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Greensburg Pennsylvania Legal Blog

Inheritance money can complicate property division

A marital breakup can cause both emotional and financial disarray. One of the most common sources of conflict during a divorce proceeding in Pennsylvania is property division. This is particularly true if one of the spouses has inheritance funds.

In many situations, a spouse enters a marriage with previously attained wealth. This wealth may include that attained through an inheritance, or it could be wealth that the spouse has accumulated on his or her own. In the case of an inheritance, if the inherited funds are kept separate from the couple's marital funds, it is considered separate property and thus is not subject to division during the divorce proceeding.

Couples divorce, tackle property division at different times

In some marriages in Pennsylvania, couples have irreconcilable differences that eventually drive them to get divorced. Just as every marital situation is different, the times that couples choose to get divorced also differ. In fact, the season of the year may have an impact on a couple's choice to move forward with divorce and tackle potentially contentious issues such as property division.

According to recent research, the time that a couple chooses to get divorced during the year may depend on a particularly important date for the couple, such as the Christmas holiday or even their wedding anniversary. A family member's death may also have a bearing on the timing of the divorce season. Another possible factor is the weather.

Medical debt is hiding on many people's credit cards

No Pennsylvania resident plans to take on more debt than he or she can handle, but plenty of people still find themselves in this predicament. Many start out with only small amounts of credit card debt that quickly snowballs into something much larger and unmanageable.

However, frivolous purchases or luxury goods are likely not at the root of many individuals' credit card debt problems. Increasingly, medical debt is showing up on credit card statements, which can carry a much heavier burden than traditional medical bills.

Property division and Social Security laws affect retirement

For those who are married, entering retirement may seem relatively straightforward, as the couple can simply share in the assets they have accumulated together over the years. Meanwhile, for those going through divorce, the situation is a bit more complex. Not only must they complete equitable property division in Pennsylvania, but  they should be aware of how Social Security benefits are handled for divorced couples.

When an individual turns 62, he or she is eligible to make a claim on his or her ex-spouse's work record if their marriage was 10 years long or longer. For this reason, those who have been married for almost 10 years may be wise to wait until they have reached the 10-year mark to move forward with a divorce. In addition, an individual making a claim on his or her ex-spouse's work record must be single to receive it.

Personal bankruptcy can lead to financial freedom

Consumers in Pennsylvania typically do not enter adulthood with the expectation of filing for bankruptcy. However, sometimes, filing for personal bankruptcy is necessary for those whose liabilities end up outweighing their assets. A few tips may help with determining whether filing for bankruptcy is appropriate in one's situation.

Bankruptcy is not necessarily required just because a consumer has a hard time covering bills one month. However, not filing soon enough may also be a major mistake in certain cases. Now may be the ideal time to file for bankruptcy if collection agencies have started to line up and if covering basic necessities, such as food or heat, has become a challenge.

Refinancing may help one who keeps home after property division

One of the biggest areas of contention for divorcing couples in Pennsylvania is what to do with the family home. In some cases involving property division, a spouse decides to keep the home, while the other spouse keeps more of the rest of the assets instead. For the spouse who keeps the house, refinancing might be a wise move following the divorce proceeding.

A major reason to refinance following divorce is to secure a lower mortgage payment. Mortgage interest rates today are not as high as they were during the 2008 recession. Even though they have gone up recently, these interest rates are still relatively low historically.

Property division may involve splitting of IRA, 401(k)

For those going through a marital split-up, one of the biggest concerns may be retirement. This is particularly true for those getting divorced near retirement age in Pennsylvania. A couple of tips may help with navigating property division when addressing the retirement funds in a 401(k) and/or IRA.

When dealing with a 401(k), obtaining a QDRO -- or Qualified Domestic Relations Order -- can be helpful for apportioning it properly. The QDRO is a legal document outlining how a retirement plan that an employer sponsors will be divided. This tool can help with avoiding penalties and taxes that otherwise may result from pulling money from a retirement plan early.

The benefits of filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy

Pennsylvania readers know the decision to file for personal bankruptcy is not an easy one to make. It may feel like a defeat for you, but in reality, it could be the right choice for you to forge a path to a stronger financial future. If you are overrun by debt, dealing with financial challenges and have no hope of ever catching up on your own, you may benefit from Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a popular choice for many people who decide to take this step. However, not everyone who wants to file will be eligible to do so. Eligibility depends on matters such as the types of debts you have, your financial situation and more. You may find it useful to explore this option and learn more about how Chapter 7 could be the right choice for you.

Mistakes during divorce mediation or trial can be costly

Going through the process of ending a marriage in Pennsylvania can understandably be confusing and overwhelming. Unfortunately, a single mistake during a divorce proceeding -- whether during divorce mediation or trial -- may lead to a less-than-desirable outcome for one financially. A few tips may help with making decisions that will have positive financial consequences long term.

First, avoiding informal agreements altogether is expedient during divorce. In some divorce situations, couples might have worked out informal agreements in order to simplify their divorce proceedings and perhaps bypass obtaining legal counsel. However, these agreements or wishes might not end up being carried out or legally enforced without being included in formal divorce decrees.

Divorce mediation can be helpful in child custody case

Child custody cases can be drawn-out processes in Pennsylvania. This is particularly the case when a case involving child custody is part of a divorce case. Fortunately, if both parents can find common ground in most areas involving child custody, they may benefit from going through divorce mediation rather than going to court.

Mediating child custody-related issues can be more beneficial than going to court because mediators cannot impose solutions. For this reason, if mediation ends up not working out, talking to the neutral third party involved in the mediation will not affect the court's final child custody decision. Another advantage of divorce mediation when dealing with child custody is that it is non-adversarial and thus not as threatening as going to court.

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