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Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Family Legal Blog

How women may protect their finances in a divorce

Some women in Pennsylvania who are going through a divorce run a higher risk of financial problems than men who divorce. Working women tend to have a drop in income after divorce while the income of divorced men tends to rise. Women are also at a greater risk of poverty following divorce.

In order to protect themselves financially, women should make sure they have records of all the marital and individual assets, including tax returns, bank statements and appraisals of any items of value. They may want to work on improving their credit by taking out a credit card that they pay off monthly. Other considerations might be getting a private post office box for confidential correspondence and opening a new bank account. The existence of the account will have to be disclosed during the divorce, but it may help pay for some expenses. Women should also think about a budget for after the divorce, including how they will pay for health insurance and new housing if necessary.

Asset division is complicated in a same-sex divorce

Same-sex couples now have the right to get married anywhere in the United States, but that right has not always given them such freedom. This is important when looking at same-sex divorce cases, especially during the asset division process.

As financial experts have pointed out, the issue is that many of these couples who now choose to get divorced may have only been married for a few years, but that does not mean their relationships started at that time. A lot of them engaged in long-term relationships that were the same as marriage in all but name. They had no choice, with official marriage being illegal.

Tips to successfully co-parent with a narcissist

Divorced parents in Pennsylvania will have to make decisions about how their children will be raised. Co-parenting is often done when a couple shares custody of the kids. Unfortunately, challenges can arise when one of the parents is a narcissist or toxic person.

A toxic ex could make the other parent feel a variety of negative emotions. The best thing they can do is focus on good parenting even though it means they have to put up with some painful conflict. Boundaries will need to be set if an ex challenges a person's resolve.

Overcoming emotional roadblocks to estate planning

Most Pennsylvania residents understand the importance of estate planning, but many of them find addressing end of life issues extremely difficult. People in the prime of their lives often vow to have these discussions at some unspecified time in the future, but that only delays the inevitable and leaves their loved ones vulnerable to life's uncertainties. Once the decision has been made to draft an estate plan, the first step is usually compiling a list of all of the assets it will be used to distribute.

Like many daunting tasks, compiling a list of assets can be made easier by breaking the process down into two distinct parts. The first step is making a list of financial assets like bank accounts, retirement plans, investment portfolios and insurance policies. The second step is listing physical assets such as real estate, automobiles, artwork, jewelry and furniture. These lists can then be sorted according to value. During this process, individuals often find that their estate plans write themselves.

Could divorce be a smart financial decision?

Some Pennsylvania couples may be happy together and still in a loving relationship, but they may be prompted to consider divorce due to the financial implications of remaining married. While some reports indicate that ultra-wealthy couples may gain some tax benefits from being single, the amounts involved are usually far too small to offset the expenses and complications of divorce. However, for people of more modest means, the proposal of strategic divorce can seem a more reasonable idea.

For example, people who need intensive inpatient nursing care often cannot receive Medicaid support to pay the hefty bill unless all of their assets are spent down. As a result, the partner of the ill patient may have little to nothing left to support their own daily needs of life. Therefore, they may be prompted to consider how a divorce could help the suffering partner get the nursing care they need without financially devastating the other spouse. Parents may also be drawn to consider how divorce could affect college financial aid, especially as university tuition rises. Financial aid awards only consider the income of the custodial parent when a child's parents are divorced, and parents may be willing to separate in order to help their children pay for college.

Advance directives and health care decisions

Estate planning allows individuals to make end-of-life decisions ahead of time by creating wills and advanced directives. While a will generally includes information on funeral arrangements, inheritances and guardianship of minor children, an advance directive focuses on health care. By creating an advance directive, Pennsylvania residents may make their health care preferences known in writing. If an injury or illness leads to incapacitation, medical personnel and family members may follow the instructions in the advance directive to approve or decline certain treatments.

The AARP states that there are typically two kinds of advance directives: a living will and a health care power of attorney. Each one includes different information, so the AARP recommends that individuals create both rather than just relying on a single form. In general, a living will allows a person to state his or her decisions about end-of-life procedures and other medical treatments. For example, an individual may state that he or she accepts antibiotics or dialysis but does not want to use a mechanical ventilator.

What if a trustee takes money from a trust?

When a person creates a trust, they may pick another person to act as a trustee and oversee that trust. That person is not the beneficiary. Instead, they work to administer the trust. Their goal is to work for the beneficiary, in a sense, within the rules of the trust itself.

For instance, imagine that a parent creates a financial trust for a child who is a minor. They do not want to turn over all of the money to the minor immediately, but they want to know that the money gets used to provide for the child if they pass away. It is then the trustee's job to use the assets in the trust appropriately, always putting the beneficiary first. This is known as a fiduciary relationship.

Is it possible for shared custody to be a positive experience?

Establishing when you and your spouse will be in charge of caring for the children the two of you share as your divorce is ongoing in Pennsylvania, can be one of the trickiest parts of finalizing the details of your separation. While the two of you may have been used to co-parenting under the same roof, now that your marriage has ended, both of you are moving forward with independent lives. 

Working together with your spouse to create an agreement that will allow both of you to maintain personal boundaries, interests, responsibilities and obligations is only one part of the process of arranging child custody. You also have to take into consideration what is best for your children in terms of the location of you and your spouse and how that impacts your children's schooling, extracurricular activities and ability to maintain friendships and relationships with people in their lives that are important to them. Coordinating these often-conflicting contingencies may make the process of finalizing a child custody plan difficult at times. 

Preparing an estate plan with your small business in mind

Your effort to begin planning your estate long before you ever anticipate needing its implementation is crucial to your financial health. An estate plan that you have carefully crafted to meet your lifestyle and personal desires can be equally as beneficial to your surviving family members. At Beroes Law Center, we are experienced in helping people in Pennsylvania with many different backgrounds to develop an optimal plan for their future. 

While there are a host of interesting dynamics that could influence your decisions as you begin planning your estate, one factor would be if you own a business. Because operating a business will require a significant amount of money and probably contains a healthy portion of your assets, it must be accounted for when planning for your future. Understanding your company's role and influence as you plan your estate can help you to make confident decisions that will provide long-term security for you and your family. 

You may need a financial advisor during your divorce

Some couples in Pennsylvania divorce with high assets and some with high debts. Whichever of these two financial situations are true of a divorcing couple, they may need to consider working with a financial advisor. In fact, MarketWatch recommends “breaking up” with the financial advisor used as a couple. Each individual may need to hire their own.

If there is a dependent spouse in the marriage, then the need for a financial advisor increases tenfold. This person may have no means of making an adequate living for themselves at the time of divorce. It may take some time to rebuild momentum in their career.

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