Category Archives: Family Law

TIPS ON STARTING A MARITAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

Negotiating a marital settlement agreement during an uncontested divorce can seem overwhelming. You are trying to figure out the best way to get what you need and survive after the divorce; add the emotional aspects and you might feel like giving up before you even start. We’ve put together some tips to help you get started with your marital settlement agreement.

The first item to keep in mind is you are not usually going to get every single thing you want. Remember, it’s a negotiation. Both parties should walk away with some sense of a secure financial future. This is not the time to try to take advantage of your spouse or “stick it” to him or her. The goal is to save money by not having to go to court, where a judge will tell you what you get.

Keep focused during your negotiations. This is not the time to bring up complaints or emotional hurts, consider it a business deal which will affect the rest of your life. When communicating with your spouse:

  1. If you can’t be nice, at least be civil;
  2. Listen to your spouse, but don’t get dragged into a fight;
  3. Be patient, you may have to meet a couple of times to get the details finalized. It’s unusual to work out a marital settlement agreement in one meeting;
  4. Know what to compromise on; and
  5. Pick a neutral place to negotiate. The last thing you want are reminders of what went wrong or someone butting into your personal situation.

Don’t show up to your meeting and figure whatever happens is what was meant to happen. Show up prepared with a list of items you want to negotiate. Some individuals show up with a timer. This helps them not to linger on a topic and move on to the next issue. If you use a timer, negotiate how much time you’ll spend on each topic with your spouse. If you are having a hard time on a topic, leave it for another day.

Here are some topics you may want to consider as you move through your marital settlement agreement:

  1. Lawyer fees and legal divorce costs;
  2. Spousal support and/or alimony;
  3. Child support;
  4. Pets;
  5. Grandparents’ role;
  6. How to handle the needs of a special needs child;
  7. Creating a list of marital property;
  8. How to divide the marital property;
  9. Creating a list of marital assets and debts;
  10. How to handle the house;
  11. How to handle your child’s school year;
  12. How to handle your child’s birthday, holidays and special events;
  13. Taxes,
  14. Health insurance,
  15. Timeshares;
  16. Frequent flier miles;
  17. Pensions;
  18. Changing names on deeds;
  19. How to handle items of transportation – i.e. car, motorcycle, boat;
  20. What happens when an ex-spouse does not fulfill an obligation – i.e. child support or spousal support;
  21. How to handle any business you or your spouse are involved in;
  22. How to handle counseling for you and/or children; and
  23. How to handle religious training for your children.

Also, don’t be shy about asking your divorce attorney for a guide and/or some tips on negortiating marital settlement agreements.

RELIGIOUS ANNULMENT VS. LEGAL ANNULMENT

Due to the difficulty infrequency in obtaining annulments, No Contest Divorce Law, LLC does not handle annulments.

If you think you may want to try to get an annulment, know that there are two basic types of annulments in Pennsylvania. The first one is a religious annulment and the second type is a legal annulment. These annulments are very different and a religious annulment does not mean the same thing as a legal annulment.

A religious annulment differs in the sense that it tyically gives you the right to remarry within the religious institution. Many religions, such as Roman Catholic, will not allow you to be married in their church by a priest if you have ever been divorced. This type of annulment does not give you the right to legally remarry. Also, during a religious annulment parties are not represented by an attorney but instead must follow the procedure of the religion.

In the Catholic Church, before seeking a religious annulment, you must first have a legal divorce. Your ex-spouse will have to be notified and has to have the opportunity to make a response. The average cost is around $500, depending on the church, and averages around 16 months to go through the process. Grounds for a religious annulment vary from religion to religion. We suggest you speak with your religious advisor for details.

A legal annulment dissolves the marriage. What this means is that the marriage is treated like it never happened. Legal annulments allow your status to return to single or unmarried status.

Some of the reasons for a legal annulment include:

  1. A spouse was under the influence of drugs or alcohol;
  2. Either party was under the age of 16, unless parental permission was given;
  3. Close blood relationship;
  4. Mental incapacity;
  5. A spouse was manipulated into the marriage. This would include: fraud, force or duress; and
  6. A spouse was impotent and did not reveal this to the other party.

Either party can initiate an annulment. The initiating party must prove he or she has grounds, and then proves those grounds.

Unlike annulment, an uncontested divorce does not require you to have piles of paperwork proving why you should have a divorce. In an uncontested divorce both parties enter to the divorce willingly and no one is guilty party in the divorce. Also, in an uncontested divorce you have the option of creating your own settlement agreement and not having a judge impose what he or she thinks is fair.

Attorney No Contest Divorce Law, LLC is happy to give you a free initial consultation at 215-839-1162 or get started today by clicking on the words uncontested divorce.

5 QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE STARTING A MILITARY DIVORCE

Going through a military divorce is painful. You are not alone, last year military divorces hit an all time high since 1999.

There are a lot of reasons military divorces continue to increase. Causes for divorce stem from years of deployment to increased war time activities, both in preparation and actual combat duty time. This leads to intimate relationships being tested and often ending in divorce. In addition, military personnel that have returned from wars are adjusting to a family they have been away from for an extended amount of time. Roles at home are redefined and also new issues come into the picture, such as physical and emotional wounds from war.

The U.S. Army does offer an intervention program, Strong Bonds, and the demand for services has steadily increased over the last ten years. Strong Bonds is a chaplain-led program available to army soliders which offers relationship education. The program is not just for couples, but also does have family programs available.

Yet, the sad reality is that often couples and families have grown apart during the military spouse’s absence. The Pentagon reported last year that 30,000 military marriages ended in divorce.

Once you have made the decision to obtain an uncontested military divorce, here are some questions to ask your potential attorney:

  1. What is your approach when handling divorce cases?
  2. How much experience does he or she have handling military divorces?
  3. Who else will be working on my case?
  4. What is your hourly rate or total fee? How much will the entire divorce costs, including additional filings for a military divorce?
  5. How will you communicate with me during the case?

When going through a military divorce an experienced lawyer can make all the difference. Military divorce is unique and has specific procedures which must be taken to address additional legal issues.

Attorney James Cairns concentrates in military divorces. Give him a call at 888.863.9115 (without any obligation) or send and email and learn more details about military divorce.

IS IT NECESSARY TO GO TO COURT OR ATTEND HEARINGS?

In the state of Pennsylvania, when you and your spouse are in agreement for divorce this is called an uncontested divorce. An uncontested divorce is sometimes also referred to as a “simple” divorce or a “no-fault” divorce. You do not have to go to court or even attend hearings to obtain an uncontested divorce . Although you do not have to attend court there is a residency requirement. You or your spouse must live in Pennsylvania at least six months prior to filing for divorce. You do not both have to be a resident of Pennsylvania, only one of you. This is how we are able to obtain a divorce for our clients when one party has moved away or is in the military. We can help process your divorce even quicker if you have been legally separated for two or more years.

Not having to spend time and money on going to court is one of the many ways we are able to make your uncontested divorce more affordable. We gladly pass the saving on to you. Divorces handled by traditional law firms can easily cost thousands of dollars. Not having to appear in court also means that you don’t have waste money on traveling, gas or parking costs. Furthermore, we save you time. You don’t have to worry about taking time off of work or school. We understand how valuable your time is, and since we are an online divorce law firm it means that we are always here when it’s convenient for you.

At No Contest Divorce Law, LLC we help people from across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with their simple, no-fault, uncontested divorces. We use technology to make your uncontested divorce fast, easy and affordable. To get started today either call us at 888.863.9115, for a free phone consultation, or click on GET STARTED TODAY and get your case started right away.

WHAT IS A CHILD-FOCUSED UNCONTESTED DIVORCE?

Child-focused divorces have captured the attention of the media and are becoming a model for many divorcing parents living in Philadelphia and other Pennsylvania cities. Parents facing uncontested divorces are starting to look to see how they can put the interests of children first instead of using them as a bargaining tool. Often these same parents were children of divorced households and do not want to subject their own children to possible trauma and hurt they faced as children of divorcing parents.

There have been studies demonstrating that experiencing parental conflict during divorce is harmful to a child’s development. An uncontested divorce can be a confusing time in a child’s life. Children may blame themselves, sometimes thinking that if they would have behaved better or done better in school, then their parents would not be divorcing. Other issues that children face is limited quality time with one or both parents and changes in home or in school location. Uncontested divorce can be a time that creates deep feelings of insecurity in a child’s life.

Parents creating a child-focused divorce seek to avoid long term social and emotional damage to their children. Instead of taking the attitude that the kids will “get over it”, these parents look to create a healthier environment for their children during and after their divorce. This includes not just figuring out an agreeable custody schedule, but also takes into consideration a child’s emotional well being.

Some tips to keep in mind during a child-focused uncontested divorce are:

  1. Reassure the child that she is loved – verbally and with lots of hugs and kisses;
  2. Intently listen to your child’s needs BEFORE making a decision (i.e., activities, school);
  3. Hire a divorce coach at the beginning of your divorce;
  4. Create structure and routine. Calendars (in both homes) are a great way to help kids remember and understand their routines;
  5. Select a child therapist that you trust; and
  6. Create a solid parenting plan in your marital settlement agreement.

There are several children’s books about divorce on the market. A quick search online will give you some options; also you may want to ask your local reference librarian. Films are another area that may cover divorce from a child’s perspective, such as one recently released by HBO. Children and Divorce is a film created by Professor Childs. The documentary covers the stories of eight children talking about divorce in their own words. Peer reassurance can have a stronger impact than a parent saying everything will be fine.

Don’t expect instant or monumental changes in your child’s acceptance of your divorce or his different behavior. Keep in mind that an uncontested divorce is a major life change and it will take some time for you and your child to transition into a restructured family. Deciding on a child-focused divorce can help your child’s emotional and mental health and the lasting impact normally follows him/her into adulthood.

GUNS, UNCONTESTED DIVORCE & MARITAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS

Vernon Winfrey, Oprah Winfrey’s father, looks like he is headed for a heated contested divorce. Divorce allegations include having an affair, income from a trust his daughter set up for him, and holding a gun during an argument with his sixty-four year old wife Barbara Winfrey. It has been reported that the million dollar residence is now gun free.

In a tragic divorce situation, a spouse may not only shoot his or her spouse, but may also shoot himself or herself. Carefully consider your options on how to deal with your firearms and prevent a domestic violence situation. We have some ideas on how to start thinking about how you may want to handle your firearms and how they can be used in a marital settlement agreement.

Some options when dealing with an uncontested divorce and firearms are:

  1. Have a friend store your guns at his or her place;
  2. Place your guns in a storage facility;
  3. Store your guns with a gun dealer; and
  4. Put a trigger lock on your firearms.

Creating a complete list of the firearms you own should be a precaution you should take. Make sure to include serial numbers. Some individuals may think their spouse would never use the guns against him/her. In the heat of an argument you don’t want this to be an option taken in anger. Too often the words “I never thought this would happen” are heard after an avoidable situation.

If your spouse disposes your firearms you may end up being liable if they are improperly used. In some instances individuals do get their guns back from their ex spouse, but many times they were not properly stored and/or have been damaged. Some spouses have hastily hidden their husband’s/wife’s gun and unknowingly gave their child easy access to a firearm. Don’t make the mistake of leaving your guns where you child may have access to them!

Keep in mind that a spouse may use your gun against you. Also, you don’t want to give your spouse false pretenses for filing for a restraining order against you, especially if you have children. Think through the situation, and be proactive now instead of reacting later.

Even if you have removed the guns from your home you can include your guns in your marital settlement agreement. If the firearms were acquired during the marriage you can negotiate their value, using them as a debt (not fully paid off) or asset. You can get your gun collection appraised rather inexpensively, a quick search online will give you idea of their value. This can give you some leverage when negotiating your marital settlement agreement with your soon to be ex spouse.

LAST-MINUTE CHRISTMAS ADVICE

If you are in the middle of or have recently gotten a divorce, facing the first Christmas alone can be extremely difficult. While many other forms of loss come with an outpouring of support, a divorce can oftentimes leave you alone and reaching out to others. This holiday, Cairns Law Offices is providing some last-minute tips for you to navigate the holiday season the best you can.

Take Time For You This Holiday

It can be really easy to believe that you are alone the first holiday after divorce. There are so many other families in your same situation! The most important thing you can do for yourself is to follow some advice from others who have gotten through their post-divorce Christmas.

  1. Have a team of family and loved ones on call if you experience overwhelming emotion
  2. Remember that the holidays will pass
  3. Go out and have fun with people instead of staying inside all the time
  4. Recognize that it may be hard and may not be like other holidays
  5. Avoid drugs and alcohol to decrease the likelihood of depression
  6. Don’t put up Christmas decorations if it will cause pain and suffering
  7. Take a walk or go to the gym to relieve stress and depression
  8. Get Vitamin D to help boost your overall mood
  9. Set boundaries to help you cope

The first Christmas holidays that you have to spend on your own should be time spent to help yourself heal. There will be a lot to process, whether it is general emotion or spending the first Christmas away from the children. Giving yourself the space needed to move forward is not only therapeutic, but should be actively encouraged.