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Gettysburg Pennsylvania Family Law Blog

Filing for divorce

Many people in Pennsylvania file for divorce every year. Some choose to proceed without a lawyer and file the paperwork on their own. A person who is representing him or herself is known as a "pro se" litigant.

The first step a person who is filing for a divorce him or herself should take is to obtain paperwork that is specific to his or her state. There are many websites that offer complaint, summons and basic settlement forms. In some areas, local courthouses have the paperwork available.

New taxes influence decisions about alimony and child custody

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has changed the financial landscape for people getting divorced. Couples in Pennsylvania who are splitting up and have children will need to consider carefully which person will qualify as the Head of Household for tax filing purposes. In divorces that include the payment of spousal support, the new tax laws reverse long-standing approaches to deductions and taxation for alimony.

Only one parent can claim the Head of Household status and gain a standard deduction of $18,000 after a divorce. The other parent will only have a standard deduction of $12,000 as a single tax filer. The Head of Household will also be the only parent who can access the $2,000 Child Tax Credit. People who are negotiating their divorce and custody arrangement will want to think carefully about how child custody schedules could influence their tax filing statuses.

As a grandparent, when can you fight for custody of grandkids?

Grandparents have special relationships with their grandchildren, and in some cases, it is necessary for them to step in and take a parental role as well. Cases in which the parents are unfit or other unique circumstances exist, grandparents may have a valid claim to custody. These are complex cases, but the court's ultimate goal is to protect the interests of the children.

If you are a grandparent and you believe that seeking custody is in the best interests of your grandchildren, you may want to gain more information. It is beneficial to take action to learn about your custodial rights and options under Pennsylvania law. You do not have to walk through this process alone. 

Divorcing later in life can threaten retirement success

Divorce is one of the most stressful life events a person can go through in Pennsylvania. It can be emotionally, financially and mentally draining no matter the ages of the people involved. It can be even harder on older couples than on young couples with children. For people who have been married for a long time, future plans and assets may be tied together in ways that are hard to unravel.

According to data published by the Pew Research Center, the divorce rate for Americans who are at least 50 years old has approximately doubled in the years since the 1990s. While shorter marriages and second marriages are more likely to end in divorce, a significant percentage of later in life divorces involve couples who have been together for at least 30 years. The phenomenon has been referred to as gray divorce.

Some people may suffer health problems after divorce

With research showing the rate more than doubling for people 50 and older since 1990, many couples in Pennsylvania who might have stayed together in earlier generations may be splitting up. Researchers say several factors may account for this increase, including higher expectations for marriage, more economic independence for women and longer life spans. However, divorce in this age group also carries risks for physical, emotional and financial health.

Some older people already suffer from chronic health conditions such as Parkinson's disease, high blood pressure or diabetes. The stress of a divorce can worsen those conditions. Anxiety and depression can also cause insomnia which in turn may lead to lack of exercise. Men may experience more isolation since their wives might have been in charge of the couple's social network. Women might have spent years at home with children and thus saved less for retirement, so they are more financially vulnerable.

Common reasons to get a prenuptial agreement

Married couples who have prenuptial agreements can essentially override divorce laws in Pennsylvania. The agreement itself will determine what a spouse will be able to keep or would have to part with in the event that a marriage comes to an end. These agreements can be especially beneficial for someone who may have more money or other assets than their spouse.

Prenups can also be helpful for spouses who don't make a lot of money or stay home to run the household. This is because a prenuptial agreement can stipulate how much financial support that person will receive if the marriage ends. If one spouse has debt or a hard time managing money in general, a prenuptial agreement can prevent the other partner from being responsible for that person's mistakes. In a divorce, parents will need to create a child custody arrangement.

Trends show more older adults are divorcing

Divorce is on the rise among older adults, and people in Pennsylvania who are 50 and older may be as much as two times more likely to get a divorce compared to the same age group in 1990. Compared to their counterparts in 1990, those 65 and older are three times as likely to divorce.

Looking for reasons to explain this surge, researchers have wondered whether major life transitions that occur at this time such as retirement or the empty nest are factors but found no correlation. Older adults divorce for reasons similar to those of younger adults. They do so because they are no longer happy in the relationship.

Marital problems that often point toward divorce

Whether you've only been married a year or two, or have been with your spouse for one or two decades, at any given time, issues can arise that place your marriage on shaky ground. While no two marriages are exactly the same, Pennsylvania couples may relate to other spouses whose similar experiences have either led to restored relationships or divorce.

There is no definitive way to tell the fate of a particular marriage. Will it overcome the obstacles life puts in its way, or will something or someone cause a rift that is irreparable? There are numerous issues and situations that may prompt you to think about divorce. Such issues are often causal factors in marital break-ups in this state and others.

For kids of a divorce, a new school year can be advantageous

Just like everywhere across the country, for households with kids in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the end of summer/back to school time brings a lot of mixed emotions. Something ends while another begins. But for kids who are also struggling with the added burdens of coping with a divorce, returning to school can be just what the doctor ordered.

The importance of establishing and settling into a new routine for kids of a divorce where child custody is at issue cannot be overemphasized. Sadly, the parents will no longer live together, and two separate households could be the new norm, but school can be an anchor that holds everything else together.

Taking control of financial issues in a divorce

Pennsylvania couples who are facing the end of their marriage may be worried about their finances. While this can be a stressful aspect of divorce, looking at concrete information can help them get a better sense of control.

As part of property division, people will need to know what all their shared assets are. It is important to understand that assets of equal value may not actually be worth that amount if some are subject to taxes or other expenses. If there is a pension, people may want to consider if an ex-spouse will be allowed to receive survivor's benefits if the owner dies.

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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