Louis Wm. Martini, Jr., P.C.
Over 20 years Of Family Law Experience In Pennsylvania
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The effects of divorce on retirement plans

Pennsylvania residents who get divorced will also have to worry about the division of retirement plans and the potential financial burdens that go hand-in-hand with that. This becomes more disruptive the older a divorcing couple is, though it can naturally affect anyone's retirement plans at any age.

U.S. News states that marriage and divorce can have a huge financial impact on all aspects of retirement. It can affect retirement balances, pensions, and Social Security benefits. In some situations, IRA balances or 401(k) plans can be given to one spouse entirely. However, it's also common to divvy the funds up between both. Dividing by percentage is considered a better idea than dividing by dollar since the value of the retirement plans may change with time. It's also possible that only the money made after a marriage begins will be available for division between both parties.

Can you move with your child after a divorce?

Divorced parents in Pennsylvania may not necessarily want to stay in the same city or even the same state after the split is finalized. At Louis WM Martini JR PC, we take a look at all of the potential scenarios in which you may be allowed to relocate with your child after a divorce.

There is actually a possibility that your ex-spouse may agree to any relocation requests you make. In this scenario, having permission allows you to skip all of the legal steps that are otherwise necessary, since you have full consent to move with your child. However, in many cases this doesn't occur and you're required to file an objection with a court.

Study finds divorce is genetic

Many in Pennsylvania and across the nation know that those who have divorced parents are more likely to divorce themselves. A new study says this could be due to genetics rather than repeating the behavior seen by parents.

According to Health, researchers studied the national registry data of nearly 20,000 Swedish adults who were adopted as children to see how their relationships resembled those of their biological or adoptive parents. The data showed that adopted children had a stronger resemblance to the relationships of their biological parents and siblings, instead of the parents who raised them. This came as a surprise to the researchers, who had seen previous studies suggesting the reason children are more likely to follow in their parents' footsteps of divorces is due to mimicry of behavior.

What's looked at when determining custody?

Pennsylvanian parents like you will have a lot on your plate if you're dealing with issues of both divorce and child custody simultaneously. At Louis WM Martini JR PC, emphasis is placed on learning the ins and outs of the child custody process. This will likely help you brace yourself for what's ahead on your own divorce journey.

There are numerous factors that are examined by the court to determine child custody arrangements. This includes things like the current status quo, i.e. how things are set up in your household already. Which parent is the child most used to seeing, for example? Shaking that up too much can be detrimental to their mental and emotional health, especially if their preference is for things to stay as they are. The child's opinion is valued in court, meaning they have more of a say than some might think.

Does your spouse have a retirement account? Get your fair share

Divorce usually involves some sort of property division. But splitting up your assets does not automatically include retirement plans. Even if your spouse has a significant retirement account, you do not get a fair share of it without asking the court for a qualified domestic relations order. 

According to the Internal Revenue Service, a QDRO is a court order for a retirement plan to cover marital property rights, alimony or child support to a former spouse. Learn why you might need a QDRO during your divorce and how it works. 

Getting divorced when one spouse is in prison

When a couple cannot live together, marriage is much more difficult, and if this is because one spouse is in a Pennsylvania prison, divorce may feel more complicated. Getting a divorce with one spouse in prison depends on many factors, including which spouse is initiating the divorce.

As FindLaw explains, if the spouse who wants to divorce is not imprisoned, he or she is able to use the imprisonment itself as grounds for divorce in some states. While this is not the case in all states, New York, for example, allows imprisonment to be the grounds of divorce for five years after a spouse is released from prison, so long as they were in lockup for at least three years. Of course, there are other possible grounds for divorce to use when the state does not specify imprisonment, and if the spouse in prison does not contest the divorce, divorce papers can be served behind bars or at a court appearance. When an imprisoned spouse is not willing to divorce, a lawyer can help provide counsel on the best steps to take.

What to know about Pennsylvania Protection From Abuse laws

If you are a victim of domestic violence, or if you believe you or your children are in physical danger because of someone in your life, you may be able to seek protection via a Pennsylvania Protection From Abuse order. Essentially, a PFA outlines guidelines your abuser must follow for a predetermined amount of time, and these guidelines may dictate any number of matters.

For example, a PFA might require that your abuser avoid contacting you by phone, email and other means, or it may require the abuser to return certain items, such as paperwork, pets and what have you. If the person named in the PFA fails to adhere to its terms, he or she may face criminal charges and penalties.

How does lifestyle affect affluent divorces?

Pennsylvania residents like you who have a large number of assets may find yourself facing unique hurdles during your divorce. There are more things you have to consider, and more steps that you have to take to ensure that your assets are protected.

One thing you may not even think to consider is your lifestyle choices during the divorce proceedings. As stated by Forbes, lifestyle maintenance costs are frequently overlooked during the divorce process. Fair conclusions can't be reached when you're figuring out how to divide your finances and assets unless you know where that money is coming from, and where it's been going. The spending habits of both parties should be taken into consideration and weighed against the incomes.

New studies favor shared custody arrangements for children

Pennsylvania parents who are going through a divorce often fear the impact it will have on their children. Many try to reduce the stress on the kids in any way possible, while simultaneously the time each parent has with their children can become a pain point in divorce proceedings. New studies favor splitting the time children have between parents as the healthiest option.

According to the Boston Herald, a literature review by a researcher at Wake Forest University found that children whose parents split custody had better outcomes than those raised primarily by one parent. Traditionally this has been done to prevent children from being the center of parental disputes. In fact, although 80 percent of custody hearings in America end up awarding primary custody to mothers, the researcher found that this might actually increase conflict. The study showed that the bonds between parent and child mattered more than any conflict the parents were having with one another, and children who were able to have close relationships with both parents did best.

Divorce can make retirement rules complicated

Many Pennsylvania couples who decide to divorce have a lot to consider: who gets the house? Where will the kids be staying? What some of these couples fail to adequately address is, what happens to the retirement savings?

There are many facets of retirement to consider, and they are not necessarily cut and dry. For example, Investment News reports that there are many complicated Social Security benefit regulations relating to divorce. While it may seem like a simple statement to say that a couple must be married 10 years before a divorce for either ex-spouse to be able to make a claim on the other's Social Security work record, this is more nuanced than it seems. Couples divorce and then remarry one another often enough that there are specific rules determining whether or not the remarriage can be added to the first marriage to add up to ten. If the remarriage begins in the calendar year immediately following the divorce, the years can be combined. Also, a couple who began benefits and then divorces cannot rescind those benefits from their ex-spouse. In fact, ex-spouse can suspend their benefits and it does not prevent his or her ex-spouse from collecting benefits on the otherwise suspended work record.

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