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Cranberry Township Family Law Blog

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.

Early distribution and dividing an IRA in a divorce

When people in Pittsburgh get a divorce, they will need to divide their property. In some cases, this can be complex. For example, people who have an IRA may have already begun taking distributions from it despite not being 59 1/2 years old. If this is for certain approved reasons, the person will not have to pay a 10% penalty. However, it is unclear whether dividing the account in a divorce is considered a modification.

The reason it is important to determine this is because if a person is getting a 72(t) distribution and there is a modification to the IRA, the person will then have to pay a retroactive penalty on all distributions. While there is no clear guidance from the IRS in this particular circumstance, its regulations do state that if a nontaxable portion of the account is transferred, this is considered a modification. This is what happens if an individual gives part of the IRA to a spouse in a divorce.

Be mindful of divorce issues that may cause stress for your kids

In Pittsburgh and throughout Pennsylvania and across the country, many parents will decide in 2020 that they no longer wish to remain in unhappy marriages. If you're one of them, your children's best interests are no doubt one of your greatest concerns. It's no secret that divorce has a significant impact on children, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's impossible for your kids to cope with the changes in their lives in a healthy, productive manner.

Your children will definitely be closely observing you as you navigate divorce proceedings. Kids take their cues from their parents. If you appear overly stressed, angry or worried, their own stress levels are bound to soar. On the contrary, if they believe that you are confident, and that while your lives are changing, everyone is going to be okay, they are far more likely to develop good coping skills.

Irrevocable trusts often useful for medical professionals

Those in Pittsburgh who want to set up a trust to leave behind for their loved ones after they pass may have heard about irrevocable trusts. Learning more about this type of trust can help when planning an estate.

An irrevocable trust is a type of trust that gives protections to the creator of the trust. The terms of the trust are unable to be modified after finalization. This prevents beneficiaries from changing the trust and can also protect the trust against being taken in a lawsuit. Life insurance policies, securities, cash, interest in business and real estate may all be used to fund an irrevocable trust.

Health implications of gray divorces

Divorce is an emotionally taxing process at any age that can have negative effects on your health and overall well-being. It's long been known to increase stress for prolonged periods of time. Older couples divorcing after 50 - commonly referred to as "gray divorce" - may be more at risk for an increase in health problems as a result of their marriage ending.

Surprisingly, the occurrence rate of gray divorce has doubled in the last 25 years. Maybe it's that people are living longer and choosing to leave a spouse they don't care for anymore or perhaps the marital problems seeded long ago and are just now surfacing.

Creating a parenting program can help children deal with divorce

Even though Pennsylvania has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country, there are plenty of couples who choose to end their marriages every year. Those who divorce with children will have to take certain steps to be sure their family can function on a healthy level following the separation. A great way to begin the healing process is to create a well-thought-out parenting program.

When child custody is concerned, certain guidelines should be followed in the parenting program depending on the age of the children. Younger children require a set schedule, and they need to be with their primary caregiver most of the time. Constant changes in their environment and daily routine can cause distress and anxiety. However, the noncustodial parent should see the children on a regular basis each week.

Starting the year without the stress of an unhappy marriage

More people file for divorce in January than any other month. There are a couple of reasons that marriages in Pittsburg and across the country tend to end in this month as opposed to the others. In many cases, unhappy spouses wait to file for divorce until after the holidays to allow their children to end the year with happy memories. For others, divorce may be part of their New Year's resolutions.

Families often have holiday traditions, and parents may want to continue these for as long as possible. Holidays are typically happy times, so informing children, even if they are adults, that their parents are getting divorced could cast a shadow on the holiday season for years to come. Therefore, parents may wait until after the celebrations have ended to get in touch with an attorney to start the divorce process.

Learn what happens to retirement savings after divorce

Spouses who are going through a divorce may wonder how their retirement savings will be affected. While no two Pennsylvania divorces are exactly the same, there are a few basic things individuals can expect.

One of the first things that will be considered is what happened before the marriage. When couples sign prenuptial agreements before tying the knot, they can design a custom plan that will dictate how their finances, including retirement savings, will be divided during a divorce. If a couple has this agreement, they will need to follow what was specified in it.

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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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