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Berks County Divorce Law Blog

Dealing with retirement plans during a 'gray divorce'

When Pennsylvania spouses who are over the age of 50 decide to separate, they could face some unique challenges. This is due to the fact that these older couples are most likely getting ready for retirement.

Seniors who are going through the divorce process will be focused on determining how to divide up certain financial assets, including 401(k) plans and pensions. On the other hand, they most likely won't have to worry about child support or custody issues. Instead, older couples will probably need to focus on how the divorce could impact their future finances.

Child custody exchanges: Follow these tips to avoid trouble

Depending on the relationship you have with your child's other parent, custody and visitation exchanges can be full of tension and stress. Not only can problematic handoffs be stressful for the parents, but it's safe to assume that your child will feel the negative energy, too.

Since child custody exchanges have a way of taking a toll on all parties involved, you need to do whatever you can to minimize the tension and reduce the possibility of emotional harm.

Unmarried fathers may pursue custody and visitation

Figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that 40 percent of children born around the country are born to parents who are not married. This figure was just 18.4 percent about a decade ago according to the public health institute. There is no legal presumption of parenthood when a child is born out of wedlock, so unmarried fathers In Pennsylvania must first establish paternity if they wish to pursue custody or visitation.

Establishing paternity is not necessary if the father's name appears on the child's birth certificate. When this is not the case, unmarried fathers can declare that they are the child's father by filing Voluntary Acknowledgement of Paternity Forms. In Pennsylvania, fathers can sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity form at the hospital where their child is born or obtain one from a County Assistance Office or Domestic Relations Section. There is no cost involved. When mothers refuse to sign these forms, genetic testing may be required to establish paternity.

Nasty financial issues often surprise divorcing women

According to a recent online marketplace survey by Worthy, 46 percent of divorced or soon-to-be divorced women face financial surprises during the separation process. Ex-wives in Pennsylvania may be taken aback by certain circumstances, including the need to go back to work, the high cost of health insurance and the price of the divorce itself.

In order to put their results into context, the survey takers at Worthy also asked women what their financial roles were during marriage. A minority of women, 23 percent of younger and 18 percent of older, abdicated financial control to their spouses. This could explain why many women are surprised by their new financial responsibilities once divorced. Women who share financial control with their spouses may have less fear about a future after marriage.

Inheritances, IRAs and divorce property division

While inheritances are often considered separate property when Pennsylvania couples go through a divorce, inherited IRAs are playing a growing role in property division. Individual retirement accounts and other types of retirement funds are often some of the most significant assets held by a couple. Even when the couple has significant wealth, these accounts are often some of the largest, and their division requires a specific court order in order to protect their tax-favored status.

However, though regular IRAs have been a major part of property division settlements over the years, inherited IRAs are increasingly playing a larger role as well. Frequently, inheritances remain separate property even in a long marriage, especially so long as they are not combined with other marital assets. Due to the restrictions in place on inherited IRAs, it is much more difficult to commingle them with other property. Therefore, in many cases they are considered to be outside the direct reach of a property division settlement. However, people with inherited IRAs may frequently wish to use these assets to account for other parts of the property settlement.

What expenses should child support be used for?

Are you paying child support? Do you receive child support payments every month?

Whether you're paying or receiving support, it is very important to have a clear understanding of how the money should be used. You want to make sure your children are taken care of, and you also want the finances to be handled fairly.

When parents resist paying child support

In some divorces in Pennsylvania and throughout the country, a certain dynamic plays out. The husband is basically satisfied with the marriage while his wife wants changes. She tries for years to discuss this with him, but nothing changes. Eventually, she files for divorce. The man is furious that what has been a comfortable arrangement for him has come to an end. Often, that anger centers on the need to pay child support.

Some parents who are required to pay child support are so angry about the end of their marriages that they lose sight of the fact that the child support is about their children and not their ex-spouses. While paying support can be a struggle for some people, the amount is supposed to be calculated based on income. If that income changes, it is possible to get a modification of support.

Summer vacation, child custody and avoiding fights with your ex

Summer vacation is a time to kick back, relax and spend some quality time with your family. If you're divorced, you know that planning a vacation with your child requires extra time and attention.

With so many details to consider, it's imperative to implement a plan of action that will help you avoid fights with your ex-spouse. If you fail to plan properly -- say, by planning a vacation without looping in the other parent -- don't be surprised if you find yourself in the middle of an argument.

Making a parenting schedule

Separated parents in Pennsylvania should understand how important it is to work with their exes when they develop parenting schedules for their children. A well-developed parenting schedule should divide the responsibilities that come with child custody. In addition, it reflects well on the parents if their children are able to see them working together in a positive manner.

One tip for creating a parenting schedule is to consider the arrangements from the children's point of view. It can be difficult being shuttled between two residences and having to get used to not residing with both parents. That's why decisions about the parenting schedule should always follow the careful consideration of what it will be like for the kids.

Is credit card debt getting in the way of your divorce?

Once you decide to divorce, it's in your best interest to make a checklist of all your assets and debts. It can take some time to do this, but the information you collect will put you in a much better position as the process begins to unfold.

While most people have no problem focusing on matters of property division, which is associated with assets they will receive, they don't spend nearly as much time on their joint debts. Credit card debt is an area deserving of attention.

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