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Berks County Family Law Blog

What may happen if a spouse loses a job during divorce

A person in Pennsylvania who is going through a divorce might be concerned if a higher-paid spouse loses a job during the process. The lower-earning spouse might be worried about whether the spouse can continue paying support during this time or even worried if the spouse is being entirely truthful about the circumstances around the job loss.

For example, a person who works for friends or family members might actually use a "layoff" as an excuse to try to pay less in support. However, if a person attempts to become underemployed as a way to reduce or avoid support payments, courts usually do not look favorably upon this. They may calculate a person's support obligations based on salary history. Courts may also take different approaches to a job loss depending on the circumstances. For example, they might be lenient if the loss is due to a legitimate layoff versus misconduct.

What Pennsylvania business owners should know about child support

For Pennsylvania’s small business owners, divorce often brings unwanted uncertainty, especially when your divorce involves child support. You already face pressure from online competition and changing markets, and you may not want to think about adding child support payments to the mix.

The truth, however, is that it’s particularly important for business owners to think carefully about child support. In most cases, Pennsylvania awards child support according to a strict formula. The formula uses the parents’ joint income to decide how much each should put toward the child’s upbringing. But when you’re a business owner or entrepreneur, simply listing your income can prove a trick.

Is parental alienation real or a psychological hoax?

It's an all-too familiar story: One parent--let's say the father--wins primary custody of the children. The mother looks forward to her parenting time but starts to notice the children acting differently over time. They ask why she doesn't love them. They say they want to go back to their father's house. The father starts making excuses for why they don't want to visit. Eventually, they just stop showing up. They stop calling. The mother who gave life to these children finds her connection to them unravelling.

This is what Pennsylvania's courts refer to as "parental alienation." Parental alienation was introduced in the 1980s as a mental health syndrome, but more than 30 years later, it still has not been added to the DSM or recognized by the American Psychiatric Society. Nonetheless, the term persists, backed by the suffering of roughly 22 million alienated parents, and has factored prominently in cases brought before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Documents divorcing women are often advised to gather

Women ending a marriage in Pennsylvania have many things to consider. If there are significant personal or professional assets involved, one of the main things to consider is finances. Women in this situation are typically advised to gather certain important documents before officially untying the knot.

The first essential documents are tax returns. The general recommendation is for a divorcing spouse to collect tax returns for the past three years. This includes W-2s and other supporting documentation. Tax information from any privately held businesses should be included as well, especially if personal expenses are paid through such companies. These figures help determine a woman's future benefits post-divorce.

Couples are more likely to divorce when the wife earns more

Many older Pennsylvania residents will remember a time when husbands were expected to be the primary bread winner. However, that expectation is no longer the norm. In today's world, almost 40% of wives earn more than their husbands. While some couples are fine with this arrangement, it may lead to marital problems. According to a 2016 Harvard University study, there is a 33% higher risk of divorce among couples when the husband earns less than the wife.

One reason for this higher risk of divorce is the public's perception of the husband's role in family finances. When asked who should provide income for the couple's children, almost 40% of respondents named the father as opposed to 25% who named the mother. Additionally, about 75% of respondents said that the growing number of women in the workforce has made it harder for couples to raise children.

Balancing divorce with work

Some divorcing spouses in Pennsylvania may be concerned about how to balance a professional life with a marital separation. One important strategy is to compartmentalize the divorce from work life. Things may arise during the work day, but soon-to-be exes should try to set aside a certain amount of time to deal with the divorce and focus on work the rest of the time.

Any calls to an attorney should be made in private. It's also wise to send emails using a personal account. These efforts are not just for the sake of discretion but because attorney-client privilege could be compromised. All divorce-related documents should be placed in a master file so they are separate from work documents and easy to access quickly. A client may also want to communicate with their attorney about any dates they are unavailable for court because of work.

Steps to take after a divorce is finalized

Typically, there are still actions that need to be taken after a divorce in Pennsylvania has formally concluded. First, it will be important to make changes to a health care policy. If a person was on a former spouse's policy, it will be necessary to find a new individual policy. If a spouse was on his or her ex's policy, that person will need to be removed as soon as possible.

Any assets that were awarded in a divorce will likely need to have their titles changed. If one person is keeping the family home after the marriage ends, it may be necessary to refinance the mortgage as well as process a quit claim deed. It may also be necessary to refinance a car, boat or another joint loan to reflect the fact that one person now owns it.

Do you feel like your spouse loves social media more than you?

Most people enjoy using social media to connect with others. With your busy schedule, liking, poking or commenting might be your way of maintaining connections with your friends.

But if you and your spouse are both active on your social media accounts, you might feel like your marriage is suffering as a result. Whether checking for status updates is the first thing your significant other does in the morning or their phone gets more attention than you during a dinner date, your spouse might have an addiction to social media. But could your marriage be at risk?

How does the breakup of a blended family affect stepchildren?

In many situations, “family” means more than shared genetics. Blood may be thicker than water, but the relationships and loyalties you develop may not have anything to do with DNA, even among those you choose to include in your family.

The American family unit is continually evolving, as countless adults care for children who aren’t related to them biologically. If you have stepchildren, you might love them like your own. But if you and your partner divorce, you may be concerned about what kind of effect that might have.

Refinancing or assuming a mortgage after divorce

When couples in Pennsylvania get a divorce, one partner may decide to keep the marital home. Even in this situation, both spouses might decide that they will remain on the joint mortgage. This can be risky because a missed payment will affect both of them even if only one spouse is still living in the house and paying the mortgage.

Some other options include removing one spouse from the picture. The mortgage can be refinanced, or one person can assume the mortgage. The first step should be to make sure it is possible to assume the mortgage loan. The promissory note can be checked for this information. Some spouses may think assuming a mortgage will be both easier and a better financial choice, but this is not always necessarily true.

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