Category Archives: Property Division


Wedding costs can put a high amount of stress on a new marriage. Often newlyweds find themselves in debt just as the couple starts their new life together. This strain in finances can quickly lead to arguments and discord in the relationship.

In the U.S. weddings average between $19,223 to $32,039. Add anywhere from another 50-100% more if the wedding included custom services and products, experienced professionals, designer labels and popular event places. Below is a sample of five average costs for a wedding:


1. Wedding Planner $2,600 – $4,300
2. Wedding Dress $875 – $1,400
3. Engagement Ring $2,400 – $4,000
4. Photographer $1,200 – $2,000
5. Bar Service $1,800 – $3,000

Financial pressures often increase as the new couple purchases their first home, appliances, furniture and other related items. Money is the prime reason couples argue and the number one reason they divorce. Over 70% of couples talk about money on a weekly basis, and the conversations tend to be emotionally based.

The combinations of a downturn in the economy and not having been taught how to effectively engage in financial discussions have resulted in heated and emotional arguments. A spouse may have also kept money secrets thinking that their new spouse wouldn’t find out, or it thinking that it wouldn’t really affect his/her spouse. Lying about finances is a common secret among spouses.

Now that you are considering a divorce it is time to separate emotion from money. The financial road to recovery after divorce can be difficult, especially if you do not have an agreement in writing. Memories can fade or attitudes can change with time. Get your agreement in writing by having a settlement agreement prepared. If you and your spouse can come to an agreement that you both think is fair, then you don’t have to pay thousands of dollars to fight over your assets and debt in court.

This is the time to sit down with your spouse and figure out how you are going to divide debt. Who will pay for what portion of debt? How long will it take?

It’s better to pay a little now to have an agreement prepared rather than a lot later to have a judge decide who is telling the truth. You will both sign it and it will be filed with your divorce paperwork. You can then have the agreement enforced in court at a later date, if necessary. Attorney Jim Cairns can put your agreements into writing and ensure you have a legal document to protect yourself. Don’t wait till after the divorce and realize it’s too late.

Once you have decided how you are going to handle the division of finances contact No Contest Divorce Law, LLC at 215-398-6760 or click on the words settlement agreement to learn how to get your settlement agreement started.


You want to make sure you have covered your bases and are not being duped by your spouse with hidden assets. To make a martial settlement agreement as fair as possible consider the following.

Start with looking at your expenses. Are your expenses higher than the income that is coming into the house? If so, where is this additional income coming from? When discovering a financial discrepancy one of the best places to start is looking at your spouse’s tax return forms. Some of the key items you want to look at while reviewing tax forms for the last five years are: real estate, trusts, partnerships and inconsistencies in income.

Should you find out after the divorce that your spouse was illegally hiding assets the law permits you a reasonable time to back track and get your share. However, it’s best to do this before you sign the settlement agreement, thus saving you a lot of headache.

Overpayment is a method some spouses will use to hide money. While you are looking at the tax forms, take a look and see if your spouse made a significant overpayment. Your spouse could be banking on that you aren’t going to find out and later on he/she will get a nice refund after the divorce. This also holds true for creditors, don’t overlook these payments.

Third parties are another good source to scrutinize. Did your spouse suddenly have to pay off debt to a friend? Often these types of arrangements are made with the condition that the money be given back after the divorce. Is there a lover in the picture? Was there money spent on a girl/boyfriend – vacations, rent or gifts? Is your spouse and his/her boss close? Would his/her boss wait to pay that big bonus or give a pay raise until after the divorce? Don’t forget to look at stock options and retirement benefits an employer may be holding onto until after the divorce. Also, see if there any contracts that your spouse has been delaying in signing.

Time to visit some government offices. At the County Tax Assessor’s Office you can learn about any home or land that your spouse owns, you will get the address and the assessed taxable value of the property. The courthouse is a must when searching for hidden assets. Records from the courthouse will tell you if your spouse has borrowed money from a mortgage company or a bank. These records will hold information about each asset the person owns and the value, it’s required for the loan application(s).

Bank accounts should be checked for a few different things. Look at the savings account, has there been a huge withdrawal/deposit or unusual patterns of activity? Take a look through cancelled checks. You may find payment for something you weren’t aware of, for example a property payment. In addition, be on the look out for children’s bank accounts which sometimes do not have to be reported as income to the IRS. Don’t forget to make copies of all your financial records.

Once you discover all of your marital assets you can hammer out an agreement with your spouse. Contact No Contest Divorce Law, LLC for a marital settlement agreement questionnaire to help guide you. No Contest Divorce Law, LLC Offices prepares marital settlement agreements at an affordable cost. Make sure to check out our settlement agreement blogs and settlement agreement page on our website. Contact No Contest Divorce Law, LLC at 215-398-6760 or click on the words DIVORCE MASTER to get a free case analysis.


After two weeks of being tabloid stars Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes surprisingly hammered out a marital settlement agreement. What looked like a divorce that was going to be dragged through the media and court system has come to an amicable resolution. Cruise and Holmes decided to avoid a long legal battle and do what is best for their six-year old daughter, Suri.

In a statement, jointly prepared by both parties, sent to CNN by Cruise both parties have expressed their desire to keep the divorce a family matter.

To paraphrase the statement:

We are dedicated to cooperating as parents to accomplishing what is in our daughter’s best interests. We want to keep isues affecting our family private and show our respect for each other’s dedication to each of our respective way of thinking and support each other’s roles as parents.”

The martial settlement agreement has saved a lot of embarrassment and emotional pain for not only Cruise and Holmes, but also for people close to them. If a court battle would have been the route for this divorce, Cruise would have suffered damage to his public image and Scientology would have walked away with some battle wounds.

The settlement agreement has been signed and the case settled. From initial reports Holmes will be the primary parent who is responsible for Suri on a daily basis. This part of the agreement worked out for both parties because Cruise was often away from the home due to his career. Another component of the agreement is religion. Though Holmes is protective about the exposure Suri will have to Scientology, Cruise is still free to teach his daughter about his religion.

Divorces with martial settlement agreements are becoming more common. Couples want to save their monies for life after the divorce and not bleed themselves dry in a full blown court drama. Also, the emotional toll of having to relive the pain and suffering of divorce is a top reason couples are figuring how to work out their own affairs and get them into a legal agreement.

Holmes had hired three law firms in three states. You only need one law firm backing you with No Contest Divorce Law, LLC. If you are looking to have a martial settlement agreement, No Contest Divorce Law, LLC can create a legal document which will protect your agreed upon rights. To get started call 215-398-6760 or click on the words SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT. Go to our Divorce Master for a free case analysis and file your simple, uncontested, no-fault divorce case today.


If you have been married for ten years or more you may qualify for Social Security benefits through your spouse. There are four requirements which you need to fulfill in order to apply for benefits.

The first one is having been married ten or more years to your spouse. Below are the other three:

  1. You are unmarried;
  2. You are at least 62 years old; and
  3. You are not entitled to a higher Social Security benefit on your own record.

Do keep in mind if you remarry you will most likely lose this Social Security benefit, unless you remarry the same spouse. If you do remarry and the marriage ends in divorce, annulment or a deceased spouse you may qualify for benefits from the initial spouse you married.

You do not have to rely on your spouse to fill out an application for benefits. If he or she qualifies you can go ahead and initiate the paperwork for your benefits regardless of the action your spouse may or may not have taken.

In the event that your spouse becomes deceased you may qualify for benefits as a surviving spouse. In this case the requirements are slightly different, though you must have still been married for at least ten or more years. Listed below are the other two general requirements:

  1. You are at least age 60, if you are disabled then you can apply at age 50; and
  2. You are not entitled to a higher Social Security benefit on your own record.

Benefits paid to a surviving or divorced spouse will not affect benefits paid to family members under the same record. To receive an estimate of your possible benefits you can contact a representative at your local Social Security office.

As you are considering your assets and debts in your marriage, you may also want to have a settlement agreement which will legally protect your financial future. No Contest Divorce Law, LLC also concentrates on settlement agreements, call 215-398-6760 for more information or click on SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT to learn more.


You have decided to get divorced. Where do you begin? A top priority is putting your finances in order. This will give you a solid start once the divorce is final and minimize potential surprises. Let’s be honest, you’ve probably already had enough surprises for a while.

At the top of your list should be getting a credit report. Order them right away. You can get a free credit report from each of the reporting agencies each year. Once you get them go over them with a fine toothed-comb and see if there are any discrepancies or items you may have forgotten to include in your settlement agreement– for example, credit card debt.

You are entitled to a free credit report every twelve months, that’s once a year. The top three companies you want to make sure you get a report from are Equifax, TransUnion and Experian. Some of the information you can expect to find in your credit report include: how you pay your bills, where you live, if you have been sued, if you have filed for bankruptcy and/or if you have been arrested. Keep in mind this information is used by employers, landlords, insurers and applications for credit. Also, beware of imposter websites – we suggest you look up the Federal Trade Commission for details.

Close joint credit cards, if you are not prohibited by a court. The last thing you want to learn is that your spouse went on a spending spree and you are now responsible for this debt.

Tax refunds, if filed jointly, a refund check will be sent in both your name and your spouse’s name or direct-deposited into an account. Use a settlement agreement to make sure the refund is divided between both of you.

With frequent flier miles you have a couple of options. You can either have tickets issued to one of the parties or one of the spouses can monetarily compensate the other for the points.

If Insurance is prepaid, such as house, life, disability and health insurance, then determine the amount that is currently prepaid. Prepayments can be considered part of your marital assets when valuing and dividing up property and finances.

Timeshares can also be dealt with in a few different ways. You and your spouse can continue to own it jointly, one spouse retain it (often at a lesser value than it’s purchase price, since timeshares are usually worth less than what is owed on them- consider an appraisal to find out for sure), or you can agree to sell the timeshare and split any equity or debt.

Professional dues and magazine subscriptions normally offer a significant discount when prepaid two to three years in advance. If monies from your shared accounts were used to pay for this make sure you account for this when reviewing your finances.

No Contest Divorce Law, LLC can legally help you protect your financial assets by preparing a settlement agreement which will be legally binding. If you and your spouse can agree upon how you are going to divide your property and finances, a settlement agreement can save you money. Contact No Contest Divorce Law, LLC at 215-398-6760 or click on the words SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT to learn more.


There are several steps you can take during an uncontested divorce to protect yourself. Though your divorce may be “amicable”, it’s wise to take measures ahead of time to safe guard yourself and your property. We are talking about your personal property, not jointly owned or marital property. So, don’t start hiding jointly owned property, or you can easily set yourself up for a contested divorce – meaning more time, money, hassles, and stress before your Pennsylvania divorce can be finalzed.

Keep a daily journal. This may sound like an imposition with everything else going on, but will come in handy later on should you need it. Address each entry to your attorney. Should your spouse try to subpoena your journal, this will make it harder since it could be considered privileged communication between you and your lawyer. That being said, keep your journal in a safe place. If it’s on your computer, then use a password that only you know in order to get into your computer. Remember to record only the facts, this is especially important if your spouse tries to use the journal against you. Some of the items you want to include in your daily journal are:

1. Bills you have paid;

2. Money you have give to your spouse and/or children;

3. Time you have spent with your child(ren);

4. Any item which you feel is important to your divorce;

5. Arguments with your spouse;

6. Significant events;

7. Telephone calls; and

8. Emails.

Record all of the property in your home. Walk through your house and take pictures and/or videotape each item in each room. Don’t forget to turn on the date on your camera or video camera. Think of items which not only have a monetary value, but also a sentimental value. Some of the items to include in your inventory are: jewelry, clothes, furniture, antiques and electronics. Remember to record items in your attic, basement and detached structures such as a shed. If something is missing later on, this will serve as evidence to its existence in your home. You may want to store the pictures or videos in your private safety deposit box in order to make sure it’s not subject to being tampered with by your spouse.

Reduce your bills. Meet right away with your spouse and see how you can cut down on your bills. This would include extra phone lines, perks such as caller id, cable, shopping around for cheaper insurance and call your credit card company and ask for a lower interest rate.

Secure your personal documents. Move your documents such as: birth certificate, passport, diplomas to a trusted friend’s home or get a safe deposit box in your name only. For communal documents such as tax forms and bank records make a copy and add the copy to your safe stash of documents.

Start establishing your own credit. Get a credit card in your name only and start building up your own credit rating. Be prudent when using the card. You may want to initially store it in your safety deposit box as well. It can be a good backup source of funds if an emergency arises, as well.

Once you’ve taken the above steps to protect yourself, you’re ready to file for an uncontested divorce. 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 case for an online Pennsylvania simple, no-fault, uncontested divorce, calculate your legal fees, and 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.