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Pittsburgh Legal Blog

How does collaborative divorce work?

Avoiding a protracted and contentious court battle is the goal of many couples heading for divorce. Rather than having a winner and a loser, the couples work to resolve and negotiate to arrive at the best possible outcome for all involved. Understandably, this is not an easy task, and sometimes the couple cannot achieve this on their own. This is why more Pennsylvania couples are exploring the option of collaborative divorce.

It is important for spouses to enter collaboration with an idea of what they hope to achieve, the points on which they are willing to bend and the items that are nonnegotiable. Collaboration begins when both spouses meet, along with their respective attorneys, and begin to negotiate. This often takes more than one meeting.

Don't make these mistakes with your start-up small business

Are you ready to launch your idea for a small business start-up? Making it a reality brings you ever closer to your dreams of operating a successful company. But too often, start-ups fail for the same common reasons.

Don't let fear of failure hold you back. Learn the pitfalls that you must avoid to succeed in a competitive marketplace.

Mega jackpot winners deal with heavy tax issues

It seems that very few windfalls come without strings attached. Those in Pennsylvania hoping to win the Mega Millions Jackpot or any other substantial lottery prize would be wise to take heed of this. Just like any payday, the winner of this massive prize will have to deal with tax issues.

Those who play the lottery likely fantasize about how they will spend the enormous jackpot. Breaking the record of the highest jackpot in U.S. history, the recent Mega Millions reached nearly $1.6 billion before last week's drawing. The winner has the choice of taking a $905 million lump sum or a $53 million annual payment for the next 30 years.

Signs may indicate divorce is unavoidable

Despite statistics showing that nearly half of marriages end in divorce, it is probably fair to say that many of those divorced spouses wish they could have fixed their marriages instead. In fact, research shows that spouses in unhappy marriages may work for up to six years trying to resolve their issues before seeking a divorce. Some experts have compiled a list of signs that a struggling marriage is likely over, and knowing those signs may save Pennsylvania couples years of unhappiness.

Most experts agree that going through with a divorce before making every effort to confront the issues is a mistake many couples regret. However, if a couple has tried every possible avenue to repair the broken relationship to no avail, divorce may be the most logical next step. This may be especially true if the respect between the couples has turned to contempt or long days of bitter stonewalling.

Business law includes preparing for the future

To ensure the success of a business, it is important to have a plan. Not only do thriving business owners make a comprehensive plan for the formation and running of their companies, but they may also make plan for the daily and seasonal needs of their businesses. In this way, they are better able to intercept trouble and take advantage of opportunities. Sadly for many Pennsylvania business owners, one aspect of business law that is difficult to consider is what happens to the business after they die.

Without a plan for who will take over the business after the owner's death, many business owners leave their hard work to the discretion of the courts. Instead of providing a resource for loved ones to draw upon, the business becomes a burden for heirs to fight over, sell or allow to dwindle into obscurity. Creating an estate plan for one's business may be unpleasant to think about, but the benefit for one's family can be immense.

Preparing for divorce

Emotions are running high and thought processes are often affected. When the Pennsylvania resident has finally had enough and decided that it is time to file for divorce, the ability to make sound decisions and take action may be affected. Yet, even with the emotional turmoil, it is necessary for the individual to take the necessary steps in order to move on with life.

One of first steps is to find an attorney. It may be tempting to just pick up the phone and start pouring out the story. However, this may not always be the best idea. The soon-to-be divorcee will want to gather his or her thoughts and documents prior to sitting down and making decisions.

Steps you can take now to protect your family from probate court

If you have already taken the time to create a last will or an estate plan, you might think that you have done all you can to help your heirs avoid probate court after your death. However, there are other steps you can take that could benefit your heirs and your legacy in the future.

As your life shifts and changes, so, too, may the contents of your estate plan. This is why it is so important to review your estate plan routinely, at least once a year, and also discuss hopes about your legacy with your loved ones, especially when you make drastic changes.

Collaborative divorce is often a peaceful option

More often, couples who are considering divorce want the matter to be over as peacefully and painlessly as possible. Some may even attempt the process without the assistance of an attorney because they fear involving attorneys will necessarily turn their divorce into a battle. However, enough Pennsylvania attorneys have seen the heartache and destruction of litigated divorces that they include less contentious options in their practice, such as collaborative divorce.

Divorce through collaboration allows a couple more control over their settlement decisions because they negotiate outside of court with the guidance and assistance of professionals in diverse areas, such as finances and co-parenting, if necessary. The couple begins by signing an agreement to negotiate fairly and with an open mind toward a positive resolution. This means being forthcoming about assets and other issues.

Estate planning one step at a time

There are many understandable reasons for postponing making an estate plan or revisiting the plan one made years ago. For many in Pennsylvania and across the country, procrastinating can lead to tragic consequences with families left to trudge through the loss of a loved one without the guidance of a will, trust or powers of attorney. Fortunately, the process of estate planning is easily handled if broken into small steps.

It may seem overwhelming to inventory one's belongings and determine how to protect and distribute them. However, many undertake estate planning precisely to spare their loved ones that overwhelming burden. Creating a comprehensive inventory of one's assets may be time consuming, but it will actually streamline the estate planning process. This is the first step, and it is important to list all assets, including real estate, financial accounts, collectibles and digital assets.

Reviewing withholdings may prevent tax issues

Many Pennsylvania residents were shocked this spring when they completed their tax returns and discovered they owed money to the IRS. Others may have filled out their forms fully aware that they would be paying taxes since they owe money every year. Some may have tax debt on which they are paying installments with no end in sight. However, the Government Accountability Office recently released a report that includes advice for those with these tax issues.

The GAO report shows that two out of every 10 taxpayers have too little deducted from their paychecks to cover their taxes. This means they end up owing money to the IRS each year instead of breaking even or receiving a refund. New tax laws include drastic changes in deductions and exemptions for many people, so the GAO recommends that workers take the time to review their withholdings with their employers.

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