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Gettysburg Pennsylvania Family Law Blog

What factors does the court consider in child custody cases?

Like most Pennsylvania couples, when you married and started a family, you never envisioned that it would end in divorce. Now, you face not only ending your marital relationship, but also figuring out what custody arrangements would best serve your children.

Whether you and the other parent decide to negotiate your own agreement or rely on the court to make the decision on your behalf, it may help to know what factors the courts take into consideration when attempting to determine what will most closely accomplish the task of serving the best interests of your children.

Divorce and protecting one's credit

Getting a divorce can have a lasting effect on couples in many ways. However, Pennsylvania couples can emerge from a divorce unscathed with regard to their credit if they take certain steps to separate their finances from their spouse.

The first step they should take is to pay off and then close any shared credit accounts. Divorcing couples who continue to keep open joint credit accounts will continue to be linked financially to their ex-spouse. If the shared debts cannot be paid off before the divorce is finalized, the obligations to the debts can be allocated between the two spouses and set as terms in the divorce decree.

Getting divorced after age 50

Many Pennsylvania residents who are over the age of 50 decide to get divorced. While there are many different reasons that people choose to do so, people who are older have special factors that they should consider before they decide to go through with their divorce plans.

As people draw closer to the retirement age, they simply have less time to save money so that they can retire comfortably. When they choose to get divorced close to when they will retire, they will not have much time to save. This might mean that people who have not yet retired will be forced to remain in the workplace. Those who have already retired may find themselves living in financially difficult circumstances, or they may be forced to return to the workforce.

Divorce and business can be a difficult combination

For couples ending their marriage in Pennsylvania, divorce can be a complicated, fraught and emotional time. This can be accentuated when one or both spouses own a business that is subject to inclusion and division in the divorce. Even beyond its value as a significant financial asset for the marriage, the business can be a central part of one or both partners' professional and personal identities.

In many cases, the business may be the asset with the highest monetary value in the divorce settlement, even when both partners have lucrative careers and other assets of significant worth. Preparing for divorce negotiations and settlement requires an accurate and verified valuation of the business. A professional, such as an assessor or a forensic accountant can assist in this process. For entrepreneurs, dividing a business in divorce can also have a significant emotional impact as well as a financial one.

Complications of dividing a business in a divorce

Pennsylvania business owners may face additional stress when they get divorced, regardless of whether their spouse was a partner in the business. For many business owners, the company is their greatest asset. Therefore, it's important to get an accurate assessment of its value prior to sitting down at the negotiation table.

The first step is to consult with a forensic accountant. These professionals are skilled at evaluating information provided to them and also to determine where there might be gaps in the data that need to be explored further. This is especially important when one spouse handles most of the business finances. Since the judge can only divide assets that have been disclosed, relying solely on someone who has an interest in hiding assets could be a huge mistake.

Creating a co-parenting plan is a marathon, not a sprint

You don't have to like the divorce process, but you do have to go through it if you end your marriage. Most people just want to get it over with as quickly as possible so they can put the ordeal behind them. Unfortunately, going too fast could mean missing important details that could make your future as a co-parent go more smoothly.

Planning for co-parenting is not like the 100-yard dash where you put all of your energy into making it to the end as quickly as possible. Instead, it's more like a marathon in which you pace yourself because you know that you still have miles to go. In order to make it through the years ahead in which you will continue to have contact with your ex-spouse as you raise your children together, you need a solid plan and creating that plan takes time.

Predicting divorce

No one can state without a doubt that certain Pennsylvania couples will get a divorce. However, there are some factors that can be used to predict if a divorce will occur. The age at which couples get married can influence whether they get a divorce. According to research, teenage couples and couples in their mid-30s who get married have a higher chance of divorcing than couples who are in their late 20s or early 30s. Couples who get married when they are teenagers carry a particular high risk of divorce. Couples who get married after the age of 32 will see their risk increase annually by 5 percent.

Couples in which the husband is not a full-time worker are also likely to divorce. A study conducted at Harvard University in 2016 examined heterosexual couples who married after 1975. The results indicated that marriages in which the husband was not employed full-time had a 3.3 percent chance of ending in divorce the next year. For marriages in which the husband was employed full-time, the likelihood of a divorce in the following year fell to 2.5 percent.

How divorced fathers can stay involved with their children

Fathers in Pennsylvania who are getting a divorce might be concerned about custody and visitation. While there is a common myth that divorced fathers do not want to spend time with their children, this is far from the truth for many. They might want to consider options including sole or shared custody before negotiations begin.

It is important that children are at the center of this decision. When courts take a look at custody arrangements, the best interests of the child are the main concern, although parents' work schedules must also be taken into consideration.

Online dating can mean fewer divorces, studies say

Pennsylvania couples that meet online and get married might have a lower chance of getting a divorce than people who meet offline. Economics professors at the University of Essex in the United Kingdom and the University of Vienna in Austria report that despite a public perception that online dating fosters only short-term and casual relationships, the opposite might, in fact, be true.

The professors used a model to predict that marriages that result from online dating would last longer than marriages in which people met through other means. This model is supported by other studies. A 2013 study found that 5.9 percent of couples that met online broke up compared to 7.6 percent that met offline. Furthermore, fewer than 10 percent of couples who got married after meeting online got separated or divorced.

When divorce becomes the only viable option

There may come a time in the life of a Pennsylvania married couple when the civil union that legally binds them together must come to an end. The Consolidated Statutes of the Commonwealth provide three avenues for a dissolution of marriage: mutual consent, fault and irretrievably broken relationships, but these mostly refer to the legal proceedings that should be followed. Before getting to the point of filing for divorce, spouses must come to a certain realization about their marriages no longer healthy.

While it is true that marriages should be saved if possible for the sake of children and for other reasons such as financial security, there are three situations when a legal separation that further leads to marriage dissolution is a viable option. Spousal or child abuse, addictions to controlled substances, and toxic relationships that affect all household members are never negotiable.

Law Office of
Katrina Luedtke LLC

Law Office of Katrina Luedtke LLC
43 West Middle Street
Gettysburg, PA 17325

Phone: 717-253-9951
Fax: 717-420-2151
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