Michael E. Eisenberg
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Montgomery County Family Law Blog

Special considerations when creating a parenting plan

One of the hardest parts of any divorce in Pennsylvania that involves children will usually be agreeing on terms for custody with your ex. However, in recent years, the courts have moved away from the old primary custody and visitation model. Instead, because they want to do what is in the best interest of the children, the courts these days prefer shared custody arrangements.

You and your ex can play an ongoing role in the life of your children. You can create a parenting plan that guides you both as you adjust to a future working together as divorced co-parents. There are certain special concerns that you may want to give due consideration while creating a parenting plan.

What to do after being denied visitation

Pennsylvania parents and others who are denied the right to visit with their child may eventually be able to obtain the right. The first step toward doing so is to determine why visitation rights were denied. For instance, a judge may have felt that a parent could put a child's emotional or physical health in jeopardy. In some cases, parents will be asked to attend parenting classes or a rehab program before they can see their children on a regular basis.

There is a chance that the child's other parent will deny an individual the ability to see his or her children. A custodial parent may assert that the noncustodial parent is abusive or doesn't have reliable transportation. Custodial parents could also cite a lack of financial support as a reason for denying visitation. However, this may not hold up in court as the law tends to see visitation and child support as separate matters.

Indications that a soon-to-be ex-spouse is hiding money

Pennsylvania residents may be familiar with the gender stereotype of a greedy husband hiding away money to prevent his soon-to-be ex-wife from getting her hands on any of it. This outdated assumption is inaccurate and can be potentially disastrous for husbands going through the divorce process who are interested in a fair divorce settlement.

Hiding marital assets from a spouse is illegal, but it is also a reality. It is common for both men and women to do this if they have the means and motivation. Both men and women who are in rocky marriages where divorce is looming should be aware of these red flags that may indicate that one party is hiding assets.

Know your custody rights as an unmarried parent in Pennsylvania

Having a child outside of marriage means that you have slightly different rights than other parents in Pennsylvania. There are certain issues that can impact your right to financial support or your ability to spend time with your children. Not all unmarried parents have an established legal relationship with their children.

If you don't have a legal tie to your children, you may need to prove your biological connection to assert your parental rights. Understanding how Pennsylvania family courts handle custody and your rights as an unmarried parent can make it easier to protect your relationship with your children if your relationship with the other parent is no longer positive and healthy.

Will our prenup be enforceable in Pennsylvania courts?

About half of the states in the U.S. have enacted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA). It’s a consistent but state-by-state law intended to help you draft a prenuptial agreement and feel surer it will be valid if you ever need it, even in another state.

Partly because we haven’t signed on to the UPAA, Pennsylvanians need to be especially thoughtful in drafting one of these rarely romantic but often wise contracts.

The health concerns for those going through a gray divorce

Many Pennsylvania couples are finding that getting divorced after 50 can be extremely tough when it comes to their health. While health professionals are finding that divorce can lead to some adverse health issues, it can be particularly harder for those over the age of 50, who may already have underlying or existing medical problems.

For example, those who go through a gray divorce, or a divorce that occurs when a couple is elderly, can experience chronic stress, anxiety and even depression. In some cases, people may even experience post-traumatic stress disorders that are caused by them reliving certain times of the marriage, particularly the unhappy events. These psychological conditions may be linked to physical conditions such as heart disease and Parkinson's disease. Chronic stress that remains untreated could cause a person to suffer from high blood pressure and heart disease among other physical issues.

How child custody is determined in Pennsylvania

When people get married the expectation is that it will last forever. The unfortunate truth is that roughly half of marriages end in divorce. Divorce in itself can be a mentally strenuous, but it becomes even more contentious when there are children involved.

Child custody disputes have the potential to get ugly. Parents have the opportunity to provide the court with a parenting agreement and bypass the legal process. However, if they are unable to determine a settlement that both parties can agree upon, the court has to step in and resolve the custody dispute.

Protecting a business with a prenuptial agreement

In the past, asking a significant other to sign a prenuptial agreement in Pennsylvania was often looked down upon. However, as more and more people are waiting to get married, the stigma surrounding prenuptial agreements has begun to dissipate. This is particularly true for people who started businesses before tying the knot.

A prenuptial agreement outlines the assets that a person had prior to the marriage. When it comes to businesses, there are a few factors that the owner will need to consider when having a prenup drafted. For instance, the value of the business before the marriage should be known. With a prenup, the original value could be considered separate property while any additional value will be marital property. If marital funds are used to invest in or grow the business, the company may become marital property. Figuring out this information before the marriage could prevent issues in the future.

How will my family’s property be divided in divorce?

If you and your spouse will be getting a divorce, you may wonder about how your family’s property might get divided. Specific property you might think about may include the marital home, a vacation home, art or your car. However, property can also include bank accounts, stocks, jewelry, a business and even retirement accounts.

When you begin to list all the assets your family has acquired throughout your marriage, it may become clear that there could be a lot more at stake than you initially realized. Understanding what property is likely to be divided and how that division could occur can help you as you plan for your upcoming divorce.

Helping kids deal with their parents' divorce

Pennsylvania parents deciding to divorce may be concerned about how they can best protect the parent-child relationship despite the end of a marriage. Divorce can be a difficult time for children. They may feel like they are supposed to be on one parent's side, or they may worry that their parents will leave them as well. Some kids, especially younger children, may feel that they are at fault for the divorce. Even the practical changes that accompany the end of a marriage can have a particular impact on children who move back and forth between their parents' homes on a regular basis.

However, parents can take action to help protect their children from emotional trauma during divorce and let them emerge from the situation with a healthy, positive outlook. One of the most important things that parents can do is avoid putting their children in the middle of the divorce. Kids may often have divided loyalties, and it is important for them to understand that they do not need to choose one parent over the other. When kids feel like they cannot say anything positive about one parent to the other, they may lose a close connection as a result. Therefore, parents have a responsibility not only to avoid putting their former partners down but also to encourage a positive relationship.

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Michael E. Eisenberg Attorney At Law

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