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Berks County Divorce Law Blog

Potentially devastating effects of divorce in retirement

Divorce after retirement can pose challenges younger people might not face when they decide to end their marriages. For example, retired Pennsylvania couples likely planned for their retirement savings to provide for them as a couple. If they get divorced, they have to divide the existing funds and either learn to adapt to a new standard of living or go back to work.

It's important for an older spouse who wants to end his or her marriage to get a clear picture of their current and future finances. A financial adviser might be able to help. Retirees may have to divide everything they've accumulated over their lifetime if they choose to get divorced. This could include real estate, pensions, stock options or a family business. A high asset divorce could be quite expensive.

Your property division checklist

There are so many things to keep track of in a divorce that it can be easy to forget what's important. It seems like each area has its potential issues and problems that estate planners have to address. Take asset division, for example. If you forget to consider capital gains tax liabilities on a valuable piece of property, you could be in serious trouble.

To keep you organized with your asset division proceedings, we've shared a checklist.

The gig economy and child support payments

Those who owe child support in Pennsylvania may make it easier to hide their income by working a contract job. Even if the state knows that a parent is making money though Uber or a similar company, it may only be possible to garnish wages if the company agrees to cooperate. Under most state laws, employers are required to add new hires to child support databases. However, this generally only applies to new employees as opposed to contract workers.

Across the nation, roughly $114 billion in child support payments go uncollected. The money is meant to provide for a child's basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. While some self-employed individuals may be using their job status as a way to hide their income, they may not stay in one job for long. In many cases, a person works a gig for no more than a month.

How to separate finances in a divorce

One step many people in Pennsylvania may need to take when they are getting a divorce is to separate their accounts. This includes closing shared accounts that are in both people's names. Doing so can protect someone from a spouse that might clean out an account or run up debt without having to pay. It also offers both people the opportunity to establish separate accounts and individual credit.

In a divorce, shared debts are usually divided. Unfortunately, sometimes a debt may be shared, and the other person is unwilling to make the payments. Missed payments could have an effect on the other spouse's credit, so in this case, it might be best to go ahead and pay the bill. However, in other circumstances, a person should avoid paying too much of the debt before the divorce.

Separating finances in a divorce

When Pennsylvania couples get divorced, one of the most complex tasks that they will need to complete is separating out their finances. Over time, a couple's finances can become very intermingled, which can make untangling them a difficult process. It is important to do so so that people can build their individual credit histories while not suffering financial harm from the decisions made by their exes.

During divorces, it is important for people to make certain that their shared credit accounts continue to be paid on time. When both spouses' names appear on a credit card, failing to make the payment will harm both of their credit. People should make certain that all of their credit accounts are paid on time, and they should work to close joint accounts as soon as they can. People who have their spouses listed as authorized users should remove their authorizations promptly.

What to know about supervised visitation

If a parent in Pennsylvania is granted supervised visitation, the visits must be monitored by another party. Accompaniment may be provided by a family member, social worker or another agreed-upon party, and the visitation will generally take place at a predetermined public location. Supervised visitation is typically ordered if a parent has a history of abusive or otherwise harmful behavior.

If a parent is accused of abuse or other crimes, supervised visits may be ordered until those allegations can be thoroughly investigated. Parents may also be confined to supervised visits until they complete a drug rehab program or fulfill other conditions imposed by a court. In most cases, a parent who wishes to obtain greater custody rights must go to a judge and ask that an existing order be modified.

Do you need to increase or decrease your child support payments?

Your life doesn't stay the same, so why should your child support orders stay the same? The truth is that Pennsylvania parents will have ups and downs in their lives -- and sometimes those ups and downs will affect their income.

Fortunately, family law courts in our state recognize that -- due to circumstances entirely out of your control -- you won't always be earning the same amount. As such, if you suffer a significant change in life circumstances, you might be able to get a temporary or permanent modification to your child support payments.

Be aware of these same-sex divorce conflicts

Ending a marriage is often a complicated process, especially when the couple has been together for quite a while. Dividing assets and debts and determining who gets custody of minor children may be even more complex when it comes to same-sex couples. There are a few significant differences a gay or lesbian couple in Pennsylvania might experience when they end their marriage.

Although same-sex marriage has only been legal in all states for a relatively short amount of time, gay and lesbian couples have been living together in committed relationships long before they were able to officially tie the knot. Couples that were only legally married for a couple of years may have owned property together, had joint bank accounts and been financially interdependent for decades. The court may decide to include the years a couple cohabitated or lived together under a domestic partnership agreement in determining factors like spousal support and division of assets.

Financial tips for divorce

Getting a divorce can have a significant impact on the health of someone's finances. However, there are some steps Pennsylvania residents can take to make sure that their financial situation will be stable after a divorce.

Speaking with an attorney that can provide objective advice is necessary. Even if they have no plan to retain legal representation during the divorce, individuals should make sure that they know their rights and which legal avenues they can pursue.

Questions about health crises and child custody modifications

Let's say you just had a heart attack and you're worried how you're going to keep paying your child support. Fortunately, you survived the heart attack and your doctor expects you to be okay as long as you make a few life changes. You need to spend two months resting. In fact, your doctor doesn't want you to return to your manual labor job because of the strain it has on your heart.

No matter what job you're able to find after your health recovery, you know that you won't be making as much money as before. As such, you may want to apply for a modification in your child support obligations.

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