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Tag Archives: Divorce

divorce

The Divorce Spectrum

Not all divorces are “created equally.” In fact, psychologists and legal professionals have crafted a divorce spectrum that illustrates the different types of divorces. The divorce spectrum focuses on factors that include the complexity of a particular case, the emotional state of the parties as well as the actual state of the relationship between spouses seeking to end a marriage.

The Nuclear Divorce

The Nuclear Divorce is one in which the parties seem to want to pursue a scorched earth policy. The spouses assume a take no prisoners posture when it comes to addressing issues in the case.

In reality, the Nuclear Divorce element of the spectrum is not as commonplace as many people might assume. A Nuclear case exists when the parties face a highly complex divorce case. The parties are also highly emotionally charged, in deep turmoil over the end of the marriage and their other spouse. Finally, the relationship between the parties is so degraded that it has become impossible for them to speak to one another or communicate in any constructive manner.

Divorce Decree Playbook

Most divorces fall into the middle of the divorce spectrum. These divorces are so commonplace that they appropriately can be called part of the Divorce Decree Playbook.

At this point on the spectrum, the divorcing couple face a variety of easier to resolve as well as more complex issues. Emotions are not necessarily in check all of the time, but the parties are able to communicate in some manner fairly effectively. The relationship between the parties has turned colder, but they do not disdain one another.

The Make It Work Out Divorce

At the other end of the spectrum from the Nuclear Divorce is the Make It Work Out Divorce. In this situation, the parties sometimes able to pursue an uncontested divorce. Even if the divorce proves to be not fully uncontested, any disputed issues can be negotiated and settled without tremendous drama.

The Make It Work Out Divorce proves to be more commonplace than many individuals would imagine. A Make It Work Out case exists when the parties have a fairly simple set of issues to resolve in the case. Emotions are in check, generally speaking, at this point on the divorce spectrum. Finally, the parties commence a divorce case with a decent enough relationship. In fact, oftentimes a Make It Work Out case features parties that still love one another. The marriage just was not working for one reason or another.

Keep in mind that no matter where a case commences on the divorce spectrum, circumstances can move it in another direction. A Nuclear Divorce can calm down while a Make It Work Out Divorce can degrade.

uncontested divorce

Uncontested Divorce Overview

Divorce can be nasty business. Many divorce cases become hotly contested and highly emotional. However, there are instances in which an uncontested divorce is possible, and the spouses are able to settle the primary issues involved in ending the marriage without the need for protracted courtroom litigation. There are some essential facts a person needs to understand about an uncontested divorce.

Is an Attorney Necessary in an Uncontested Divorce?

Just because a divorce is uncontested does not automatically mean no legal representation is necessary. There are instances in which an uncontested divorce involves complicated issues. For example, the couple may jointly own a business, a situation which typically requires the assistance of a capable lawyer to address during divorce.

If a divorce truly is uncontested, attorney fees will not mount as they would in a hotly contested divorce. Legal counsel will focus on drafting important documents, including a settlement agreement to be presented to the court.

An attorney will schedule an initial consultation to discuss a divorce case. There typically is no fee charged for this type of consult.

Can Each Spouse Have the Same Attorney?

Divorcing spouses may not share an attorney. The Code of Professional Responsibility (and similar rules of conduct) in each of the 50 states regulates attorney conflict of interest. An attorney representing both parties in a divorce case would face a conflict of interest. If only one party retains a lawyer, it is important for all involved to understand that this legal counsel has an allegiance only to the spouse that hired the professional.

Does the Court Have Documents or Forms Available?

Nearly all courts in the country have standardized forms available for use in divorce cases. These typically can be obtained online or through the court clerk's office. In most cases, the court does not charge for these forms. Keep in mind that although forms can be helpful, they are designed for people without legal representation. Hiring a lawyer remains the best course for a person in a divorce case.

Will an Uncontested Case Move Faster?

Yes, an uncontested divorce typically moves through court faster than a contested one. Another consideration regarding the speed of a case is how full a divorce court's calendar is at any given juncture. Courts that are clogged with cases will slow the process down for everyone, including individuals who pursue an uncontested divorce.

There are benefits associated with an uncontested divorce. However, a party to a divorce must keep in mind that a divorce that seems uncontested on the surface can prove to be complicated and acrimonious in the end.

prenup

Three Things a Prenup Cannot Accomplish

Prenup agreements garner a good deal of attention in the media as well as in films and on television. A great deal of the information floating about regarding prenuptial agreements is factually and legally incorrect.

A good deal of confusion stems from what a prenup can and cannot do when it comes to the provisions of the agreement itself. Before considering entering into a prenuptial agreement, it is important to understand what can and cannot be done with this type of contract.

Child Support

A considerable amount of confusion centers on the role a prenuptial agreement is capable of playing in regard to child support in the event of a divorce. A surprising number of people believe that a prenup is capable of addressing issues pertaining to child support. In reality, this is not the case. A prenuptial agreement cannot lawfully include provisions addressing child support in the event of a divorce.

For example, a prenuptial agreement cannot include provisions relieving a party of an obligation to pay child support. In the final analysis, child support is for the benefit of minor children born during the course of the marriage. Child support is awarded to further the best interests of a minor child. By extension, an agreement in advance of marriage that impacts child support is deemed to negatively impact the best interests of a child.

Child Custody

Limits exist on what a prenup can do in regard to the custody of children that are yet to born. In other words, a child custody agreement cannot address custody issues pertaining to children that may be born during the course of an impending, future marriage.

Promote Divorce

Other limitations exist regarding what can be included in a prenup based on public policy. As a matter of public policy, a contract cannot be crafted that promotes divorce.

This prohibition does present a variety of gray areas in regard to what permissibly can be included in a prenuptial agreement. For example, a prenuptial agreement that provides bountiful benefits in the event a party to the agreement files for divorce because the other spouse has an affair might be unenforceable as being a contract promoting divorce. In the end, ascertaining whether a prenup promotes divorce is determined on a case by case basis.

A skilled attorney can assist a person in deciding whether a prenup is necessary. A lawyer typically schedules an initial consultation to discuss this type of issue with a prospective client at no charge.

prenuptial agreement

Prenuptial Agreement Benefits

A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two individuals who intend to marry. A prenup is designed to clarify financial issues in the event that the marriage fails. There a number of primary prenuptial agreement benefits.

Protect Rights in a Divorce

One of the prenuptial agreement benefits is that the contract protects the rights of a parties in a divorce. The most common example involves a person who possesses significant assets who intends to marry a person of lesser financial worth. On the other hand, a prenup is also designed to protect a person of lesser financial means as well. Typically, a prenuptial agreement sets forth what both parties are entitled to in regard to assets and financial considerations if a marriage fails.

Address Property Distribution

One of the common sticking points in many divorce cases is property and debt distribution. A great deal of time, energy and money (in the form of attorney fees) can be expended on addressing property issues.

Through a prenuptial agreement, a general framework is established regarding the manner in which the assets are to be dealt with if a marriage fails. Provided the prenuptial agreement is properly prepared and executed, the parties are bound by these provisions as they would be with the contents of any type of contract.

Protects a Business

A prenuptial agreement is particularly helpful if one or both of the people intending to be married owns a business. Through a prenuptial agreement, the manner in which a business and its assets are dealt with in a divorce is set forth and agreed to in advance of the marriage by both parties.

Lessens Conflict During a Divorce

Divorce is not only a potentially legally challenging but also an emotionally challenging experience. Another benefit associated with a prenup is that it provides a means through which conflict during divorce is lessened. A whole array of financial issues potentially can be taken off the table in divorce proceedings through a prenup, which eliminates matters that can cause emotions to flare.

Hire a Lawyer to Maximize Prenuptial Agreement Benefits

Because of the complexity and importance of a prenuptial agreement, engaging legal counsel to prepare the contract is crucial. Through the help of an experienced, talented attorney, the benefits associated with a prenuptial agreement are maximized for both parties to the prenup.

divorce statistics

Informative Divorce Statistics

Although divorce statistics do not necessarily impact a particular divorce case, they are informative and sometimes even instructive. There are some divorce statistics that can aid in putting a particular marriage dissolution case into perspective.

Divorce Rates by Number of Marriages

Statistically, a divorce is more likely the more often a person weds. The divorce rate among people on their first marriage in the United States is between 45 to 50 percent. The divorce rate among individuals on their second marriage is approximately 60 to 67 percent. The rate of divorce of people on their third marriage is between 70 and 73 percent. The divorce rate continues to rise for consecutive marriages after the third one.

Divorce Rates Among Couples With and Without Children

A couple with children is more likely to stay married. In fact, there is truth to the cliché that many people stay married for the sake of the children.

About 40 percent of couples with children divorce. On the other hand, 60 percent of couples without children divorce.

Divorce Rates Over Time

Many people presume the divorce rate is always on the rise. In fact, over the past 30 years, divorce rates in the United States have dropped a slight amount. From 1991 to 2010 the divorce rate in the United States dropped about 0.1 percent. The rate has continued to drop slightly since that time as well.

Divorce Rates by State

The state with the lowest divorce rate in the United States is Massachusetts. The state with the highest divorce rate is Nevada. The primary reason Nevada has the highest divorce rate in the country is because that state has fairly lax divorce laws. In other words, it is easier to divorce in Nevada than in some other U.S. states. People come to Nevada in some cases to obtain a quicker, easier divorce.

Average Age for First Divorce

The average age of men who divorce for the first time is about 30.5 years. The average age of women who divorce for the first time is 29 years.

Retain Legal Counsel

No matter the demographics associated with the parties to a particular divorce case, a person seeking to end a marriage best protects his or her rights and interests by retaining legal counsel. Typically, an attorney charges no fee for an initial consultation in a divorce case. A person should be proactive in scheduling an initial consultation.

divorce case

Tips to Make a Divorce Case Easier

No matter the best intentions of spouses seeking to end a marriage, a divorce case is not only a legally buy also an emotionally challenging process. There are some strategies that a couple can employ in an effort to lower the tensions and make a divorce case at least somewhat easier to navigate.

Hire a Divorce Lawyer

The number one step to take in an effort to tamp down the emotions and conflicts associated with ending a marriage is to hire a divorce attorney. Yes, when a divorce lawyer is retained, that professional will stand his or her ground and will do what is necessary to protect the rights and interests of the client. But, in the end, it is the divorce lawyer who is doing battle (hopefully with another qualified divorce attorney). This leaves the parties to a divorce case a margin of space to stay out of the fray, at least to some degree.

Write Things Down Before and During a Divorce Case

Everything of consequence in a divorce case needs to be in writing. This includes the taking of notes about matters that may be an issue in a divorce case before such a legal action is filed with the court.

Obviously, major agreements are placed into written form. In addition, if spouses reach agreement during a divorce about when the kids will be picked up for parenting time, confirm the arrangement in writing. Email provides an excellent tool for inter-spousal communication during a divorce. It also provides a means of creating a record about a vast array of smaller, but important, agreements that occur throughout a divorce case.

Keep Third Parties Out of the Mix

Do not involve third parties – except for attorneys – in a divorce case. Do not drag friends into disputes. Do not rely on friends to communicate, unless there is a clearly designated, mutually agreeable individual who can serve in such a capacity without incident.

Practice the Art of the Time Out

When it appears emotions are about to flare, or if some sort of impasse is reached, a divorcing couple should take a breather from each other. Rome wasn’t built in a day and a divorcing couple does not have to address every issue immediately or when it is raised. Time outs works to lower emotions and gives a couple time to contemplate a situation and put it into perspective.

divorce documents

Divorce Documents Needed to File a Case

If you are contemplating ending your marriage, there are divorce documents you need to collect prior to filing your case in court. In order to make sure you round up all necessary documents, you should engage the services of divorce attorney in a proactive manner.

Personal Divorce Documents Checklist

There are various essential personal documents that you need to pull together in advance of filing for divorce. These are:

  • birth certificate
  • Social Security card
  • Immigration and naturalization papers

Financial Divorce Documents Checklist

A variety of different types of financial documents also need to be collected in advance of beginning a divorce case. These include:

  • Federal, state and local income tax returns for past three years
  • Payroll statements or paystubs for past six months
  • Insurance policies
  • Retirement plan documents
  • Real estate documents, including deeds or leases
  • Checking and savings account documents
  • Mortgage and car loan documents
  • Recurring bill states (like cable television or phone bills)

Business Divorce Documents Checklist

If you and your spouse are involved in a business, or have business investments, additional types of documents need to be gathered in advance of filing for divorce. These include:

    Business tax returns of all types
  • Profit and loss statements
  • Balance sheets
  • Organizational documents
  • Insurance policies
  • Contracts
  • Deeds and lease agreements
  • Mortgage and other loan documents

Divorce Documents in Your Spouse's Possession

You need to take care in the manner in which you collect divorce documents. Any documents in your possession or located in your residence in a commonly utilized digital or brick and mortar world filing system can be collected. However, you need to be cautioned about accessing document storage devices that have been secured intentionally by your spouse. For example, do not try to hack into your spouse’s computer to glean information that you feel will be helpful to you in your divorce.

Pennsylvania law and court procedures include resources and procedures to be utilized in collecting documents and information from your spouse. Engaging in self-help tactics that skirt (or perhaps even violate) the law can result in you facing significant sanctions or other difficulties in a divorce case.

unpaid child support

Can a Parent Withhold Visitation for Unpaid Child Support?

Unpaid child support can be a significant problem. In the final analysis, unpaid child support threatens the wellbeing of children. Oftentimes, the custodial parent who is to receive child support payments on behalf of children needs to take action to enforce an existing court order.

A common thought of a custodial parent is to withhold visitation or parenting time until the noncustodial parent addresses the matter of unpaid child support. The theory is that if the noncustodial parent is not honoring an existing child support order, that individual should not be permitted to enjoy visitation or parenting time with the children.

On its face, there seems to be an air of logic to withholding visitation for unpaid child support. In reality, such a tactic is not legally permissible.

Unpaid Child Support and Visitation: Separate Issues

According to Pennsylvania family law, unpaid child support and visitation and separate and distinct legal matters. They are not connected and do not become so in a situation in which unpaid child support exists. Conversely, if the custodial parent withholds visitation, the noncustodial parent cannot in turn stop paying child support.

Divorced parents need to understand what is in the best interests of children. Complying with a child support order is in the best interests of children. Moreover, regular visitation or parenting time is in the best interests of children.

Remedies for Unpaid Child Support

Pennsylvania law provides a variety of avenues through which a custodial parent can seek enforcement of a child support order. These include everything from seeking enforcement of a child support order in court to engaging the assistance of a child support enforcement agency. What these remedies do not include is what is known as “self-help.”

Self-help occurs when a parent takes matters into his or her own hands when it comes to unpaid child support. Withholding visitation in light of unpaid child support is an example of impermissible self-help.

Legal Representation

The best way to ensure matters like unpaid child support are appropriately and quickly addressed is to engage the services of an experienced child support attorney. Taking a proactive approach in regard to unpaid child support best ensures that the arrearage doesn’t pile up unnecessarily.

divorce facts

Divorce Facts

Are you thinking about divorce? There are some divorce facts to keep in mind. These divorce facts are interesting. And, they may help put your divorce case into perspective.

First Marriages

The U.S. Census Bureau tracks divorce facts. The agency reports that when a first marriage ends in divorce, it lasts an average of eight years.

Second Marriages

People in second marriages have a lower divorce rate. Experts say this is because of what was learned from the first go-around.

Children and Divorce

There are many research studies about divorce facts. Some of these studies focus on children and divorce. Studies suggest that children with divorce parents are more likely to drop out of school.

Who Moves on Faster?

Conventional wisdom is that men get over divorce quicker. Divorce facts suggest something else. According to divorce facts, a woman remarries about 3.1 years after divorce. A man takes a couple months longer. On a more serious note: men are eight times more likely to commit suicide following divorce.

Who Files?

More than two-thirds of U.S. divorce cases are filed by women.

Divorce Facts and Smoking

A research study looked at smoking and divorce. The study reports that divorce is more likely if one spouse smokes. In fact, divorce is upwards to 91 percent more likely if one spouse is a smoker.

Professions with Highest Divorce Rates

Lawyers? No. Doctors? No.

Dancers and choreographers have the highest divorce rate. They are followed by bartenders. (Probably not surprising.) Third on the list are massage therapists. (Probably not surprising.)

Professions with Lowest Divorce Rates

Quite a few make the cut.

Members of the clergy, podiatrists, nuclear engineers and sales people.

More Divorce Facts – Children and Divorce

Parents with kids are less likely to divorce, overall. The divorce rate rises if a couple has twins. It rises even more with triplets.

Divorce and Commuting

One study examined this issue. People who commute more than 45 minutes daily – more likely to divorce.

Divorce and Weight Gain

Who gains weight after divorce? Conventional wisdom says women. Divorce facts says it’s the men.

Legal Representation and Divorce

If you are contemplating a divorce … remember this crucial fact. You best protect your legal rights and interests by hiring an experienced divorce lawyer.

real estate

Real Estate and Divorce

Dividing property, including real estate, tends to be a hot topic in a typical Pennsylvania divorce case. A number of different legal requirements and considerations come into play when real estate is involved in a divorce proceeding.

Marital Real Estate

Legally speaking, the only real estate subject to division in a divorce case is what is known as marital real estate. As a general rule, marital real estate is property that was obtained during the course of a marriage. The most common example of marital real estate typically is residential real estate. In divorce proceedings, this property typical is referred to as the marital residence.

Separate Real Estate

Unlike marital real property, separate real estate is not subject to division in divorce proceedings. An example of separate real estate is a property that one of the spouses wholly owned prior to the marriage. In other words, the property was fully paid for and no marital assets went towards mortgage payments on the real estate in question.

Equitable Division of Real Estate

Pennsylvania is what is known as an equitable division state. In fact, most states in the U.S.A. utilized the equitable division standard when it comes to real property and other types of property.

The equitable division standard requires that marital real estate be fairly divided between divorcing spouses. The division need not be precisely equal; rather, it must be divided in a manner that is just and equitable under the circumstances of a particular case.

Marital Residence

The marital residence can prove to be a challenge when it comes to dividing real estate in a divorce case. A variety of different issues commonly are associated with the marital residence. A common scenario is a case in which one spouse wishes to continue to reside in the marital residence. For example, the parent with primary custody of the children may have an understandable desire to remain in the marital residence to raise the kids.

Resolving the types of complicated legal issues that can surround a marital residence underscores the importance of a skilled lawyer in a divorce case. The assistance of an experienced divorce lawyer best ensures a fair resolution of issues associated with the marital residence.

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