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Collaborate. Mediate. Separate. Divorce Doesn’t Have to Mean War.

Pittsburgh Family Law Blog

Financial planning post-divorce is important for women

Although women in Pennsylvania hold more jobs and pursue more careers than ever, financial challenges after a divorce continue to impact women more than men. One certified divorce financial analyst strongly recommends that women begin financial planning right away after ending a marriage. She said that too many women wait years to analyze their finances and set goals. They begin too late when child support or spousal support ends.

Women in particular need to make financial planning a priority after divorce because they generally earn less than men over the course of their lives. Leaving the workforce to raise children or tend to elderly parents reduces their earnings and translates into lower Social Security benefits. Gender-based pay gaps for people in similar careers also persist. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women earn $0.82 for every $1 men earn at work.

To keep or sell the home during a divorce

Making a decision regarding the marital home in a Pennsylvania divorce can be an emotional experience for couples, especially if their children were raised in it. However, ending a marriage can have a major impact on a person's finances, meaning retaining ownership of the home may not be financially feasible.

Before a person can refinance the mortgage, most lenders will need evidence of income. While alimony and child support can count as income, the person could need six months of receipt. Further, the person will need to have the cash for a down payment and have an appropriate credit score to be eligible for a loan. There are generally options for those who have a minimum credit score of 580, though the higher the person's credit score the easier it is to refinance.

Stress and other factors can result in divorce

When a Pennsylvania couple gets married, they most likely are not considering that a divorce could be in their future. However, there are certain factors that could ultimately cause a couple to end their marriage. Even though the divorce rate for younger couples has gone down, those who work in high-stress careers often have divorce rates that are higher than those who work in lower-stress positions.

Although stress can have an impact on most, if not all, married couples, those who work high-stress jobs, such as in the military, likely have additional factors that have an impact on their marriage. Some jobs, for example, require one spouse to be absent from home for days, weeks or even months, if not longer. Further, some careers can leave a spouse with mental health issues, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. Additionally, couples often find themselves getting married young due to the fact that a spouse could be deployed at any time.

Some more information about same-sex marriage

Since June 26, 2015, same-sex couples in Pennsylvania and other states have been legally eligible to get married. This ruling was issued by the United States Supreme Court in a decision that legalized same-sex marriage across the country. While these are nontraditional families, they are still granted the same legal benefits of marriage as a heterosexual couple. Because of this, there are some facts about same-sex marriage that are important to remember in the event of any kind of legal dispute.

There has been a significant amount of support from the general public for same-sex marriage. However, there are still certain religious groups that are against same-sex marriages. About 85 percent of Americans who don't associate with a religious belief, though, approve of this kind of marriage. Since the Supreme Court has ruled that same-sex marriages are legal, couples are taking advantage and going to magistrates and other venues across the country instead of simply living a life together as a couple.

Taking tax deductions for alimony

If alimony has been awarded as part of a Pennsylvania divorce, the person paying the alimony may be able to take a tax deduction on the amount paid. However, there are several conditions that must be in place. The people must not be living in the same household, and the agreement cannot specify that the alimony is not taxable or deductible. The obligation must be one that ends on the death of the person being paid. Most importantly, the alimony has to be part of a formal legal divorce agreement.

This final point was the decision of the U.S. Tax Court after a man tried to deduct a payment that was not part of his alimony agreement. The man and his spouse had agreed that he would pay her half of a bonus he received in the year before their divorce. However, since the payment was never made part of a court order or separation agreement, the ruling was that the man could not deduct it on his taxes.

Divorce could be more likely if husband doesn't work full time

Pennsylvania couples might be fascinated by the results of a study on divorce that sheds light on how changing times and gender roles have played a part in divorce statistics. An analysis of 46 years of data shows that while a wife's employment status is not a large factor in divorce, a husband's is.

The Harvard professor who did the analysis found that divorce rates went up in the mid 1970s. An examination of married partners' employment outside of the home revealed that contrary to what is sometimes believed, a woman's having a job or gaining economic independence did not play a big role in divorce. What did matter though was the husband's employment. Men who were not employed full time were more likely to get divorced than men who work full time.

Political differences leading to more divorces

While finances are frequently a major cause of arguments in a marriage, a study by Wakefield Research found that in the six months after the election of President Trump, over 20 percent of couples said they had argued more about Trump's policies than money. People in Pennsylvania may be among the 22 percent who said they knew a couple whose relationship was directly affected in a negative way by the election of Trump.

The survey by the Virginia-based polling group spoke to 1,000 people between April 12 and April 18. It found that 24 percent of couples said they had been experiencing more conflict about politics than they ever had before.

Mistakes to avoid in a child custody battle

Pennsylvania parents who find themselves involved in a custody battle should take several precautions. They should be careful about who they speak to regarding their strategy. This includes both the other parent and any friends who might tell the parent.

They should be careful about how they present themselves in the courtroom. However angry they may be at the other parent, they should not show this in court. Even if their spouse was a poor partner, they might still be a good parent. A parent who appears unable to cooperate might lose custody. Attempting to speak for the children and to predict their wishes may similarly backfire. Older children might be able to express a preference for living with one parent, but if so, they should do themselves and not through that parent. Parents should not allow themselves to be influenced by pressure from family members who may insist they should ask for more visitation or child support.

Jesse Williams' divorce: sorting out the details

Even the hottest of celebrity romances can come to an end, just like the relationship of any Pennsylvania couple. Jesse Williams, a star of "Grey's Anatomy", has filed for divorce from his wife of five years, Aryn Drake-Lee. The two dated for five years before they wed, and they met while Jesse was still a schoolteacher in New York City.

Like many couples dealing with the dissolution of a marital relationship, Williams and Drake-Lee are sorting out the details of their divorce. The split is reportedly amicable. However, there are still questions that could be challenging for any divorcing couple, especially those with children. Williams and Drake-Lee have two children, their 3-year-old daughter, Sadie, and their son Maceo, who is nearly 2 years old.

States introducing anti-LGBT adoption laws

Pennsylvania readers know that the U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of same-sex marriage in 2015. However, LGBT couples still face significant family law hurdles in several states.

For example, South Dakota passed a law in March 2017 that allows adoption agencies to exclude LGBT people from their pools of prospective parents for religious or moral reasons. Meanwhile, lawmakers in Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee have introduced bills that would limit adoption by same-sex couples in their states. The bill in Alabama would permit state-funded child placement agencies to ban LGBT parents on religious grounds, and the Georgia bill would let adoption agencies protect their mission goals by discriminating against potential LGBT parents.

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