Category Archives: Our Legal Services & Fees

HOW MARITAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS SAVE YOU MONEY

A marital settlement agreement, also referred to as a MSA, is an opportunity for couples to save money on the division of their assets and debts, without having a judge decide for them. If a couple is not able to come to an agreement they will spend a considerable amount more in money and time fighting the issues out in court. The trend of today’s savvy divorcing couples is to spell out their own settlement agreement terms. This means that the couple saves considerable attorney’s fees by deciding the terms for the dissolution of their marriage. They then have their attorney draft the marital settlement agreement and file it with the divorce court. By doing it this way, the couple then does not have to go to court.

Marital settlement agreements are legal contracts which define the terms of a divorce for couples with or without children. This option is available when both parties consent to the terminating conditions of their divorce and plans for the future. Conditions for an agreement can include a range of items such as: wedding debt, personal property, spousal support, child financial responsibilities, involvement of grandparents, pets,and frequent flier miles.

Couples have the freedom to decide which items are of importance and should be included in their marital settlement agreement. They become the authors of their lives after divorce; instead of being forced to accept the order of a Master or Judge after lengthy and expensive divorce litigation. If divorcing couples can find mutual ground they can tailor their agreement to their personal needs. This means saving headaches, time and money and is one way to divorce “on budget”.

There are different ways to work on a Pennsylvania marital settlement agreement with a spouse. Some couples have an initial conversation and go from there. Another option is to have one party write up a draft and then email his/her spouse, they go back and forth a few times until they have terms they feel are acceptable. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that each person will have to compromise in order to create a fair agreement. It’s very rare for a person to get everything he/she wants.

If you hire No Contest Divorce Law, LLC to draft your Pennsylvania marital settlement agreement, you will be emailed a marital settlement agreement questionnaire. Just fill out the questionnaire and No Contest Divorce Law, LLC will draft your agreement promptly. The questionnaire will help you to address important areas that you should consider. This is a good way not to overlook critical issues. You can always contact No Contest Divorce Law, LLC if you have questions about the terms of your marital settlement agreement.

In addition, couples who come to an agreement with their spouse will be spared additional emotional trauma. Divorce tends to catapult people into uncharted emotional territories where they find themselves experiencing unsettling emotions. Couples who decide to battle it out in court increase the frequency of painful episodes and often take a lot longer to emotionally heal. With an agreed upon marital settlement agreement, divorcing couples tend to emotionally recuperate quicker.

Once you and your spouse have agreed to the terms of your divorce, contact No Contest Divorce Law, LLC to file the legal paperwork at 215-398-6760 or start right away by clicking on MARITAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT.

You are also invited to read our client testimonials. See what others have to say about our services.

DIFFERENCE BETWEEN UNCONTESTED & CONTESTED DIVORCE

When considering getting a divorce in Pennsylvania, there are two basic options. Uncontested divorce and contested divorce are the two options available to couples who are ready to be divorced in Pennsylvania. A contested divorce is when the couple cannot come to an agreement on the terms of their divorce such as assets division and debt division. An uncontested divorce means that the divorcing couple agrees on the terms of their divorce.

An uncontested divorce does not mean the couple is amicable towards one another. It does mean that that they are going to save a considerable amount of money by not fighting out the terms of their divorce in divorce court. There is less financial burden due to high attorneys fees and a quicker dissolution of the marriage in an uncontested divorce.

A contested divorce allows for a high level of conflict and stress. With a contested divorce both parties will have to go to court and pay fees for litigation and having the lawyers work out an agreement. Also, after a judge’s ruling, the losing party can file an appeal – meaning you may have to go back to court and restate your case. All of this costs considerable time and money for both spouses. Many times, the attorneys end up getting more that the spouses in the end.

An uncontested divorce does not mean couples are in agreement about why the divorce ended, but they are able to put aside their difference to efficiently end their marriage. Couples who decide on a simple, uncontested, no-fault divorce also have the opportunity to create their own marital settlement agreement. The agreement allows couples to decide for themselves how they want to divide their assets and debts – versus a judge telling them how they are going to divide them. Attorney James Cairns offers his clients a free marital settlement agreement questionnaire which is an easy to use guide to figuring out a marital settlement agreement. Also, you can contact him with any questions you may have about your divorce or marital settlement agreement matters.

If you and your spouse are able to leave the fighting outside the courtroom and are ready for a Pennsylvania simple, uncontested, no-fault divorce, then contact Attorney James Cairns for a free initial consultation at 888.863.9115.

Are you ready to start right away? Use the DIVORCE MASTER to analyze, calculate your legal fees and give you the option to file immediately. It’s just like sitting in our office for a free consultation.

You can also read what our clients say about us in their email testimonials.

THE RISKS OF NOT HAVING A MARITAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

What is a Fair Settlement Agreement?

What constitutes a “fair” marital settlement agreement is a headline that has recently been blasted across media circuits. Most recently, Tom Cruise has been accused of getting out of his divorce easily, since his ex-wife Katie Holmes will “only” receive a stated $400,000 for child support. The comparison has been made to his $250 million fortune.

What the media has failed to cover is that this amount is what Holmes felt was suitable for her daughter Suri’s annual needs. In addition, we still don’t know details of how other expenses will be covered, such as medical coverage or a college education. The sensationalism of the dollar amount has overlooked other components of the divorce, such as Holmes being the primary caretaker and the restrictions she has placed on Suri’s exposure to Scientology, Cruise’s religion.

A marital settlement agreement is not just about a lump sum of money for child support. A properly prepared marital settlement agreement also covers several other areas, including: involvement of grandparents in the children’s lives, division of the residential home and other assets and debts, family business and even the household pets. It’s rare for an individual in a divorce to get everything s/he wants; a marital settlement agreement is a compromise between both parties. The agreement should be fair and reasonable, and ensures that both parties will have a more certain future with clearly written conditions.

Also, when a divorced couple has a signed settlement agreement between them, it allows them to save time and money and stress, because they do not have to battle out their disagreements in front of a judge. For example, Grammy Award winning R&B singer, Usher Raymond IV, fought for over a year and a half to win primary child custody. Tameka Foster Raymond, Usher’s ex-wife, now suffers the result of not working out an agreement under more amicable conditions, such as shared custody, but is also dealing with the recent death of her son Kile.

Tempers can flare and emotions tend to run high during a divorce. It’s in the best interest of the divorcing couple to find healthy ways to channel their emotions and quickly move towards a marital settlement agreement. Some of the odd items fought over in divorces include: David Hasslehoff wanting his golf-cart back, Kris Humphries fighting for the engagement ring from Kim Kardashian, and Beth Shack battling it out over 1,200 pairs of designer shoes.

Michael Douglas has battled with ex-spouse Diandra Douglas about intellectual property rights to Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps. The coupled reportedly have been fighting over this for fourteen years. Do you want to spend a considerable amount of our future fighting out matters because you didn’t write it up in a marital settlement agreement?

Once you’re ready to file for an uncontested divorce and/or martial settlement agreement contact No Contest Divorce Law, LLC for a free consultation at 215-398-6760.

For an immediate free virtual consultation click on the DIVORCE MASTER.

The Divorce Master will analyze and qualify your specific case for an online uncontested Pennsylvania divorce, calculates your total legal fees, and allows you to file your case immediately. It’s just like sitting in our office for a free consultation.

Read client testimonials to see learn about our clients’ experiences.

HOW TO PROTECT YOUR MOST VALUABLE ASSET: – YOUR HOUSE

Marital homes tend to be the biggest asset of a couple and can also be the largest liability of a couple. As you are considering who gets to keep the house, put aside the memories and emotions tied into it and seriously consider how the house is going to affect your financial future. Don’t let your home become a financial nightmare.

When it comes to your house and the mortgage there are four basic options:

  1. Purchase the house from your spouse;
  2. Sell your home and share the profits or debt;
  3. Sell the house to your spouse; or
  4. Continue to share ownership with your spouse.

Purchasing house from spouse

There are several important factors to consider when purchasing the house from your spouse. The number one consideration is how your monthly income will change. Will you be able to comfortably continue the mortgage payments? Are you financially prepared to incur the cost of a major house repair, for example a pipe bursting and flooding your kitchen? If the mortgage is in both of your names then you may have to refinance in your own name. Refinancing means taking into account your debt, job history and credit history.

Selling your house

An important consideration when selling your home is to take into account the expenses which come along with selling the house. Don’t forget the real estate commission and also possible tax implications. Also, be discreet of why you are selling your home. Homeowners have lost on the average $10,000 when buyers realize that the house is being sold due to divorce.

We strongly urge you to put the details of selling your home in a settlement agreement, making it legally binding. Some of the items to consider in your settlement agreement are:

  1. Steps each spouse will take to sell the house;
  2. A timetable – how long are you going to have the house on the market; and
  3. What action will you and your spouse take if the house is not sold within your specified timetable?

Selling house to spouse

If you are on the title and mortgage make sure your name is taken off. Not taking this measure can possibly ruin your credit because of late mortgage payments and back taxes. You can use a settlement agreement to legally spell out how the title will be transferred to the spouse who is buying the house.

Shared Ownership

Another use of settlement agreements is when spouses decide to continue to share ownership of the house. You can spell out the financial agreements. Who will pay for the mortgage, taxes and insurance? How will repairs be handled? Will you sell the house after the children become adults?

The value of a settlement agreement can not be understated. It it always better and less costly to have a settlement agreement prepared now than it is to go to court to settle a dispute later. A marital settlement agreement is the legal document which will protect you when your ex-spouse becomes emotional or has a change of heart. Attorney James Cairns concentrates in settlement agreements and can help you secure the future of your home and finances. You can either call 888.863.9115 for an initial free consultation or learn more about settlement agreements by clicking on the words SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT.

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.

STARTING THE DIVORCE PROCESS

You have decided to go ahead and get an uncontested Pennsylvania divorce. Now you are wondering what you have to do to get started. Below is a run-down of some the basics, including what you will need to fill out on the online form and questions you may want to consider.

Don’t get overwhelmed. These are just some standard questions and the online intake form will take you only about five minutes to fill-out.

Information to have ready for the online intake form

Personal Information

  1. Full Names
  2. Physical addresses for both yours and your spouse (not a postal office box address). This information is important for the residency requirement and to make sure you both can be contacted by us and the court, if necessary. Also, if someone else is paying for the divorce you will need their full name and email address
  3. Your phone number
  4. Your Email Address (and your spouse’s Email address if you have it). This is how we send you divorce paperwork and keep send you proactive updates on your case.
  5. Birthdays (month, date, year)

Marriage Information

  1. Date of your marriage
  2. Date of separation, if applicable
  3. The city of where you were married
  4. State of where you were married

Additional Information

Don’t forget to have your payment information ready. We use a Paypal shopping cart, so we accept credit cards, checking account payments, and Paypal account payments. Once you make payment, we’ll send you your divorce complaint within 1 business day.

At the end of the form you will have an opportunity to type in any questions or other information you believe Attorney James Cairns should know.

Having the above information handy will make the application process go even quicker. Remember it only takes a few minutes to go through it and have your divorce process officially started almost immediately.

Questions to Consider

Settlement Agreements

A settlement agreements can provide a legal agreement for the following issues and is generally recommended as a good safety net to have in case there are problems later.

  • Do you need to divide property?
  • Do you have a monthly mortgage? Who will be responsible for the payments?
  • Do you want to have a legal document stating the specifics of child custody?
  • Do you want a legal document to state what you have agreed on for spousal support?
  • Do you have debt which needs to be settled?

Name Change

Removing Spouse’s Name on a Deed

Prior Action for Divorce or Annulment

  • Have you already started a divorce or an annulment? Don’t worry if you have, we can still help you with an uncontested divorce.

Serving Spouse

  • Do you want us to serve your spouse the divorce paperwork? You can elilminate the stress of serving your spouse by having us do it for you. Just choose the option when you go through the intake form. We’ll serve your spouse for $70.

Now that you know what to have ready you can either go ahead and get started by clicking on the words get started now or call No Contest Divorce Law, LLC for a free initial consultation at 215-398-6760.

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.

DIVORCING? GET YOUR FINANCES IN LINE!

Researchers estimate that 45 to 50% of first marriages end in divorce in the United States. For second and subsequent marriages, the divorce rate is even higher. You may ask, “Why is the divorce rate so high in the United States?”

Many experts and divorce attorneys agree that two factors play a key role in the rate of divorce: 1) women are more economically independent than ever before, and 2) divorce is socially acceptable in the 21st century.

Even though more of America’s women are college educated and financially independent than they were in the 1970s and earlier, that doesn’t change the fact that a lot of spouses (men and women) put off a divorce for financial reasons and financial reasons alone. Many of our clients cited these economic reasons for putting off their divorce:

  • Afraid of losing their hard-earned assets
  • Afraid they can’t afford to pay child and/or spousal support
  • Afraid of giving half of their retirement to their spouse
  • Afraid of losing the marital residence
  • Afraid they can’t afford to support themselves or their family (often, stay at home moms) without their spouse’s income
  • Afraid of having to go back to work after a long hiatus
  • Don’t want to pay spousal support
  • Afraid they’ll be broke if they get a divorce
  • Afraid of being stuck with all of the marital debt

If you notice, we used the word “afraid” a lot. That’s because too many unhappy spouses put off filing for divorce because they have a lot of fear about what will happen to them financially. Most of these fears come from the unknown and not knowing much about how divorce will affect one’s finances.

Have money fears prevented you from taking the plunge?

If you’re in an unsatisfying marriage but you’ve held on because you’re afraid of ending up penniless, we have good news for you. Pennsylvania’s divorce laws are aimed at being fair. If you can’t afford to pay spousal support, there’s a good chance the judge will not order it.

If you’ve only been married for a year or two and you’re wealthy, the judge isn’t going to divide all of your assets down the middle and give the other half to your spouse; it doesn’t work like that.

Instead, the judge will look at only the assets acquired during the marriage, and after carefully reviewing your situation, the judge will decide on a fair and equitable distribution, unless of course you and your spouse reach an agreement on your own.

If you’re headed for divorce, here are some things to start thinking about today to prepare yourself financially:

  • If you’re the lower-earning spouse, you cannot rely on spousal support because it’s not guaranteed. Start thinking about what you need to do to become financially independent and self-supporting.
  • If you’re the higher-earning spouse, start thinking about ways to increase your income. If you’re ordered to pay child and/or spousal support, you’ll probably need more income to be comfortable.
  • Focus on paying off debt and living below your means.
  • Create a post-divorce budget today.
  • Think, “What can I do to become more successful?” If going back to school or working hard for a promotion will help you out, then by all means do it.
  • Find ways to cut down on your expenses.
  • If you’re not already, start saving 10% of your income so you have a safety net.
  • If you can afford one, hire a financial advisor to help you plan for retirement as a single person.
  • Ask your divorce attorney for advice on how to protect your credit during a divorce.
  • If you’re in the dark about your finances, now is the time to get intimately familiar with them.

Divorce does not have to be the big financial blow that people fear it will be. While you’ll need to reorganize your life and your priorities, if you play your cards right, you can change your economic circumstances for the better.

One of the best ways to get started on the right foot is to agree to a mutual consent, no-fault divorce through No Contest Divorce, LLC. With our services, it’s possible to achieve a fast and cheap divorce in no time at all. To learn more about our low-cost divorce services, contact our office directly!