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.

Further, the person who wants to retain ownership of the home should be prepared to buy out the former spouse’s portion of the home. This could potentially take a significant amount of time and would require the former spouse to have to wait. If the person cannot afford to do this, it may be in the person’s best financial interest to consider selling the home in order to find housing that is more affordable based on his or her new financial circumstances.

The divorce process is never easy, especially if the two parties are having trouble working together to come to a solution. The asset distribution process can be a particular point of contention, especially if one person is dead set on retaining ownership of the family home. However, if the other party is open to postponing the sale of the home so that the children can continue to have stability during the divorce, a family law attorney could draw up negotiations that allow the person to keep the home in exchange for other marital assets.

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.

Due to the numerous factors, military service members have the highest rate of divorce by the age of 30 with a divorce rate of 15 percent. Within this career, first-line enlisted military supervisors had the highest with a divorce rate of 30 percent. Automotive technicians, mechanics, and logisticians had the next highest divorce rates.

Many people believe that if it is time to get a divorce, they must go to court and litigate the matter. While this is certainly an option, there are other ways to go about ending a marriage. If the estranged couple can work together and there is no history of domestic abuse, their respective attorneys could assist in negotiating a comprehensive settlement agreement that deals with the applicable legal issues and can then be submitted to the court for its approval.

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.

Even those who identify as being lesbian or gay get married because they love each other and not because it’s now legal to do so. However, the issue of legal rights for the couple is also a reason why same-sex couples get married instead of continuing to live together. The United States joins over 20 other countries that have legalized same-sex marriage. Other nations allowing these unions include France, Spain and Canada.

Same-sex marriages share the same rights as those provided to heterosexual couples. If there is a separation or divorce, an attorney specializing in family law can assist with child support, the division of property and any custodial issues that might arise.

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.

The person who receives an alimony payment generally has to pay taxes on it. Child support payments are neither deductible nor taxable.

It may be possible for a couple to reach an agreement regarding alimony, property division, child custody and child support without going to court to have a judge decide. A couple may be more satisfied with an agreement they reach instead of a judge’s decision, and there are a number of ways to structure negotiations for conflict resolution. One way is for the estranged couple to have their respective attorneys take the lead.

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.

A conclusion drawn from the research is that even as the number of women in the workforce increased, the expectation that the man be the primary breadwinner still continued. The study also considered housework and the willingness of each partner to do household chores, as well as the stigma of being divorced diminishing over the years.

The fact of times changing is often reflected in divorce negotiations when it comes to issues like alimony, child support and child custody. In the past, women usually were granted custody of children and men usually had to pay child support and sometimes alimony, depending on state laws. Today judges take into account the income of both spouses as well as many other factors when deciding on financial and child-related issues in a divorce. A couple could avoid having a judge decide matters for them by negotiating outside of the courtroom and attempting to reach an agreement with the assistance of their respective attorneys.

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.

One New York divorce attorney said that she had been practicing law for 35 years and had never seen so many marriages ending because of politics. According to Wakefield, 22 percent of millennial couples and 10 percent of couples across all age groups had ended their relationship because of political disagreements.

Some relationships may end for reasons, such as political differences, that may indicate a significant difference in values between the two people. If there are children, each parent might feel that this difference in values makes the other person an unfit parent. However, it is important for parents to remember that a court is unlikely to view the situation in this way, and an attempt by one parent to argue that the other parent is unfit based on factors like this may have the opposite of its intended effect. Genuine reasons that may make a parent unfit for custody include a history of domestic abuse, substance abuse or something like military deployment that means the parent is frequently away. In other cases, mediation might help parents come to an agreement about child custody and

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.

Parents should not assume that just because they have an attorney there is no work for them to do. They should research and understand state custody laws and should follow up to make sure any necessary paperwork is submitted on time.

A judge will make a child custody decision based on the best interests of the child. This will mean taking into account the behavior of both parents in court along with many other factors including what situation will best help the child adjust. Whatever the judge’s decision is, if parents can work together, this will also help children adjust. Parents might create an agreement that covers any potential areas of conflict ranging from how they will handle vacations to when children will meet new partners.

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.

When Maceo was born, Williams and Drake-Lee were excited about becoming parents again together. Like all couples looking at a future of co-parenting, the two now need to determine custody, parenting plans and child support schedules that work for them and their children. Williams is requesting joint legal and physical custody.

Williams has also filed to terminate Drake-Lee’s spousal support. While their split is not rancorous, they were last seen together in public more than a year before the divorce filing.

Parents going through a dissolution of their marriage will need to wrangle with the division property as well as the deeply emotional issues of child custody and parenting plans. For families with a significantly higher earner, issues of spousal support may also be relevant to divorce proceedings. Because of the complications that come along with even the most amicable divorce, legal advice from a family law attorney can be a real benefit.

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.

Statistics from the Department of Health and Human Services show that there are over 400,000 children awaiting adoption in the U.S. According to adoption advocates, discriminating against prospective LGBT parents harms children by denying them loving homes and forcing them to stay in the foster care system.

The adoption process can be complex and confusing, especially for non-traditional families. LGBT individuals and couples interested in adopting a child from the Pennsylvania foster care system may find it helpful to work with an attorney familiar with both family law and LGBT issues. An attorney could help prospective parents navigate the adoption process and ensure they meet the state’s adoption qualifications every step of the way. Legal counsel could also be helpful when someone wants to adopt the biological child of their same-sex partner. Prospective parents could learn more about the adoption process by meeting with an attorney.

Source: Huffington Post, “Numerous Anti-LGBT Adoption Laws Are Popping Up Across The Country“, Eric Rosswood, March 28, 2017

Buyout clauses aid the divorce process for business owners

The prospect of negotiating a prenuptial agreement often causes romantic partners discomfort. If the estranged Pennsylvania couple runs a business together in Pennsylvania, then the importance of discussing the possibility of split becomes even more important because a divorce could force the sale of the company. Whether the founders of a company are romantically linked or simply good friends, the preparation of a buyout agreement could head off future problems if disputes erupt.

When buyout clauses are included in the documents that set up a business, the partners establish rules for separating from the company if a relationship turns unpleasant. Without these guidelines, the partners could be left negotiating the division of business assets during an acrimonious time.

When a former couple cannot agree on terms, then a court might make the final decisions. For example, the squabbling between the estranged partners who founded TransPerfect resulted in a court ordering the sale of the company that employs 3,500 people. In another case, a woman who started an online diaper service lost the company in court to her ex-husband.

Someone who owns a business and wants to end a marriage could enlist the help of an attorney. Alternative dispute resolution methods, such as mediation, suggested by an attorney might allow a client to engage effectively with the estranged partner and come to terms about the divorce settlement. An attorney might also support the process of a collaborative divorce in which the parties along with their respective attorneys meet with accountants and other professionals to gain information pertinent to negotiating a reasonable resolution.

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