Thursday, June 20, 2013

Why Prenups are Important Planning Tools for Many Couples

If you do plan to marry, seriously consider a prenuptial agreement as a planning tool or as part of your estate plan, especially if one of you is entering the marriage with considerably more assets than the other. Having a strong prenuptial agreement prepared by a Philadelphia Family Law Firm can protect you and your spouse by disclosing all of your assets and your financial status, which can be vital if you and your spouse become engaged in a highly contentious divorce. It can also save you considerable attorney’s fees if you are fighting over what assets are marital or if one spouse contends he or she needs considerable income to maintain a particular lifestyle. Issues also arise if your spouse pursued his or her education while being supported by you to your disadvantage by electing to forego a higher education or by providing the family’s sole income so that your spouse could obtain a high income position. Children From Other Marriages Further, prenups are essential if you are bringing children from another marriage into the relationship. The prenup can indicate the disposition of your property when you pass away so that your separate property can go to your children from another marriage while still providing assets to your spouse. Debt Protection If your partner is entering the marriage with substantial debts such as student loans, you can agree before marriage on which debts will be whose responsibility if you divorce or you may have to pay these debts or a portion of them. Waive Your Elective Share A prenup can also be used for one of you to waive your “elective share,” which is the share of assets to which a surviving spouse is entitled. It can be waived if one spouse has enough assets to sustain him or her after the other passes or if there are other sufficient sources of funds. Have Your Prenup Reviewed You can draw up your own prenuptial agreement. There are many publications available on how to do this and what clauses to include. Disclose all of your assets and income sources including retirement plans and stocks. If you fail to do this, a court could invalidate all or part of the agreement to your considerable detriment. Once it is completed, have it reviewed by your own separate attorneys to ensure that a court will more likely uphold its validity.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Marriage and Your Partner’s Debt: How to Protect Yourself

By Philadelphia divorce lawyer Thomas Petrelli: Most couples bring debt into the marriage from student loans, car loans, mortgages, tax obligations or credit card balances. Generally, debts that were incurred before the marriage is separate debt and is the responsibility of whoever incurred it in a divorce proceeding.

Debt During the Marriage

Pennsylvania is not a community property state whereby debts and property acquired during the marriage become community property and are divided accordingly. Pennsylvania is a common law or equitable distribution state so that property and debts are divided according to a number of factors that consider your financial condition, nonmarital assets, age, health and income. These factors may not be weighed equally. Generally, debt incurred before marriage is nonmarital debt. If debt is incurred during the marriage and before separation but it was in that spouse’s name only, it will usually be the responsibility of that spouse in a dissolution. However, if the debt was in only one spouse’s name, was incurred during the marriage but was for the benefit of both, or for a marital purpose, it becomes a marital debt and is subject to Pennsylvania’s laws of equitable distribution. Debts that are incurred during the marriage are considered marital debts. This would include credit cards in one spouse’s name only but used by both. Non-marital assets that are used for a common purpose such as buying a car or a home will usually be considered marital debt.

Refinancing Your Spouse’s PreMarital Debt

In a common law state like Pennsylvania, creditors can go after the property of the other if the debt was incurred for joint purchases or were made for family necessities. If you refinance your spouse’s premarital debt, a debt that might have been considered separate may now become a marital debt.

Monday, August 13, 2012

What Will Happen to Your Pet If You Divorce?

Although we may value our pets as members of the family, Pennsylvania law only recognizes them as chattel or personal property. In other words, you cannot petition the court in a divorce or marital dissolution proceeding to obtain custody of the pet or to get a court-issued order regarding visitation. You will have to work out these arrangements on your own and provide for them in a negotiated settlement agreement done through your Philadelphia divorce lawyer. Considerations for Custody Deciding who gets the family dog or cat can be troublesome. If you and your partner live near each other, it might be possible to share custody. If you do not, then the pet must live solely with one of you. If children are involved who are very close to the animal, consider having the pet stay with whomever has child custody, especially if you have a child with special needs who has bonded with the pet. Also, consider who has more time to walk or to care for the animal since having a dog inside and alone for the majority of the day is not good for the animal’s welfare or for you.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Petrelli Law Launches Flash Divorce Website

The cost of divorce has gone up, that’s why Petrelli Law has launched Flash Divorce, a one-stop cheap alternative for filing an uncontested divorce.

Flash Divorce offers quick and cheap online divorce, helping Pennsylvania divorcees save thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours. 
Experience Coupled With DIY
Flash Divorce offers an easy to use online divorce kit that costs only $199 for Pennsylvania area residents. Once you determine that your divorce is uncontested, you can fill out the online divorce form and start your divorce process.  Simply answer the questions in our kit.  If you qualify for an online divorce, our attorneys will review the paperwork to guarantee that there are no errors. Many individuals filing for divorce without the help of attorney document review find that they run into troubles after filing even if they made simple technical errors.  Our attorneys work to avoid courthouse troubles when filing an uncontested divorce.  Don’t qualify for an online divorce because of property disputes, alimony disagreements or squabbles about child support? Not a problem, our experienced divorce attorneys can walk you through the traditional divorce process.

Even if issues arise after you have filed your online divorce, our team of experienced divorce lawyers can step in and help you resolve common divorce disputes, such as fights over property, alimony or child support.

Fast and Professional ServiceOur experienced divorce lawyers at Petrelli Law have filed hundreds of divorces in Pennsylvania. This experience allows our attorneys to move both quickly and effectively. Once you fill out our Flash Divorce documents, our attorneys will review the documents within 24 hours.  If there are errors or oversights, our divorce attorneys will let you know immediately.  

Get A Divorce In A FlashIn a hurry? Flash Divorce forms are easy to use and can be completed in less than an hour.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Facebook and Infidelity

Recently, we hear more and more about the issues that Facebook -- the social networking tool it seems everyone is using -- causes for marriages new and old. Unfortunately, reconnecting with old friends and flames can often escalate into something damaging at home.

One way to prevent Facebook use is to give your spouse your Facebook username and password information. If you wouldn't want your spouse to see it, don't do it.

Another preventative measure is to avoid reaching out to contacts with whom you have had relationships in the past. Why open doors to old, messy situations?

If you need help working through infidelity and would like to learn about your options, contact the

Monday, June 7, 2010

Al and Tipper--Unusual or a new trend?

Many of us were surprised to learn of the recent divorce announcement issued by Al and Tipper Gore, who were married over forty years. Unlike several other politicians who have separated from spouses over the past few years, Al and Tipper were not plagued by a sex scandal. We read that they simply grew apart.

Reports have shown that marriages of the 1970's have a higher divorce rate than those of later decades--a result of the very young marrying age. Later-in-life divorces are becoming more common. Today, people are living longer, staying youthful into their 70s and 80s, and feel that they would like a new start.

If you are in a longterm marriage and would like to discuss your options, call divorce attorney Thomas J. Petrelli, Jr. at Petrelli Law, P.C. for a consultation (215) 523-6900.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Facebook Causing New Problems in Marriage

Today, it seems that everyone has a Facebook account--the young and old, single and married, students and professionals. Facebook does wonderful things in that it can reconnect friends and keep family members updated with photos and birthdays.

Unfortunately, not all users utilize Facebook positively. Facebook has the ability to give us direct access to feelings and relationships of the past--that, before this technology, would have been forgotten forever. Facebook has the ability to serve as the beginning of an extramarital affair, and is one of the many pieces of technology that can present challenges in marriage.

If you are seeking a separation or divorce, call the divorce lawyers at Petrelli Law for a consultation at 215.523.6900.