Category Archives: Preparing Settlement Agreements

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.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SEPARATION AGREEMENT AND A SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT?

The terms sound very similar, and many people call both by one or the other’s name and they are used interchangeably. In fact, they are slightly different.

A Separation Agreement is a contract between husband and wife that is entered into prior to a divorce being final. The Separation Agreement is meant to settle any issues that may exist between the parties, such as property, alimony, debts, insurance, taxes, child custody, child visitation, child support. It is an agreement that is entered into in contemplation of divorce. It does not have to be filed with the court at the time it is entered into.

Once divorce paperwork is filed, a Separation Agreement is often incorporated into what is called a Settlement Agreement. In other words, a Separation Agreement becomes a part of the Settlement Agreement. Separation Agreements may also be written to function as Settlement Agreements if both parties can agree on how to handle issues in contemplation of divorce and after the divorce decree is ordered. The Settlement Agreement is filed with the court, and becomes a part of the final divorce decree. The Settlement Agreement can contain the same terms and govern the issues between you as the Separation Agreement, or it can have different terms.

Sometimes a Separation Agreement is used as a temporary agreement between the parties to govern the relationship while they are separated and not divorced yet. While the parties are separated, they can then work on a more permanent agreement called a Settlement Agreement.

Both a Separation Agreement and a Settlement Agreement may state whether the agreement is to survive the decree of divorce as a separate contract (“incorporated”), or whether it should be merged along with the decree.

If you have questions about settlement agreements, call for a free initial consultation with an attorney at 888-863-9115. You can get started with your divorce now by CLICKING HERE (can can also choose your settlement agreement when at the same time).

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.

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.

2 VITAL TIPS WHEN CONFRONTING A CHEATING SPOUSE

You have noticed your spouse’s behavior has changed and it has raised some red flags of infidelity. Behavioral changes can range from being suddenly over attentive to often being absent. We have two vital steps to initially take when dealing with a cheating spouse.

Initially Keep Quiet

Sure, your first instinct is to confront him or her and possibly making him or her feel as bad as you felt the moment you realized the situation. However, if you start off by being confrontational, your spouse is more likely to lie to you about the situation. This will make your efforts to find the truth more difficult. Now is the time to play it smart.

Human nature makes you want to tell someone. Try your best to keep your suspicions to yourself, unless you are talking with your therapist, who is ethically bound to keep your situation confidential. You don’t know who already knows what and what their role is in keeping the affair a secret. If you tell your best friend you may be running the risk of telling the very person your spouse is sleeping with. Also, initially telling friends and family complicates the situation.

Everyone will have an opinion of what you should do. Remember that you need to figure out what’s in your best interest. Give yourself some alone time. The last thing you want is to have your fifteen minutes of fame splattered across the local newspaper because your spouse reacts in a volatile manner. Worse yet, you may act in a bad manner. Remember to control the situation as much as you can.

This is also an opportunity for you to collect evidence that you may need in court for purposes such as alimony. This will come in handy when negotiating your marital settlement agreement. If you confront your spouse before doing your homework, rest assured that s/he will start cleaning up their trail.

Self-respect

Once you have decided to confront you spouse about cheating, do it with dignity. Remember a test of character is how you act during challenging times. Don’t give your spouse the option of who she or he wants to be with and then wait indefinitely for an answer. The ball is in your court; don’t give your power away.

Before speaking with your spouse, have specific goals and stick to your plan. Take time to practice what you are going to say. The last thing you want to do is have a conversation or argument when you are still freshly wounded. You owe it to yourself to have a well prepared plan. A well prepared plan will also throw your spouse off guard.

Refrain from wasting your time on your spouse’s lover. It’s natural to be curious about who he or she is, but your spouse is really the problem, not the other person. Some people have gone into total obsession in order to learn every detail about their spouse’s lover. In the end, this serves no real purpose. Your time is more valuable and should be used toward making your life better. Don’t squander your time away by focusing on your spouse’s lover. This is the time to make yourself the focus of your attention and figure out how you are going to handle your future and possible uncontested divorce.

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.

RUPERT MURDOCH AND WENDI DENG REACH A SETTLEMENT

Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corp. and 21st Century Fox, has recently been focusing his attention on his divorce from Wendi Deng. Wendi was Rupert’s third wife and the couple had been married for 14 years. The couple met when Wendi, recently graduated from Yale School of Management, took a position as the vice-president of STAR TV. After connecting at a company party they were married two years later. The couple had two daughters together and their ages are 10 and 11.

News about the couple’s relationship broke earlier this year when it was reported that Murdoch had chosen to divorce his wife. The couple had allegedly been facing marital issues for months prior to the split. On November 20, 2013, the couple reached a divorce settlement together and they were able to end the marriage cordially. The final court appearance was short-lived, lasting only around 10 minutes. Since the details of the settlement has already been worked out, there was no reason for it to persist.

Through a mutual agreement, the divorce terms were sealed. It is reported however, that the couple faced differences over who would get the homes in New York and China. They also dealt with disputes over the custody of their children. They were able to resolve both of these matters and the issue of Murdoch’s companies had already been addressed through prenuptial and postnuptial agreements between the couple.

Through the settlement both Murdoch and Deng were able to avoid a public trial and having their case last longer than needed. They released a statement that they would work together for the benefit of their children and that they would no longer make any public statements on the divorce. The No Contest Divorce, LLC provides experienced representation for individuals going through a divorce and they can work with a couple to reach an amicable decision.