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July 2018 Archives

Spousal Elective Share

It is possible for a spouse intentionally left out of the other spouse's will to still receive a share of the estate in the event of death. Pennsylvania law provides for an "elective share" pursuant to 20 Pa. C.S. 2203(a). This law provides that if a person is still married at the time of their death with no divorce pending, the surviving spouse can elect to receive 1/3 of that person's estate. There are items that are excluded from the estate in instances where an elective share will be applied. 2203(b) states the following exceptions: (1) any conveyance made with the express consent or joinder of the surviving spouse; (2) the proceeds of insurance, including accidental death benefits, on the life of the decedent; (3) interests under any broad-based nondiscriminatory pension, profit sharing, stock bonus, deferred compensation, disability, death benefit or other such plan established by an employer for benefit of its employees and their beneficiaries; (4) property passing by the decedent's exercise or non-exercise of any power of appointment given by someone other than the decedent.

Custody Relocation

Parties should be aware of court requirements prior to moving with minor children. A local move may not require any additional steps to be taken other than just providing the new address to the other parent. If the move is of a significant distance and could impact the existing custody schedule additional steps must be taken prior to moving. Pennsylvania's custody relocation statute, 23 PA C.S. 5337, requires the party seeking relocation to get court approval or the other parent's permission prior to relocation. A relocation is defined as any move that would "significantly impair the ability of the nonrelocating party to exercise custodial rights." Procedurally, the party intending to relocate should give at least 60 days' notice or notice as soon as possible after they have knowledge of the relocation. A full hearing on the relocation should be held prior to the move if the relocation is contested. In addition to addressing the 16 factors to consider in any custody award, the moving party must also address the 10 relocation factors. The moving party has the burden of proof to show relocation will serve the best interests of the child(ren) and that there is no improper motive in seeking to move.

Saving Your Marriage: Signs Your Marriage is Struggling and What You Can Do to Save It

Divorce affects one in two marriages in the United States every year, and as time passes that percentage continues to increase. If you are involved in a marriage, it is important that you remain cognizant of the common signs that ultimately lead to divorce. If these trends are present in your relationship, there are some methods you may employ in order to save your marriage.

Spending Money While Going Through a Divorce

Part of the divorce settlement process includes determining how to divide marital assets equitably. Equitably does not always mean equally, and factors in that calculation may differ from state to state. However, one thing that divorcing spouses need to avoid is the dissipation of marital assets.

PASCDU

If you are paying or receiving support in Pennsylvania you are likely dealing with PASCDU. The acronym stands for the Pennsylvania Statewide Collection and Disbursement Unit. They are responsible for collecting support from the payors and giving support to the payees. Payors are warned at the time an award is established that they will not receive credit for direct payments to the payee and all payments must go through PASCDU. Payors should receive information on sending payments to PASCDU at their support conference or hearing. Local domestic relations offices may be able to accept payments as well. Wage garnishment is the preferred method of collection for support. Once it is set up, payors do not need to worry about sending payments in any longer as the support due will be automatically withheld from their pay.

Proving Your Ex is Cohabitating

Spousal support and alimony are calculated based on a complex combination of factors including income, age, health, length of marriage, and expenses. These calculations vary from state to state, but the assumption is usually that the spouse receiving support from the ex (and statistically, it's usually the wife) does not have another adult partner helping to provide financial support.

Mortgage Payments

A jointly owned property is frequently addressed in family law actions. It may be defined as a marital asset hence subjecting it to equitable distribution. Financial responsibility for the property may also be a factor in the context of a support action. If only one party is making payments on a marital residence while a divorce is pending, they may be able to seek a credit for payments made. This may be the case if both parties are residing in the home or if the party not contributing to the mortgage is residing in the home. Mortgage payments may also be considered in the course of establishing a support award. Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 1910.16-6 covers adjustment to basic support awards and allocation of additional expenses. Under sub-section (e) mortgage payments, real estate taxes, and homeowners' insurance may need to be considered. Second mortgages, home equity loans and other obligations secured by the marital residence may be considered but are within the discretion of the court and addressed on a case-by-case basis.

Treatment of Veterans' Benefits

Former military members may be eligible to receive a number of different veterans benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Possible benefits include disability compensation, pension benefits, life insurance, educational benefits and more. Veterans benefits cannot be divided as an asset in a divorce case. This is due to the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act (USFSPA). The Pennsylvania Divorce Code confirms this rule. Under 23 Pa. Section 3501(a), discussing the definitions for marital benefits, veterans' benefits exempt from attachment, levy or seizure are defined as non-marital. Additionally, the veteran gets to decide how to use educational benefits and who to designate as beneficiary for their life insurance.

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