Money is one of the most common causes of divorce. Some studies show it as the number one cause. When a couple has different values regarding money, or when one or both partners make poor choices with their money, serious marital stress results, and this stress can flow into the divorce process and continue to be a problem after divorce.

Before divorce

Not surprisingly, most couples who divorce over money issues do not keep a budget. When there is no clear understanding of how much money is coming in and where it is going, there will be more disagreements. Overspending and credit card debt are major issues in divorce, often because one spouse spends more than the other. This is because the partners have different views about money.

This often leads to “financial infidelity” – keeping secrets from the other partner about how money was spent or on what, which naturally causes arguments and resentment when the secrets are discovered.

Financial infidelity is much more common when couples keep separate finances. Couples who keep joint finances are less likely to divorce over money and are also less likely to experience financial cheating. Couples with separate finances often know little about each other’s financial choices, often not even knowing their partner’s salary.

Spouses might keep separate accounts so they can have control over their “own” money. If they have different views about the use of money, a spouse might keep a separate account just to keep the other partner from “wasting” his or her “own” money. The problem with this view is that in marriage and in divorce, money is communal. It affects the whole household and is meant to support the whole household. Thus, hiding financial information from a spouse can cause serious distrust and strain on the relationship.

During divorce

If you fought about money while you were married, this will certainly spill into the divorce. That is why it is so important to have a divorce lawyer act as an experienced third party who can help you navigate the difficult waters of divorce.

During a divorce, you will be dividing your property and assets as well as your debts. The first thing to do is to cancel all joint credit card accounts and open separate ones. The debt on those closed accounts will become part of the divorce process, but by canceling joint accounts you can avoid any future debt that your spouse incurs being applied to you.

If financial infidelity has happened during marriage, expect that it will continue. Sometimes a spouse tries to spend money in order to draw down the joint assets (this is called dissipation). An experienced divorce lawyer will be able to recognize this. You may also need to contract the services of a forensic accountant who is an expert in going through finances and finding fraud or hidden money. Your lawyer should be able to recommend someone.

Tax changes, pension and retirement plan issues, life insurance, and costs of ongoing child support will all be important issues to discuss with your lawyer.

After divorce

If you did not do it during the divorce, as soon as possible afterward change your beneficiary information. Also make sure you close other joint accounts, like iTunes, streaming services, frequent flyers, etc. This article lists some other common steps to take.

If your money habits and attitudes contributed to the divorce, you may need to examine them. Recognize any bad habits in the use of money that need to change, and create a budget. Refrain from major purchases for some time after divorce. This gives you time to judge the situation and make decisions that are not emotionally charged. This also includes avoiding spending sprees.

When money issues fuel a divorce, it is important to obtain expert guidance so you avoid making decisions that will negatively impact you and your children in the future. Talk to one of our experts to see what we can do to help you through your divorce.

In any parenting, the stakes are high. But after divorce, they’re even higher. Creating a healthy co-parenting arrangement is crucial for helping your children to grow into emotionally healthy, confident adults. Co-parenting well is difficult, but for the sake of the children, it needs to be done.

If you and your ex don’t have a comfortable personal relationship, you should both try to think of it as a business relationship instead. Treat your co-parent like a colleague, communicate respectfully and create agreements that you keep. And ask yourself: Would I trash talk my colleague to other people? Would I blow off a meeting or be purposely late? If you wouldn’t do it to a team member at work, don’t do it to your team member in parenting. The danger of bad behavior at work is poor job performance or job loss. The danger of bad behavior in parenting is emotionally damaged children or loss of parenting rights.

Here are some important steps to healthy co-parenting.

  • The right attitude will make all the other steps of co-parenting easier, and that is to have an attitude of empathy. Try to put yourself in your children’s shoes and in your ex’s shoes. How do they feel? How would you want to be treated if you were in their position? Try to act accordingly.
  • Maintain an open dialogue, sharing the children’s schedules and important information. There are websites designed for this. Be sure to keep your co-parent informed of important news, both positive and not-so-positive (like an A on a big test as well as being sent to the principal’s office). That way you can both congratulate your child or help guide him or her into healthier choices.
  • Be flexible. If a big event comes up and your ex wants to take your kids to it, let them go. It will build positive memories for them while also building positive relationships between their parents, which can only be good for them.
  • Have some agreed-upon rules that apply at both houses: bedtime, chores, homework, internet use, manners. Knowing they have the same expectations at both Mom’s and Dad’s place gives your children a sense of consistency, stability, and security. Kids will always try to test boundaries. But it’s important to stay firm on these agreed-upon rules. Allow each parent to have other rules about less crucial things. Recognize people have different parenting styles and respect them. If no serious harm is done, let it go.
  • One rule should be no trash-talking the other parent – that goes for both you and the kids. Focus on the positive traits your ex has, speak to your children about them and think about them yourself to improve your feelings when you have to communicate about parenting.
  • Resist fighting or speaking rudely to each other in front of the children. Conflict between parents creates a sense of helplessness and insecurity in children, increasing the incidence of drug abuse and other unhealthy comfort-seeking behaviors. This example of conflict can also cause future problems in their own personal relationships, and anxiety can suppress the immune system, increasing illness.
  • Avoid being the “Fun Dad” or the “Cool Mom.” Kids need calm, quiet downtime with their non-custodial parents, too. And having a marked imbalance between parents increases a child’s dissatisfaction and insecurity and creates problems for the not-so-fun parent.
  • Agree to roles played by extended family members. They love the children, too, and are also affected by the divorce.
  • Get together regularly for family meetings about parenting decisions. You can include the children, but also have regular meetings yourselves. Update your agreements every year or two to make sure they are current and appropriate as the children grow.
  • When exchanging children for time with the non-custodial parent, have a short, pleasant goodbye so the children get a positive feeling about their visit. Don’t call unnecessarily and take time away from their other parent.

Following these steps may be difficult at first, but remembering that the goal is to help your children thrive should help it become easier in time. And that will be a win for everyone.

Divorcing when you have children brings on many questions. Here in our Langhorne, PA office, we help couples determine many post-divorce logistics related to their children. This can include how much child support you are going to pay or receive, as well as where your children are going to spend their time. Determining your parenting time schedule can be a bit difficult for parents.

First and foremost, for most parents, the most difficult part of setting up a custody schedule is realizing they are not going to be spending every day with their child. Children have the right to spend time with both parents, during the week, on weekends, and then on special occasions.  

There are many factors that can complicate a parenting schedule including where parents live, their work schedules, where the child attends school, and his/her activities. If parents can sit down together, alone or with their attorneys, it is best to collaborate on a plan. If they can not do this, then the matter will go in front of a judge who will determine the parenting schedule.  Judges often hear cases in which one parent would like sole custody for the sake of moving far away, making it prohibitive for the other parent to enjoy a 50/50 custody arrangement.  

How does a judge determine a parenting time schedule in PA?

There are 16 factors that the court can use to determine the custody of a child. They include:

  • the likelihood of the parties to encourage the child to remain in close contact with the other parent
  • any past abuse
  • what each parent currently does for the child and could that be continued
  • how stable the child’s life is
  • the availability of extended family to help
  • the existence of siblings
  • the child’s preference
  • whether the parents put the child in the middle of their disagreements
  • whether one parent is more likely to take better care of the child than the other
  • the distance between the parents
  • who will care for the child if the custodial parent is at work
  • whether there is significant conflict between the parents
  • any drug use, mental or physical abuse, or other relevant personal characteristics that may be present in the home

Most parents realize that when a judge makes a decision it is legally binding and must be followed. This is why it is best to work it out between the parties before the matter winds up in court. If your spouse is unreasonable we can negotiate child custody and a parenting schedule for you. Sometimes it is just easier to have legal representation in the room with you or to review your plans to get both parties to be a bit agreeable.  

Child custody is an emotionally charged area of divorce. You need to ensure your child is legally and financially protected and also emotionally stable throughout the process. Unfortunately, parents are often confused and overwhelmed through the process and want to fight. Sometimes they think it is best for the child to come into the divorce process and actually talk with the judge during hearings. Working out of our office in Langhorne, we help parents in Bucks and Montgomery counties work through the complicated issues and negotiate the best arrangements for their minor children.  

First and foremost, a judge does not have to make decisions in your divorce. We can work closely with you and your spouse on your settlements and negotiate any differences. A judge only needs to get involved when you do not agree.  

If you think it is a good idea to get your children involved in the decision-making process we always warn you to take great caution. Do not wage a war with your spouse and put your child in the middle, as that can cause short-term problems and long-term consequences for your child. It is best to make the decision after consulting with a therapist or guidance counselor. Work with them to find a good way to approach the situation with your child.  

If your child is going to go in front of the judge, we cannot predict how the judge is going to consider the information. In PA, a judge may consider what a child has to say, but has great leniency when it comes to actually considering a child’s thoughts:  

“The weight to be accorded a child’s preference varies with the age, maturity and intelligence of that child, together with the reasons given for the preference. Moreover, as children grow older, more weight must be given to the preference of the child.”

Wheeler v. Mazur, 793 A.2d 929 (Pa. Super. 2002)

Where will the judge interview your child during your divorce?  

For the well-being of the child, a judge may decide to have a more relaxed conversation so the child is spared testifying in open court. Regardless of where the meeting takes place, attorneys for both parents must be present. Navigating this part of a highly contentious divorce can be difficult and should only be done with a highly experienced legal team.  

Here in Bucks County and Montgomery County, PA, our judges are excellent at working with children. And all lawyers should work together to ensure that children are not being forced to choose between two parents – especially when the parents are already fighting, possibly within the presence of that child.   

Recently divorced couples can find it challenging to buy a new home post divorce, simply due to the intertwined nature of most married couples’ finances. If you’re ready to strike out on your own with a new home purchase, there are several factors to keep in mind. Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., can be an asset when it comes to managing various elements of divorce, child custody issues, and family law.

Selling Your Property

According to It’s Over Easy, selling a home and dividing assets prior to a divorce is sometimes a prudent move. A division of assets is likely part of your divorce settlement, and as such, you may have proceeds from one house to invest in a new home in the form of a down payment. You want to ensure your current deal is closed and the money deposited in your bank prior to putting a bid in on a new property. Some fluctuations in divorce proceedings and final asset disposition can take unexpected turns, so you want to ensure everything is finalized before moving forward.

Assessing Your Finances

Once your divorce is settled, and your assets divided, you can better assess how much of a new home you can afford. A mortgage lender will look at your annual income, your credit, the amount of money you have available for a down payment, your monthly expenses, and then help you determine your best options. According to Bankrate, you’ll want to explore several different loan options before identifying the one that best meets your needs. Much will depend on the current average APR. Remember, you don’t want to overextend yourself, and if you’re paying for a home on your own, you may want to find something smaller than what you jointly owned with your previous spouse.

Finding The Perfect Home

Getting settled into a new residence is a healing move that can help you embrace your new independent life. In addition to cost, give careful consideration as to the size and location of the homes you look at. You may decide to stay close to your former spouse if you share children, or stay in a particular geographic region if your children are in a school district you want them to maintain. You can start your search online, and a qualified real estate agent can help you narrow the focus, tour properties of interest, and make an appropriate offer.

While divorce marks the end of one part of your life, it also opens the doors to new opportunities and the chance to gain independence and embrace a new way of living. Allow yourself time to get settled into your new home, make it uniquely yours, and embark on your next phase of life.

Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C. is home to experienced attorneys who handle divorce and child custody, wills and probate, real estate, law, and other complex legal problems. Visit the site today to learn more and reach out via email or phone for a confidential consultation.

A divorce attorney will help you start your post-marriage life. Whether you’re facing a difficult time because your spouse wants revenge or your split will be amicable, there are some rules for successfully working with your attorney no matter your situation. Here in our Langhorne office, we help clients in Bucks and Montgomery counties successfully divorce by establishing an excellent working relationship.  

Tell Her Everything

You can’t keep secrets and expect effective representation. Your attorney can only properly prepare your case when she knows everything about your marriage, even the things you don’t like to tell yourself. It could be tax evasion, physical and emotional abuse, or extramarital affairs. Surprise is the last thing an attorney wants to feel in the middle of a divorce case.

Have Your Finances in Order (or the Paperwork at Least)

Whether you’re a financial whiz, completely reliant on your spouse to manage your finances, or somewhere in between, you must find all the details of your marital, financial life. Your assets and debts will be divided as part of your divorce. We need to know what the two of you have before it can be fairly split. If you don’t fully grasp all the financial issues in your life, you must get documentation of all that’s going on. After we get that, we can help you piece everything together.

Know Your Goals – Keep Your Pension, the Beach House?

Your divorce is unique. It’s driven by the facts, the law, and what you and your spouse agree upon. You could go to trial over who gets what and how much. But the vast majority of cases end with a settlement agreement. Before negotiating, we must know what’s important to you and what your priorities are. What are the needs you must have? What are the wants you’re willing to sacrifice?

Be Realistic. Both Parents Have Rights to Time With Their Kids. They Have the Right to a Relationship with Both Parents.

Unless your spouse has serious problems with violence, mental health, or drug abuse, they will at least have time with your kids if not share custody with you. If you think spending time with your spouse isn’t in your children’s best interests, you need strong, compelling evidence to win the issues. Barring that, both parents must compromise and make your post-marriage family relationships work.

Put Other Support in Place

Divorce is often highly stressful and emotional. The expected lifelong relationship is ending. Your financial health may be at risk, and your children don’t understand what’s going on. If you have supportive, helpful friends and family members, rely on them. Professional emotional help can also be a crucial part of the support system for you and your kids. Don’t go through this alone.

Get the Help You Need From an Attorney You Can Trust

Contact Karen Ann Ulmer, PC, if you have questions or need representation. Call our office at (215) 608-1867 to schedule a consultation. We can speak over the phone, via teleconference, or meet in our Doylestown or Langhorne office.

Though a court order ends your marriage and makes your divorce official, it won’t end your relationship with your ex-spouse if you have kids. As part of your Montgomery County divorce, we will negotiate a parenting plan for you and your spouse that will set the standards for communications and schedules. The parenting plan sets a schedule for when your kids will be with whom and who is responsible for doing what to make it happen. Problems are common, whether that’s because, as a practical matter, the plan doesn’t work or one parent is intentionally trying to sabotage it.

A parenting plan usually is negotiated between the parties as part of the divorce settlement. A judge could decide the plan and make it part of the divorce order if a case goes to trial. It spells out the schedule for when children will be with each parent, transportation issues, vacation and holiday schedules, and what to do if problems arise. If difficulties come up and parents can’t find a solution, the judge decides the resolution.

Happy Holidays or Holidays from Hell?

Holidays can be incredibly stressful when parenting plans go sideways for a divorced family. Holidays are times when not only does a parent spend time with their kids, but extended families often get together. If the other parent is not living up to their end of the bargain by not allowing the children to be there or being late when delivering them, feelings can get frayed.

The Only Constant is Change

Another ongoing problem can be constant or unexpected changes. Both sides should comply with the plan in good faith. It’s a problem if one parent isn’t organized enough to follow the plan or just doesn’t care if the other parent is inconvenienced. Emergencies and unexpected problems can happen, but disruptions should be the exception, not the rule.

Parenting Plan Issues are Just the Beginning

Problems following the parenting plan can be a symptom of a bigger issue – a lack of respect. Your ex-spouse may be consistently late in picking up your kids or bringing them back and couldn’t care less about the impact on you. Making issues out of a parenting plan, along with alienating your children from you and disputing child support, could all be part of an overall strategy to make you miserable.

We Need to Resolve the Issue or Take It to Court

If a solution isn’t negotiated, we may need to go to court. We’ll tell your side of the story with evidence. You must document everything as best you can. That means taking notes, keeping copies of emails or texts, taking photos, and making videos.

Get the Help You Need From a Lawyer You Can Trust

Call Karen Ann Ulmer, PC, if you need help with your parenting plan, whether that’s questions that need answers or legal representation. Call our office at (215) 608-1867 to schedule an online consultation. We can speak via teleconference, over the phone, or meet in our Langhorne or Doylestown office.

You survived the holidays and are now getting ready to divorce. We understand that you waited through  “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” to take action. It was a long holiday season and now you are ready. Many couples wait to start the process and give their children one more happy holiday season. We know it was hard and the split will be difficult. Divorce can be difficult, particularly when you have small kids. 

Karen Ann Ulmer, PC, helps clients divorce and end relationships in the best way possible. Starting off the new year may be the best time for you to begin a new life by freeing yourself from a marriage that’s not working. If you need help with a divorce, call us at (215) 752-6200

Make a Resolution to Change Your Life for the Better

Many of us have New Year’s resolutions. Yours is to live a better life that benefits you, your children, and in the long run, perhaps your spouse. Divorce can be amicable, with both sides acting like adults and creating new lives.

But starting your divorce can be dangerous if your spouse is narcissistic, controlling, or violent. How you start the process depends on the nature of your relationship. You may want to be open about it, prepare for it in secret, or leave your home to be as safe as possible.

Where Do You Start?

There are many “little” but essential things you must do to gear up for a divorce and “big” things as well. They go to the heart of what you want to do with the rest of your life:

  • What type of child custody do you want?
  • What are your priorities moving ahead?
  • Do you want to keep your current life as intact as possible, just without your spouse?  Or is it time for a different direction?
  • Do you want to move?

Here are some suggestions to start your 2022 divorce plan:

  • Call our office. There’s too much at stake to get a divorce without an attorney. Financial and family issues, if they’re not handled properly, could haunt you the rest of your life.
  • Get your financial information in order. You’ll need to document your family’s incomes, liabilities, debts, and assets. That means organizing documents, making paper copies, or scanning and uploading them onto secure, online cloud storage.
  • Get a new email address and rent a post office box. This will allow you a safer, more secure way to communicate with your attorney. You may want to get another smartphone and keep it secure to prevent your spouse from installing malware that may grant access to your emails, text messages, and internet activity.

Get the Help You Need From an Attorney You Can Trust

Call Karen Ann Ulmer, PC, to start the process today. Do you have questions or need representation? Call our office at (215) 608-1867 and schedule a consultation online. We can speak over the phone, via teleconference, or meet in our Doylestown or Langhorne office.

COVID-19 vaccinations have turned a medical and public health issue into one that’s splitting the country. Anti-vaccination feelings and publicity are at an unprecedented level. Along with our divided communities, some parents don’t agree either.  Fighting with your ex over issues involving your kids is never fun – and now we have another “hot button” issue, the COVID-19 vaccine, to add to the mix. 

According to the Mayo Clinic, 59.1% of the country is fully vaccinated against the viral infection. That drops to 50.8% of Americans aged 12 to 17. Emergency FDA approval of vaccine use for kids ages 5-11 has recently been approved and the parents of young children are currently making decisions as to whether or not their children should be vaccinated.

Should a Judge Decide?

What happens if your ex doesn’t want your child vaccinated but you do? When divorced parents disagree, they should read the divorce agreement, which may or may not mention vaccines. If legal custody is shared, both can make healthcare decisions. If one parent has sole legal custody, they make those choices, including those regarding vaccinations.

Can you have a conversation? If it would help, consult your pediatrician for guidance. If you cannot reach an agreement, an attorney from our staff can help. If we can’t negotiate a resolution, we can go to court to protect your child’s best interests. This is a complex, time-consuming, expensive way to end a dispute, but it’s an option if everything else fails.

How Would a Court Rule?

A judge would decide based on what’s in the best interest of the child. There’s a good chance they may state that includes vaccination.

  • A judge in Canada ruled a 13-year-old girl with diabetes be vaccinated against COVID-19 contrary to her mother’s wishes because it was in the child’s best interest
  • In a New Jersey appeals court decision in favor of vaccination (but not involving COVID-19), the decision states, “The experts agreed that overall vaccines are safe and effective…” and gave the pro-vaccine parent the ability to decide what to do

A judge will consider the facts of the case, including:

  • Why the parents have their positions
  • Specific health risks to the child
  • School or activity requirements and how being unvaccinated would affect the child
  • Medical expert opinion

The child’s pediatrician’s opinion may carry a lot of weight, especially if the child has conditions that may increase the chances of bad side effects from the vaccine or the child risks serious complications if they are unvaccinated and become infected.

Get the Legal Help You Need From an Attorney You Can Trust

Do you have questions about child custody or need legal representation? Call our office at (215) 608-1867 or schedule a consultation online today. We can speak via teleconference, over the phone, or meet in our Langhorne or Doylestown office to discuss your case.

Zoning is the way a local municipality controls how property is developed within its borders. The municipality will divide the town into zoning district which describe what the local government has decided what can be built in that area. For example, a residential zoning district would be limited to residential dwellings while a commercial zoning district would be limited to businesses.

A municipality will also have multiple types of the same district. These districts will have differing requirements of what can be in that district. There are many kinds of residential properties from detached single-family homes to townhouses, and apartments. Therefore, one residential district may be limited to detached single family homes with a certain minimal lot size. Another residential district may allow both detached single-family homes and townhouse.