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Abington Family Law Blog

Establishing your financial independence

For those contemplating divorce, it may seem that the decision to engage in divorce proceedings will unleash a torrent of issues that need to be resolved in an instant: child custody, living arrangements, asset division and career considerations. Shuttling between lawyers and courtrooms can add to the stress. If you are prepared and the divorce is amicable, however, the process does not have to be so overwhelming.

One step that you can take to reduce the number of tasks that need to be completed as you are filing for divorce is to secure your finances before your status changes from "married" to "divorced." These steps should be taken even if you and your former spouse are on friendly terms; after all, your new life will require that you close shared accounts and open a separate account. In most cases, it's beneficial to establish the groundwork for financial security before you become immersed in resolving other issues.

What happens to pets in divorce proceedings?

For a lot of people, our pets are our family. We care about them like they were our own children. As a result, a lot of people believe that if they go through divorce proceedings, they will have a chance to argue for sole or shared custody of their pets with their ex. Because after all, isn't that what a judge would do if there was a human child involved?

Unfortunately, just because you see your pet as a member of the family doesn't mean the courts do. In fact, in Pennsylvania, marital property is defined so broadly, your pet could be seen as nothing more than a piece of property during divorce proceedings. What this means is the possibility of a more contentious division of marital assets than you previously imagined.

What is the Hague Convention and how does it arise in custody cases?

If you and your spouse have children and are currently considering divorce, you probably have questions about child custody laws in Pennsylvania or how custody arrangements work if one parent relocates to another state. For you, just understanding how state and interstate custody laws work together can be challenging enough.

But imagine if your spouse is not from this country and they want to return to their home country with the children after the divorce is finalized. For parents in these types of custody cases, international custody laws could very well come into play, but they may be vastly different from one country to the next. In the end, parents in these types of situations oftentimes face far more challenging circumstances than most.

Will I Lose My Friends?

When you are going through a divorce, you fear not only that you will lose time with your children or not keep some of your property, but your friends too.  It's a common fear and it's valid.  So what can you do about it?

Help!! What Documents Do I Need For My Divorce?

A friend of a friend complained about having to do something called "discovery" for her divorce.  She was confused and overwhelmed about what she needed to gather.

Discovery can be very basic, just questions and answers (interrogatories).  Usually when one spouse sends this to the other, the other one responds with his/her own set of interrogatories.  It's important to answer these questions within the time period (30 days).  You can answer them as much as possible on your own to save legal fees, but remember to give your draft answers to your attorney, who will make sure that you are not saying anything that could be hurtful. 

4 Things To Think About When Considering Divorce

1. Is it fault or no-fault? In some states, you have the option of filing for a no-fault or a fault-based divorce. With a no-fault divorce, you're saying that neither party is at fault; you're saying that the marriage has broken down and cannot be repaired. A no-fault divorce with mutual consent takes approximately six months, although the specifics vary if you have substantial assets to divide or cannot agree on custody and visitation. In a fault-based divorce, one spouse claims that the other is at fault, meaning that the divorce is the result of poor treatment by one spouse or participation in specific activities that constitute fault. Claiming fault is typically a tactic used when one spouse wants the divorce and the other does not, or when one spouse is angling for alimony. Marital misconduct is one of the factors judges consider when awarding alimony. 2. Will it be a contested or uncontested divorce? Another important factor in your divorce is whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. When your divorce is uncontested, both parties agree to the divorce and to work out terms. If you aren't able to work out settlement terms with your ex, you'll need arbitration, mediation, or the skills of a divorce attorney to resolve terms. It is an uncontested divorce so long as the court doesn't have to step in and make a ruling. Uncontested divorces move more quickly through the court system and are typically less expensive than contested divorces. In a contested divorce, you or your ex denies the grounds of the divorce, or you can't agree on the terms of the divorce. A fault-based divorce may be also contested by the spouse accused of fault. A contested divorce is a lengthy process involving numerous steps:
  • Preparing, filing, and serving divorce paperwork.
  • Discovery, when you gather information via written questions, subpoenas, and depositions.
  • Pre-trial motions and hearings to resolve any points of legal dispute.
  • Settlement proposals and negotiations between your attorneys.
  • Trial if you can't agree on settlement terms.
  • Judge's decision.
  • Appeal if you don't agree with the judge's decision.

A contested divorce can easily cost tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees, and can take more than a year, particularly if one of the parties appeals and begins a new round of legal process. 3. What are the residency requirements? There are residency requirements to file for divorce. To be eligible to file for divorce, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for the six months prior to filing to divorce. If you don't meet the residency requirement, you must wait to file or file in your former jurisdiction. 4. What is your plan to divide and negotiate the following in the divorce?
  • Child custody. 
  • Child support.
  • Marital assets.
  • Real estate and other real property.
  • Physical belongings.
  • Spousal support (alimony).

It's critical to work with a good divorce attorney when you or your spouse makes the decision to divorce. Even if your divorce is amicable, it is an emotional process and you may not clearly consider all factors that go into a divorce. If you and your spouse disagree, you need a good attorney on your side to protect your interests.

What To Do Next:
Experiencing a family law issue can be stressful and overwhelming. Knowledgeable family attorneys do much more than represent clients, they understand how choices made in the legal process can drastically affect life afterwards.

If someone you know is struggling with a family law issue let them know that a No Hassle Family Law Strategy Session can give them the peace of mind, clarity and guidance needed to achieve a stable, secure and happy future.

What's more, if I'm not the right attorney to solve their problem, I'll point them in the right direction. Feel free to forward this email to anyone you feel may benefit from the information in it, or have them call my office at 215-572-0700 to schedule a time to figure out the best strategy toward their new life.
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