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Monroeville Legal Blog

Are your husband’s obsessive behaviors out of control?

You might agree that most women share the basic desire to be loved, although in some cases there exists a blurred line between feeling cherished or controlled. At first, your husband’s attention may seem sweet. But over time, his actions could become intimidating or scary - especially if he tries to dictate where you can go, who you can talk to and what you can do.

Hopefully, you and your spouse can openly discuss your concerns. However, regardless of what he says, there are some signs that he may not be respecting you and your wishes.

Court will consider best interests of child to determine custody

If you and your spouse have decided to get a divorce, deciding who will have custody of your children may be one of your biggest concerns. In the past, courts may have been more inclined to award primary physical custody to the child's mother, but that is no longer the case. Nowadays, the courts are solely focused on doing what is best for the child.

In the state of Pennsylvania, courts will make custody decisions based on the best interests of the child standard. Under 23 Pa. C.S. Sec. 5328, there are about 16 factors courts will look at when deciding what child custody arrangement will best benefit your child on a physical and emotional level.

Should I create a will or a trust?

As you begin the estate planning process, you may be unsure whether your family would be best served by a will or a trust. Generally, a will and a trust serve different purposes, but both can be extremely beneficial. Many Pennsylvania residents discover that they need both a will and multiple trusts to protect their assets and ensure that their family is well taken care of after their death.

The main difference between a will and a trust is that any assets in a trust will avoid probate, while assets listed in a will go through the probate process. While probate can be expensive and cause long delays when it comes to property distribution, this is not the case in every state. Also, when the will is filed in court and goes through probate, it can be accessed by the public. However, this isn't always a bad thing, as public scrutiny can force people to act appropriately. Trusts are not public, making them more difficult to challenge than wills.

Applying for child support in Pennsylvania

Getting a divorce when you have children comes with its share of difficulties. Even divorcing spouses who are otherwise civil with each other may find themselves at odds over child support. Child support is generally awarded to the parent with physical custody of the child to help them pay for child-related expenses.

If parents can work out an agreement amongst themselves, with help from their attorneys, they can present the agreement to a judge for approval. Once the judge approves the agreement, the child support order will go into effect.

Alimony may help a lesser-earning spouse post-divorce

Alimony is often one of the most complicated issues in a Pennsylvania couple's divorce. During the divorce proceedings, the court may order the higher-earning spouse to pay their lesser-earning spouse a set amount of money each month to give the lesser-earning spouse time to become financially self-sufficient after the divorce. The purpose of alimony is to limit the financial struggles of a lesser-earning spouse as they transition into single life.

The court will generally consider various factors when determining how much alimony to award. The court will look at both spouses' ages, income, assets, education and job skills, as well as the duration of the marriage. A stay-at-home spouse that has been out of the work force for a couple of decades may need a more substantial amount of alimony to acquire the necessary skills to re-enter the work force after the divorce. The lesser-earning spouse will only be paid until the pre-determined alimony termination date or until he or she remarries, whichever comes first. However, in some cases (e.g. if a lesser-earning spouse is physically unable to work), permanent alimony may be awarded.

What is the purpose of a power of attorney?

Many people have assigned a loved one to be their power of attorney to make medical and financial decisions on their behalf if it becomes necessary to do so. Making decisions for an incapacitated loved one can become complicated, so having a power of attorney can make the whole process much easier.

Filing documents, including a healthcare declaration, can be helpful when it comes to making decisions about your medical care if you are incapacitated. However, these documents cannot possibly cover every situation that arises. That's why having a power of attorney for healthcare is essential. This person can make decisions not covered by your declaration, but will not be allowed to go against anything written in your declaration. Generally, they will have access to your medical records and be allowed to consent to or refuse medical treatments on your behalf, choose which doctors will treat you and which medical facilities you should visit and decide what will happen to your body after death. While you can limit the power of your power of attorney, you should make sure not to limit the power too much, as it would defeat the purpose of having a power of attorney in the first place.

How to make sure your will is valid in Pennsylvania

No one wants to think about their eventual death, but it is necessary to ensure that your loved ones are taken care of and your assets are protected. If you are in the beginning stages of estate planning, one of your first steps should be to create a will. For your will to be valid, it will need to meet all the requirements required by the state of Pennsylvania. If your will does not meet the requirements, the courts may deem that you died intestate or without a will, and your assets will be distributed in accordance with the laws of Intestate Succession.

Generally, in order for your will to be valid under Penn. State Code Sec. 2502, the testator or creator of the will must be at least 18-years-old and of sound mind. In other words, the testator of the will needs to be an adult with the mental capacity to understand the asset distribution process.

Protect yourself financially post-divorce

Many Pennsylvania residents stay in unhealthy marriages to avoid the financial complications that could potentially follow their divorce. However, there are many ways to avoid these complications and ensure that you are financially stable once you and your spouse decide to call it quits.

According to the 2018 National Retirement Risk Index, the average newly-divorced person would likely need to increase their income by 30 percent to maintain the lifestyle they had during the marriage. This can prove to be a challenge for many people, particularly those who are re-entering the workforce after many years. Experts say that setting a personal budget and sticking to it post-divorce is essential. Your new budget should account for any child support or alimony you will be receiving, new expenses and any changes in income.

What happens to student loan debt in a divorce?

Dividing up the assets is one of the most important parts of a divorce but splitting up the debts can be just as important. Student loan debt can be especially difficult to deal with during the divorce process.

Many Pennsylvania residents acquire a large amount of student loan debt before entering the marriage, while others acquire their student loan debt during the marriage. Generally, any debt you acquire before you say 'I do' is considered separate property and paying it off will be solely your responsibility.

How to tackle college tuition after a divorce

There is a common conception of how expensive divorce is. Between attorneys, asset division and court fees, it makes sense that divorce drains more than your wallet and emotions.

Unfortunately, divorce completely changes how you view finances. It’s especially tricky for parents who have to support themselves and children in the process. There is also a lingering question about your child’s future: how will I pay for my child’s education?

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