on their part? Is the goal to make it hard for you to move forward with custody? Understanding what the other side is attempting to do in filing a PFA is vital to determining your next steps.

As discussed below, a PFA can be consented to in some situations, meaning you might wish to agree to the entry of an order prohibiting you from contacting this person. This is especially true if basic agreements in a parallel criminal case or custody action can be resolved as part of such an agreement. In other situations, consenting to a PFA would be disastrous. The goals of the parties are a major piece to determining your next step.

3. Gather your evidence

A challenge to defending against false PFAs is in the very nature of the charge. It usually comes down to “he said, she said” in court, and it requires showing that the person claiming abuse is lying or grossly exaggerating. What evidence can you produce to show this is false? Was the argument legally caught on video in the house? Sometimes surveillance footage from a doorbell or security system is available. Did the alleged victim text you about the argument later? In some cases, an alleged victim has written a narrative about what happened for a third party, clearly stating there was no physical abuse. This can be important as well.

Of course, sometimes, there is no “hard” evidence about the alleged assault. It really is one person’s story against another. Having an experienced trial attorney on your side becomes even more important in these cases. Poking holes in a story without hard evidence is a challenge, but it can be done.

4. What do you get if you “win” or “lose?”

Perhaps the most important issue is understanding the legal standard required of someone requesting a PFA and understanding what you get when you “win” or “lose.” If you prevail in defending against a PFA, no one is required to reimburse you for legal costs, and the PFA petition is dismissed. It can be refiled upon a showing of a new instance of abuse—but not for the matters in the original PFA.

“Losing” on a PFA is more serious in that it results in the entry of an order against you to prohibit you from contacting the alleged victim. It can also have a negative impact on your custody case, if one is ongoing, and potentially can be factored into a divorce decree in certain circumstances.

But PFAs can also be entered by agreement, and usually do not carry similar penalties. A PFA can be entered without a judge finding wrongdoing where both parties agree that they don’t object to an order prohibiting one person from contacting the other. In some cases, both parties consent to PFAs between each other. Sometimes PFAs are a mechanism to ensure that both parties feel that they can move on with their lives without constantly fighting over whether their communications cross the line.

But this doesn’t mean that consenting to a PFA is a good idea. Depending on your divorce, custody and financial situations, PFAs can have profoundly negative impacts on your life. A good PFA lawyer can help you decide whether consenting to a PFA with certain agreements can be better than fighting over the PFA, or whether it is a bad idea.

Conclusion: Consult with an experienced PFA lawyer

Having a PFA entered against you can be a serious problem, and can create issues for you and your family. Understanding what your options are in defending a PFA can put you and your family in a position to ensure that you aren’t harmed by the entry of a Protection From Abuse Order. If you’re local here in Berks County, call the attorneys at Cornerstone Law Firm to discuss your Protection From Abuse Order and how we can help you.

January 2021 Update

Attorney David Crossett has continued working through personal injury claims for car accident victims in Reading, Pennsylvania this month. Speaking of clients who are concerned about whether their car insurance was sufficient during a car accident, Attorney Crossett explains: “Clients who are ‘limited tort’ should not assume their insurance will not cover their injuries, especially when the injuries are catastrophic. We don’t want to see clients give up their rights in those situations.” Attorney Crossett’s work has also included mediation with judges in attempts to help clients resolve their conflicts outside of court.

Meanwhile, Attorney Joel Ready has been handling a number of civil rights matters, including for violations of the 1st Amendment. “Harassment claims, in particular, bring an important legal issue into the crosshairs,” Attorney Ready explains. As part of his work in this area, Attorney Ready appeared on WFMZ to speak about the First Amendment’s application to private life and employment issues.

Finally, Tim Crossett, Cornerstone’s Firm Administrator, has been working on the launch of the all new web-show, “Business in Berks,” a series of interviews with local business owners about the challenges of 2020 and beyond. The show goes live in February on our youtube channel.

At Cornerstone Law Firm, our attorneys and staff are hoping that 2021 is more pleasant for the world than its predecessor! We look forward to helping you in the coming year.