America’s population is getting older, and older couples with longer marriages getting divorced are more common. If you no longer feel marriage is right for you, you should consider a divorce no matter your age or the length of your marriage.

Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C., represents clients over 50 years of age in divorce and related family law issues. We know these divorces involve unique problems, and we are sensitive to our clients’ wants and needs. We will protect your rights and negotiate a fair settlement that allows you to move on with the rest of your life in the best position possible.

There are No Age Limits on Divorce

Some older married couples grow apart as time goes on. Their emotions towards each other may weaken or turn negative. Spouses may have more health issues and a limited income, increasing the stress on their relationship.

A spouse may look to the past and feel disappointed. Their life, including their marriage, hasn’t turned out as they planned. They understand better than most of us that time is limited, and changes must be made if they want to live the life they seek. One of these changes may be ending their marriage.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken many of us, giving us a greater appreciation for the fragility of life and our health. Increasingly, people unhappy with their jobs aren’t returning. The experience may also leave some older, dissatisfied Americans to decide they no longer want to put up with a relationship that no longer works for them. Many marriages limp along “for the sake of the children” but after the children grow up and spouses are older, they may want a divorce for their own sake. 

Is it the Right Time to Divorce?

In some ways, it’s a great time to divorce. If the marital home must be sold, real estate prices are at historic highs while interest rates are at historic lows. If you’ll return to the workforce, employers are raising wages and improving working conditions to attract job applicants.

Many more women own businesses and earn higher incomes than in the past, but a divorce can be a financial blow to both spouses. The greater your wealth, the better off you’ll weather this storm, no matter your age. Whatever your losses, younger people generally have more time to earn and save money to make up for the money spent and assets transferred during a divorce. If you’re at or near retirement age, that can be a lot harder to do.

Divorce and Social Security

Generally, men earn more than women, but given the division of marital assets and the possibility of spousal support, the post-divorce picture should be more even. If you haven’t worked much or earned less income than your spouse, another way to cushion the blow might be Social Security payments based on your spouse’s work history.

If you are 62 and divorced from someone who’s entitled to Social Security retirement or disability benefits, you might be eligible for benefits based on your ex-spouse’s work record, according to the Social Security Administration:

  • You’ll be eligible if your marriage lasted for 10 or more years
  • If you remarried, you can’t go this route unless your subsequent marriage ended by annulment, divorce, or death
  • If you’re entitled to benefits based on your own record, you’ll get whichever is higher, benefits from your own history or from that of your ex-spouse
  • You may apply for benefits based on your former spouse’s record even though he or she still works, if you’ve been divorced at least two years before applying
  • If you wait until full retirement age to apply for Social Security benefits as a divorced spouse, your benefit will be half of your ex-spouse’s full benefits

How an Older American Without Health Insurance May Find Coverage

Healthcare coverage is a major concern for those getting divorced. That’s especially true for older couples who may currently, or in the future, suffer a chronic medical condition. If both spouses are covered because one works and qualifies for a healthcare benefit, the other spouse will lose that coverage when the divorce is final (unless you qualify for COBRA benefits, extending your coverage for up to three years, if you can afford the payments).

Another way to get coverage can be an Affordable Care Act (or Obamacare) plan. There’s mixed news if you seek coverage this way. Premiums are partially based on your age, so the premium for someone older may be much higher than one for a young American. But premiums are also partially based on your income (which won’t include alimony if you haven’t divorced yet), so it makes health coverage more affordable if you’re not making much money.

Get the Help You Need from an Attorney You Can Trust

If you are considering divorce or have decided it’s the right choice for you, call our office at (215) 608-1867 or book a consultation online now. It’s never too late to start a new chapter in your life. We can speak over the phone, via a teleconference, or meet in one of our offices in Doylestown or Langhorne.

If you own a business, or your spouse does, and you plan on divorcing, it is potentially a big issue that must be addressed.

Marital property is usually divided during a divorce. That can be done through an agreement by the spouses or a judge’s order if no agreement is reached. That marital property can include ownership in a business. 

Every divorce and business is unique and how it’s handled in your case can vary depending on your circumstances.   

Karen Ann Ulmer represents clients who are ending their marriages. Her divorce practice can help you whether you, your spouse, or the two of you own a business. Dealing with this issue can be very stressful and emotional, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you have any questions, call us at (215)608-1867.

Issues Outside Divorce Law May Determine What Happens to the Business Ownership

Different agreements can impact the division of business ownership in a divorce:

  • Ownership: If it’s a small business with more than one owner, there should be an agreement between them. It should clearly spell out what happens to the divorcing partner’s share. It could state that their share needs to be sold to the other partner(s) at a given price or the price may be calculated based on the company’s value or some other calculation.
  • Partnership agreements: If there was a partnership agreement in place before the marriage, it may have required that a prenuptial agreement be signed specifically stating how the non-ownership spouse will be compensated (or not) should the marriage end in divorce.  
  • Pre or post-nuptial agreements: Before or during the marriage, a couple may have agreed on financial matters if they get divorced. How business ownership would be handled may be part of that agreement.  

If you and your spouse both own a business, you need to decide if you want one or both of you to sell your interests. If the divorce is amicable and you both feel you can work together, you can both keep your interests and see if you can work it out. However, the details of this arrangement, including what happens should a spouse want to cash out, should be clearly spelled out. It is important to remember that you are divorcing for specific reasons and working together may be very difficult. We recommend giving this a trial run with very detailed scenarios detailed in agreements to protect the business and both spouses in the future.  

How Should the Business Ownership Be Divided?

Marital assets (generally what the couple obtained during their marriage) are supposed to be split equitably or fairly under state statute 23 Pa.C.S. § 3502(a). If one spouse has an ownership interest in a business, it could be split with the other based on the following factors:

  • The length of the marriage
  • The age, health, income, vocational skills, employability, estates, liabilities, and needs of each party
  • The contribution by one party to the education, training, or increased earning power of the other
  • The opportunity for each party to acquire capital assets and income in the future
  • The income sources of both parties, including insurance or other benefits
  • The contribution or lessening by each party of the acquisition, preservation, depreciation, or appreciation of the marital property, including the contribution of a party as a homemaker
  • The value of property set apart to each party
  • The parties’ standard of living established during the marriage
  • Each party’s economic circumstances when the property will be divided
  • How taxes and costs impact the property division
  • Whether the party will be the custodian of any dependent minor children

Either through an agreement or court order, it would be decided if the business ownership is marital property to be divided, and if so, by how much and how that would be accomplished.

How Might This Play Out?

A common outcome is the value of the ownership would be determined and the party owning it would pay the other spouse for their share. That payment could be in cash or as part of a larger asset agreement. If the husband owns the business and must pay his wife $100,000 for her share of ownership, he could give up claims to $100,000 worth of other assets (cash, investments, share of the house, vehicles) which would go to the wife to satisfy what’s owed.  

It is also common for this amount to be paid out over time so the business can remain solvent. However, we recommend putting safeguards in place in case the business is sold or starts to encounter financial trouble. Both the paying and receiving spouse need to be protected.  

Get the Help You Need From an Attorney You Can Trust

Whether you, your spouse, or the two of you together own a business and want to learn more about how a divorce may impact you, call our office at (215) 608-1867 or book a consultation online now. We can speak over the phone, via a teleconference, or meet in one of our offices in Doylestown or Langhorne.

What if you had a joint account with a decedent? How the account will be treated depends on a number of factors. First, when was the account made joint? Pennsylvania requires that a joint account have been created at least a year before the death of one of the owners for it to be treated as a joint account. If meeting this one year requirement, only half of the account is potentially subject to inheritance tax. If the account was made joint within a year of death, the entire account is subject to tax. Second, what was your relationship with the decedent? If you were their spouse, the account would not be taxed at all since there is no inheritance tax for assets passing to a spouse.

If you have a different degree of kinship or no relationship at all, the decedent’s half is subject to inheritance tax and the account should be reported as a joint asset on the inheritance tax return for the decedent’s estate. Third, how was the account titled? If the account was titled as joint tenants with rights of survivorship then the balance of the account automatically goes to the surviving owner. This just means that the account does not need to go through probate. Again, depending on the relationship between the co-owners, the half of the account belonging to the decedent may still be subject to applicable inheritance tax. It is important to consider all of these scenarios if you intend to make joint titling of accounts a part of your estate plan.

There may be times where a Grandparent is worried about the situation that they see their grandchild in. They might be concerned for their safety or well-being. Other times it could be that the grandchild has lived with them for some time now and they just want to have an official document saying that the child is in their custody. They might need a custody order in order to be able to sign off on certain things for the child. The fact is that in Pennsylvania it is possible for a Grandparent to get custody, however there is certain criteria that needs to be met.

In Pennsylvania in order for a grandparent to get custody rights they need to have standing. To have standing means that your scenario complies with what the law says is required in order to get custody. To have standing a grandparent of the child cannot be in loco parentis. To be in loco parentis means acting as the parent in place of the parent. Usually you have to be in that situation for a long period of time. The next requirement by law is that the grandparent must have a relationship with the child that started with the consent of the parents. The next requirement is that the grandparent assumes or is willing to assume responsibility for the child.

The next requirement requires that one of the following scenarios is true.

(A) the child has been determined to be a dependent child under 42 Pa.C.S. Ch. 63 (relating to juvenile matters);

(B) the child is substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse or incapacity; or

(C) the child has, for a period of at least 12 consecutive months, resided with the grandparent, excluding brief temporary absences of the child from the home, and is removed from the home by the parents, in which case the action must be filed within six months after the removal of the child from the home.

 

Either A, B, C also needs to apply in order to have standing for custody as a Grandparent. However, even if you do not have standing for custody, you might have standing as a Grandparent for visitation, which is different. If you do not have standing by are curious about whether you have standing for visitation be sure to see my blog post on Grandparent visitation rights. If you are a Grandparent in Pennsylvania and want custody of your Grandchild pleas schedule an appointment with us today.

If you are a Grandparent your Grandchildren are probably pretty important to you. You probably enjoy spending time with them, watching them learn and develop into the person they are becoming. However, what happens if you are being denied time with your Grandchildren by a parent? What if the parent refuses to let you see the child or have any contact with them what so ever? This can be a very difficult situation to be faced with. However, in Pennsylvania Grandparents do have rights to visit their Grandchildren.

In order to assert these rights however, certain circumstances need to be met. The first scenario where a Grandparent can file for visitation rights is when one of the child’s parents is deceased. The second scenario where a Grandparent can assert visitation rights with a child is when the child’s parents have been separated for at least six (6) months or have filed a divorce or separation action. The third scenario is if the child has lived with the Grandparent that is seeking the visitation, for at least 12 months. In any of these scenarios the Grandparent filing must demonstrate that partial custody or visitation serves the grandchild’s best interest and also does not interfere with the child-parent relationship.

If you are a Grandparent in Pennsylvania and are seeking visitation of your Grandchild please contact our office today to discuss your options.

If you are in a relationship that is unsafe, it is critical to remove yourself and your children and immediately get to safety. Here in Bucks and Montgomery Counties of PA, we have many resources available to assist you. Physical and psychological abuse can have serious long-term consequences on your life. Our attorneys want to make sure you have the legal protection you need.  

How do I get a restraining order in Bucks and Montgomery Counties?  

A Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order, commonly called a restraining order, is a court order that raises the legal stakes for your abuser. Once obtained, if the person contacts you, comes to your home, place of work, or within a certain distance of you, he or she risks arrest and criminal penalties. If you need a PFA or feel you’ve been wrongly accused of abuse and are the subject of a PFA, Karen Ann Ulmer can help.

What’s the Process to Get a Protection From Abuse Order?

A PFA can be sought by:

  • Anyone 18 or older, and
  • A teen or a child accompanied by a parent, an adult household member, or a guardian ad litem

You (the plaintiff or petitioner) can start the process to obtain a temporary PFA  at a police station or courthouse depending on the time and day. As the plaintiff, you can fill out a petition. You will need to:

  • Explain why you need protection 
  • Describe the abuse you’ve suffered
  • State what protection you seek

A judge will consider your petition and may have additional questions for you at a hearing. The judge will either grant you a temporary PFA or deny your request. If it’s granted, a final hearing will be scheduled within ten business days. 

This temporary PFA provides you legal protection through the date of the final hearing. The county sheriff’s office will serve copies of the petition, the order, and a notice of the final hearing on the accused abuser (the defendant).

The PFA can make it illegal for the person to contact, harass, or abuse you or your children. It could order the abuser to move out of your home, return your personal property, and grant you temporary custody of your children.  Additionally, your abuser may be required to surrender all weapons including guns and ammunition.  

What Role Does a Judge Play in the Process?

You and the defendant will have an opportunity to come before the judge at the final hearing. Both can tell their sides of the story and have legal representation. If you and the defendant agree on the terms of an order, the judge will review it and may make it official, with or without changes. 

Without an agreement, the judge decides what to do based on the testimony and evidence presented at the hearing. The plaintiff must show he or she fears serious and imminent harm. There must be evidence showing a recent violent incident, prior violence, or firearm ownership for a court to issue the order. The judge can deny the petition or create a final PFA, which could last for up to three years.

Where Does a PFA Apply?

The Protection from Abuse Order is valid everywhere in Pennsylvania, in every state, and on tribal lands. Protection orders from other parts of the US are also valid in Pennsylvania due to federal law. Defendants’ names are put into a law enforcement database, making it easier for police to check if you have a protection order and whether the defendant is violating it. If you travel or move, have a copy of the order with you to help prove your status. 

Compassionate Advocacy From Lawyers Who Care

Everyone should feel safe and secure in their own homes. If you or someone you know feels threatened, contact us immediately. If you are a defendant in a PFA case, schedule an appointment to discuss the situation, how Pennsylvania law may apply in your case, and how we can help. Learn more by calling our office at (215)515-5172, booking an appointment online, or by filling out our contact form. We can meet in our office or speak with you by phone.

There are only a few requirements for a will to be valid in terms of its drafting. It must be in writing and signed by the testator at the end. Technically, a notary and/or witnesses are not required, though certainly useful for purposes of probate as well as potential litigation on its validity. The bigger concerns surround the contents of the will. Any aggrieved party can contest the will for a number of reasons. Two of the more common grounds for a will contest include indue influence or lack of capacity. Undue influence covers a variety of situations where the primary allegation is the contents of the will do not reflect the testator’s true intent. This could be because of direct undue influence, i.e. physically forcing the testator to execute a will. It can also be a result of indirect influence. Indirect influence may be asserted if the testator was shown to have persistent confusion or forgetfulness, a party with a close relationship is involved, and the end result is a lopsided will to the substantial benefit of the party with close relationship.

 

Lack of capacity can be asserted wherein it is alleged the testator did not have the mental awareness to execute the document. By law, a testator must be of sound mind to make a will. This has been construed by case law to require they understand who their intended beneficiaries are, what property they have to pass to the beneficiaries, and how they will divide the property among the beneficiaries. There is a presumption of capacity but it can be overcome. To overcome the presumption there must be clear and convincing evidence to demonstrate lack of capacity at the time of signing. Witnesses at the time of signing can offer testimony with regard to the state of the testator at the time with respect to capacity. Consult with an estate attorney if you have concerns about the validity of a will to discuss your options.

It makes sense to revisit your estate plan after any major life change, including new child, marriage and divorce. You want to ensure you are leaving your assets to the individuals you intend to and that can change over time. Sometimes, individuals do not get around to updating their plan leaving their heirs to deal with the fallout. Luckily, in the case of divorce, there is some protection offered by law. Specifically, any provision in a will relating to the testator’s spouse will become ineffective upon divorce unless it is clear the provision was intended to remain post-divorce. The same is true if the testator is in the midst of divorce proceedings and grounds for divorce have been established. Establishment of grounds is by order of the court and requires more than just the filing/service of a divorce complaint.

 

The rule for wills is also applied to beneficiary designations. The law provides that any designation naming a prior spouse shall become ineffective upon divorce. However, a prior spouse would still be entitled to receive their share of the asset if awarded to them pursuant to equitable distribution, where applicable. Your estate plan may also be automatically modified in the event of marriage. If a testator marries after making a will, the surviving spouse shall at least be entitled to what they would have received without a will if they are not named. Intention is also a factor here. If the document notes the upcoming marriage, the law does not apply to change the will.

If you have children and have previously been through the custody process with the Court it is likely that it resulted with a Court Order. A Court Order for custody is issued in a Custody proceeding. This Order will direct which parent has legal and physical custody. Legal Custody is the right to make decisions for your child. Decisions such as where they go to school, what doctors they see, if they are involved in any religious activities would all fall under legal custody. The Custody Order will specify if one parent has sole legal custody or if legal custody is shared. If parents have shared legal custody they must consult each other about decisions in their children’s lives. A Custody Order will also direct who has physical custody. Physical custody is who the children are physical with. An Order could direct that one parent has sole physical custody or that the physical custody is shared. If the physical custody is shared the Order will probably also set out a schedule as to when the children are with each parent.

If you have a Custody Order and circumstances have changed or new developments have occurred you might think that the Order needs to be changed because the situation has. That is ok. Custody is always modifiable. If you have a Custody Order and you are seeking it to be changed we can help you with that. We would file a Modification of Custody requesting that the Custody be modified. If you are in Pennsylvania and have a Custody Order that you need to have changed, please call our office for a free 15 minute consultation to discuss your options.

It has been 30-60 days since an anonymous complaint was made on the Child Line accusing you of child abuse. The investigation has been completed and a report issued. What does that report say? Children and Youth/DHS will send a letter giving the finding and explaining what it means. The letter will contain one of three results. These are Unfounded, Indicated, or Founded. What do each of them mean.

An Unfounded report is defined as any report that is not Indicated or Founded. That means that there is no proof that any actions of the accused person rose to the level of child abuse as defined in the Child Protective Service statutes.

An Indicated report is one where there is substantial evidence that an action of the accused rose to the level of child abuse based on available medical evidence, a child protective service investigation, or an admission of the alleged abuser. Typically this will be a one time act with no on going threat to the child.

A Founded report is one involving a perpetrator that is made pursuant to this chapter, if any of the following applies:

(1) There has been a judicial adjudication based on a finding that a child who is a subject of the report has been abused and the adjudication involves the same factual circumstances involved in the allegation of child abuse.

(2) There has been an acceptance into an accelerated rehabilitative disposition program and the reason for the acceptance involves the same factual circumstances involved in the allegation of child abuse.

(3) There has been a consent decree entered in a juvenile proceeding that involves the same factual circumstances.

(4) A final protection from abuse order has been granted when the child who is a subject of the report is one of the individuals protected under the protection from abuse order.

Typically, this means there is an ongoing threat of abuse and the Court has stepped in to declare the child(ren) dependent and they must be removed from the abuse perpetrator’s presence.