Increasing numbers of older Pennsylvania residents divorcing

The number of couples who are older and decide to divorce is increasing, but their divorce rate is still lower than that of younger couples. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that the gray divorce rate has doubled since the 1990s. Gray divorces are those that involve a married couple who are at least 50 years old.

As of 1990, for every 1,000 married couples at or over the age of 50, five sought to end their marriage. In 2015, that number rose to 10 out of every 1,000 married couples. The divorce rate for individuals at or over the age of 65 increased even more drastically in this time frame. Between 1990 and 2015, the divorce rate for couples who were at least 65 went from about two couples per 1,000 to six per 1,000.

While divorces among older individuals has increased sharply, the divorce rate for younger individuals is still greater, and this is in spite of the fact that the divorce rate has fallen slightly for many in the under-50 age group. Likely due to the fact that people are putting off marriage until they are older, the divorce rate for couples between the ages of 25 and 39 fell by about 20 percent between 1990 and 2015.

One thing that couples of all ages should consider when they end their marriage is to go through mediation. When a divorce is litigated, matters are decided by a judge based on legal guidelines. However, this may not always provide the best outcome for a divorcing couple. In mediation, a neutral third party tries to get the estranged spouses to reach an accord on their own.

Child support and parental involvement

Pennsylvania fathers who do not have a good relationship with their child’s mother and who work fewer hours might be less likely to be current on child support based on the results of a study that appeared in the Journal of Marriage and Family in February 2017. Researchers say that the study found that fathers who were behind on child support also spent less time with their children, but they identified a number of other factors that might have contributed to falling behind in support. These fathers were also more likely to have other children by different mothers and to have been incarcerated.

Fathers who were behind on support spent an average of three fewer days per month with their children, and they were involved in fewer daily activities with them such as homework and playing.

They were also less likely to provide such in-kind items as food and medicine. The study looked at 4,897 families and interviewed the parents when their children were of various ages. The data released was from the child’s ninth year. More than 1,000 fathers in the study did not live with their children.

When a divorce happens, parents may be concerned about both child support and custody. A judge may award custody to the parent who is the child’s main caregiver. However, parents might also want to negotiate custody. A parent who is concerned about paying support might want to discuss the situation with their attorney. Support is calculated using a formula, and extenuating circumstances, such as having other children to support, may also be taken into account. Parents who are concerned about whether they will receive support should be sure to get a legally binding child support order. This will help enable the local child support enforcement agency to penalize the parent who does not pay.

Divorce disputes over frozen embryos

Couples in Pennsylvania who are divorcing also have to decide what to do with their frozen embryos if they’ve been undergoing IVF treatments. Prospective parents usually sign a contract with the facility that stores their embryos that presents them with the choice of continuing to freeze the embryos or donating them in the event of a divorce. Divorcing couples can also choose to have them destroyed.

Estranged couples often disagree about the fate of their embryos. Further complicating the issue is the fact that there are few legal precedents and laws in place that advise divorcing couples about how the custody of their frozen embryos should be handled. Additionally, some of the contracts that IVF facilities make prospective parents sign may not even be legally binding. This can create a legal dilemma because courts generally take the position that a person should not be forced to become a parent against his or her will. However, courts will take into consideration whether the destruction of the embryos will end an individual’s opportunity to become a biological parent.

It is important that people keep up with the payments for storing their frozen embryos. In some cases, disputes over frozen embryos have gone on for years, and if a couple stops paying the storage fees, their embryos could end up being destroyed without them knowing.

Resolving a sensitive and emotional issue like the custody of frozen embryos through negotiation instead of litigation is usually the most effective course of action. Mediation is a civil method for deciding the fate of frozen embryos. In a collaborative divorce, a couple endeavors to come up with a solution that works for both parties. Litigation, on the other hand, is inherently an adversarial process and usually ends with one party winning and the other losing.

Options for your house in divorce

Pennsylvania couples may wonder what happens to large assets like a house when they get divorced. Deciding what to do with a house is a major legal and financial decision. Making the right decision allows the asset to retain most of its value. Making the wrong decision could be extremely costly for both spouses.

There are several options a divorcing couple has when it comes to a house that is used as their primary residence. A common one is for one spouse to buy out the other.

Another one is to sell the house and divide the proceeds of the sale. The risk here is that a considerable amount of the home’s value may be lost if the sale is not done carefully. The home will need to be sold before the divorce can be finalized. If the couple is in a hurry to complete the process, they may need to accept a price lower than what their home is worth in order to sell it quickly.

If neither the buyout nor the selling option is agreeable, then the couple may choose to accept joint ownership of the house. This option delays the financial decision, but it can cause problems later on. The owners will be divorced, but they will have to deal with the house at some point, and they will no longer have the legal structure and protections the divorce proceeding provides.

Choosing what to do with the house in a divorce is not any easy decision to make. It is nevertheless a critical part of the property division process, and family law attorneys will keep this in mind when negotiating these types of settlement agreements.

Co-parenting can shield children from the trauma of divorce

Contentious child custody disputes may be less frequent as Pennsylvania family law judges tend to lean toward co-parenting solutions whenever possible. This is because these decisions are made with the child’s best interests in mind, and research shows that children are happier and less likely to develop crippling emotional problems when they receive care and supervision from both of their parents.

Protecting their children from the psychological consequences of divorce is also the major priority of most parents, and even the most antagonistic of couples are often able to get past their anger and mistrust when the future of their children is at stake. Co-parenting works when children know where they stand and are not able to play one of their parents off against the other, but all of this hard work can be undone when parents drag their children into domestic disputes or disagreements.

Establishing clearly written parenting rules is an effective way for parents to avoid this pitfall, but these guidelines should not be too strict or restrictive. Parents who feel like their hands are tied may search for loopholes to exploit, and this can encourage children to be deceptive and manipulating. However, parents who cooperate with one another set a positive example and teach their children valuable lessons about the benefits of acting responsibly and honoring commitments.

Experienced divorce attorneys often seek to get child custody talks off to a positive start by establishing common ground and identifying shared goals, and they may also remind their clients that court disputes are public, unpredictable and often expensive. Dealing with visitation and custody early on in divorce negotiations also avoids children being used as bargaining chips when more contentious matters such as property division or alimony are discussed.

Social media faux pas can be damaging in a divorce

Many Pennsylvania residents share their cherished moments with others by posting videos, images and accounts of significant events on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. Posting this kind of content can sometimes backfire badly if the individual concerned becomes embroiled in a bitter divorce. Angry spouses and savvy family law attorneys will often scrutinize social media accounts for uploaded content that contradicts claims of financial hardship or fidelity being made during asset division, child custody and spousal support negotiations.

Spouses who feel that they may be placed at a disadvantage by their online activity may seek to limit the damage by removing potentially embarrassing posts or deleting entire social media accounts. However, these efforts usually come far too late to do any real good. Individuals who are thinking of pursuing a divorce often begin preparing well in advance of filing any paperwork, and they may check emails, social media activity and financial records long before their spouse knows anything is amiss.

Even when sensitive online information is deleted before it can cause real damage, it may not really be gone. Several online resources archive websites. In some cases, Facebook friends or Twitter followers may have reposted or retweeted potentially inflammatory content and set off a chain reaction that even the most capable technology experts would find impossible to contain.

Social media posts sent out in anger can make reaching a negotiated settlement extremely difficult in a divorce case. When emotions are running high and divorcing couples appear headed toward a costly showdown in court, family law attorneys may suggest taking an alternative approach such as mediation or collaborative divorce.

Divorce for older adults on the rise

Seniors in Pennsylvania who are considering divorce might be doing so after being married for decades. Such a situation can present some unique problems to divorcees. For example, it may be necessary for a senior divorcee to re-enter the job force even if they have been retired for a number of years.

A person may need to work because of the financial changes that divorce brings. Maintaining a household alone can be costly. Therefore, one of the first things a senior facing divorce should do is look at their finances realistically. It might be necessary to sell the family home because neither spouse may be able to maintain it on their own. There is an increasing trend of older people who are single choosing to share a home, and this may be one option for a divorced senior. Regardless of what decision is made, remaining flexible is key.

Research shows that divorce among older people has been on the rise for decades. In 2014, people older than 50 were twice as likely to divorce as their counterparts in 1990. The over-65 age group has seen an even larger surge in divorce rates.

Division of marital assets in a divorce after so many years can be complex. For people who have not worked outside the home, securing retirement accounts might be a particular concern. However, these people may be able to claim part of a spouse’s Social Security benefits. An attorney may be able to further advise a person about what they might expect financially during and after the divorce.

Relocation may complicate post-divorce parenting

Pennsylvanians who want to split from their spouses and move away may find it necessary to think long and hard about how such decisions will impact their child custody arrangements. Although many parents initially make efforts to stay close to each other for the sake of their children, when they meet other people, their desire to relocate may cause unanticipated strife and hamper their existing child-rearing plans.

In some cases, exes will refuse to cooperate when the other parents move. For instance, they may not want to transport children across increased distances to bring them to their now-remote parents, or they might dislike the idea of their kids spending time with the other parent’s new romantic interest. In other situations, the parent who moves might neglect their own responsibilities and disrupt the lives of their children and exes in the process.

According to mediators, parents who move need to put in extra effort to make their children’s lives easier. This may constitute helping them maintain connections with their old peer groups as they change schools or enrolling them in extracurricular activities so that they build healthy new relationships. Although some parents may feel vindicated when their exes’ new relationships and lives take turns for the worse, these factors have the potential to negatively impact children, so it’s advisable to work things out if at all possible.

Although parents who file for divorce usually try to plan for their children’s futures, their changing circumstances and living situations may necessitate modifications and adjustments. For many families, going through mediation makes it easier to handle these changes in a constructive fashion. Talking to an attorney about different custody sharing options might ensure that parents are able to reach amicable agreements regardless how they feel about each other.

The decrease of national divorce rates

Although the majority of couples wed with the intent of staying together, divorce is a serious concern. Statistically, individual Pennsylvania couples stand a 50-percent chance of staying the course after marrying. On a national scale, some areas seem to be more prone to divorce than others. However, national statistics indicate that more marriages are surviving. In fact, divorce rates in 2015 were at their lowest in nearly four decades.

There are various theories about why divorce is becoming less common. Because co-habitation has become more accepted in society, a couple can avoid the formalities of marriage and divorce. Additionally, modern couples seem to wait longer to marry, pursuing their educational and professional goals while setting aside plans for marrying and having children. Some factors seem to continue to be consistent, including the correlation between wealth and education with marital longevity. Marriage seems to be more common in conservative regions of the country.

A couple cannot always anticipate the issues of the future, but some preliminary thought about the possibility of a future split could save a great deal of stress if divorce becomes a reality later on. Prenuptial agreements, for example, can protect personal assets, businesses, and other interests if a serious fracture occurs in the relationship. However, a prenuptial agreement needs to be legally handled to ensure that both parties understand the implications of the agreement. An agreement that hints at coercion could be challenged in court in the event of divorce.

Litigation expenses can become substantial during divorce proceedings, especially if there are contentions over prenuptial documents or other financial matters. A couple that can work through the divorce process more cooperatively could minimize their legal expenses. A lawyer is still important during collaboration or mediation because it is important to evaluate the fairness of a settlement. Further, one’s lawyer can ensure that documentation is properly filed with the court to ensure that terms can be enforced in the future.

Protect retirement plans during divorce

Despite the common belief that half of all U.S. marriages end in divorce, studies show the overall divorce rate in Pennsylvania and nationwide has decreased over the past 20 years. However, the divorce rate for those age 50 and above has doubled since 1990.

Divorces later in life have the potential to cause more financial problems than those that occur in younger years because they could impact retirement savings. There may also be less time to recover financial losses due to retirement or limited job opportunities. So what can older people do to protect themselves before they begin divorce proceedings?

Experts say that people should carefully review their financial situation before deciding to divorce. This includes evaluating all income and expenditure sources. Some people may also find it helpful to seek new sources of income. For example, women experience a 41 percent drop in income after divorce, compared with a 23 percent drop for men, according to the Government Accountability Office. Finding supplemental income sources and downsizing expenses could help the transition go more smoothly. If someone is close to certain financial milestones, such as becoming eligible for Medicare or Social Security, it may be a good idea to delay filing for divorce until they are met. Finally, those considering divorce should make the most of retirement benefits by carefully considering pension rules, tax regulations and state laws on marital property.

Pennsylvania residents facing divorce may benefit by consulting with an attorney as soon as possible. Legal counsel could help negotiate settlements on child custody, child support, alimony, asset division and other important divorce legal agreements. If a modification agreement is necessary, an attorney could help file a petition with the court.

Ratings and Reviews