Pennsylvania Custody Relocation: What You Need to Know

If you have a child subject to a Pennsylvania custody order and are considering moving, you need to be aware of (more…)


How to Get Your Life Back After Divorce: Consider Hiring a Life Coach

Guest Blog By Julie Ketover, Divorce and Life Coach

Divorce is a major transition in your life. For some, the transition is welcome. For others, it’s thrust upon you. Either way, you are entering new territory and chances are you’re feeling confused and without a clear path forward.

That’s where a life coach can help. (more…)


The Viagra Effect: Divorce Rate Also On The Rise In Older Couples

Since 1990, the divorce rate among senior adults aged 50 and older has doubled. Now roughly 1 in 4 divorces involve persons aged 50 and older.  In Japan, the trend is referred to as “retired husband syndrome.” In the United States it is known as “gray divorce.”

Is Viagra partially to blame? The prescription drug has energized tens of thousands of marriages. But it has also destabilized many by upsetting an unwritten truce among older couples. “You mind your business and I’ll mind mine.”  Husbands previously unable to perform are confronting so-called “Viagra wives” who are not excited to be asked once again for sex. Now able to continue their sex lives into their later years, men will often leave wives who have lost interest in sex.  Women, however, are not without blame. A lot of middle-aged women are having affairs with older men who were impotent before Viagra. While the theory is titillating, and at least partially true, Viagra is likely not the primary driver of divorce in the over-50 crowd.

Rather, the rise in the divorce rate among couples in long-term marriages is mostly attributable to several factors.

First, and most obviously, couples are living much longer. “Till death do us part” previously meant only twenty or thirty years in the not-so-distant past. With people now living into their eighties and nineties, it can potentially mean forty, fifty or even sixty years today. In lengthy marriages, individuals change and couples grow apart or simply become bored with one another.

This drove Tracy Bryan, 53, to seek a divorce. On the drive home with her husband after celebrating their 25th anniversary, Tracy realized that being married to him was not how she wanted to grow old. As she related to Anita Creamer of, “We had grown and changed. I changed what I wanted out of life.”

Older individuals are also looking for self-actualization in their later years.

After the children are grown and living on their own, spouses find themselves with years remaining in their lives. With no joint responsibilities binding them together, many individuals are no longer willing to remain with a spouse with whom they no longer share common interests. In a study titled The Divorce Experience: A Study of Divorce at Midlife and Beyond, the AARP reports that “while it may seem odd that two people who have been married for years, even decades, decide in their golden years to separate, senior citizens may feel entitled to start over before it’s too late.”

Growing acceptance of divorce is also driving the trend.

In “The 37-Year Itch” Alex Kuczynski, writes for The New York Times, that “among older Americans — the 55-plus crowd, and those on into their 80’s — divorce appears to be more accepted and more common than ever, according to divorce lawyers, marriage counselors and gerontologists. Those professionals, along with people going through so-called gray divorces, point to many factors, including a rise in longevity among Americans, the fact that the values of the boomer generation and its tradition of self-expression and self-examination have influenced the generation above, and the growth of economic independence among women.”

In short, life-long marriages are increasingly difficult to sustain in an era of individualism and lengthening life expectancies. Older adults are simply not willing to remain in empty shell marriages.

Senior Divorce Issues

Older couples going through divorces often face issues that their younger counterparts do not. Because these couples are close to or in their retirement years, their income is usually limited. As a result, ongoing support or alimony for the financially dependent spouse may be minimal. This is particularly true if marital retirement accounts and pensions are treated as assets. Monitoring beneficiary designation on pensions and other retirement accounts is of great importance while the divorce is pending. If a spouse dies and the other spouse is not named as the beneficiary, the surviving spouse may lose his or her claim to those assets, which are often significant.

Extended health care is also an important issue. Long-term care plans that had been worked out in advance may no longer work due to divided assets and limited insurance. Medicare is an option but a very limited one at best. As a result, good legal representation is often critical for older couples.

Gray Divorce By The Numbers

In 1990, only one in 10 people older than 50 got divorced. By 2009, the number rose to one in four. More than 600,000 people ages 50 and older divorced in 2009.

According to the AARP study titled The Divorce Experience: A Study of Divorce at Midlife and Beyond, 66% of female participants initiated the divorce.


Six Surprising Reasons People Divorce – And How To Avoid Them

The three reasons most frequently cited for divorce are infidelity, financial problems and marrying too young. However, during my years as a family law attorney, I found that there are several other issues why marriages fail which couples can avoid. If one of these issues affects you or your marriage, be proactive and take steps to fix the problem as soon as possible. It’s usually too late to save the marriage once divorce is under consideration.

1) Traveling for Work or Working Too Much

You’d be surprised by how many divorces are caused by careers that require frequent travel or long hours. Based on anecdotal evidence, I would say this is the second most common cause of divorce behind infidelity. Spending significant time away from a spouse and family creates a rift in a relationship. Couples drift apart because they no longer feel connected. They no longer share common experiences, and no longer act like a team. The non-traveling spouse often feels abandoned in the home and solely responsible for the care of children. Loneliness often pushes the frequently traveling spouse into relationships with others they meet while away.

My unequivocal advice for married couples is to do everything they can to avoid careers that require frequent travel or regular long hours. The extra money will never be worth it if costs you your family.

2) One Spouse Is A Spendthrift or Tightwad

Financial problems are frequently cited as one of the primary reasons for divorce. The implication is that a lack of money is the problem. From my experience, however, marriages don’t usually fail due to a lack of money. They fail because one spouse has an unhealthy relationship with money. Frequently these cases involve parties with significant incomes.

In the case of a spendthrift spouse, usually one spouse will be earning a significant income and the other spouse will be spending it as fast (or faster) as it comes in. Any negative change in the parties’ financial situation can trigger financial problems and divorce because the spendthrift spouse will refuse to accept the realities of the situation.

In the case of a tightwad spouse, frequently such couples will have accumulated significant assets due to the spouse’ thrift. At some point, however, the spouse’s thrift will become extreme.  He or she will refuse to allow the other spouse to make even reasonable purchases given the parties’ overall financial situation. That refusal will trigger a divorce.

In both situations, the spouses’ psychological relationship towards money becomes exaggerated over time until the marriage reaches the breaking point. If this issue is affecting you, you might try talk things out with your spouse to try to set budgets or expectations. This is a problem that can be easily solved if caught early.

3) Treating Your Spouse Like a Roommate

When I lived with a roommate, we would keep separate bank accounts and split the rent and bills each month. When I married, my wife and I combined our finances and acted like a team, working towards the same goals. It never ceases to amaze me how many divorcing couples had the “roommate” model of finances. Frequently they are surprised when I explain to them that the court won’t view their money as separate. They have been acting as a financial unit all along. They just didn’t know it and their relationship didn’t get the psychological benefit of it.

My advice for married couples is to combine your finances. Each spouse should be able to spend some money as they see fit. However, if you are married, you have to realize that you are a team, both emotionally and financially.

4) Leading Separate Lives

Infidelity is typically cited as one of the top reasons for divorce. Infidelity, however, is usually a symptom of an already troubled marriage. For most couples, it’s also the tipping point that signals the end of their relationship.

Couples who do manage to move past one partner’s infidelity usually take the time to understand why it happened. Cheating is frequently the result of one partner feeling unnoticed, unappreciated or unloved. Loving couples make both social and physical intimacy a priority, even with work, children and chores filling their busy schedules.

When a couple spends less and less time together, they literally grow apart. Spouses can also grow apart when they take on entirely separate roles in the family, such as the traditional breadwinner/homemaker arrangement. Often, when one spouse exclusively stays at home caring for the house and raising the children, that becomes the primary focus of his or her life.

The other spouse is often neglected and their relationship suffers. Similarly, when one spouse spends little time at home and takes little responsibility for housework and caring for the children, the stay-at-home spouse’s resentment builds. In both cases, a disconnect grows between the couple.

We’re not advocating that you and your partner be together 24/7. Rather, we’re just saying “Make time for the two of you. Just the two of you – without children, pets, or friends.”

5) A Controlling Spouse

A significant amount of the cases we handle involve spouses that I would call “control freaks.” Verbal, physical and emotional abuse often arises out of one partner’s need to control the other. Judith Orloff, MD identifies control freaks as “people obsessively trying to dictate how you’re supposed to be and feel. Their comments can range from irritating to abusive.” Many of these people have narcissistic personality disorder (NPD).

Dr. Orloff recommends picking your battles and asserting your needs to successfully deal with a controller. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Focus on “high priority issues that you really care about rather than bickering about putting the cap on the toothpaste.” Again, it comes down to open communication in a caring, direct manner.

However, if your case involves a spouse whose behavior has crossed the line to abuse (mental or physical), my advice would be to get out of the relationship as soon as possible.

6) Depression or Other Psychological Issues

Psychological issues are not frequently cited as primary reasons for divorce. However, my gut tells me that undiagnosed psychological problems are a major factor in divorce. While I am not a psychologist, it’s apparent to me that many people involved in the divorces have an underlying mental illness or psychological problems.

For example, depression is known to cause marital strife. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, depression affects, not only one partner, but the whole family. Furthermore, depression affects nearly 15 million American adults each year. “Depression can lead to other problems,” agrees Constance Ahrons, PhD, professor emeritus of sociology at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. “Affairs aren’t the only problems.

Often, one partner is so depressed he stops working, which leads to a cascade of other problems. The unaffected partner often has to pick up the slack for the depressed one. This leads to feelings of frustration, anger and ultimately, resentment.

The good news is that most depression and other psychological problems are treatable. People noticing problems in their marriage need to seriously consider whether depression or some other potential mental illness is the cause. If that’s a possibility, they need to push their partner to see a therapist.

Bottom line? There are many reasons for getting a divorce. And one major reason not to: love. If you are committed to making your marriage work, keep trying. Be positive. Have fun. Talk openly to each other. Add a little romance to your everyday life.


How To Repair Your Finances After Divorce

Think dating again is hard after being “off the market” for a significant amount of time? It’s nothing compared to trying to repair your finances and restart your career after years as a stay-at-home parent. Divorce not only wreaks havoc on you physically and emotionally, it can also wreak havoc on you financially. This is especially true for spouses who stayed at home and gave up their careers to raise children. In addition to restarting careers, other financial challenges that people face post-divorce include obtaining financial stability, repairing credit, adjusting lifestyles, and setting budgets.

Restarting a career is usually one of the first things that I discuss with my clients who are stay-at-home spouses, even before the divorce is filed.

Not only do these spouses need time to prepare professionally (e.g. by drafting resumes, applying for positions, etc.) they also usually need time to prepare mentally for the challenge. After ten, twenty or even thirty years out of the job market, most of these spouses are in denial about their need to restart a career and obtain employment.

For stay-at-home spouses – whose focus is primarily on what happens in and around the home – separation and divorce upend their lives much more drastically than for those who have careers outside the home. Because of this, stay-at-home spouses will often remain in denial for as long as possible. They want to believe that everything will be okay, or, they may think they can jump right back into a career they abandoned long ago.

Unfortunately, that psychology degree that they obtained twenty years ago and never used is not going help much now. The court will assume that they will start working immediately. They will impose an earning capacity on them even if they are not yet working. This will be used to calculate everything from support to the distribution of marital property. In most cases, there simply won’t be enough income and property to go around. Finding a job will quickly become a necessity. The sooner they realize this and start working on getting back into the work force, the better.

The lesson? Take action sooner, rather than later.

Think of something you can do now. Perhaps go back to school while the divorce is pending and you are receiving support. Or, consider taking an entry-level position you might have once considered beneath you. Support may end when the divorce ends – so don’t squander the opportunity.

Financial literacy is another thing that many of those going through a divorce need to consider. Frequently, one of the spouses has voluntarily remained financially ignorant, usually because of lack of interest in finance. “I know of a divorcing 40-year old woman who hasn’t the first idea how to calculate her income and expenses to create a budget because it’s always been handled by her parents and husband. She calls her soon-to-be-ex-husband in a panic almost every day because she has no idea how to make sense of simple financial matters.” says Honoree Corder, executive coach and author of “The Successful Single Mom”. In our practice, we frequently represent spouses who have no clue about their finances or assets. This makes it extremely difficult to repair for spouses to repair their finances. It doesn’t have to be this way.

There are steps you can take to help get you on the road towards financial stability and security.

First, get an idea of how finances work. Maybe take a course at a community college. Even easier, buy a book like Personal Finance for Dummies – a great easy-to-read book that will give you all the background you need to manage your personal finances. Then, pay attention to all of the financial information that will be considered and discussed during your divorce process. It will give you a good idea of how things worked in the past and what you can expect in the future. This will help you with budgeting in the future (see below).

Repairing credit is also usually on most people’s agenda post-divorce. Divorce involves many large and unexpected expenses, from having to establishing a new household…to selling existing property…to paying legal expenses. At the same time you may be attempting to adjust your lifestyle to live on a severely reduced income. Usually, cash flow becomes a serious issue before those adjustments are possible. Actions taken by your spouse during separation may also ruin your credit. For example, if he or she fails to pay the mortgage on your house or another joint obligation. By the time it is all over, many people have defaulted on credit cards, mortgages, and other bills.

Once the divorce is over, its time to start to repair your finances, especially your credit. However, this doesn’t happen overnight. But every smart financial decision you make now gets you that much closer to your goal. And you don’t have to do it alone. Seek help from individuals and professionals you can trust. Your therapist or divorce attorney is a great place to start. They are usually connected with financial advisors who specialize in working with individuals in transition post-divorce.

Finally, you will likely need to adjust your lifestyle to your new financial reality and establish a budget.

You may have been living large pre-divorce, and probably beyond your means. Living on your own now means making substantial lifestyle adjustments in order to repair your finances.

The first step in this process is to establish a budget. That is the only way to get a clear picture of your financial situation. Start by gathering all of your statements for rent/mortgage, utilities, tuition and all other regular monthly expenses. For many it can be a real eye-opener to see just how much money it actually takes to live “as is.”

Also write down your monthly income – from your job, alimony, child support, pension or social security, any investment income or any other regular source of income. “Once you have a better understanding of where your money is coming from and going to, you will be in a better position to eliminate unnecessary expenses. Having a budget also provides the structure you need in to incorporate saving money for your future financial needs.” (

I can’t tell you how many people have no idea how much they are spending. Most couples, even those with very significant incomes, live paycheck to paycheck. Often it’s the ones who have been living the high life who are the most reluctant to face reality. I once suggested that a client purchase a more moderate vehicle instead of leasing a new luxury car that she couldn’t afford. You would have thought I had suggested she give up her first-born child!

Without a doubt, the biggest hurdle for many going through divorce and looking to repair their finances is learning how to live within their means.

To do that, you need to distinguish between “needs” and “wants.” Decide what luxuries you can do without. Little things really do add up. You may need to give up that BMW or even your daily latte from Starbucks. Prioritize your purchases. Try to “pay yourself” (i.e. open a savings account) to handle unexpected expenses or to pay for gifts for holidays or special occasions.

Finally, there is the issue of simply separating yourself from your spouse and opening up accounts in your own name. For women going through a divorce who opt to retake their maiden names, they need to consider a variety of things. You need to get a new Social Security Card, passport, driver’s license and credit cards. Be sure you let your bank, insurance agencies, credit card companies, and others know that you’ve changed your name (and address, if applicable.) Jeff Landers, from the, adds, “titles on all houses and vehicles will have to be modified and recorded with lending institutions, and you will also need to update beneficiaries on your life insurance, 401k, pensions and IRA accounts.” Be sure to have several copies of your certified divorce decree on hand to provide when needed.

It is not easy to repair your finances after divorce. But taking control, making decisions for yourself (and your children), can be empowering. Be honest with yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed.


The Top 12 Misconceptions About Divorce

Divorce Demystified: Rumors, Myths, and Misconceptions 

Most potential clients who consult with our firm have common fears and concerns about getting divorced.  Most of those fears arise out of the perceptions of divorce that are reinforced on television and in the movies.  This article is meant to dispel some of the most common misconceptions about Pennsylvania divorce law. (more…)


Cooley & Handy Awards GenZ Future of Marriage Scholarship to Central Bucks East Graduate


DOYLESTOWN, PA – Cooley & Handy Attorneys at Law, a premier Bucks County law firm specializing in divorcee and family law, awarded its 2016 “GenZ Future of Marriage” Scholarship to Suzanne E. Forbes of Jamison, PA. Ms. Forbes graduated from Central Bucks High School East in June and will be attending the University of Maryland starting in the fall.

Cooley & Handy awards the GenZ scholarship in June each year based on essays submitted by college-bound seniors addressing how their parents’ divorce affected their willingness to get married someday. Studies show that members of the so-called millennial and “Z” generations are less inclined to plan to get married than preceding generations. Cooley & Handy wants to know how the experience of divorce has an impact on that dispiriting trend to search for ways to improve the divorce process.

“We are divorce attorneys, but we believe that marriage provides the best, most stable environment in which to raise a family,” says Kevin J. Handy, a partner at Cooley & Handy. “The next generation of kids doesn’t seem to agree. We want to hear from them. So we established a scholarship through which they can talk about their views.”

According to Mr. Handy, the firm had many excellent entries this year so choosing a winner was difficult. However, in the end, they felt that Ms. Forbes’ essay best addressed the topic.

Entrants for the scholarship must be residents of Pennsylvania starting college in the fall of the year of the award, and must be the children of divorced parents. The author of the winning essay receives $1,000 towards his or her college tuition. The winning essayist is chosen by Cooley & Handy each year by June 30.

Cooley & Handy specializes in divorce, arbitration, and mediation in Bucks, Montgomery and Philadelphia counties. Further information about the scholarship, including the rules and application, can be found at

Press inquiries may be directed to: Kevin J. Handy, Cooley & Handy, 100 South Main Street, Suite 201, Doylestown, PA 18901, (215) 345-8000


“But I need my car for work…” — DUI License Suspensions in Bucks, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties and the Availability of Occupational Limited Licenses

First time DUI offenders often wonder if their driver’s license will be suspended and, if so, how they will manage to get to work.

Because people are so dependent on their vehicles, this is a major concern for those faced with DUI charges. In fact, many of our clients are actually more concerned about their potential driver’s license suspensions than going to jail. If you find yourself facing DUI charges, you should probably start to consider alternative transportation arrangements.Pennsylvania DUI law has a three-tiered punishment system based on the offender’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) at the time of the offense. Punishment is also dependent upon the number of DUI offenses previously committed.

If you are a first time offender convicted of a DUI offense with a BAC of less than .10%, there is no mandatory license suspension.

If, however, you are a first time offender with a BAC of .10% or above you will have your driver’s license suspended. The length of  license suspensions depends on both your BAC and whether you are approved for an “Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition” Program.

Bucks, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties all offer first-time offenders potential admission to Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition (ARD) programs. Eligibility for the Bucks, Montgomery and Philadelphia County programs vary slightly and an attorney at our firm can help you to understand their individual terms and conditions. An offender may wonder how participation in an ARD program will affect a mandatory driver’s license suspension, if at all.

The ARD program is a pre-trial intervention program that is designed to divert first-time, non-violent offenders from the criminal justice system. By statute, however, the ARD program must adhere to certain dictates. For example, a person in the program must serve 6-24 months of nonreporting probation and will have to successfully complete the Alcohol Highway Safety School and undergo a Court Reporting Network (CRN) drug and alcohol evaluation. A significant benefit of participating in the ARD program is that once the program is successfully completed, the underlying criminal charges are legally dismissed.

Another benefit of ARD programs is that the length of the mandatory license suspension is significantly reduced.

As stated earlier, if your BAC is less than .10%, there is no license suspension. If you enter the ARD program as a first-time offender with a BAC of between .10% and .159%, there is a 30-day mandatory driver’s license suspension. Those offenders with a BAC of above .159% are subject to a 60-day suspension. For those not eligible or approved for an ARD program, the length of the driver’s license suspension for BACs equal to or greater than .10% is 12 months.

The driver’s license suspension generally commences upon court approval of your entry into the ARD program and the surrender of your driver’s license. Clients who face a mandatory license suspension often ask whether they can get permission to drive for work, despite the mandatory suspension. If you are approved for the ARD program and are subject to a 30 or 60 day suspension, the answer is no. Pennsylvania does grant occupational limited licenses under certain circumstances. You must apply for this restricted license by application to the court. However, occupational limited licenses may only be granted 60 days after your original suspension.

Therefore, occupational limited licenses are not a solution for those in the ARD program.

This is because a driver’s license suspensions are between 30 and 60 days for those eligible for ARD programs with BACs .10 or greater, and the minimum suspension for an occupational driver’s license is 60 days. Consequently, if your BAC was above .10%, one of the first things you should begin to think about upon your DUI arrest is “how will I get to work?”