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Gettysburg Pennsylvania Family Law Blog

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.

Situations that might call for expert testimony during divorces

Disagreements over child custody or the value of assets could motivate people in Pennsylvania to hire certain experts to provide evidence for their divorce cases. A judge might draw upon the insights of a family therapist or psychologist when making rulings about child custody. Forensic accountants might be sought out by people who are investigating marital finances or trying to value a business so that discussions about the division of property can proceed with complete information.

Child custody disputes present the most common reason to bring in an outside party to evaluate the family dynamics. This person will likely possess training in mental health topics and spend time interviewing parents, children and other family members. These interviews could enable the person to make a recommendation to the court about the assignment of child custody.

Get the most out of a home sale during a divorce

Trying to sell a home in Pennsylvania is a challenge even during the best of times. During a divorce, the situation could become more complicated. The divorcing couple will need to agree upon a number of matters pertaining to the home sale.

Houses do not sell themselves. The divorcing couple will need to work together to make the home ready for the sale. This means that they may need to spend a considerable amount of time together as they go over the home with a fine tooth comb, making sure that everything is in top shape.

Survey highlights marriage and divorce trends among states

Many couples tying the knot in Pennsylvania have visions of spending a lifetime together. But given the fact that more than a million Americans file for divorce each year, this isn't always an achievable goal. The good news is that divorce rates are on the decline in the 21st century although part of the reason for this trend may be that fewer people are exchanging vows. In 2017, nearly 7 out of every 1,000 Americans were married, which is down from 8.2 per 1,000 in 2000.

To get a better idea of marriage and divorce trends, a leading financial news and commentary website looked at a community survey prepared by the Census Bureau. They also considered population data per state and five-year averages up through 2017 to determine how marriage and divorce rates stacked by on a state-by-state basis. Only individuals legally divorced who had not remarried were considered for the divorce rate figures.

Gray divorce has more than doubled in 25 years

The overall divorce rate in Pennsylvania and around the country has hovered around 50 percent for several decades, but this consistency hides major underlying demographic shifts. While couples between 25 and 39 years of age are divorcing less often, divorces among couples aged 50 or older have more than doubled in the last 25 years. This has greatly influenced how the process is handled as older couples usually approach the negotiating table with different concerns and objectives.

While child custody and visitation arrangements are rarely an issue in what are known as gray divorces, Social Security benefits and ongoing health insurance often are. Dividing IRA and 401(k) funds can also be a delicate issue for older spouses as accessing money that had been earmarked for retirement often involves paying a penalty and higher taxes.

Moving on in life, after divorce

If you're one of many Pennsylvania residents who will divorce in 2019, you may feel a bit anxious or concerned about the future, especially if you have kids. Divorce isn't easy, but it is often possible to cope in a low-stress, healthy manner. A key to doing so often hinges on the type of support you line up to help yourself and your children come to terms with the life changes that are bound to occur.

Most children fare best if their parents help them maintain a sense of normalcy in their lives, after divorce. The same might be true for adults; because of this, you might wish to avoid making any drastic changes, including those having to do with your personal appearance, until you've had time to process your emotions and think things through before forging ahead. You may encounter challenges regarding finances, standard of living or even legal issues; if so, this is when it helps to know where to seek support.

Tax returns and divorce

When married couples in Pennsylvania begin to have relationship problems, divorce ultimately becomes a consideration. In some cases, soon-to-be ex-spouses take preemptive steps to hide assets so that they will not have to share them with their former partners at the time of divorce.

In many cases, however, this type of asset manipulation could be evident to an alert spouse, family law attorney or financial professional. One notable example of such a case was an accountant who made extremely high estimated payments on tax liabilities with the intent of claiming a refund after the divorce was over.

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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