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Pennsylvania divorce: what to do before the wedding, and after

Divorce is a part of the fabric of Pennsylvania society. The simple truth is that not all marriages last forever. Some statistics indicate that about 25 percent of marriages will be over before the tenth wedding anniversary, while 10 percent will not make it beyond the fifth one. One commentator notes the general disparity in financial circumstances between men and women after divorce, a fact that underscores the need for women to consider the potential impact of a separation occurring down the line. Almost two thirds of men are thought to enjoy a better lifestyle post-divorce, while somewhat more than one third of women will experience that.

As Pennsylvania couples plan to marry, it makes sense that they consider the possibility the marriage will not be forever after. A prenuptial agreement may be the best option to offer financial protection to each party should the marriage dissolve. By addressing these concerns at the beginning of a relationship, there is a greater likelihood that the discussion will be born out of love and a desire to be fair. Indeed, those who approach the task as if they were planning to draft and execute a last will may have the best success.

If a divorce does result, one question that frequently arises is who gets the marital home? A significant number of women say that keeping the home was ultimately a poor decision that they wish they had not made. The expenses of keeping up a property on one income may end up being more than was bargained for. This decision, along with other issues, such as tax considerations and keeping retirement assets in tack, are vital to continued financial security.

While the best approach to confronting the potential for a divorce down the road may be a prenuptial agreement, there are many Pennsylvania couples already married without such a contract. They may benefit from consulting a professional about their rights and responsibilities under our state laws should a divorce occur. For some, a postnuptial agreement may fill the bill, and for others confronting a divorce now, there are options such as mediation or a collaborative effort to resolve financial differences without acrimony.

Source: Minnesota Public Radio, "Ruth Hayden on money and divorce," Emily Kaiser, Oct. 12, 2012

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