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Monroeville Family Law Blog

Bird nesting: A novel approach to child custody arrangements

Deciding to start divorce proceedings is only the first decision to be made in an often emotional process. Among the more complicated decisions involved may revolve around child custody and living arrangements for the entire family. Pennsylvania parents considering divorce may be interested in a new trend called bird nesting when considering future living arrangements.

As depicted in a new television show "Splitting Up Together," bird nesting involves a married or separated couple maintaining the current family home for the children to live in, with the parents taking turns in the home versus children traveling between two different homes. A parent will live elsewhere until it is his or her time with the children. It is an attractive solution for many parents who want to avoid more change in their children's lives following the divorce. It is also attractive to a couple who needs to wait for their home value to increase in value or who may need to wait for a lease to end. 

High asset divorce: Can therapists help the process?

Trained counselors and therapists exist to help with many aspects of life. Couples in Pennsylvania who are considering a high asset divorce likely are aware of the services therapists can offer to married couples, and many couples may have received counseling. Recently, several therapists were interviewed to find out if they ever suggest that a couple end their marriage.

Although interviewees cannot answer for all therapists, they answered to what is considered best practice and ethical among those in their field. Therapists have discovered over the years that the best practice is to never directly offer advice to a couple but to encourage a couple to explore their own feelings on the subject. If directly asked if a couple should receive a divorce, couples are often asked to discuss their strengths, weaknesses, deficits and the reasons they married in the first place. After discussing many of those topics, couples are encouraged to answer their own questions.

Man tries to reduce child support payments through forgery

Relationships often end as a result of betrayal, distrust, lack of compatibility, financial troubles and more. To separate property, wealth and time with children, couples often use the assistance of a lawyer to ensure that everything processes as smoothly as possible. With the assistance of the right lawyer, some couples are able to achieve amicable divorces, child support and custody agreements. Pennsylvania couples seeking a divorce may be interested in one couple's unusual process.

According to the former wife, the couple decided to amicably end their 10-year marriage. She reports that they had decided together how to divide their property, child support payments and child custody arrangements. However, the woman has accused her former husband of filing false and forged divorce papers without her presence, containing terms that were not in their agreement. In the false papers, child support payments were less and his visitation time with his son was increased.

Child support can be difficult to pay for some

Couples who have processed a divorce in Pennsylvania can likely attest to the expense a couple can expect following a divorce. Because couples begin paying for more than one place of residence either before or following a divorce, expenses that were combined are often doubled. In addition, some divorce agreements order one spouse to pay the other alimony and/or child support to assist in the care of any shared children. While making ordered alimony and/or child support payments can be stressful, it is no reason to disappear as a man in another state is accused of doing after having failed to make multiple payments.

The 52-year-old man had been divorced since 2008 and had racked up a hefty child support bill. According to family, he was stressed over legal hearings concerning the $549,000 he was accused of not paying. The man was recently reported missing, and it is not clear what may have happened to him.

Complicated child custody dispute between mother and daughter

Despite sharing a bloodline, family members can have bitter and ugly arguments. Unfortunately for some families, disagreements often center around the care and upbringing of shared children, and children often get caught in the middle. Pennsylvania residents may be interested in the details of one family's controversial child custody battle.

The parents of a newborn baby girl were still getting acquainted with their infant when she was unexpectedly removed from their care at the hospital. The mother of the child is Native American, but the father is not. The couple claim that without warning, police entered the hospital where their daughter had recently been delivered and was removed her from their care. Apparently, police officers were accompanied by tribal police who had a tribal court order that the 28-year-old mother no longer had custody of her daughter.

Disputes over family pets become part of property division

Pennsylvania couples going through a divorce have to make a staggering number of decisions. Aside from child custody, which is the primary issue for couples with minor children, property division comes in a close second. Determining how to divvy up marital assets and household goods can take up a large percentage of divorce negotiations. For some, disputes over who should keep the family pet(s) become something of a hybrid between a custody fight and property division issue. 

Pets are a subject that has far more emotional weight than household items or retirement accounts (and hopefully less emotional weight than shared children.) That also means arguments over pet "custody" can become tools for spouses to manipulate one another. This leads some families to try and litigate the matter. 

Do I need a power of attorney?

When most people think of estate planning, they think of what will happen to their assets after they die. Estate planning is much more than that, though. Protecting yourself in the event of mental or physical incapacitation is also a very important part of the estate planning process. This is something Pennsylvania residents can do with a legal document known as a power of attorney.

What exactly is a power of attorney? How can I set one up? What happens if I do not have one?

Property division: Retirment accounts require expertise to split

Many Pennsylvania couples who are divorcing may face legal battles over their retirement accounts. The battle is often significant because a couple's retirement account or accounts often reflect their largest financial nest egg. Any individual approaching divorce and beginning property division negotiations will want to make sure he or she has secured the right family law attorney to ensure a smooth and penalty-free transfer of retirement assets.

There are legal procedures that must be followed in order to ensure an adequate and fair division of retirement accounts. Traditional retirement pensions and workplace 401(k)s require a separate court order from the divorce judgment to specify the desired division. The court order is called a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO). If the QDRO or division of retirement accounts is not handled properly, one or both spouses could suffer significant tax penalties. In addition, one spouse could unintentionally receive more of the retirement assets than the other if not properly specified. 

Housewife Shannon Beador in child custody dispute with husband

Reality television shows have been popular for many years now. Shows such as the "Real Housewives of Orange County" are often full of drama, making it interesting for viewers in Pennsylvania and across the country. Because it is a show that loosely follows the real life of several different women, it often showcases the real-life heartache and triumphs for some of the show's participants. For Shannon Beador, it has highlighted her heartbreaking divorce. She and her husband are currently negotiating their child custody agreement.

Shannon and David Beador have been married for 17 years. Shannon filed for divorce last year and requested primary physical and legal custody of the couple's three girls. The couple has a 16-year-old daughter and two twin daughters who are 13 years old.

Can prenupital agreeements assist in a high asset divorce?

Following an engagement, many Pennsylvania couples will quickly begin to make several wedding plans. Wedding venues, photographers, musicians, officiants and more are booked prior to a wedding. Many couples are now drafting a prenuptial agreement to their pre-wedding plans. While it is becoming more common for couples of all economic statuses to consider an agreement, prenuptial agreements can be especially helpful in the event of an unexpected high asset divorce.

Couples in many different financial situations are finding that a prenuptial agreement can be helpful in the event of a divorce. Effective agreements have the potential to help a couple discuss and specify all assets included in a marriage, which can help prevent some disagreements in the event of a future separation. Some lawyers advise that effective agreements should be executed at least six months prior to a wedding. If an agreement is signed too close to a wedding, a spouse may subsequently argue that it was signed under duress due to all of the wedding plans that were in place.

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