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Berks County Divorce Law Blog

Women who avoid financial involvement often surprised in divorce

A report from a large wealth management firm has revealed that married women still tend to fall into traditional gender roles when it comes to long-term financial decisions and investing. Among married women, 56 percent reported leaving most financial affairs to their husbands. A chief strategy officer at the company called the hands-off approach financial abdication. When women stayed out of the loop about their marital finances, spousal death or divorce frequently involved financial surprises. Older Pennsylvania couples headed toward divorce may want to keep this in mind.

Unpleasant surprises included unknown spending, hidden debt and secret accounts. A huge majority of widows and divorcees, 94 percent, said that they would want total knowledge of marital finances if they had to do it over. Their new attitude shows when they form new relationships. A full 80 percent reported taking an active role in financial decisions within subsequent relationships.

Organizing financial documents before divorce

Pennsylvania couples who are considering divorce might want to do some planning and organizing before beginning the process. This can save time, money and the complications of having to gather the documents after the process begins.

Experts suggest that pre-divorce planning should begin with gathering copies of all financial documents and keeping them in a safe place. These documents might include tax returns, information on bank accounts, income information, loan documents, insurance policies, real estate documents, pensions and any other documents related to the person's financial status before and during the marriage. In a high asset divorce, there might be a significant number of documents to acquire that the other spouse might attempt to withhold once the divorce petition has been filed.

Why couples choose mediation

Pennsylvania residents who are getting divorced may be able to end their marriage with a negotiated settlement. Divorce mediation may be an alternative to litigation for those who want to come to an agreement through communication and understanding. The goal of mediation is to work with a neutral party to create an agreement that is fair and that adheres to state law. In many cases, mediation can be less expensive and take less time to complete compared to a lawsuit.

This process can also be less traumatic compared to going through litigation. In some instances, the court will order that a couple try mediation to resolve their divorce, and it is usually the first step in resolving child custody issues. Mediation is generally preferred because it allows the parties to have more control over the outcome of their case. Courts prefer it because it can help to reduce the number of cases currently in the system.

How to ease tensions and simplify your divorce

Are you worried that your marriage is about to end? Have you encountered serious issues that you feel inevitably lead to divorce? Issues with infidelity, drug or alcohol addiction, gambling or just growing apart can leave you feeling like divorce is the only possible outcome. However, if you and your spouse still want to make your marriage work, there may be an option for you.

Agreeing to sit down and create a postnuptial agreement, also called a midnup, could address some of those concerns. These documents are essentially a contract between spouses outlining expectations and how assets should get split up in the event of a divorce. They can help you address issues and could even prevent a divorce.

Federal system aims to enhance child support collection

Child support enforcement can be a major concern for single parents in Pennsylvania struggling to make ends meet after a delinquent parent fails to pay. These funds can be critical to maintaining a child's health, welfare and education, and enforcing child support orders can be an important public policy priority for both federal and state officials. One frequently used and successful tactic to enforce existing support orders is the use of wage garnishment or payroll deductions to process payments directly from an employee's paycheck.

While child support is generally treated as a state matter like other family law issues, a federal agency, the Office of Child Support Enforcement works to streamline state processes and share databases and information. This makes it possible to collect child support and track down delinquent parents across state lines. During 2016, $33 billion in child support payments were collected through the OCSE's system, and 75 percent of that came through payroll withholdings. In order to improve on this program, the OCSE is working with payroll companies, employers and state agencies.

Victims of abuse may face further methods of control

A victim of spousal abuse may face further confrontations with their abuser in the future. This is because many abusers follow a pattern of controlling behavior. Those with minor children from an abuser should be on guard for a possible custody challenge. Therefore, victims of abuse in Pennsylvania should not hesitate to seek legal and other assistance.

Mental health professionals have stressed that it is not unusual for a former abuser to continue to assert control over the victim. This may be an attempt to re-enter the victim's life as a friend, lover or confidant. The abuser may seek reconciliation, and once this is accomplished, they could revert to the same pattern of control as before.

Don't forget to include these 5 provisions in your prenup

Your prenup protects you. You've heard all of the divorce statistics. Perhaps people even expressed their concerns when you told them about the engagement. You weren't angry. Those concerns are merely realistic. No one gets married hoping to get divorced, but many marriages end that way.

Why not be ready? You can use a prenup to protect yourself from future unknowns. Ideally, your marriage will be beautiful and last for the rest of your life. But it doesn't hurt to protect yourself, your children and family inheritances if something should happen.

Custodial interference threatens parent-child bond

For many divorced or separated parents in Berks County, custodial interference may represent their greatest fear as their former partner attempts to drive a wedge between parent and child. When a child is kept from one of their parents due to a dispute between the adults and absent a situation of abuse or neglect, it can have serious consequences for the child's physical and psychological well-being. This is one reason why a systematic, ongoing attempt to undermine a parent's custodial relationship with their child can rise to the level of a criminal offense in some cases.

The term custodial interference refers to an attempt to cut off the parent-child relationship with the other parent by taking the child during the other parent's custody time, refusing to return the child to the other parent, inciting the child to demand a change in the custody schedule or even disappearing with the child. It usually comes as part of an ongoing custody dispute and does not refer to the normal scheduling difficulties and conflicts that can accompany co-parenting. Instead, this is an attempt to separate the child from the other parent.

Issues that are considered in child custody decisions

When matters of child custody are decided in courts in Pennsylvania, judges take many factors into consideration. Doing what is best for the child is always the goal, so consideration will be given to living conditions, the financial situations of the parents, relationships with siblings and the stability of the parents' jobs and lifestyles.

When examining the stability of the parents, judges take into consideration how often they change jobs or move into a new home. Judges tend to favor stable living conditions for children. Often after divorce, children undergo the stress of either moving or staying in the same home but seeing a parent move out. The court will consider the impact of a child having to move frequently in the future if he or she were to live with a parent who is likely to move frequently due to changing jobs or other circumstances.

Are you unable to make your child support payments?

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When making child support payments, you understand the importance of doing so on time and in full every month. With this approach, you know that your child is receiving the financial support he or she needs.

As time goes by, your financial situation can change. So, a child support payment that was easy to make in the past is now putting too much stress on your finances. Read on to learn what to do.

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