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Gettysburg Pennsylvania Family Law Blog

How to successfully raise teenagers after divorce

Divorced Pennsylvania parents who are raising teenagers might find themselves struggling after the end of the marriage. However, it is possible to successfully raise and support teens even when co-parenting with an ex-spouse.

While it might feel like the process of co-parenting teenagers must be full of pitfalls and obstacles, parents who keep certain things in mind can help ensure a safe environment that's relatively free of conflict. This can be done if both parents work together and always consider the child's best interest. This often means allowing a bit of flexibility when dealing with a teenage child. Older kids want to juggle time with their parents as well as with their friends and their other responsibilities.

Divorce and the family home

For many Pennsylvania residents, a home may be one of the most valuable assets they obtain while they are married. If a divorce occurs, the same home can be a source of contention. Before making a final decision during a divorce about what should happen to the family home, both parties should take the time and carefully consider all of the financial and emotional factors surrounding the issue.

One important thing to be aware of is how much equity is in the home. There are multiple ways that home equity can be determined. One way is by having an appraisal completed by a professional appraiser. The appraiser should provide an objective professional opinion about the value of the home. Appraisals are usually used for purchasing and refinancing, and they can help protect all parties involved with the transactions, including the buyer, seller and lender.

Income disparities between spouses influence chances of divorce

Despite advances for women in the workplace, most people in Pennsylvania tend to hold traditional views about husbands being the breadwinners of their families. A study published in 2016 concluded that the risk of divorce increased by 33% when the husband lacked a full-time job.

Individuals within marriages where the wife earns more than the husband appear to be influenced by social attitudes that expect men to be the primary providers. The Pew Research Center estimated that 40% of people expected fathers to support children financially whereas only 25% of respondents placed the same expectation upon mothers. When people internalize these social expectations, tension could increase between partners. Anecdotal evidence appearing in the media hints at female frustration when husbands fail to save money or when they rack up debt.

Obstacles to effective co-parenting

Some Pennsylvania couples with young children may face challenges after a divorce that make co-parenting impossible. For example, a parent may have abandoned the child or be incarcerated. In other cases, it may have been necessary to take a restraining order out against the parent, or the parent could have a substance abuse problem.

People who are abusive may be unfit to parent at all, but there could be other circumstances in which parents share custody or visitation but cannot communicate effectively. For example, one parent may simply be too resentful about the divorce. One parent may deliberately try to turn the child against the other parent. A parent might be controlling or emotionally abusive toward the other parent, or the issues that caused the divorce might make co-parenting impossible.

Your ex's computer access could complicate your divorce

During your marriage, you may not have thought to keep your passwords and other computer access from your spouse. After all, this is the person you should trust the most. Unfortunately, once divorce is on the table, you need to make some changes to protect yourself.

Do you pay your bills online? Do you have social media, bank or other accounts that your future ex-spouse could access? If so, you may want to make some changes now that will make your divorce and your post-divorce life less complicated.

Common problems that lead to divorce

Divorce is not always caused by huge indiscretions or big problems. Instead, there are several "less serious" issues and personality traits that commonly cause Pennsylvania couples to split.

For example, emotional baggage from the past can unintentionally hurt a current partnership. Events that remind one of this past trauma can cause distress and lead to tension. However, therapy could help a spouse process difficult experiences and move forward.

Getting divorced means making serious decisions

In Pennsylvania and across the United States, many former spouses feel overwhelmed after they get divorced. From changing the title on a house to reverting the last name on a financial account, there are many things to do after separating, especially in a complex divorce. Couples with kids must make arrangements with the court for child custody and child support. Both spouses must sign various legal documents during several phases of the divorce.

Receiving a final divorce decree is not necessarily the end of the divorce process. If the couple has not already changed their titles and names on various accounts and government identification cards, now is the time to proceed with more legal requirements. Medical insurance often plays a key role after the divorce is finalized. A partner who was formerly covered on their spouse's health insurance policy will no longer have coverage after they are officially divorced. Left without medical insurance, this ex must now find an affordable policy.

New generation of fathers making gains in child custody

At one time, family courts in Pennsylvania and nationwide favored mothers over fathers in child custody decisions. Views about parenting for most of the 20th century supported the idea that children should be with their mothers. The past three decades, however, have produced a shift in attitudes that now recognize the importance for children to have access to both parents. Sole physical custody decisions for mothers have dropped substantially, and fathers are much more likely to share custody.

A study of court records showed that in 1980, family courts gave mothers sole custody in 80 percent of cases. In 2008, the same court system was only approving sole custody for mothers in 42 percent of cases. During this period, the number of parents sharing in equal custody went up from 5 percent to 27 percent.

Divorce property division and family businesses

For business owners in Pennsylvania, divorce can be a particularly challenging time. When the venture is a couple's major asset or it carries significant sentimental value, this can be especially true. While a divorce can involve an array of personal and financial entanglements, dividing a business has its own unique circumstances. Unlike a bank account or investment fund, it may be difficult to agree on the actual market value of the business. Spouses may be tempted to overestimate or underestimate the value of the company, making it necessary to bring in an independent expert to review financial statements and produce a valuation.

This can provide an important starting place for negotiations, as can each spouse thinking about his or her vision for the future of the company. The most common way of handling a family business in a divorce is for one spouse to keep it. That spouse will essentially buy out the other party by ceding a greater percentage of other marital assets like investments, property or real estate. However, this can be more complicated when the business itself is by far the most valuable marital asset. In this case, the divorce settlement may include provisions for ongoing payments to the other spouse until the business is fully paid off.

Parental alienation: A real problem in many Pennsylvania divorces

When you get divorced, you are leaving a marriage, breaking up with a spouse and choosing to adapt to a new lifestyle. As a parent, however, you are not abdicating your obligations and responsibilities to your children. In short, spouses divorce spouses, parents do not divorce children. However, parental alienation is a big problem in many Pennsylvania divorces.

If your ex is doing things to try to turn your kids against you, it can not only make your life highly stressful but can impede your parent/child relationships. The damage such situations can do is often irreparable in many ways. When the court issues a custody order, both you and your co-parent are legally bound to adhere to its terms. Parental alienation often involves disregard of an existing court order. However, it's not always overt; sometimes, it's quite subtle.

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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