Hopkins Heltzel Law Firm
Call For A Consultation814-299-5496

Pennsylvania Legal Blog

Knowing how debts might affect the outcome of a divorce

Many couples in Pennsylvania and elsewhere may accumulate a significant portion of assets and debts over the course of a marriage. Should a couple decide to take separate paths in life, they may feel it vital to focus a fair amount of their energy into preparing for the process of dividing martial property. Since this process will include marital debts, understanding how outstanding financial obligations will be handled during divorce could prove vital to preparing a strategy for negotiations.

It might not be all that uncommon for a significant portion of a couple's wealth to be tied up in the family home. Mortgage debts continue to be a major concern for many families and understanding how similar obligations might affect the outcome of the situation could be vital to making an informed choice about how to handle this asset. Obligations such as auto loans can also be a major concern for individuals facing a similar life change.

Important estate planning considerations amid divorce

Divorce can, at times, seem all-consuming. If you are in the midst of one, you may focus on matters that may include finding a new place to live or hashing out a new child custody arrangement. While working through these and related matters is certainly important, so, too, is thinking about how you may need to update your estate plan now that your familial situation has drastically changed.

Until your divorce is officially final, your spouse likely has certain rights, some of which could involve having decision-making power over you in certain medical and other situations. If you were to pass away or become incapacitated before your divorce finalized, your former spouse could potentially be the one to make important decisions on your behalf. There are, however, some things you can do to help limit the power your ex would have under these circumstances. For example, you may want to consider:

Challenges of divorce when children are involved

The decision to end a marriage is seldom one made hastily and can be made all the more difficult when there are children involved. While the couple may come to the conclusion that they can no longer remain married and decide to divorce, they will still be parents. Pennsylvania encourages parents to arrive at child custody arrangements that keep the best interests of the child in mind. 

It is widely accepted that maintaining a relationship with both parents is best for the child. Spending as much time as possible with each parent can be critical to healthy physical and mental development. When considering child custody there are two main factors to keep in mind and they are the two different types of custody that must be addressed. These are physical custody and legal custody.

Tips for creating the right parenting plan

Navigating through a divorce can be difficult for all parties involved. For divorcing parties who are also parents, creating a parenting plan is a critical part of the process.

If you are currently going through a divorce or are contemplating it, knowing about parenting plans may be beneficial. To make a proper parenting plan, it must contain a few key aspects.

New law could impact child custody decisions

One of the most difficult decisions that parents contemplating divorce may face in Pennsylvania concerns child custody and how parenting will be shared going forward following a divorce. There is no law in the state that mandates the state's involvement, so parents are free to negotiate child custody independent of the courts. When an agreement cannot be reached, the court may intervene. Sadly, a decision from the court can take several months and may not be to the liking of one or even both parents.

When courts are involved, a recent nationwide study showed that a typical custody split was about 65% to the mother and 35% to the father. In Pennsylvania it is skewed slightly more toward the mother, with the split being 72% to 28%. A bill under consideration in the state legislature aims to change this.

Pennsylvania child custody: The details matter

Figuring out who children will live with and how much time they will spend with each parent after divorce can be a real challenge for parents in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. Even when the time portion of a child custody order is figured out, there are a lot of other details that need to be considered and included in a custody plan. In the end, the details matter and can work to one's benefit.

Recently, the importance of custody details was brought to the public's attention when reality television celebrity Audrina Patridge required police assistance in order to secure her child from her ex for her custody time. Per the former couple's child custody agreement, they are to meet outside their local police station every Thursday, at 10 a.m., to transfer the child from one parent to the other. The exception to this would be on certain holidays where they switch off who gets their daughter every year.

Pennsylvania probate: When can one challenge a loved one's will?

There is nothing easy about dealing with the death of a loved one, no matter the circumstances behind the loss of life. When, during probate and estate administration, concerns arise over the contents of that loved one's will, it is okay to ask questions. In some cases, it may even be okay to officially challenge the will in a Pennsylvania court. When might going that far be appropriate?

There are only a few legally valid reasons to contest a will. This is not something one can do just because they feel like it. Some of the qualifying grounds for challenging a will include:

  • The testator did not understand the consequences of signing the will
  • The testator lacked the mental capacity to create and sign the will
  • The document lacked the necessary signatures/witnesses
  • The testator was pressured to include specific terms in the will
  • The testator signed the will without knowing what it was

How are student loans treated in divorce

When ending a marriage, the division of property -- both of positive and negative value -- can be a complicated affair. It is not uncommon for some Pennsylvania residents to believe that they should be able to walk away from their marriages with certain positive assets and not be held accountable for their soon-to-be ex's debts. Unfortunately, due to the nature of divorce, this may not all work out as one hopes it will.

Many couples are affected by student loan debt. When a couple chooses to end their marriage, one would think that the person for whom the loan was intended would have to take on the full responsibility of paying back the debt. In truth, it may be considered shared marital property and up to both spouses to pay off the loan.

Avoid these 3 mistakes while executing an estate

Settling an estate can be a stressful, confusing and daunting task. As you assume the role of executor, you may encounter various problems and have a lot of questions. The most important thing to do is to obtain sound advice so you can avoid mistakes.

Making an error while managing an estate can cause you to be personally liable. The beneficiaries may take action to remove you or even get monetary compensation from you if you do not fulfill your responsibilities. Here are some glaring mistakes to avoid as you take on this position.

Email Us For A Response

Tell Us About Your Case!

Our dedicated team of experienced attorneys bring years of successful litigation and courtroom experience to offer a fresh outlook for all your legal matters. Regardless of the complexity of your situation, our team can provide you with a thorough evaluation of your case and current legal standing. To request additional information regarding our services, please reach out to our offices at your earliest convenience by calling 814-299-5496.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy


100 Meadow Lane
Suite 5
DuBois, PA 15801

Phone: 814-299-5496
Fax: 814-375-5035
DuBois Law Office Map

Review Us