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Greensburg Pennsylvania Legal Blog

Options for determining child support

Pennsylvania parents who are getting a divorce may be concerned that child support will be imposed upon them by a judge, but there are a number of ways that parents can come to an agreement. This is often done with the assistance of their separately-retained attorneys. The issues that need to be agreed upon are how long the child support will last, how much it will be and how often it will be paid.

Parents may enter into informal negotiations on their own, or these negotiations may be conducted in part or entirely by the attorneys. More formal alternative dispute resolution processes are another option. Mediation and collaborative law are processes that parents participate in to resolve conflict and reach an agreement. In arbitration, a third party listens to both sides and then issues a decision that is not necessarily binding unless both parents agree.

Nesting as a physical custody option

Many Pennsylvania parents going through divorce are looking for new and innovative solutions for child custody. In many cases, arrangements in which both parents share relatively equal time with their children are preferred by judges as well as child development experts.

At the same time that fully shared custody promotes the continued involvement of both parents in the lives of their children and protects parental relationships, it also poses its own unique challenges for children. Often, children must travel between homes on a regular basis, for one week or two weeks at a time. They maintain two bedrooms and can feel like they are maintaining two lives. However, as long as children have access to the same school district, shared custody is a generally successful experience for all involved.

Is your spouse hiding money from you?

Americans find it difficult to talk about money, more than even death, politics or religion. According to one study, more than seven million Americans hide a bank account or credit card from their partners. About 20 percent of people have spent over $500 in secret. This is often called financial infidelity, and it can be detrimental to a relationship or marriage. 

In a study out of Kansas University, researchers found that fighting about money is one of the top predictors of divorce. Net worth, income and debt did not matter. What was important was whether couples were on the same page about money matters. Sadly, when married people argue over money and divorce is imminent, one person might hide assets or money from the other. 

How to help kids handle a divorce

Both children and adults may have a hard time adjusting to life during and after a divorce. However, there are ways in which Pennsylvania residents and others may be able to help themselves and their children cope. Parents are encouraged to be honest about what is happening and make themselves available to answer questions about the divorce process. Parents should tell their children that the divorce wasn't their fault and that they will always love them.

Parents are also encouraged to give their children time to process and grieve after a divorce. Just like the parent, the child is going to go through a period of uncertainty and will have feelings that need to be processed. Parents should make sure that they are checking in with their kids to make sure that they are coping in a healthy manner.

Divorce among older couples

Pennsylvania residents may have seen headlines talking about the increased risk of divorce for those over the age of 50. However, it is important to note that the risk of a divorce is not the same for every person in that demographic. For instance, older couples who have a relatively high income or those who own property together are less likely to get a divorce.

Research shows that couples aged 50 or older with more than $250,000 in assets were 38 percent less likely to divorce than couples with $50,000 or less in total assets. This was according to a 2016 study from the National Center for Family & Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University. Researchers think that increased financial security may reduce the odds of a marriage ending. Furthermore, those who were still on their first marriage were less likely to divorce compared to those who were remarried.

How repealing the estate tax may change some estate plans

Pennsylvania residents who have created an estate plan with a strategy for reducing estate tax might want to review that plan with an eye to how they might change it if the estate tax is repealed. While it is not yet known what might happen to the estate tax, making a plan now would mean that it is easier to make quick changes if necessary.

One way that some people may have designed their estate plan to lower its value and avoid higher tax is by creating a multi-generation trust. This passes funds down to children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren and can be funded up to the amount allowed by a generation-skipping tax exemption. Other assets might be placed in a marital trust. However, the generation-skipping tax might be repealed as well along with the gift tax.

Divorce for older couples can be financially complex

If you and your spouse are over the age of 50 and considering divorce, you are part of a growing trend. You may start out having an amicable divorce, but financial issues, for well-heeled older couples in particular, may bring up some problems you were not expecting to confront.

Rather than let your financial situation get the best of you, reach out to an attorney experienced with high-asset divorce. A legal professional can help you navigate the complexities and bring you and your soon-to-be-ex some agreement in money matters and, ultimately, relative peace.

What to do if a parent is abusing drugs or alcohol

Some divorced parents might be worried about the other parent's use of alcohol or drugs and its effect on their children. There are steps Pennsylvania parents in this position or those who are going through a divorce with similar worries can take to help protect their children.

During a custody hearing, a judge is focused on the best interests of the child. Therefore, if one parent raises an issue about the other parent's substance abuse, the judge will examine whether it affects that parent's ability to parent the child. A judge may also consider any past history of addiction.

Duties of executors

Pennsylvania residents who are chosen as an executor under a decedent's will are required to act in a fiduciary capacity. They should be aware of their duties and must take several steps to distribute the assets in the manner dictated by the testator.

Having a complete understanding of the will is important for these fiduciaries. They have to know who have been chosen as beneficiaries as well as which assets are to be distributed and when. Executors should also know what their fiduciary powers are and if there are any other co-fiduciaries that they should be aware of. They will be required to perform a variety of tasks related to administering the estate.

Handling a decedent's social media accounts

When Pennsylvania residents die, their executors or administrators may want to know more about the best way to handle their social media accounts. Although the fate of a social media handle may seem to be a trivial thing at a time when there may be so many major issues to address, the timely resolution of a loved one's account may ultimately be in the best interests of all concerned.

At best, the ghost account could have an unsettling effect on acquaintances if the decedent's name pops up in a list of suggested friends. Under some circumstances, contact made in connection with the account could trigger unexpected and unnecessary grief. Immediate family and close friends should be notified of the loss in a more intimate way than by a tweet or post, which could cause shock or undue distress to those who might accidentally stumble upon it.

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