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Monroeville Family Law Blog

Is a special needs trust the right addition to your estate plan?

Caring for a loved one with special needs is challenging at times, but one of your biggest concerns may involve how you will ensure the care of this individual when you are no longer able to provide that care yourself. With some additions to your estate plan, you can be certain that you have protections in place that will protect your family member for years to come. 

One of the most common ways to care for a loved one with special needs is with the development of a special needs trust. While it is impossible to predict the future, by establishing this type of trust, you have the ability to provide medical care and housing, and ensure the meeting of daily needs.

Less social stigma associated with high asset divorce

For many Pennsylvania spouses, concern over how a failed marriage might be perceived is a primary factor in postponing or delaying a divorce. No one wants to be the subject of social scorn, nor do they want their personal turmoil made public. New research suggests that divorce is not looked down upon in the way that it was decades ago. There seems to be a trend toward increasing social acceptance of divorce. That could help some spouses who are markedly unhappy but unsure about moving through a high-profile or high asset divorce.

Researchers looked at data collected by the Gallup polling group, through the annual Values and Beliefs poll. The results from this year show a continuing increase in the number of respondents who feel that divorce is a morally acceptable choice. In fact, as many as 73 percent of those polled believe that seeking a divorce is not morally wrong. That number is a huge increase from polling in 1954, where 43 percent of survey participants said that they did not personally "believe" in divorce.

State compels spouses to collaborate on property division, more

Many Pennsylvania spouses have heard the term "collaborative divorce," but are uncertain how that process actually plays out. Because collaboration is still outside of the norm in divorce law, many people immediately eschew it as a valid option. That is unfortunate, because there are a number of advantages to taking a collaborative approach to reaching a divorce settlement. One state has gone so far as to legislate divorce, and now requires couples to at least attempt to work out matters of child custody, property division and more on their own, outside of court.

Spouses who take a collaborative approach commit to working through the details of their divorce with a shared goal of avoiding litigation, and reaching fair decisions with which both sides can live. They usually retain their own individual attorneys, who act as advisors throughout the process and make suggestions to help keep negotiations on track. Working together may be a challenge at first, but the process can be beneficial for parents, who will have to transition into co-parenting roles as they complete their divorce.

Parents sometimes insist on prenups to protect property division

Many Pennsylvania residents enter into prenuptial negotiations because they want to go into their marriage with a clear understanding about how assets would be handled in the event of a divorce. There are cases, however, where it is not the prospective spouses but their families that insist that a prenuptial agreement be put into place prior to the marriage. That may seem like an overbearing approach, but families who take this stance do so out of concern for their loved ones, and a desire to protect against significant losses in the event that a property division process should become necessary down the line.

When a family plans to pass down a high volume of wealth through an inheritance, family members have an interest in protecting that wealth. Statistics suggest that nearly half of all marriages will eventually fail. Without proper protections, and depending on state law, spouses can lose a significant portion of inherited wealth in a divorce. That outcome is simply not acceptable to the family members who plan to hand down sizable assets.

8 men arrested for being behind on child support

Sometimes, providing for one's children seems to much to bear financially. When the money simply is not there but one has been ordered to pay child support, what can one do? According to the state of Pennsylvania, not paying is not an option.

Recently, a total of eight men were arrested for their failure to pay child support. These arrests occurred in Montgomery County in the early morning hours of of Wednesday, June 29. Two of the fathers are said to be residents of Norristown, four of the men reside in Pottstown, one is from Lafayette Hill and one is a resident of King of Prussia.

Pennsylvania property division: Don't forget the QDRO form

Going through a divorce? Have retirement accounts to split? Before agreeing to or submitting a property division settlement for final approval, Pennsylvania residents need to make sure that they have filled out and filed qualified domestic relations order forms. If they do not, they will only hurt themselves financially in the long run.

When retirement accounts are split or emptied early, there are usually fees and taxes that must be paid unless the reason for doing so is considered a qualifying event. Divorce is a qualifying event but, in order for either party to avoid paying fees or taxes -- which can be quite substantial -- QDRO forms need to be filed and processed. Filling out a document seems simple enough, but one must take care in ensuring the form is submitted free of errors or it may be rejected and need to be filed again. As there are processing fees for pushing through a QDRO, getting it right the first time is a must.

Can collaborative law work in a high asset divorce?

The dissolution of marriage and conflict seem to go hand in hand, especially when significant assets are involved. While this may be true, not every couple that is going through a high asset divorce wants to fight things out in front of a judge. For divorcing couples in Pennsylvania who feel this way, collaborative law may be the answer in terms of settling things amicably.

When a couple chooses a collaborative divorce, it means that each party is ready and willing to negotiate the settlement terms with the assistance of legal counsel. Going this route can save time and money in the long run. It also a way to keep the terms of the divorce private.

When it comes to property division, be careful what you wish for

Figuring out how to divide marital property when a relationship comes to an end is not always easy. There may be certain consequences associated with a property division settlement that you may not consider at first. At the end of the day, how your property is ultimately divided can end up affecting other areas of your divorce settlement. For this reason, it is not wise for couples in Pennsylvania to rush through this phase of the dissolution process.

For many couples, the biggest asset that they share is their home. Some couples will choose to sell the property and split any proceeds, while there are other couples who will not be able to agree that selling is the best thing to do, especially if children are going to be affected by it. The truth is, though, if one spouse keeps the home so that children can continue to reside there, that individual may receive less in alimony and/or child support because of the value of the property he or she received. If this is something you are considering, you will need to ask yourself if this will present too big of a financial burden in the long run.

Ready to move on? Moving the kids could be a challenge

Life may finally be beginning to settle down for you after the divorce. You settled into a good routine, the other parent gets to see the kids and you look forward to the future once again. Then you get a job offer that would take you and the kids out of Pennsylvania. It may be an offer that you really can't afford to refuse, but the other parent isn't quite on board with being so far away from the children.

You're the primary custodial parent, and you wonder if you can just make the decision. You can figure out visitation once you and kids settle into your new home, right? Wrong. More than likely, the court approved a child custody order during the divorce. It probably said nothing about moving with the kids because, at the time, it wasn't an issue. If you fail to adhere to that order, you could face additional legal problems. You and your former spouse may end up back in court to modify the current order.

Pennsylvania fathers' rights: Jesse Williams fighting for custody

Being a dad can be one of the most rewarding experiences in a man's life. Unfortunately, some dads in Pennsylvania and elsewhere find that their fathers' rights are not taken into consideration during and after the divorce process, and that gaining fair access to their children is harder than it should be. This is something actor Jesse Williams is said to be feeling.

Jesse Williams filed for divorce in April 2017 after nearly five years of marriage. He and his wife have yet to reach a dissolution settlement. One of the things holding up the proceedings is the matter of child custody. The couple shares a son and daughter. Mr. Williams claims that, despite wanting a joint custody arrangement, his wife is refusing to give him fair access to his children.

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