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Cranberry Township Family Law Blog

How does domestic violence impact a child custody case?

Domestic violence has become an epidemic in the United States. Every year more than 3 million children are forced to witness one of their parents being physically or verbally abused by the other. Often domestic violence becomes the primary reason why a relationship comes to an end.

When a relationship ends and children are involved, things become very complicated. One of the first issues that a couple has to deal with is child custody. If domestic violence is a part of that equation, then there are even more complications.

What are the requirements to divorce in Pennsylvania?

Sometimes, marriages just don't work out. It's not necessarily one person or the other's fault, sometimes people just grow apart. Pennsylvania law provides a remedy for those in that situation, it's called divorce. If you're looking to move on with your life here in Cranberry Township, then you'll want to apprise yourself of the requirements that you must meet to do so.

To file for divorce in Pennsylvania, either you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least six months before your filing. You must submit your divorce petition in the county where either you or your spouse lives. You must demonstrate that you have the intention of staying in Pennsylvania for an indefinite period to be considered as a resident of the state.

Why settle a divorce rather than going to trial?

Many New Jersey couples may find themselves trapped in a conflict when they decide to divorce. Before they decided to end the marriage, they may have found themselves arguing frequently and disagreeing about almost everything. As a result, it may seem like it is almost impossible to negotiate a settlement and there is no choice but to go to trial. However, many people may prefer to settle their divorce in order to save time and money, even if they have a conflicted relationship with their estranged spouse.

In some cases, it may be necessary to go to trial. This may be the case if one party refuses to negotiate or insists on an unacceptable situation, particularly in contexts involving abuse or financial manipulation. However, for many other people, a negotiated settlement may be a preferable option. In the first place, they will, in most cases, need to move to a co-parenting relationship, with both involved in their children's lives for years to come. Negotiating a child custody agreement and a parenting plan can be the first step in that transition to dealing with each other primarily as co-parents who need to work together despite their differences.

Mediation may allow for a more peaceful divorce

When your marriage is breaking up, it's easy to focus on your personal hurt and grief. Divorce can result from extreme disappointment or betrayal that can make it difficult to remain positive. A couple who then goes through the tumult and tension of a litigated divorce may have additional strain on their relationship, which can be devastating if you must then co-parent.

For many couples facing the pain of divorce, mediation offers a more positive method of ending their marriages. While mediation is not right for every divorce, for couples who are willing to cooperate and do not want to carry more negative baggage into the future, mediation may help them meet their goals.

How conflict with a spouse can hurt the divorce process

The divorce process can bring up many emotions for people in Pittsburgh, including anger and frustration. This could cause a person to lash out at a spouse. However, this can be harmful and might even affect how property is divided or child custody decisions are made.

One advantage to speaking calmly to a spouse is keeping stress levels down. Although it can feel satisfying in the moment, speaking in anger can contribute overall to negative feelings and have a bad effect on children as well. Attempting to keep things civil may also help preserve a co-parenting relationship after the divorce.

Why a person could want a prenuptial agreement

Pennsylvania residents and others who are planning on getting married in the near future may want to consider a prenuptial agreement. Such an agreement is ideal for anyone who has assets that they want to protect or for anyone who is thinking about starting a business in the near future. It isn't uncommon for wealthy parents or other family members to insist that individuals create custom marriage contracts before their weddings take place.

Those who are looking to start a business can benefit from a prenuptial agreement because it is impossible to predict how successful the company could be. Without a prenuptial agreement, a person might be required to evenly split a company that could be worth millions or billions of dollars. Jeff Bezos is an example of someone who started a successful company but didn't have a prenuptial agreement with his former wife.

The traditional 50-50 custody arrangement may not work

Divorced parents in Pennsylvania might choose the traditional method of effectuating a 50-50 custody arrangement that will involve the children being with a parent one week and the other parent the next week. However, this may not always be the most advantageous solution for the children, who could bear some negative consequences from this type of plan. As a result, co-parents should keep an open mind as to alternative arrangements that may work better.

When a child spends an entire week without one of their parents, the separation can affect them. It can lead to separation anxiety, and the transition between parents' homes can be difficult knowing that they will be apart for a week. In addition, there can be logistical problems for parents whose work schedule can be difficult to accommodate due to the demands of the custody schedule and the need to be continuously present for that entire week.

Gray divorces have doubled since 1990, study says

Pennsylvania residents may be surprised to learn that divorces involving couples over the age of 50 - which are also referred to as 'gray divorces" - have increased significantly in the United States, according to one study. Although the percentage of couples getting divorced has declined on the whole, the rate of gray divorce doubled from 1990 to 2010.

One therapist says that, while divorcing couples often split up during the first seven years of marriage, she sees another spike in divorce rates after couples have been together at least 20 years. She states that the most common reason for separating after decades together is emotional distance.

Trust protectors activate when trust funds come under threat

Families in Pennsylvania interested in segregating their children's inheritance from marital assets should the heirs get married sometimes use trusts to hold the assets. A trust can be set up that names the heir as trustee. This grants the heir some control and access to the assets while keeping asset ownership within the trust. Naming a trust protector within the trust documents adds another level of asset protection. A trust protector serves as an alternative trustee should threats arise to the funds, such as a divorce or lawsuit.

A protector might be a sibling or another trusted person. When control switches to the protector, it places the trust's assets outside the purview of a lawsuit against the heir who had originally served as trustee. Only threats to the assets activate the powers of a trust protector.

Coping financially with divorce at an older age

The Pew Research Center reports that divorce among older people has doubled since the 1990s, and for people age 65 and older, rates are three times as high. At the same time, divorce among younger people is on the decline. This means that older people in Pittsburgh may be more likely to get a divorce than their younger counterparts, and this can leave them with certain financial challenges.

One of the major ones is dealing with retirement. Couples usually plan with the assumption that their retirement savings will support them in one household, but divorce means dividing those savings, including IRAs, 401(k)s and other retirement accounts. Couples may also own a home. They can sell this and split the proceeds, or one person may keep it. However, the person who keeps it should make sure that this is an affordable choice.

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 lawyer distinction 2019 lawyer distinction 2020

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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