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Cranberry Township Family Law Blog

Clear signs that a marriage may be headed toward divorce

Experts suggest that Pittsburgh residents who are worried that their marriage may be heading toward a divorce should examine whether their marriage is exhibiting some of the following signs. One sign is that marriage mates don't eat dinner together. This might seem like a minor thing, but when a couple stops eating dinner together, it could indicate that they are living separate lives and that they are disjointed. Sharing a meal with a spouse is a time-honored line of connection; when that is broken, it may indicate deeper issues.

Another sign that a couple may be headed for divorce is if one or both of the spouses are dealing with an addiction and not willing to get help for the addiction. Addiction not only affects the individual who is suffering from it, but it also affects their spouse. The same is true if one of the spouses is suffering from a severe mental health issue, but they are not getting the help they need. If they refuse to get help, they are endangering themselves and those around them. This creates a stressful environment that can damage a marriage.

Is shared custody only good for certain types of families?

Most judges in Pennsylvania recognize the benefits to children of shared custody. Therefore, during a divorce proceeding, most will award shared custody in one form or another. 

Nevertheless, there is a prevailing belief that shared custody is more beneficial to some families than others. For example, the perception is that parents who have less conflict and/or more income are more likely to seek shared custody, and the outcomes are likely to be better than in lower-income, high conflict situations. However, a review of 54 studies of shared custody versus sole custody by the Institute for Family Studies demonstrated that children generally tend to do better in the former situation than the latter regardless of the following factors. 

Know your valuation date

As you work your way through your divorce proceedings in Cranberry Township, there will be several benchmark dates that you will want to be aware of during the process. Like most of those that come to see us here at the Sweeney Law Offices, LLC, you might not consider your valuation date to be one of them. The process of dividing up your marital property between you and your ex-spouse can be complex, and you might think that all you need to know is that whatever either of you earned during the marriage is subject to property division. Yet the date on which your marital property is officially appraised and valued by the court is important for a number of different reasons. 

First and foremost among these is the potential for appreciation (or depreciation) in value from the date that you and your ex-spouse officially separated. Consider this: like most divorce cases, yours likely involvesa good deal of emotion surrounding the circumstances that contributed to the end of your marriage. Say that your ex-spouse remains in your marital home after the two of you separate. If they still harbor negative feelings towards you (and knowing that the value of your home will likely be split between you both), they could choose to allow the home to fall into disrepair in an effort to purposely lower its value (yes, their stake in the home would be devalued as well, yet their emotions could potentially prompt such action). 

Probating small estates in Pennsylvania

Those who have recently lost a loved one in Cranberry Township may be preparing themselves for the process that most assume to automatically follow: probate. Many hear investment and estate planning experts extol the wisdom of planning to avoid probate (as its costs are paid for from the estate's assets). Yet even with this advice in place, most of those party to an estate likely resign themselves to the idea that the local probate court will be involved in their cases in some way.

Yet is that always the case? Probate courts typically have a heavy caseload to handle, and local governments do not want to see a decedent’s assets greatly diminished due to legal costs. Thus, legislation has been enacted that allows smaller estates to bypass the probate process altogether.

Watch out for unexpected post-divorce expenses

Navigating through the divorce process can take up all of your time and energy. Deciding who receives certain assets, who spends what time with the children and more is not always easy. For this reason, you may forget to think about just how your post-divorce financial life will look.

As you go through negotiations with your future former spouse, you may want to make sure that you put yourself in the best position possible financially after the divorce.

Reality TV star announces split from husband

It may go without saying that divorce proceedings can involve a good deal of emotion. Couples who at one point may have shared a strong love for each other may find that the emotions they feel are still present; they have simply gone from positive to negative. The hurt feelings surrounding the end of a marriage can easily spill into a couple's divorce case, hindering the process as both sides prepare to fight it out over what they think that they deserve. The hope, however, is that those involved in divorce proceedings realize that it is in the best interest of everyone impacted by their decision for them to allow their marriages to come to an amicable conclusion. 

In many cases, those impacted the most are a couple's children. While it may be difficult, parents can indeed attempt to set their personal feelings aside and work together to come to a swift resolution of their cases to spare their children any pain. The divorce of reality TV star Kenya Moore serves as an example of this. Moore recently announced that she had split from her husband of just over two years with the intention of pursuing a divorce. Both sides, however, have apparently attempted to avoid rancor against each other (at least publicly) and keep their affair private in the interest of their young daughter. 

How can parental rights be terminated in Pennsylvania?

If you were to ask most in Cranberry Township what is the one job that you cannot be fired from, most might likely say “parent.” Yet that is not always the case. There are indeed scenarios where state officials may determine that you are unfit to retain parental authority over your child. Then there are also cases where you may question the fitness of your children’s other parent. In both cases, the state has established criteria that allow for parental rights to be terminated. 

Under certain circumstances, you (or your children’s other parent) might be willing to relinquish your rights voluntarily. This typically happens in cases of adoption, or where tension is so great between you and your ex-spouse that one of you may be willing to do anything to get the other out of their lives. Yet what about those cases where you (or your children’s other parent) parent may not want to give your parental authority. 

Addressing your will after your divorce

Asset division can be one of the more contentious aspects of divorce cases in Cranberry Township. Dividing up your marital property with your spouse requires quite a bit of give and take from both of you. Yet at least that ends once your divorce becomes final, right? Not necessarily; there may be other aspects of your life where you will need to address the financial ties that you have to your ex-spouse. One of these is your estate planning. When clients come to us here at the Sweeney Law Offices, LLC asking about this, their main concerns center on updating their wills in order to ensure that their ex-spouses are not inadvertently included in them. While there are indeed reasons to address your estate plans following your divorce, they often differ from what you might guess. 

Yet first it is important it address the concern of removing your ex-spouse from your will. Section 2507 of Pennsylvania’s Decedents, Estates and Fiduciaries Code states that any provisions of your will that involve your ex-spouse automatically are invalidated when you divorce (unless you include language detailing your desire for them to remain in your will). Thus, you do not need to worry about them inheriting your estate of you forget to remove them from your will. 

Dealing with divorce at different ages

Older Pennsylvanian parents who get a divorce must understand that regardless of how old their own children are, they will still be impacted by the split. While more studies exist on how divorce affects young children, this doesn't mean older children are left unharmed.

Very Well Family takes a look at the psychological effects of divorce on young children. First off, young children tend to have a weaker understanding of the situation. They may need to be explained what divorce is more than once. They will also require much reassurance from both parents that they are not at fault. Divorcing parents with younger children tend to treat them gently and leave any ugly details out of the picture.

New bill could give more divorced fathers equal custody

As a father, your child is one of your top priorities. If you go through a divorce, you want to make sure that you keep your child in your life. But numbers show that courts are more likely to grant your child’s mother more custody time.

In Pennsylvania, fathers receive only about 28% of custody time with mothers getting about 72%. For fathers, this is lower than the rate nationwide, where fathers get about 35% custody. A new bill proposed in Pennsylvania hopes to make that split closer to 50-50.

Nebraska State bar association Allegheny County Bar Association - RAising the bar on legal and community service Superlawyers 2012,2013,2014,2015 Avvo Rated by Super Lawyers - Mildred B. Sweeney Selected in 2012 Thomson reuters Rated by Super Lawyers - Rising Stars Flora Sweeney Hunzeker Superlawyers.com Rated by Super Lawyers - Rising Stars Heather M. Papp - Sicignano Superlawyers.com Pennsylvania bar association

Sweeney Law Offices, LLC
20581 Route 19, Suite 1
Cranberry Township, PA 16066

Phone: 724-742-2590
Fax: 724-742-4409
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