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Berks County Family Law Blog

Actions that indicate a divorce may be imminent

Some individuals in Pennsylvania are pretty sure they want a divorce but have doubts in the back of their mind, perhaps wondering if they are making the right decision. The whole process would be much easier if there was one thing that indicated the marriage should end, like abuse. Normally, though, it is not so easy to make this decision since there are many factors that combine to cause a person to want to end their marriage.

There are several things that show marriage mates lack respect for each other. It could be that they make fun of each other, mock each other or call each other names. They may not consult each other when making big decisions or actually make decisions knowing that their mate would not approve. This lack of respect is a big indicator that their marriage is heading for divorce.

Prenups can benefit people of various backgrounds

Couples in Pennsylvania planning their wedding may not want to put too much thought to divorce at a time when they are celebrating their relationship. However, given that nearly 50% of all marriages end with a divorce, it can be an important consideration to keep in mind. After all, people take out insurance to cover far less likely risks. In addition, planning for divorce at a time when people are enjoying a healthy, loving relationship can help to ensure a fair outcome and generosity between both parties.

This is one significant reason why many people are choosing to consider prenuptial agreements. While some once thought that they were mainly for the ultra-rich or celebrities, prenups have much to offer people of all financial means. Prenuptial agreements can help to protect an inheritance or other family assets, and they can be especially important for startup founders. Investors may even want to see a prenup on file before getting involved with a privately held company that could be vulnerable in a divorce. It is important to note that a valid prenuptial agreement should not be one-sided, designed to benefit the wealthier partner at the expense of the less well-off.

Pregnant? You may wish to consider a postnup

When Pennsylvania couples are expecting a newborn, this may be the last time that they want to consider the possibility of divorce. However, it can be an important time to think about issues that could arise if the couple separates while they are feeling positive about one another. Child custody and child support can be some of the most contentious issues in a divorce. However, they are far from the only issues of concern. Prenuptial or post-nuptial agreements can help people to prepare in advance for some major divorce matters.

While many people are familiar with prenups, post-nuptial agreements less common but are similar in many ways. Rather than taking place before the marriage, this type of contract is signed after the marriage has already started. It addresses the same types of issues, including financial matters and asset division. It can establish rights and obligations and should reflect the interests of both parties signing the agreement. Both parties should be represented by their own attorney during the process to ensure that the outcome is fair and will later be upheld in court. While many people may wish to include child custody and support in a postnup, most judges do not allow parents to decide on these matters for unborn children in advance.

Here's how to make co-parenting easier

Sharing joint custody after divorce is becoming increasingly common, but that does not mean it is easy. You and your ex may have to put in a lot of time and effort into communicating with one another before you fall into a practiced routine. While there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach to 50/50 custody, you can try a few things to make the process easier.

Some of the suggestions might feel hard at first. Keeping negative feelings about your ex to yourself can be hard, especially after an emotional divorce. Still, if you and your ex remember that joint custody is about your child and not yourselves, then some of these tips might be easier than you think.

Property division and spousal support in gray divorces

Divorces involving older couples are becoming more common in Pennsylvania and around the country. What is known as the gray divorce rate has more than doubled in the last three decades, and property division and spousal support negotiations tend to be more complicated when spouses over the age of 55 are involved. These talks frequently touch on complex financial matters, so it may be wise for spouses to prepare themselves thoroughly even if a bitter court battle seems unlikely.

Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state, which means marital assets and liabilities should be divided equitably but not necessarily evenly. This can be a complicated process in a gray divorce when retirement and investment accounts are involved and the spouses have signed several joint loans. Cashing in these accounts and dividing the money may be a straightforward approach, but taking this path will usually lead to early withdrawal penalties and higher tax bills.

Missing these financial matters could jeopardize your future

Even for the most amicable couples, ending a marriage is an emotional event. While you and your soon-to-be former spouse want to negotiate a divorce settlement without going to court, you may still have some trouble separating the emotional side of the divorce from the business side, which involves dividing your marital property.

Few people enjoy dragging out these types of matters. Instead, they want to get through it as quickly as possible, and no one could blame you if you feel this way. However, you may want to slow down and make sure that you cover all of the issues. If you miss some financial matters, you could jeopardize your post-divorce future.

Child abuse and parental alienation in custody cases

Claims of sexual abuse are taken very seriously in Pennsylvania child custody cases. In response, an accused parent may refute the claims and say that the other parent is trying to manipulate the child. This is sometimes called parental alienation.

A professor at the George Washington University Law School conducted a study that looked at 2,000 child custody cases from all over the country that had elements of parental alienation, child abuse and domestic violence. Of those cases, she found that when a father's claim of parental alienation is substantiated in court, the mother's accusations of abuse were never credited. Of the total cases in which a father asserted that parental alienation was taking place and a mother accused the father of sexual abuse, just one in 51 abuse claims was substantiated by the court. Furthermore, when a father accused a mother of parental alienation, that mother was twice as likely to lose custody than when the accusation was the other way around.

Know your net worth before filing for divorce

The emotional cost of a divorce can have the most damaging effect on your family, but ending a marriage can also devastate your finances for years to come. Expenses for both former spouses are likely to rise, and incomes may be cut in half.

Pennsylvania is an “equitable distribution” state for dividing assets, but that doesn’t mean it will be a 50-50 split as a court will determine a “fair” distribution. The best way to prepare for your new life is to understand what your net worth is before you leave a marriage and have a handle on the expenses you expect to face.

Safety concerns when going through a child custody case

If a Pennsylvania parent has concerns about his or her children's safety during visitation with the other parent, he or she should discuss the concerns with the attorney and the court. The court usually investigates allegations of abuse before granting any parent custody, though it should be noted that there could be repercussions when making allegations of abuse.

When an allegation of physical or emotional abuse is made, the court and family protective services may step in to investigate before the custody of the children is granted. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the court or the family protective services may talk to the children's teachers, extended family or even neighbors in order to verify the allegations. While the investigation is ongoing, the other parent may be granted visitation, though this visitation is usually supervised.

Divorce can have a significant financial impact

Since 1990, the divorce rate has doubled for those who are over the age of 50. There can be a variety of negative consequences for older Pennsylvania residents and others who experience the end of a marriage. Research has discovered that those who go through a divorce at an older age may be more depressed than those who lost a spouse. The financial impact can be significant as well.

Men see their standard of living drop by 21% after a divorce while women see their standard of living drop 45%. This is in spite of the fact that older single individuals generally need less to live on compared to a single parent. Women over the age of 63 who have gone through a divorce have a poverty rate of 27%, which is nine times the rate of those who stay married.

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