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Greensburg Pennsylvania Legal Blog

About divorces

Pennsylvania residents who are considering ending their marriage should have a realistic view of the process. Understanding that a divorce can be unpredictable can help in accepting the outcome.

During a divorce, spouses are able to decide how their marital assets will be divided. It is the policy of the divorce court to conduct property division in an equitable manner. While this doesn't necessarily mean that marital assets will be divided equally, Pennsylvania judges will make their determinations on the basis of what they believe to be fair.

Career can play an important role in divorce

Career and financial woes can be some of the biggest contributors to divorce for couples in Pennsylvania and across the United States. An analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data found that certain occupations are much more highly correlated with divorce than others, and stress on the job may play a major role in placing additional stress on a marriage, especially for younger couples.

First-line enlisted military supervisors, who coordinate the actions of enlisted personnel and lead operations, hadthe highest rate of divorce by age 30, at 30 percent. They were not alone in that position, especially among colleagues in the military. Tactical operations and air weapons personnel also were part of the top 10 careers with high divorce rates . There are a number of reasons why military careers are highly related to elevated divorce rates. The stress and danger of the job, depending on location, can be extreme on both sides of the relationship.

How estranged couples can avoid bad divorce advice

When Pennsylvania couples are going through a divorce, it can seem as if everyone around them has a great deal of often-unwelcome advice. Many of the beliefs held by laypeople are factually incorrect, so it's important to verify before taking advice from friends and family or others.

Understanding child support can seem easy when states post their guidelines on the web. However, despite the public information, there are an array of rules and specific exceptions, and judges are often free to use their own discretion>/p>

A 401(k) may be part of asset division in a divorce

People in Pennsylvania who are thinking about ending their marriages know that property will be divided between the spouses. What they may not already know is that a 401(k) is also eligible to be divided. It is possible for a court to accept the designation and documentation of a transfer of retirement funds to an ex-spouse as long as they are in line with legal requirements.

The first step to splitting the funds of a retirement account in a divorce is to select the spouse as an alternate payee for the account. For the court to approve this selection, it must follow the requirements of ERISA, which is the 1974 Employee Retirement Income Security Act. It must also meet the standards of the IRC (Internal Revenue Code).

Estate planning mistakes you should avoid

It is a common belief that estate planning in Pennsylvania is something that only the rich and famous can benefit from. However, if you have assets that you want to leave behind to your children or loved ones when you die, an estate plan can help to protect your final wishes and legacy. If you do not take the time to make plans for your estate now, it could end up going through a lengthy probate process. Also, your loved ones may not receive everything you want them to inherit. 

Here are some mistakes you should avoid when making your estate plans to protect your assets and heirs. 

Shared custody produces better outcomes for kids

Many Pennsylvania dads may fear becoming separated or alienated from their children or losing custody and access after a divorce. Increasingly, however, courts and family professionals are emphasizing the importance of shared parenting and joint custody to protect the best interests of the child.

In situations where there is no domestic violence or drug abuse and both parents are fit, shared parenting, in which both parents enjoy equal time and responsibility for their children, is the growing model across the United States and internationally. While family courts have tended to award sole physical custody to mothers, when fathers fight for it they have a strong record of success.

Taxes important issue during divorces

A Pennsylvania couple who is ending their marriage often goes through a long period of making arrangements to split their financial lives. Before the divorce is finalized, they should consider tax issues and document everything thoroughly. In the case of alimony, the party paying it typically may deduct it, and the recipient must declare it as taxable income. For the payer to qualify for the tax deduction, the payments must be spelled out within a divorce agreement.

Additionally, the documentation cannot label the funds as nondeductible or nontaxable. The people involved cannot be living in the same house, and no obligation to continue payments after the recipient's death may exist.

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. 

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