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Pittsburgh Legal Blog

Signs that a marriage is heading toward divorce

No two marriages end for the same reason, and factors that may bring one marriage to an end may cause another couple to grow stronger. Sometimes, it is a major event that creates an irreparable rift between spouses. However, more often, it is a series of little things that build up until one spouse emotionally detaches from the other. Pennsylvania couples may wonder if there are signs when divorce is imminent.

When spouses lose trust in their partners, they may display this in various ways. For example, they may stop talking honestly with each other or respond to their partners with contempt or indifference. Communication is critical to the growth and intimacy of a couple, and if a couple cannot maintain a healthy channel of communication, they will not be able to resolve their conflicts effectively.

Tax issues related to taxable and untaxable income

For some, tax preparation is on their minds all year long. A Pennsylvania worker may have numerous sources of income, run a business or simply fear that again this year, he or she will owe hundreds or thousands more than anticipated. When these tax issues arise, it may help to seek professional guidance. A solution to the issue may begin with understanding which sources of income are taxable and which are not.

In most cases, payment for work is taxable. Whether this is a paycheck from an employer, tips from customers or a bonus for a job well-done, the recipient is required to include these amounts when calculating the income tax he or she owes. However, some work-related benefits are not taxable. For example, workers' compensation benefits, combat pay and any disability benefits when the employee pays the premiums are tax-free.

Collaborative divorce offers many advantages

It is likely that few people heading for divorce in Pennsylvania want the process to be one of contention and struggle. After all, if the marriage is coming to an end, it is possible the couple has already had enough struggle. A litigated divorce is not only expensive, but in some cases, it actually damages what is left of the couple's relationship, which could be detrimental if the couple has children. For this reason, many couples choose collaborative divorce.

Collaborative law allows couples to come to a more peaceful end to their marriages. It does not require that both spouses be in agreement on every issue, but it does mean that both spouses must be willing to negotiate toward agreement. For their own protection, each spouse hires an attorney with whom they meet privately before collaboration begins. This meeting is to outline the spouse's goals and limits. After this, negotiations begin in the presence of both spouses and their legal counsel.

Entrepreneurs must consider many aspects of business law

Starting a business in Pennsylvania means tending to many details. Depending on the industry, an entrepreneur may have many aspects of business law to address, especially when the new company will include employees. Drafting an employee handbook is one effective way to assemble many policies in a usable form for workers to access. However, failing to get the details right in a handbook can open a business owner to costly legal issues.

The high risk involved with many federal policies makes it critical for a business owner to get the facts straight. This includes issues such as harassment and discrimination policies, at-will laws and those policies related to the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act. Business owners must also account for those regulations set forth for their industries by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. An employee handbook should contain the most current information about these and other federal laws.

Estate planning when relationships are unclear

The importance of making an estate plan is something people in Pennsylvania have been hearing for decades. In some situations, the consequences of failing to plan for the future can be far-reaching. In fact, a man's lack of estate planning ended up before the highest court of one state.

The case involved a man who was accused of sexually assaulting his daughter the same year he and his wife divorced. During an investigation by Child Protective Services, the circuit court in the state where the family lived terminated the man's parental rights. He was indicted for child sexual abuse the next year, but he died before the case came to trial.

Estate planning is an ongoing process

The creation of an estate plan can occur at any stage of a person's life. Some in Pennsylvania choose to do their estate planning when they are young, for example when they start their own business or have children. Others wait until later in life, risking leaving their estate unplanned in the event of an incapacitating illness or untimely death. No matter when one executes an estate plan, it is often beneficial to revisit and perhaps revise the plan at critical junctures in life.

A common mistake spouses make after divorcing is failing to amend their estate plans. While some elements of a plan become invalid automatically after a divorce decree is signed, others remain intact. Likewise, someone whose financial situation changes for better or worse will want that reflected in his or her will or trust. Otherwise, the terms of the documents may make no sense to one's beneficiaries.

How do Pennsylvania courts divide assets in a divorce?

If you're considering a divorce, you may have many questions. There's a lot of misinformation floating around out there about divorce, and not everything you hear is accurate or applies to your situation. It's only normal to wonder what to expect and try to figure out what the likely outcome to your divorce will be.

The truth is that every divorce is different, because the facts of the marriage are different. Discrepancies in income, the length of your marriage and even the number of children can influence how the courts handle a divorce. It's common for you and your spouse to disagree on issues like co-parenting and dividing your assets.

Will a private collector contact you over past due tax debt?

With the federal income tax filing deadline coming this week, there are a number of people who lament the reality that they will have to owe Uncle Sam money. For those in this unenviable situation, they might not just have the IRS to deal with in the event they don't pay their tax bill.  Instead, they may have to answer to private collectors.

One of the little known aspects of the huge transportation bill passed by Congress in 2015, the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act), will allow the IRS to employ private debt collectors to collect billions in back taxes owed to the federal government.

Coparenting tips in Pennsylvania

When you have recently entered into a coparenting relationship with your ex spouse or partner, it is likely that it will take you some time to fully adjust. Any coparenting relationship has challenges, and there will likely be conflicts that take place in regard to what you believe is best for your kids.

In the state of Pennsylvania, the courts reward parents who can show that they act in the best interests of the child. Therefore, if you are considering filing for sole custody in the future or if you are worried about losing the visitation rights that you already have, it is important that you are able to show that your actions always represent the child's best interests. The following are some tips for developing a strong coparenting relationship in Pennsylvania.

Is your start-up divorce proof?

The hallmark of getting a start-up business off the ground is the single-mindedness required: Long hours, few days off, blood, sweat and tears poured into your business. When every drop of your energy is focused on one thing, relationships can take a distant second place. Should you be surprised when your spouse asks for a divorce? Could you have done something to protect your business?

Many could say the more important question is how do you save your marriage from your business? There are things you can do that will protect your relationships -- and ultimately help protect your business -- from divorce. 

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