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Tag Archives: Support

When, Why, and How Cohabitation is a Bar to Alimony

Payee cohabitation affects alimony

There are many misconceptions about alimony, when it is awarded and when a party is no longer entitled to alimony. Some consider it to be merely a reward for one, and punishment for the other; however, it is intended to serve a critical function when the conditions are proper. Because cohabitation is a bar to alimony, it may not be awarded at all if conditions exist that prove the payee is in an interdependent relationship.

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Getting the most out of a divorce settlement

How a QDRO can provide peace of mind

One of the most frustrating aspects of finalizing a divorce can be ensuring that the other party follows through on the terms of a  divorce settlement. Regardless of the amount, a spouse may be reliant upon the retirement funds for current or future financial needs. Often, women are the victims of a non-paying ex-husband who was the primary earner for the duration of the marriage. A great option to ensure disbursement of retirement funds in a divorce settlement is the use of a QDRO or Qualified Domestic Relations Order.

Women can often find themselves in fear of what the future holds without the other spouse’s income, especially in retirement. The use of a QDRO in a divorce settlement is a surefire way to get the deserved portion of a 401K, pension, or other retirement benefits. It is a court order or decree that establishes the alternate payee’s right to receive all or a portion of the benefits of the ex-spouse’s retirement plan.

Having this assurance can allow women the opportunity to maintain a financial strategy with respect to retirement. Additionally, federal law allows the use of a retirement plan for payment of child support and alimony. This creates a way for women to enforce spousal support and ensure financial stability month to month.

A QDRO can essentially create a lien against an ex’s retirement plan, specifically for ERISA accounts (Employee Retirement Income Security Act) like a 401K. This would not apply to IRAs and other similar accounts. A judge is able to order that if obligor spouse misses or refuses to pay any spousal or child support, the funds can be pulled from the retirement plan. This provides a security net for obligees who suspect an ex-spouse will fall through on their post-divorce obligations.

Support arrearages can also be paid from a retirement plan as part of a QDRO; however, the amounts and timing of payments may be limited by the type of retirement plan. Temporary support and attorney’s fees can be collected from a retirement account via QDRO. Only an experienced divorce lawyer can craft and explain the stipulations of a QDRO. Timing is essential when it comes to pursuing this option, as there are restrictions on these claims once a divorce decree is entered.

The importance of having an experienced divorce attorney is critical to developing and negotiating a divorce settlement. When and how to use a QDRO can be divisive for many clients, especially when an ex is not cooperative in abiding support orders. To discuss your divorce settlement or other concerns, contact the Law Offices of Michael Kuldiner, P.C. and our experienced Bucks County divorce lawyers can provide the persistence and knowledge to get what you are entitled to.

Call (215) 942-2100 today to schedule your consultation with a Doylestown divorce lawyer. Or submit an online inquiry form and a member of our team will contact you shortly to schedule your appointment.

Spouse Stopped Paying Support

What to do when your spouse leaves you paying all the expenses

This is an all too common occurrence and frequent question in cases of separation and divorce. Husband or wife leaves the home, sometimes without much warning, and the other is left struggling to maintain the bills in his or her absence. Electric bills, mortgage payments, shared credit cards and taxes can easily become delinquent and lead to bad credit, liens, or even foreclosure. If your spouse walked out and stopped paying towards your household, you may file for support to ensure continued financial security.

Seeking an experienced Bucks County divorce attorney will ensure that support is filed properly and yields the best results possible. Sit down with your divorce lawyer and explain all of the expenses you have been left with, including insurance premiums that have gone unpaid, cable bills, or medical expenses. Everything should be accounted for before filing for support if your spouse walked out.

Time is of the essence. Be sure to file for support as soon as possible if your spouse walked out unexpectedly. It can be natural to wait in the hopes that he or she returns, but bear in mind that it can be about two months from the initial filing before any court order is signed. While the order may be backdated to account for arrearages accrued following his or her initial leave, adding delays in the hopes of a timely return could be devastating.

Filing for support can be done pursuant to § 3702 which governs alimony pendente lite, counsel fees and expenses. Alimony pendente lite means temporary alimony/support, which is paid during the pendency of the divorce to ensure the continued support of the household. Additionally, the statute indicates that when appropriate, the court may direct the continuation of health coverage and benefits.

The protections of having a support order do not end with making up for a few bills. If your spouse threatens to, or does not, uphold a support order, he or she will be subject to the provisions dictated by § 3703. The court effects payment of any arrearages by entering judgment against a non-paying obligor, authorizing the seizure of goods, attach wages (up to 50%), and add interest to unpaid installments.

If your spouse walked out unexpectedly and you are struggling to maintain your household alone, do not delay in hiring the right family lawyer. Call our office at (215) 942-2100 today to speak with a Bucks County divorce lawyer who can get your case filed and resolved as swiftly as possible. Our experienced family lawyers are trusted by Doylestown area residents to manage their complex matters of support, custody, and divorce.

The True Cost of Separation without Divorce

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.

Divorce mediation – is it for you?

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.

A Common Regret After Divorce in Pennsylvania

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.

Late-life Divorce on the Rise

The emerging trend of "gray divorce" and what to consider

According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University, divorce rates for couples over 50 have doubled between 1990 and 2009. Late-life divorce, also known as “gray divorce”, is becoming more common and creating uncertainty about future implications. Financial concerns are usually at the forefront of these considerations; division of assets and liabilities can be complex in these cases.

The evolution of this emerging trend is thought to share the same reasoning as divorce at any other age; however, the impact of longevity is allowing older couples to start over. Some experts in the subject area suspect that the stresses of later life can intensify already existing problems. Years of raising a family and reaching career goals can easily hide underlying relationship problems. With another 20 or so years ahead, a couple in their sixties can pursue a happier relationship and lifestyle.

For those considering divorce that fit this cohort, there are of course many factors to consider. As opposed to couples concerned with custody and child support, late-life divorce presents other challenges and decisions that will concern the sustainability of each individual. Apart from the support and care giving of a spouse during the elderly years, the financial uncertainty can be intimidating.

In retirement, many do not work and enjoy the benefits of their retirement plans, savings and social security. When a marriage has lasted twenty or thirty years, the combined assets and financial status of an individual is hard to decipher. Additionally, hidden assets or family businesses can be difficult to value.

It is advisable to seek an experienced divorce attorney to help evaluate this information thoroughly. Retirement plans, pension, 401K and social security benefits have much greater value to couples divorcing at this age and are key factors during equitable distribution. Because many will no longer work, it is all the more important to have a “gray divorce” handled by an experienced divorce attorney. A divorce attorney will be able to explain how your finances will be affected, including how it will affect your Social Security benefits.  Support and alimony may be other factors to contend with. The party in need of support is entitled to much more when a marriage has lasted multiple decades.

To speak with attorney about divorce, call our office to schedule a consultation, at (215) 942-2100. It is unhealthy to be unhappy at any age, and everyone deserves a chance to improve their quality of life. Allow an experienced divorce attorney help you through your late-life divorce and begin a new chapter.

Child Support Deviation based upon Custody | Bucks County

PA Guidelines Allow Child Support Deviation Based on Custody

The calculation helps determine child support or support deviation for Bucks County and all Pennsylvania support cases. The amount child support deviation may increase or decrease depending on the amount of parenting time spent with the child(ren). It may not necessarily rely on overnights either – if a parent spends time and money on the kids during daytime visits but rarely has them overnight, the deviation may account for that.

The support guidelines include calculations for overnights spent with each parent and will manipulate the percentage of income owed by the obligor (non-custodial) parent. The calculation includes a methodology for determining the percentage of time spent with the non-custodial parent. This number affects what is owed to the obligee (custodial) parent, who is paying for all of the day-to-day expenses of the children.

But what if the custody is split almost fifty-fifty? The non-custodial parent is paying for equally as many day-to-day expenses as the custodial parent as well as child support to the custodial parent. The PA child support guidelines provide for downward child support deviation in cases where the obligor parent has more than 40% parenting time. This time does not necessarily have to be overnights, either. If the parent paying child support has 40% of parenting time during the day and pays for trips, entertainment, events, etc., that parent may be able to reduce their support payments.

Rule 1910.16-4(c) of the PA Support Guidelines states, “The obligor will receive an additional 10% reduction in the amount of support owed at 40% parenting time, increasing incrementally to a 20% reduction at 50% parenting time.”

Conversely, there may be a parent who spends little to no time with the children and does not incur any expenses as a result of overnight visits (or, as stated above, day visits). In that instance, the guidelines provide for an upward deviation in the support obligation. This best serves the children in two ways: the deviation may prompt the non-custodial parent to be present in the child’s life; and it lightens the financial burden on the custodial parent.

In Juli’ A. D’Ancona-Maher vs. Jeremy Gerhart, Plaintiff Mother cited the aforementioned guideline and the 2010 commentary which serves as an explanatory supplement to the code. She sought an upward deviation based on the obligor’s lack of parenting time with their 17 year old child. In this particular case, the Court took into consideration the testimony of the relationship between the father and the teen. Ultimately, the deviation was not considered because the child maintained an active social life; hence, it was partially the child’s choice as to the amount of time spent with the father.

While the PA Support Guidelines are intended to provide a rigid, numbers-based theory to determine payments, custody may be a dramatic variable in cases concerning child support for Bucks County residents. Throughout any discussions of support, the best interests of the child are always of primary concern. If you are involved in a custody or support matter, contact our office to speak with an experienced Bucks County custody lawyer. Call (215) 942-2100 to set up a consultation.

Welcome Jahn S. Chesnov, Esquire: 27 Years of Family Law in Bucks County

We are excited and pleased that Jahn S. Chesnov, Esquire has joined our team to continue providing excellent service to the Bucks County community.

Mr. Chesnov will provide insight and advice to support our large portfolio of family law cases. As a seasoned practitioner of Family Law in Bucks County, Mr. Chesnov provides 27 years’ experience and expertise in matters of divorce, custody, support, and more.

As a solo practitioner, Mr. Chesnov ran a successful and well-known practice, helping residents of Bucks County since 1985. While doing so, he lectured to the community regarding divorce, custody and support; particularly for an organization called PWP, Parents without Partners.

To read more about Mr. Chesnov, follow the below link for the full press release:

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2013/8/prweb10996056.htm

Waiving Child Support in Pennsylvania

In developing a Marital Settlement Agreement, parties may sling numbers and financial data as a means to an end. After months of analyzing incomes, debts, and appraisals, a couple may find a financial middle ground on how to settle their divorce. Often, individuals consider bargaining payments of child support. Unfortunately, utilizing this exchange of money is not as negotiable as even the most amicable parties might anticipate.

In Reber v. Reiss, 42 A. 3d 1131 (Pa.Super.2012), the Court states:

We recognize that "[i]n Pennsylvania, a parent cannot bind a child or bargain away that child's right to support." Kesler v. Weniger, 744 A.2d 794, 796 (Pa.Super. 2000). Nonetheless, we have also held that "under Roberts [v. Furst, 385 Pa. Super. 530, 561 A.2d 802 (1989)], parties can make an agreement as to child support if it is fair and reasonable, made without fraud or coercion, and does not prejudice the welfare of the children." Kraisinger v. Kraisinger, 928 A.2d 333, 340 (Pa.Super.2007).

It is possible under Roberts v. Furst, 385 Pa.Super. 530, 561 A.2d 802 (1989), that parties are able to make an agreement for child support provided it is fair and reasonable for the children.

However, where those payments are repurposed, the Courts may disagree. In Kraisinger v. Kraisinger Pa. 928 A.2d 333 (2007), the couple drafted an agreement that settled other matters by way of relenting on or reducing future support payments from the obligor spouse. The agreement blurred the line between property settlement and child support.

When the obligee wife wanted to modify support, the Court was forced to address several matters in this case. Of primary interest was whether or not the obligee spouse was able to modify support even though obligor husband met the terms of their MSA. Obligor husband argued that obligee wife did not have standing to file for a modification in support as he had successfully met the terms of their agreement.

The Court had to review the agreement from the perspective of family court and acknowledge the fact that this particular contract was not working in the best interest of the children. Overall, the obligor would have been paying less than the guidelines require. Also, the mother is not able to waive further child support in exchange for payment of an equitable distribution matter.

As such, the Court found this would prejudice a child’s welfare, stating, “. . . a child’s right to adequate support cannot be bargained away by either parent and any release or compromise is invalid.”

Child support can sometimes be viewed as merely another financial obligation. In the context of divorce, it is easy to lose sight of its purpose. The Pennsylvania Support Guidelines are intended solely to protect the best interests and well-being of children and cannot be bargained away by either parent.

Hiring the right attorney is critical to ensure you and your children receive fair financial attention. Call (215) 942-2100 to schedule a consultation with an experienced attorney to help you in your support matters.

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