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Pennsylvania's 25-year-old divorce laws have changed in three significant ways. The major changes went into effect this year and are sympathetic to the dependant spouse. Because the old divorce laws favored the breadwinner, the state Legislature and the attorneys and judges who advised it were trying to make the process fairer by bringing economic justice.
Under the old Pennsylvania divorce law, when calculating assets for settlement purposes the courts would generally consider the pension plan's value at the time husband and wife are separated. The new standard says the dependent spouse's share should be calculated on the value of the pension at the time of the divorce settlement if there is an immediate swap of assets.
In terms of pension value, the dependent spouse is likely to get more money except if the pension drops in value. When calculating the value of a home or a retirement fund under the new Pennsylvania divorce laws, the courts must always consider the post-tax value—regardless of whether the dependent spouse intends on selling the home immediately or cashing out the investments. The court is now able to make interim distributions of cash, as well, allowing the dependent spouse to get part of the divorce settlement up front much more easily than before.
The changes to Pennsylvania's divorce laws will have an effect on splitting couples who own houses, pension plans or big investment portfolios by revamping the way money and property are divided following a divorce.
For more information on divorce law, please contact us.
Child custody rights may be shared by both parents or, primary child custody rights may be awarded to one parent or legal guardian. Since the 1970s the family court will award child custody rights contingent with the best interests of the child.
Child custody for fathers following a divorce is one of the most important aspects of a dissolving marriage. Throughout history the legal presumptions about child custody for fathers has changed significantly. Before the twentieth century children were regarded as the property of their father. Under common law, child custody for fathers was commonly awarded, as children were considered a father's rightful property. A major shift occurred after this period in history, as family courts came to favor mothers in child custody cases. It was presumed that under normal circumstances, children did better when placed in the sole custody of their mothers.