Optimistic statisticians like to broadcast this notion that divorce rates plateaued over the past few years. While this may be true, the trend is not due to any romantic upswing. Financial woes during the Great Recession drove many couples to the brink of divorce, but they couldn’t afford to follow through with the process. As a result, there are many cases where bankruptcy must be handled in divorce. We will discuss how the divorce process is affected by a bankruptcy before, during, and after divorce.Continue reading
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Defense of Spousal Support, Overview and Fact Sheet
When a party files for support, the whole tone of a divorce can change dramatically. Money, which may have been the cause of divorce, certainly raises the stakes during a divorce action and can lead to troubled negotiations or discussion. Pennsylvania laws exist to prohibit an undeserving spouse from receiving spousal support, but requires the objecting party to prove why. Defense of spousal support requires a diligent and knowledgeable divorce lawyer who can fight an undeserving spouse.
Understanding the defense of spousal support in Pennsylvania requires a basic knowledge of the law guiding spousal support. There are varying forms of support which vary based upon duration of payments to the obligee spouse.
A claim for spousal support may be filed to continue the financial status of a party prior to separation. There are a few types of support; spousal support is separate from child support and is intended to allow the other party financial security that would normally exist if the parties were together while the divorce action is pending (in some cases, and called alimony pendente lite). Other types such as alimony continue after the divorce is finalized and until the party is no longer eligible, such as by cohabitation with another partner, etc. The two orders would never be in effect at the same time.
A party who is objecting to the award of spousal support must prove a ground for fault based divorce. The objecting party must provide clear and convincing evidence that the award is not proper and he or she bears the burden of proof. Having the right attorney to argue the defense to spousal support is critical and can make the difference in whether or not it is awarded. Being the party that bears the burden of proof in these cases requires a knowledge of local procedure and case law to support the facts of each case.
For the defense of spousal support, the objecting party must prove the existence of any of the below conditions pursuant to fault-based divorce requirements.
Fault grounds for divorce are as follows pursuant to 3301(c):
1. Willful and malicious desertion without reasonable cause for at least one year;
3. Cruel and barbarous treatment of an injured and innocent spouse;
5. Imprisonment for at least two years after conviction of a crime;
6. Indignities to the innocent and injured spouse which makes that spouse’s
condition intolerable and life burdensome.
Conduct must be pre-separation and on a continuous basis. The party alleging indignities bears the burden of proof that the behavior was no isolated occurrence but rather a pattern of behavior.
Spousal support cases can be difficult to handle without the right Bucks County divorce lawyer. Choosing the right divorce and support attorney could mean the difference of saving thousands a year in paying out undeserved support. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our Doylestown divorce attorneys and find out what we can do for you and your case.
Call today at (215) 942-2100 or submit an online inquiry form to have a member of our team contact you to schedule a consultation.
Dealing with "financial infidelity" during the divorce process
By now, most of Bucks County has spent a lot of time snowed in with their significant other. Valentine’s Day is approaching and our government just raised the debt ceiling – again. At the moment, conditions are not favorable for struggling marriages and recent survey data shows some new insight on the impact of financial dishonesty. Our divorce lawyers know the profound effect of financial dishonesty in divorce; following a few simple measures can help simplify the process when your spouse has been “cheating” on you – financially. Continue reading
Divorce and Abusive Husband, Protections and Considerations for Women
It is an unfortunate truth that domestic violence is still a threat to women. Those who have decided to leave the marital home and pursue divorce face many fears and often, real danger. Divorce may seem like an impossible luxury to women living with an abusive husband; however, Pennsylvania has resources to help.
Support groups and experts suggest taking steps towards distancing yourself from the situation and establishing personal space. The most effective and safe way to proceed with divorcing an abusive husband is to seek experienced legal counsel.
Not surprisingly, an abuser will be frustrated and angered by the discussion of divorce. Throughout the process, an abusive husband's behavior may escalate. An experienced Bucks County divorce lawyer will be able to help determine if a Protection from Abuse Order (PFA) will be necessary or likely to be useful under unique circumstances.
Defining abuse in Pennsylvania
Abuse is defined by Pennsylvania courts pursuant to 23 Pa.C.S.A. § 6102 . It is defined as: The occurrence of one or more of the following acts between family or household members, sexual or intimate partners or persons who share biological parenthood.
(1) Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury, serious bodily injury, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault or incest with or without a deadly weapon.
(2) Placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
(3) The infliction of false imprisonment pursuant to 18 Pa.C.S. § 2903 (relating to false imprisonment).
(4) Physically or sexually abusing minor children, including such terms as defined in Chapter 63 (relating to child protective services).
(5) Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another person, including following the person, without proper authority, under circumstances which place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury. The definition of this paragraph applies only to proceedings commenced under this title and is inapplicable to any criminal prosecutions commenced under Title 18 (relating to crimes and offenses).
What is a PFA?
A PFA (or restraining order) is a document that can keep the threat at a distance, which will allow divorce proceedings to continue and keep the abused party safe. PFA procedure in Bucks County was recently updated in light of Fox v. Fox, 2013 PA Super 88 (April 17, 2013)- decided by Pennsylvania Superior Court.
On the same day a petition is filed, a hearing is conducted and the petition is reviewed by a judge to test the claims in the petition. The hearing is an ex parte hearing, which is reserved for urgent matters where notifying the other party would subject the petitioner to harm. For more information on PFA filing procedures in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, take a moment to read our firm's press release.
Before making any moves, seek experienced counsel. A divorce lawyer will be able to guide you through the process and suggest legal avenues to protect your safety. A lawyer will be able to present your case and fight for the safety of your family. Contact the Law Offices of Michael Kuldiner, P.C. at (215) 942-2100 or submit an online inquiry form. Please use discretion when providing contact information; a member of our team will contact you to schedule your consultation.
How to get your ex to move on and move out
After the divorce, and during, your ex may not be the best roommate. In today's economic climate, many couples are forced to maintain a shared residence while separated. But what happens when the ex overstays his or her welcome and shows no signs of leaving? When your ex refuses to move out, try to discuss the reasons and seek a family lawyer to start the process.
Talk to your ex first
Before you run to an attorney or research eviction processes, consider having a serious, face to face conversation with your ex. You may find the root of the problem is something that can be negotiated or agreed upon. Perhaps your ex is worried about losing his or her interest in the property before it is sold? Or it could be a matter of just wanting to hold on to the past and maintain consistency for the children.
Hear out your ex when it comes to the emotional aspect or concern for children. Above all else, kids do not want to see or suspect their parents are fighting constantly. Witnessing constant hostility and being caught in the crosshairs is not a cost that any child should bear the burden of paying. Having an open conversation about the health of your children and accommodating minor financial concerns could do the trick.
Gaining exclusive possession
For the ex who refuses to move out due to his or her interest in the property, it becomes a matter of equitable distribution in the ongoing divorce action. When matters of equitable distribution are at the heart of the problem, an experienced divorce lawyer should be involved. Determining the property's value, agreeing to list and at what price can all be negotiated. That is only helpful in cases where both parties are ok with moving out.
If you are seeking to retain residency at the marital property and your ex refuses to move out, a divorce lawyer will help you pursue other remedies. For example, a party may file for exclusive possession of the marital residence. Even if exclusive possession is awarded during the divorce proceedings, it may not preclude a court from awarding the property to the other party during equitable distribution.
23 Pa. C.S. § 3502(c) indicates that the court has authority to award exclusive possession to one of both of the parties while the divorce is pending. The first case to award exclusive possession was Laczkowski v. Laczkowski, decided in 1985. This case awarded the marital residence to the spouse with physical custody of the minor children.
If there is abuse involved, a protection from abuse (PFA) may be an option in cases where an ex refuses to move out. All of this should be discussed at length with your divorce lawyer. If you are going through a divorce or considering, contact the trusted and experienced attorneys at the Law Offices of Michael Kuldiner, P.C., at (215) 942-2100. Feel free to submit an online inquiry form and a member of our team will contact you shortly to schedule a consultation.
How long-term separations can be more expensive than divorce
With divorce comes a lot of intimidating decisions. The prospect of sorting out custody, support, alimony, and division of property can lead many couples to detach from their marriage and walk away. Rather than officially address each major issue, these couples have the best intentions to move on. Unfortunately, sidestepping divorce out of convenience can skyrocket the overall cost of separation and drag out the process.
Perhaps these thoughts haven't yet crossed your mind and you are coexisting and co-parenting peacefully at the moment. Many choose to live in the moment to avoid the eminent conflict, but without making smart decisions now, those matters may snowball. You may think you know your "ex", but consider the following (and all too common) scenarios. Of course, true cost will vary based on unique circumstances.
Scenario 1: Mismanaging marital assets
When one spouse moves out of the home or the parties live "separate but apart", it is very possible that debt is accumulating silently. While separated, your ex could continue to use joint credit cards or neglect to pay taxes on your marital property. Despite feeling completely detached, your financial worlds are still intertwined without a divorce. His or her missteps in finance can affect your credit score and rack up major liens against a marital property. Also, for those who have left the marital residence, consider the possibility that your ex has manipulated or hidden marital assets prior to the initiation of a divorce action.
Cost of separation? Possibly several years to a decade of rebuilding credit by paying back debtors, judgments, or liens and loss of equity in large assets.
Scenario 2: Spouse leaves the state or country
Bearing in mind the difficulties of the above scenario, add in custody issues and battling over jurisdiction. If a spouse leaves the state and money or custody is still at odds, the eventual divorce process may become a logistical and financial nightmare. Divorce laws can vary across states - for example, a Pennsylvania divorce would eventually assess marital assets and divide via equitable distribution. Other states are community property states, which divide everything 50/50. Generally, sticking with one jurisdiction makes this and all other aspects much more refined.
Cost of separation? Paying to track down your spouse to enable proper service of legal documents; commuting to the court of proper jurisdiction for hearings or conferences; paying an out of town attorney to manage your case, which is surely complicated in light of the new circumstances.
Scenario 3: Moving on to new relationships
As a new relationship begins to unfold, your spouse may find a new way to spend your marital assets. Trips, large purchases, or simply a few nights out from a shared account can be a drain on marital assets. Additionally, the new relationship may present complications when negotiating terms and settlement of a divorce. Bearing in mind a new factor could dramatically sway the tone of negotiations.
Cost of separation? Variable of course, consider the possibility of your spouse paying for trips, gifts, or living costs for another person.
Scenario 4: Lowering your standard of living
With all of the above situations taking a toll on your pockets, many couples find themselves lowering their standard of living just to get by. Once a spouse finds him or herself making it work, he or she may not be able to or will have difficulty obtaining alimony once a divorce is filed or initiated. Health, standard of care for children, and general well-being are at stake until matters are officially resolved.
Cost of separation? Physical and emotional well-being,
Hedging it off at the pass
No one wants to watch their life change without maintaining control. During already difficult times of change, taking a proactive approach can alleviate unknowns and put power back into your hands. Being caught off guard in the worst way can lead to financial and emotional ruin -that is the true cost of separation without divorce.
If you are currently separated and are considering divorce, contact the experienced Bucks County divorce lawyers at the Law Offices of Michael Kuldiner, P.C. Call (215) 942-2100 or submit an inquiry form to schedule an appointment today.
A realistic view of the modern approach
When a couple begins to consider divorce, it sometimes cushions the inevitable to suggest divorce mediation. As a means to an end, divorce mediation makes perfect sense to help protect the best interests of your children and your finances without breaking the bank. Many do this to reduce costs and stress by staying out of the courtroom. Albeit the less adversarial approach, divorce mediation does not protect your legal rights and is not for everyone.
When you and your spouse decide to pursue divorce mediation, you are both making the decision to utilize consultants to help you manage your divorce. There are many benefits to mediation for couples who can work together. However, the decision is also being made to forego any professional advice or analysis of your legal rights. When signing agreements regarding custody, support, or division of assets, a mediator is not obligated to represent your interests in the outcome. They are to assist both parties simultaneously.
The decisions and agreements that are signed during this process require cautious and professional review. Often, mediators encourage obtaining a divorce lawyer to advise on any agreements prior to signing. Legally binding documents should be reviewed by an experienced divorce lawyer. A divorce lawyer can explain the terms and ensure your rights are protected. A mediator cannot provide the personalized legal advice you may need to ensure your wishes are represented. Either to get an edge on assurances, or to pursue other matters, mediation often results in traditional family law procedure. By then, many have shelled out hundreds on fruitless meetings and discussions.
Those concerned with expenses should consider the possibility of spending precious time and money on hours of contentious discussions and still needing an attorney in the long run. Despite the common misconceptions, not every attorney will pursue lengthy litigation and legal battles. Knowing how the Pennsylvania divorce laws will apply to you is critical in navigating the divorce process. Every case is different; only an experienced divorce attorney can advise on what moves to make.
If your divorce mediation is not getting the results you expected, contact the Law Offices of Michael Kuldiner, P.C. at (215) 942-2100 to schedule a consultation. Our attorneys share the philosophy of staying out of the courtroom, but can provide the critical legal advice you need to complete the divorce process.
How not hiring a lawyer can lead to regret
Our office knows the extent to which a divorce can exhaust a client, especially when they have sought counsel after being un-represented for much of the proceedings. We also know how satisfied clients feel for having solid guidance during a tough time. Handling divorce in Pennsylvania on your own may leave you wondering what could have been. Those who have been through it will tell you the biggest regret of their divorce was not hiring an attorney early on or at all.
Getting real about choices
Everyone hopes their divorce will not require attorneys at all. They go about separating their lives in a lot of ways, and talking about custody. Soon, the other party hires a lawyer and you are getting stacks of documents in the mail. One thing leads to another and finally the divorce is entered; however, many are left with more questions. Had I retained a lawyer to review all of this, would I have more time with my kids? More support coming in monthly? Less support going out monthly?
Consider the long term expenses
Taking a the passive and cost effective approach could cost big bucks. For example, if you are not represented and paying child support, you may be subject to increases in monthly payments when custody time is limited. Perhaps you wished to have more time with your kids and never had the chance to get the right arrangement? Or, perhaps your children are of an age where they have their own lives and choose not to spend time with you. Having a divorce lawyer to sift through these details, advise and argue your case could mean a dramatically different outcome.
In matters of equitable distribution, simply decoding what is marital and what is non-marital can cause confusion. For divorce in Pennsylvania, it is advisable to have a PA divorce lawyer review your assets and ask you the important questions. When did you acquire the asset? Has it appreciated in value over the duration of the marriage? How much of the marital home is considered marital property where down payments are involved? These are expensive decisions to make on your own - dividing assets in Pennsylvania is done as equitably as possible through the divorce process. Having a lawyer will help determine what that means for you.
Fight for your kids
Support and custody can intertwine, but are separate actions in court. If you have resolved your support matter, but are not seeing your children, you need a lawyer. The best interests of the child are always of primary concern for Pennsylvania courts. It does not serve in anyone's interests to have poorly drafted or non-existent custody arrangements. This is the primary area of regret for many individuals who did not retain a divorce and/or custody lawyer; worse than losing money is losing precious time with your children.
Do not end up kicking yourself down the road. It may hard to face the challenges ahead, but do yourself a favor and allow professionals to do the work. Even if it seems intimidating now, you may one day wonder what could have been. Call our offices to schedule a consultation with a Bucks County divorce lawyer, at (215) 942-2100. Feel free to submit an inquiry form and a member of our team will contact you.
What to do, or not do, to maintain a good credit score in divorce
Divorce opens the door for happiness and a new beginning for many; however, that can often be quickly tainted by poor credit. Pulling apart one, complex financial life, can be damaging for at least one if not both parties to a divorce. Consider some obvious and some lesser known information to help protect your credit score in divorce.
Educate yourself about yourself
First, get informed as to your current standing with all three credit reporting bureaus. If you have already used your free first copy for the year, it is a worthwhile purchase to see into the future by looking at your past. Experian, Transunion and Equifax are the three bureaus whose reports you will want to peruse. Each are slightly different but show an overall picture to a lender. Eventually you will want to buy another house, rent a new apartment or make another big purchase. Being caught off guard by some shared debt is not how you want to start your new beginning.
Visit the official Annual Credit Report website for the free copy you are allowed every twelve months. Or, contact each entity separately and request a free copy of the credit report. Generally, the simplest way is to visit their sites. Get it over with now before any major issues need to be discussed in court. If you are considering divorce, take a look at this information as early on as possible in the process to salvage or maintain your credit score in divorce.
Set aside time to study the reports and list all of the joint accounts. List out checking accounts and credit cards, store cards, car loans and so on. Of course, find out the principal on the mortgage if you managed to forget, and add that to the list. These joint accounts all affect you now and can affect you after the divorce if not handled properly. If you are considering divorce, begin closing paid off accounts, or paying off those with a balance. Often, couples forget the store card they picked up a few years ago to make a smaller purchase - these do not just go away on their own.
Whose problem is whose
If you are not able to pay these off or do not feel it should be your burden, the divorce settlement will dictate whose name may be removed from each account or who pays for what. If thorough research is not done, a poor credit score down the road will likely point to an unpaid joint account. Additionally, assuming that the former spouse is going to take care of it will not bar any negative feedback if your name is still on the account.
Perhaps the judge has indicated that your ex must individually pay off certain joint accounts - that should still hold up with the credit bureaus right? Wrong. Many people assume that the results of domestic relations orders or agreements will stand up against credit bureaus and it is not the case. If both names are still on a delinquent account, both parties' scores will suffer.
Depending on the nature of the other parties' delinquency, the results could affect your score for years in some instances. Do not assume that he or she will close the account or take your name off of the account. The detriment will come at a far greater cost in the future than simply researching your credit score in divorce and before.
If you are considering divorce, contact the experienced Bucks County divorce lawyers at the Law Offices of Michael Kuldiner, P.C., at (215) 942-2100. Schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss your credit score in divorce, or other domestic relations matters. Our knowledgeable and trusted divorce lawyers can get you through the process and ensure your best interests are represented.
5 Common mistakes and how to avoid them
Never an easy decision, divorce creates a lot to think about. Thoughts of the family, the affect on the kids, and money can overwhelming . Fortunately, if you are considering a divorce, there are people and resources out there to help make sense of the transition and the process. Despite these tools, there are still a few common mistakes people make while thinking about divorce.
1. Cutting corners on thinking it through. Instead of resorting to the ultimate resolution to your problems, really buckle down and think about what it is that is making you feel this way. It is undoubtedly an emotional decision, but you need to think with clarity and a touch of wisdom about relationships. Maybe it is not a bad marriage that is making you feel the urge to run – perhaps deeper desires or unspoken wishes have disguised themselves within your relationship. It may seem like a swift resolution, but divorce may not be the answer to feelings of boredom, or lack of communication. Certainly, issues like physical or emotional abuse, gambling or drug abuse are more concrete reasons; however, it is best to really delve into the other reasons to avoid regret in the future.
2. Prepare for the exit before you start the discussion. Once you have definitively sorted through feelings and made the choice, facing your spouse can be an intimidating hurdle. Even when you know someone, it can be hard to gauge the reaction. Sort through what you have in the household, such as items in the home, your important paperwork or records, and consider establishing a separate checking account. If you are serious about making the move, it should not be considered sneaky to do so; these are important when considering your future as an individual.
3. Meet with a financial planner before the process begins. Being thoroughly informed about the value of your assets will ensure smarter negotiations and the best result possible. There may be more potential or affordability in maintaining some assets in lieu of others. Educating yourself on the real value (or lack thereof) could prevent years of regret. Prior to mediation or conferences, meeting with a financial advisor will iron out major kinks before they can happen.
4. Don’t wait until the damage is done to begin repairs. Finding someone to help reel in and manage emotions can spare a lot of unnecessary anguish during mediation or conferences. Having the pain and emotion somewhat managed during the process can help neutralize discussions that are intended to achieve a purpose. It is cheaper and healthier to have a support system to keep your head on straight during the process, rather than afterwards. A support system of understanding friends or professionals may help alleviate the motivation behind stonewalling negotiations or mediation.
5. Less time at work or quitting your job. Just an all around bad idea, “willful underemployment" has nothing but negative consequences. Generally, the frequent perpetrators of this approach are those who earn more money than their spouse. In the hopes of reducing alimony or child support, the spouse skips out on work or quits. Judges can see through this approach and you may end up paying the same amount with smaller paychecks – causing the exact opposite of the intended outcome.
The list can go on, as everyone’s needs and situations vary. It is not always clear or easy to make the decision to get a divorce; however, armed with the right tools, you can make it happen without causing peripheral damage emotionally and financially. You will inevitably have to rely on others to get through this process, and it is important to choose wisely. Bucks County divorce attorneys of the Law Offices of Michael Kuldiner, P.C. relate to their clients and foster an environment of constructive communication.
If you are considering divorce, call our office to schedule a consultation with an attorney. If you have an existing divorce action and aren’t sure where it is going, we can provide the succinct and direct breakdown of how to get you on the other side of this hurdle. Submit an inquiry form or call (215) 942-2100 today.