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The unanticipated costs of a divorce in Pennsylvania

Many times, when couples confront divorce in Pennsylvania, they focus on commonly identified issues such as asset division, spousal maintenance and child custody. Yet many couples may not give much thought to other realities of divorce; namely, that they will both be living with the benefit of only one primary income. A divorce can lead to unexpected expenses, ranging from additional taxes to added insurance costs, retirement plan contributions and even how much a membership at the local gym will be.

Many times, a family is covered under the health insurance plan provided by the employer of one spouse. However, a divorced spouse cannot be included on his or her former spouse's medical plan. Accordingly, plans must be made to pay for a COBRA health plan or for a separate policy if other arrangements aren't made.

Similarly, other insurance plans also change after divorce. Car insurance policies typically include discounts for multiple cars or multiple policies with the same insurer. If one or both spouses vacate the marital home, any multi-policy discount may be lost. Life insurance, as well, may change if a prior policy was included as part of the other spouse's employer. With divorce, that portion of the policy is often dropped and the affected party may need to replace it with their own policy.

Retirement plans are another area of potential added expense. If a retirement plan through one spouse's employer is subject to property division, any contributions made by the employer after a divorce will only benefit the spouse that is earning it. The former spouse who receives a portion of the other's retirement plan in the divorce may also be required to make their own contributions to the plan post-divorce.

Above all, the important takeaway is to plan ahead. In a number of cases divorce is the best choice for couples, but being unprepared can cause serious headaches. Once the decision to separate is made, it may make sense to investigate exactly what additional costs may be involved according to one's particular circumstances. Doing so may help the negotiations go more smoothly and may also provide a realistic view of what it will cost to start your new life.

Source: Huffington Post, "Six Unexpected Expenses Divorcees Face," Susan Saper Galamba, Jan. 8, 2013

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