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Gettysburg Pennsylvania Family Law Blog

Protections in military divorces

Pennsylvania couples who have at least one member in the service and who want to divorce should know that the military has different rules in place for the process. While the military generally considers divorce cases to be civil matters that should be decided by state courts, it does have some protections in place for service members and their spouses.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act protects military service members who are on active duty. Under this law, a stay is placed on divorce cases that are pending while the service members are on active duty. Service members will also be protected from default judgments against them while they are on active duty.

Older divorcing couples face property division challenges

Pennsylvania seniors who decide to divorce may face different challenges than had they divorced in their younger years. Instead of arguing over child support and custody, they'll find themselves dividing retirement accounts and a lifetime's accumulation of joint marital assets.

Couples over 50 years old cannot simply divide financial assets, such as retirement accounts, however they want. There are specific rules that must be followed when splitting up 401(k), IRAs, pensions and other retirement funds that may include annuities. The wealthier a couple is, the more challenges they may face in coming up with an equitable plan for property division. Annuities can be especially challenging to divide without harming their value. Because of this, experts say that the annuity holder may want to trade other assets to keep this account intact.

Make the most of your co-parenting relationship

Your divorce is final and you negotiated a child custody agreement with which you and your ex-spouse are satisfied. You are still in the early stages of implementing your parenting plan, and you have come to the realization that you and the other parent have some work to do before you can maximize your co-parenting relationship.

Perhaps you learned some valuable lessons through mediation or collaborative divorce about cooperation and compromise, but the feelings that led to the demise of your marriage remain. In order to move past them, you may need to build a new relationship with the other parent, and you need to trust each other again as well.

Working together as parents after a divorce

Pennsylvania parents who are going through the divorce process will still be co-parents for years to come. Therefore, they should work together for the sake of their children. This could include creating consistent rules across households; although, these may need to be very general since parenting styles might have been one reason for the divorce.

Good advance planning that keeps everyone informed can help reduce confusion and miscommunication. Parents may also want to use online tools or text to communicate about scheduling and co-parenting issues since talking in person could exacerbate conflict.

Tax law changes affect spousal support

Divorcing couples in Pennsylvania may want to pay particular attention to changes in federal tax laws ushered in by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. These changes can have a particularly significant impact on wealthy couples with substantial incomes going through a high-asset divorce. Some people are acting as quickly as they can to finalize their divorces, as divorces completed on or before December 31, 2018 will not be affected by the changes, while others are working to develop creative solutions to the financial aspects of divorce for 2019 and beyond.

The treatment of alimony and spousal support will be particularly affected by the changes. Under current tax law, payers of alimony receive a tax deduction for the sums that they pay. For wealthy people with large incomes, this deduction can be significant and can cut their tax burden substantially. In addition, the recipient pays taxes on the income within their their own, usually lower, tax bracket. This arrangement was beneficial to both payers and recipients and led to higher spousal support payments.

Divorce can include financial shocks

When people in Connecticut decide to divorce, they may face difficult financial times as well as some unexpected surprises. In one survey of 1,785 divorcing or divorced women, analysts found that nearly half of the respondents were surprised by the state of their finances during the divorce process. Younger women were more likely to face these kinds of shocks than their older counterparts and more likely to have left most financial decisions to their husbands during the marriage.

Women of any age were often shocked by the total size of the debts of the marriage from home equity lines of credit, mortgage loans and credit card debt. This information often highlighted the need to focus on savings and investment after the divorce. Other costs were also striking, from the expenses associated with the divorce itself to the need to sign up for new healthcare plans as a single person.

Divorce, financial records and budgeting

Emotional reasons and personal dissatisfaction usually prompt divorces in Pennsylvania, but the process of ending a marriage requires significant financial planning. People who are ending their marriages might reduce their stress somewhat by collecting and organizing their financial records as thoroughly as possible. Financial disclosures during a divorce will include bank statements, investment records, tax returns, retirement savings and loan documents. Obtaining credit reports from the three major credit bureaus represents another important task. People could save on legal fees by preparing this information for themselves.

After getting a big picture of current finances, people can begin to think about what their income and assets will look like after marital property is divided. At this stage, people could reflect on their personal and financial goals for the future. This effort should include sketching out a post-divorce budget.

Division of property can be source of conflict during divorce

Divorce can understandably be challenging both emotionally and financially. This is especially true if you and your soon-to-be ex have a large number of assets you need to split.

The best way for you and your future ex-spouse to handle the division of property is for you to determine how to split your property between yourselves. The reality, though, is that many divorcing couples cannot do this amicably, so the matter typically ends up going before a Pennsylvania court.

How the costs of child custody will change in 2019

One of the major sticking points for many Pennsylvania former couples who are getting a divorce is custody of the children. While some parents can work together quickly to reach an agreement, the dispute can drag on for months or even years for others. However, it should be noted that the change in tax laws starting Jan. 1, 2019, can have an impact on how expensive it may be to have full custody of the children.

Under the tax laws that were in effect in 2018, each child increased the amount of deductions a person could have on their tax return if he or she had primary custody of the children. This could potentially save the parent thousands, allowing these funds to go towards the costs of raising the children.

Divorce and estate planning

Estate plans should be reviewed periodically to see if they should be updated. For Pennsylvania residents who get a divorce, it is important that they review these documents and make the necessary modifications that reflect the changes in their life.

The first legal document that may need to be revised is the healthcare proxy. Individuals who do not want their future ex-spouse to be making these types of decisions should have their name removed from the document. It will also be necessary to revise any financial powers of attorney that are on file. Individuals who are unable to locate their copy may be able to request a copy from the attorney who draft the form. If the spouse was provided a durable power of attorney, it is particularly important that power of attorney be revoked if the divorce is contentious or is showing signs that it may be. A new power of attorney should be executed, and the current spouse should be notified of the change, ideally through an attorney.

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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