Archive for the ‘Divorce’ Category

How Best to Handle a Contested Divorce

In Pennsylvania the majority of couples manage to go through the divorce process relatively collaboratively, arguing about a few points but eventually allowing both partners to move forward with their lives. Unfortunately, there are some spouses who choose not to cooperate at all, refusing to sign off on divorce papers that are presented to them or engage in any way. This is called an uncontested divorce.  If you suspect that your spouse is going to go this route, or if you have specifically been informed that is the case, here is how best to handle your situation.

Though a contested divorce makes things harder, you can still get divorced whether your spouse agrees to it or not. As long as you file the papers in the correct court and properly serve the divorce papers to your spouse, a divorce is possible. It’s just going to be more problematic.

The first thing you need to do in every Pennsylvania divorce is to determine what grounds you are going to file under. Most couples opt for a no-fault divorce and simply agree that the marriage is irretrievably broken, but some are based on fault issues such as infidelity or abuse. These factors can be important in certain situations, and if proven can impact child custody, support, and other elements of how the divorce is decided.

If you file your paperwork and find that your spouse is being non-cooperative, failing to respond to your filings for the sake of being difficult or for some other reason, your attorney can file what is called a motion for default judgment and get a court date. If your spouse doesn’t show up on that date, the judge can record the divorce order based on your submissions, without your spouse’s cooperation. However, every issue will have to be addressed in order for this to happen.

However, when your spouse argues against the divorce, whether entirely or on a specific issue, then things get significantly more complex. The court will require that both sides submit testimony and evidence to the judge for them to make decisions about each aspect of the divorce, including how to allocate child custody and assets. The process will entail numerous hearings and will take significantly longer. It is also likely to be far more expensive because it demands so much more intervention from your attorney.

Marriages deteriorate for many reasons, and a contested divorce may simply be an extension of your already unhappy situation. Having an experienced attorney representing you is the best way to make it through this challenge. Contact us today to learn how we can help.

 

 

 

 

 

Are There Limits to Alimony?

When you’re anticipating or in the midst of a divorce, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the details and the various rules as they apply to equitable distribution, child custody, spousal support and alimony.  Part of the confusion is a natural outcome of how many decisions need to be made in the midst of an extremely painful and emotional time, and part emanates from the fact that different states around the country have different laws. The state of New Jersey recently passed groundbreaking laws that put an end to permanent alimony and that make it easier to lower alimony payments, and there is a significant amount of buzz that the rules may end up being adopted or replicated around the country.

Though the law is specific to the state of New Jersey, residents and attorneys in other states are paying close attention, as the change that it has introduced is significant. It puts an end to the previous possibility of endless alimony and replaces it with a limit equal to the marriage’s duration. If a couple has been married for one year then the alimony will not be available to the receiving spouse for longer than that period. The payer of alimony is also able to stop making payments once they retire. Though the law does make room for what it calls “exceptional circumstances” such as a permanent disability that prevents the payee from earning an income, its changes are clearly meant to make things easier for the payer. In fact, it also makes it easier for the alimony amount to be reduced or terminated in instances where they themselves have lost their jobs, or when their ex moves in with a new partner.

Your opinion on whether these changes are for the better or worse will clearly be colored by whether you are the person who is on the receiving end of alimony payments or are the person who is making the payments. It is important to note that the shift is not retroactive, so those with existing alimony arrangements will not be affected by the new law.

Laws regarding the elements of divorce are constantly changing, so it’s important that you work with an attorney who is well versed in the most current legislation around subjects involving alimony, child support and custody, and more. For information on how we can help you, contact us today to set up a consultation.

 

 

How to Handle Quarantine if You’re Contemplating a Divorce

Ask anybody who has been through a challenging divorce about the day that they finally separated from their ex and they’re likely to say they felt a huge burden lift from their shoulders. Even those who express a sense of sorrow over their marriage ending also acknowledge the physical separation as an important day that represented the start of a new phase in their lives. For those who are contemplating a divorce in these days of quarantine and coronavirus, there is much less of a chance to have that landmark day come any time soon. Many already-unhappy couples are finding themselves forced to remain together with no place to escape to. The pain and drama of their crumbling relationship are being exacerbated by being together 24/7, as well as the stress of job furloughs or losses, children being home and requiring constant attention, and the fears of the virus itself.

If this is the situation that you find yourself in, divorce professionals are suggesting that you use this time to evaluate your situation and determine whether divorce is truly what you want. You may discover that in times of stress, your spouse steps up in a way that makes you think better of them, making it worthwhile to work out existing problems and try to stay together. On the other hand, the quarantine may make divorce something you may want even more passionately. With courts closed around the country, you are going to have to wait, but that does not mean that you can’t get started on collecting pertinent financial records and, depending upon your specific situation, even speaking to your spouse about what your divorce could or should look like.

The stress of the quarantine may lead the two of you to be open and honest about the state of your marriage and the need for you to divorce. If that is the case, then mediation may provide you with a way to expedite the situation and reduce the costs involved. Mediation can help you avoid going to court entirely or significantly shorten the period of time that it takes to accomplish your goals. It may even be possible to pursue mediation via Zoom or other virtual tools, giving the two of you the possibility of coming out of quarantine already divorced – or close to it – and ready to start your new lives.

For more information, contact the Reinherz team today!

 

How to Handle Shared Custody During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Custody can be one of the most fraught aspects of divorce for couples that have children. Partners who are angry, hurt, or disappointed at the dissolution of their marriage — or whatever led to the breakdown of the marriage — tend to allow either money or child custody to be the issue through which they express their ire. This outcome is hard on all involved and is especially so when the situation is exacerbated by a crisis.

If you and your ex-spouse are struggling with shared custody during the COVID-19 pandemic, you’re certainly not alone, but that doesn’t mean that there’s no solution. Your children are likely already stressed by school being closed and plans being canceled, so it would be best for all involved if you find a way to work together. Here are some tips on how to handle shared custody during these difficult times.

  • Make sure that you are doing everything you can to adhere to the CDC and local guidelines for safe behaviors and precautions, including social distancing, hand washing, and wearing masks while in the presence of others. Stay aware of current events and avoid conspiracy theories and rumors.
  • When speaking about the pandemic to your children, remain honest and calm, encouraging them to ask questions and come to you with their concerns. Keep the news channels off when they are around and make sure that any comments you make about the behaviors of others do not disparage your ex-spouse.
  • Do not make arbitrary or unilateral decisions about custody agreements or court orders. Your existing custody agreement remains in place unless both of you have agreed otherwise.
  • Use your imagination when it comes to ways to entertain your child. The events and outings that you normally participated in during your custody are likely not available to you right now, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything to do. Be creative and take advantage of outdoor activities if they are available, books, virtual tours and games, and more. Do not hesitate to include your co-parent in Skype, Facetime or Zoom get-togethers, as your child may need the reassurance of seeing their other parent or family members out of fear about the virus.
  • Be honest with your ex-spouse about your own health, exposures and plans. By working together, you elevate your ability to protect your child from the virus. If you can, discuss plans for what to do if either parent or the child/children begin to show symptoms of COVID-19.

A crisis can bring out either the best in people or the worst, but by making an extra effort to be collaborative and cooperative with your ex in how you deal with your shared custody, you can help your child through one of the most challenging times in our collective history.

For help with divorce or custody issues, you can contact our team today!

What Happens to a Bankruptcy During a Divorce?

Divorce and bankruptcy are two of the most emotional legal processes that any individual can go through, and as a result, it is a good idea to pursue them one at a time if at all possible. Though it is understandable to want to escape or end a bad marriage quickly, doing so can complicate a bankruptcy proceeding, and potentially make it much harder for the divorce proceedings to move forward quickly. There are several reasons for this:

  • One of the first things to happen when you file for bankruptcy is that an automatic stay is placed on all of your debts and puts a freeze on all of your assets. The stay is effective through the entirety of the process, and though that’s great if you’re getting constant calls from debt collectors, it makes the equitable division of property in divorce nearly impossible. If possible, complete the bankruptcy process before the divorce.
  • Filing for bankruptcy prior to your divorce will allow you to split the cost of a bankruptcy attorney and all related costs. Additionally, it will eliminate debt for both of you instead of leaving one of you with debt on property listed in both of your names.
  • Depending on where you live, if you are married and file for bankruptcy together it will double the value of your home exemption, thus making it more likely that you can hold on to your house.
  • If you are planning on divorcing after bankruptcy, then Chapter 7 will probably be the best route for you to go. This is because the Chapter 7 process is much faster. Where Chapter 7 bankruptcy generally resolves within a matter of months, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is not completed until the payment plan has eliminated all debt, which generally takes years.
  • Bankruptcy does not address all debts and specifically does not eliminate alimony or child support payments.

Though these are important considerations, you should also keep in mind that calculating eligibility for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy will be based on your joint incomes. If your combined income puts you over the threshold, then completing the divorce process first may make more sense.

There’s an old saying about money being the root of all evil, and it is definitely the source of many marital problems. If you are considering a divorce because of money arguments, you may want to reconsider whether eliminating your debt would also eliminate your problem. If not, be advised that once you decide to divorce you and your spouse should probably each have your own bankruptcy attorney to represent your best interests. For more guidance, contact our experienced attorneys today.

How to Handle a Divorce After Infidelity

Infidelity is damaging to any marriage and often leads to divorce. In some cases, the affair is the straw that finally breaks the camel’s back in an already faltering marriage, while in others the innocent spouse is caught entirely off guard and is simply too heartbroken or angry for reconciliation to occur. Whether you fall into one of those camps or somewhere between, it’s a good idea to be aware of how infidelity will impact the various aspects of your divorce proceedings. Though people assume it will have a big impact on standing in the court’s eyes, in most cases it has very little effect.

Though it is true that Pennsylvania law permits wronged parties to pursue a “fault” divorce based on spousal misconduct, most divorcing couples opt for a no-fault divorce. There are several reasons for this, but it really comes down to two things: to win a fault divorce you need to have proof of the adultery that you can present in court, and a no-fault divorce usually takes a great deal less time to execute and can often be accomplished outside of court.

This can be a hard lesson for an innocent spouse. Their pain can lead to wanting to punish the adulterer, and in divorce, the two most obvious ways of doing so are either financially or by taking away access to any children there may be in the marriage. Let’s look at those two aspects of a Pennsylvania divorce and how infidelity affects each:

  • When it comes to child support and child custody, infidelity is unlikely to have any impact on the court’s allocation of access to children unless the parent or their relationship has a potential negative impact on the children. If the cheating spouse or their new partner represents potential harm to the children, that should be raised in court.
  • When it comes to finances, equitable distribution is likely to remain relatively unchanged in a no-fault divorce, even where there has been cheating. However, alimony is a different story. Though it may be awarded for a period of time, alimony can be used to deny spousal support for the cheating spouse or to increase it for the spouse who was cheated on.

If you need information about ending your marriage and cheating has been involved, you need an attorney with experience in navigating these difficult emotional elements. Contact us today to set up a time for us to meet and discuss how we can help.

 

 

How to Limit Divorce Fallout and Stay Amicable

When you get married, you see nothing but possibilities. But when your marriage falls apart and you start considering divorce, the idea of having an amicable relationship with your spouse probably feels like an impossibility.

Keeping an open line of communications and minimizing animosity is not only doable – it is also important, especially if you have children together. To limit the nastiness and keep things amicable going forward, here are five important tips:

  • Think beyond yourself – It is easy when you are divorcing to only think about how your split will impact you. The economic, emotional and logistical issues can be maddening, and can easily inflame anger. But if you think beyond yourself to the others who are impacted by your marriage’s collapse – especially your children – you give yourself the opportunity to set aside your hurt feelings and outrage and try to act in the best interests of everybody involved.
  • Make sure that you have the emotional support you need – Getting a divorce can lead to intense loneliness, and that in turn leads to even more resentment towards your ex. It is important to have a strong circle of family and friends who let you know that you are loved and supported and that doesn’t criticize you. It is even better if they don’t criticize your spouse either. The more people try to work towards being accepting of both of you and not taking sides, the more positive your future interactions can be.
  • Figure out what you can agree on between the two of you – Though it is important to work with legal guidance, it is also both a money saver and a relationship saver to determine what you can agree on between the two of you, without intervention.
  • Keep your eyes on the horizon – If you are focusing on all of the little things that need to be resolved, then you end up fighting battle after battle. If you make it your long-term goal to get things resolved and move ahead to a place where you can have a different – and respectful – relationship with your ex, you will be a lot less likely to engage in bickering that can derail your best intentions. Pick your battles and be willing to acknowledge that the only reason you’re fighting over small items is because you feel a need to win a battle.
  • Hold your tongue – There is no doubt that you are a lot less likely to get nasty when you let your mouth do your talking than when you put your thoughts to paper – or computer, as the case may be. If you compose what you want to say in writing and then walk away from it for a few minutes before sending it – then come back and re-read it – you are more likely to take some of the heat out of it and edit out the inflammatory comments that can lead to anger.

If you’re considering divorce the attorneys at Reinherz are here to help, contact our team today!

 

 

Why Are Divorce Rates Down Amongst Millennials?

Depending upon your age, you may remember the days when most couples got married and did so when they were in their early twenties or even younger. They quickly began having children despite the fact that many were not well settled in their careers, or even had formulated their life goals. Unfortunately, in many cases that resulted in a high rate of divorce that continues to be seen even as they enter what should be their golden years – in fact, the “grey divorce” rate is on the rise.

By contrast, the overall divorce rate in the United States has taken a precipitous downward turn, dropping 18 percent from 2008 to 2016. Experts trying to figure out why that has happened credit the generation known as the “millennials”: they say that they are waiting longer to marry and making more considered decisions based on stronger foundations. As a result, their marriages have turned out to be more enduring.

According to an analysis conducted by University of Maryland sociology professor Philip Cohen, millennials have an interest in establishing themselves in their careers and making sure that their finances and education are in place before they embark on starting a family, and as a result, their marriages are lasting longer. By contrast, couples who have less money and less education are avoiding marriage entirely. Interestingly, their relationships also tend to be less stable, and the same is true for the married couples who are now in their 50s, 60s and 70s. The divorce rate for those between the ages of 55 and 64 has doubled and for those 65 and older has tripled, yet the overall divorce rate has dropped, making the strength of the younger generation’s marriages even more obvious.

According to Cohen, “One of the reasons for the decline is that the married population is getting older and more highly educated. Marriage is more and more an achievement of status, rather than something that people do regardless of how they’re doing.”  Other experts point to the fact that many millennials have the unfortunate experience of having watched their own parents go through divorces that traumatized them, and as a result, they are being far more careful in their selection of a life partner. They are being less exclusive while dating and delaying making a decision as long as possible in order to guard against a future split.

Despite this reassuring trend, clearly divorce still happens, even amongst younger age groups. And if you find yourself in a position where you’re considering divorce, regardless of your age, it may be time to contact the Reinherz law team to discuss your options.

 

Do You Need a Divorce Attorney?

People get divorced for a lot of different reasons. Though most divorces are challenging processes tainted with animosity and bad feelings, there are those couples who are able to walk away from their marriage without a lot of argument and bickering. If that is your situation, you and your soon-to-be-ex may be considering foregoing an attorney entirely and managing your divorce on your own. There are a lot of reasons why that is not a good idea.

You may think that you agree on everything, and there’s a chance that might be true. The truth is that you and your partner may believe that to be the case, and have already come to terms on topics like child support or alimony or who keeps what, and still have issues you haven’t thought of that need to be addressed. You may agree on those things too, but you still need a divorce lawyer to make you aware of them. Things like what to do with your life insurance policy, or whether you each need one to make sure that your kids’ college tuition is taken care of in case something happens to you. Things like how to address college payments, or out-of-pocket healthcare, or braces. An experienced divorce attorney will be able to walk you through all of the things that you haven’t thought of. You may still agree, but you still need the help.

You also are going to need help with the complexities of the divorce filing. Your premarital paperwork may only have required that you got a marriage license, but it’s a lot harder to break that contract then it is to establish it. Not only is there a long list of forms to be filed, but they need to be completed correctly in order to ensure that you don’t run into trouble down the road. An experienced divorce attorney can help – and save you the time and headaches of figuring it out too. They already know exactly what needs to be done.

If you’re concerned about the costs of hiring a divorce attorney or are worried that they will try to talk you out of what you’ve agreed to, then keep this in mind. If you do in fact agree to everything, hiring a divorce attorney will not represent a significant amount of money and will make the process go smoothly and quickly. If your agreement is unfair to either of you, then you need an outside voice to let you know that and to stand up on your behalf and make sure that you know what your rights and options are. Working with an experienced divorce attorney is the best way to make sure that you are getting what you want and need, even if you think you don’t need a lawyer!

Contact our experienced divorce attorneys today!

 

Is Joint Physical Custody Best for Children after a Divorce?

When a couple makes the decision to end their marriage, it may be the end to long-standing problems but the beginning of all new ones. Though divorce is generally the low point of a relationship, it is also the baseline from which the couple will need to make some of the most consequential decisions they’ve ever made together, with decisions about custody being the most challenging of all. In most cases, both parents want what is best for their children, but each will have their own interpretation of what that actually is. One of the first questions they will have to determine is whether the children will live with just one parent or split their time between two homes. The latter is known as joint physical custody, and most experts believe that it is the best possible answer for all, but especially for the children.

The advantage of a successful joint physical custody arrangement is that it gives kids the opportunity to spend time with both of their parents in their own separate worlds. The parents are each able to have their own physical space and home and provide both a home for their children and to build memories together.

Unfortunately, joint physical custody does have its downsides. Some parents will fight for more custody than what they can provide well in order to either lower their child support payments or simply to punish their ex-spouse. Even in the best of circumstances, it represents an unstable situation that requires a significant amount of organization, communication and coordination between the parents, as well as involved outsiders including teachers, grandparents and others. As a result, despite the best efforts of many co-parents, joint physical custody often does not work.

Joint physical custody requires figuring out how to split their children’s time between two separate households. In most cases, joint physical custody is accompanied by joint legal custody, in which both parents have a say in important decisions including education and medical care. More parents share legal custody than physical custody, although there are situations where even that cannot be agreed to or is not in the children’s best interest.

The most important reason to try to make joint physical custody work is that it allows children to establish a relationship with each of their parents. In most cases, this is in everybody’s best interest. If you’d like help negotiating the terms of a divorce that works for everybody, contact us today to set up a time for us to meet.

 

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