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Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Family Legal Blog

Challenges related to unpaid child support

Many different legal issues arise for those who end their marriage, especially if they have children. Custody disputes can be very difficult, but child support can lead to ongoing problems if a parent is unable to pay what they owe or refuses to make payments on time. Daily life can be challenging for a custodial parent who may be unable to buy clothes or school supplies for their child. However, there are also a number of consequences non-custodial parents may run into, which highlights how crucial it is to avoid this predicament in the first place.

When a parent falls behind on their child support responsibilities, they could have their wages garnished or be taken into custody and spend time behind bars. However, there are many other ramifications associated with the failure to pay child support. For example, a person's tax refund could be intercepted partially or entirely, leading to additional financial strain. Moreover, someone who owes enough unpaid child support may not even be able to receive a passport in the U.S., which could disrupt their plans to travel overseas for business or leisure.

Positive life changes after a divorce

We have covered many divorce topics on this blog, some of which can be very stressful for people to handle. For example, losing sleep over a bitter child custody dispute or worrying about the financial impact of property division and alimony payments can be very difficult for those who are approaching or already in the middle a divorce. Moreover, the emotional effects of ending a marriage can be very hard as well, particularly for couples who have been married for many years or have kids. With this being said, divorce is not always difficult and should not be seen as something that is necessarily negative. In fact, many people have been able to enjoy a brighter future once their marriage is over.

There are many potential benefits for some people who go through a divorce, especially those who were unhappy in their marriage. For example, someone who was subjected to verbal or physical abuse may be relieved to find freedom from mistreatment, while others may enjoy having the ability to live life according to their own terms. Others may have been unhappy for many years, feeling trapped, and enjoy the sense of having a fresh start. For some, divorce can bring financial advantages, whether a person is able to move across the country or world for a better opportunity, fully commit themselves to work, or find some other financial advantage after ending their marriage.

Is it time to replace your trust’s trustee?

If you have a trust that you use as a part of your estate plan, then you chose and appointed a trustee somewhere along the way. However, in many cases, the trustee you chose when you established the trust no longer serves your best interests or the interests of your beneficiaries. If you have substantial concerns about your trustee's ability or willingness to perform the job, it is time to consider replacing the trustee with someone more capable of protecting your priorities.

While removing a trustee is not an extremely complex legal procedure, it is one you must handle with great care. A trustee has fairly broad access to the assets held within the trust, so it is important to address the matter wisely to avoid further complications and potentially lose some assets along with your relationship to the trustee in general. Some careful, timely planning can help you transition to a different trustee more in line with your needs while keeping your rights and assets secure.

The benefits of modifying a child support order

As a non-custodial parent who owes child support, you might have a number of responsibilities on your plate and stressors that arise on a daily basis. If you are unable to pay child support or expect that you will fall behind in the months to come, you could worry about the different consequences of back child support. For example, you may be concerned about being taken into custody, having your tax refund intercepted, or being unable to apply for a passport, among other challenges. For some people, child support modification is a great way to address these issues and it offers a number of benefits.

For starters, modifying a child support order can provide peace of mind and lower a person’s stress levels. Instead of worrying about the consequences associated with falling behind, they may be able to sleep easier at night knowing that they will be able to stay current on their child support payments even though they may have lost their job, had their hours cut, or experienced another significant change to their financial circumstances such as a medical crisis.

Ending your marriage after a vacation

Couples choose to end their marriages for different reasons, but sometimes two people simply are not compatible with each other. Moreover, these differences may be especially clear under certain circumstances, such as a family vacation or a couple’s getaway, when two people realize that they do not seem to get along very well. Vacations can bring out strong emotions and extremely high levels of stress and when a couple does not get along very well, this can be an especially difficult time.

Sometimes, a spouse may have an affair during a vacation or act in a way they later regret due to stress and anger brought on by the trip. There are other issues that can arise with regard to vacationing and a couple’s decision to divorce. For example, someone who wants to end their marriage should start looking into the various ways that divorce could affect them (financially, emotionally, etc.), which can be more difficult to do while on a trip.

How are custody decisions made?

Parents going through a divorce in Pennsylvania need to consider what custody arrangements are best for the children. The state encourages parents to come to an agreement together, but if they are unable to do so the court will get involved.

According to FindLaw, there are specific steps parents must go through once they file a custody petition. Each party involved in the dispute must attend a seminar that covers co-parenting and tips on how to help the child during this challenging time. If the children involved are aged six to 15, they are also required to attend a group session in which they discuss their experiences. The next step for the adult parties is a mediation session where a third party assists the parents in coming up with a plan for both physical and legal custody. If they can agree, and the court approves, it is accepted as an official court order. If the two parties cannot come to an agreement, the case goes to trial.

How do I pay for medical care for my child?

Divorced parents in Pennsylvania have enough to be concerned about without having to worry about how they are going to pay for medical care for their children. In general, the child support order should include healthcare-related expenses, but if it is not enough the court may need to decide who is responsible for the additional payments.

According to FindLaw, child support payments are required to be used for certain basic necessities such as shelter, food and clothing. In the state of Pennsylvania, one of the parents is also required to carry some type of health insurance for the child. However, child support is also supposed to cover medical costs that insurance does not cover. 

How fathers can get more custody time

Divorced dads in Pennsylvania who want more custody time with their children have a better chance at joint custody now than in the past. Dads who want more time should approach it in a professional way that also takes into consideration the best interest of the child.

According to USA Today, requesting shared custody by the father has been a lot more common in the past years. One of the reasons is some of these parents have grown up in divorced families and have experienced the pain that comes with only seeing the father every once in awhile. There are also more stay-at-home dads then there were years ago, and they have an active role in their children's lives. More and more courts are getting on board with equal custody, as they realize the emotional benefits it has on the kids. 

Is uncontested divorce a good fit for you?

Not all divorces must involve complex and lengthy negotiations over assets and custody disputes. For those couples who have relatively simple marital issues to address, an uncontested divorce is often a strong option that works well for their needs.

However, some couples who hope to achieve a calm, responsible divorce or just want to get the matter over with and don't want to deal with the hassle, may think that an uncontested divorce is a good option for them, when it may not be a good fit at all.

Is your soon-to-be ex-spouse hiding assets offshore?

Divorcing couples in Pennsylvania should spend ample time determining what assets the other spouse may have that he or she does not know about. One way some spouses try to hide assets is through an offshore account. There are a number of ways a spouse can find out if the other one is keeping money from him or her, but it can take some investigating.

According to the American Bar Association, discovering hidden assets is the only way a spouse can have access to them so this needs to be the first priority. Looking for and at certain documents is one of the techniques used. These documents may include:

  • Credit card invoices
  • Address book, paying special attention to unknown and foreign numbers
  • 1099s to ensure all brokerage accounts have been disclosed
  • Tax returns
  • Loan applications
  • Employer-based benefits such as retirement plans or stock options 
  • Bank account records, including for those holding hard assets
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