Articles Tagged with “middle age divorce”

One of the wisest things a couple can do prior to marriage is draft a pre-nuptial agreement. A pre-nuptial agreement (pre-nup) is a legally binding contract that sets out how the couple will handle their affairs should the marriage not endure. I believe the pre-nup is important because for not only the obvious protections that it provides to the prospective couple, but also for the process the parties must go through to agree upon a document they each can sign. 1285379_wedding_rings.jpg

In drafting the pre-nuptial agreement, a couple must have open and honest conversations with each other about finances, health, their dreams and goals for the future. Their talks should include how they anticipate how their household will be managed, how duties will be shared (or not), what will happen should one party be unable to work. In considering what will go into the pre-nup, the couple should consider realistic things that will shed light on how they live their lives, including: how they will support one another during separation and divorce, how they will hold property during marriage and divide property in divorce, retirement planning, and retirement accounts (if any), how they wish to have their wealth managed and transferred upon death.

For many years, the pre-nuptial agreement was considered the tool of the wealthy older man marrying the younger woman. No longer. Since the pre-nup is a basic tool that can confirm and or modify certain legal rights and obligations incident to a marriage relationship, anyone can (and probably should) use it. If, for example, one party is coming to marriage with large personal assets, family business interests, or an anticipated inheritance, either the prospective spouse or his/her parent(s) wishing to maintain the family legacy, might desire a pre-nup. In older couples or those coming from a prior marriage a pre-nup can protect the inheritances of children from a previous marriage. In same sex marriages couples may find items unique to their circumstance that best can be addressed in a pre-nup.

Marital property or the marital estate includes all property acquired by either party during the marriage until time of separation. increases in value of certain non-marital property also may be part of the marital estate, but the rules regarding this are beyond the scope of this this entry. It is important to know what constitutes your marital estate because that is the whole of what gets divided subject to the Pennsylvania laws of equitable distribution.

There are different types of assets that fall into the general category of marital estate. Broadly these assets are: Financial this includes financial assets such as bank accounts, investments, such as stock and bond holdings; Personal Property such as, furniture, art, cars, and yes, pets; Real Property such as the family home any vacation home, time share or investment property; Retirement Benefits such as, a pension, IRA, 401Ks, profit sharing plan or any other deferred compensation plans;  and Business Interests

In Pennsylvania, as in most states, assets are divided equitably, which means in a fair manner. This could mean fifty/fifty (50/50), but not always. Depending upon the circumstances, one spouse may get a slightly different percentage, such as 55/45% or 60/40% . A range of circumstances determine the percentage proportion of equitable division.

Alcohol and/or other substance abuse is a known factor in many domestic relations cases. If one party drinks to excess, or uses drugs it can have an significant impact on the marital relationship and on the children. Tensions build, it can lead to secrecy, alienation, breakdown in communication; there may be episodes of violence, the substance abuse may lead to economic problems if it impacts ability to work or sustain a job, and it causes numerous other problems. Oftentimes, the effects of substance abuse on a relationship take years to manifest because one or both parties may be in denial.

A happy, successful, outwardly stable family can become unstable through the pain of alcoholism. Regardless of what triggers the alcoholism, if this is a factor in your family dynamic, it is important to acknowledge it.

The Pennsylvania Courts take substance abuse very seriously. Because the best interests of the children are primary, Courts carefully will consider evidence of substance abuse in any custody determination. If there is any concern that the health or welfare of a child is endangered by being in the custody a parent who is an alcoholic or substance abuser, primary physical custody could be granted to the other parent , and the substance using parent might be denied physical custody or granted limited supervised partial custody.

Or Tissues in the Bed

Family Therapist, B Janet Hibbs, PhD. in her book, Try To See it My Way, writes that people who are committed to relationships know how to navigate the annoying issues of daily life that can cause fights between couples. Every couple has issues that need to be worked out because when two people are involved, things naturally will be seen differently. The question is how exasperated do you become when he/she does not walk the dog, or when he/she is late for dinner, or leaves Kleenex in the bed after you asked him/her not to?300148_walking_the_dog.jpg

Your ability to resolve disputes in a fair way, without name-calling, criticism, defensiveness, contempt or stonewalling are critical to the difference between healthy fights and destructive relationship breakdowns. Oftentimes, it appears to be a small incident that brings a client into the divorce lawyers’ office. He didn’t like what I said about his driving, and the next thing I knew he packed his things and moved into a hotel. One partner may be blindsided by the reaction to what seemed a stupid fight, but in a troubled relationship there is no such thing as a stupid fight.

Living Together Living Separately

Under section 3301 (d) of the Pennsylvania Divorce law a couple may have grounds for divorce if they “have lived separate and apart for a period of two years and the marriage is irretrievably broken…” What does this mean?

For many people who have been living together, but apart, for various reasons, the good news is that you do NOT have to be living in separate residences. In these times of economic difficulty it may not be feasible for couples to support two households while contemplating divorce, so one spouse may move to another part of the marital home. I have clients who have been living under the same roof, but basically as “room-370625_torn_paper_2.jpgmates” for years. In another case a couple lived separately for over four years, but the husband came back and forth to the marital residence at will. The wife believed fully they were not separated and this was a temporary situation; the husband asserted that the separation began when he first moved out. Since substantial assets were at stake based upon date of separation, and the parties could not agree, the matter went to litigation on this issue.

In the Best Interests of the Child

When parents work cooperatively in divorce, children will fare better. 1187603_fun_with_bubbles.jpg

In an ideal world divorcing parents would be able to put their hurt, anger, grief, conflict and other emotions aside and put parenting their children first. Children may not need (or be able ) to live in a home with two married parents, but they do need to have the continuing contact, love and involvement of both their parents .

My spouse cheated on me “I Want a Divorce”

597241_troubled.jpgIf you feel emotionally injured because a spouse is unfaithful, I want a divorce may be the first response. If the adultery is longstanding, and the love and trust are gone from the marriage and cannot be repaired then divorce may be your best option. However, I counsel my clients first to be sure their marriage is irreparably broken before considering divorce. If you want a divorce to ‘get back” at your spouse and take him/her for all they are worth, because he/she cheated, then learn a bit about Pennsylvania Divorce Law.

While, under certain circumstances, adultery still may be a basis for a “Fault ” divorce in Pennsylvania, it may not prove to be the answer that you seek. The process may be complicated, protracted and have unintended effects on children. Pennsylvania also is a No Fault state, which means that if both parties consent to a divorce, or if the marriage is broken beyond repair and the parties have lived separately for a minimum of two years, so long as conditions are met, the parties may get a divorce, even if one party objects.