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Family Law Blog New City, New York

News and insights about divorce and family law in New York.

How Mediation Can Resolve Family Conflicts

 

Even in an uncontested divorce, difficulties can arise. Whether it's childcare, property division, or other sticking points, you and your partner may continually argue about the same thing. You may be at the point where you're ready to take them to court and litigate everything.

This isn't necessary.

If you and your partner keep having the same discussions that go back and forth without any resolution, consider working with a third-party mediator. They can help you work through the things that are keeping you from finishing your divorce.

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Does Your Prenup Agree With Your Will?

Many New Yorkers believe in the power of the “prenup,” or prenuptial agreement, formally known as an antenuptial agreement here. It’s researched and agreed to, then signed, to protect both parties against the unfortunate possibility of a divorce later on. (A post-nuptial agreement is the same thing but written after the date of a marriage.) A couple makes decisions with a clear head and in advance, not during an emotionally charged period when they are dissolving a partnership.

For the couple who endures the test of time, writing their wills as a part of an overall estate plan becomes an important task. A will offers guidance and direction for the surviving spouse and any children, and may also name a guardian if the children are minors.

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Can A Child Choose Their Custodial Parent?

You may have heard that a child can choose the parent with which they would like to live. It’s true, they can—when they turn 18. Many people believe that children can choose at a younger age, but that belief is nothing more than an urban myth.

Prior to age 18, New York children are subject to a custody order, and they have little or no say in the matter. Much depends on the circumstances of both parents, and the relationship the child has with both of them. The judge will hear what a child has to say on the matter, but it is not the sole determining factor.

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Why Choose An Uncontested Divorce In New York?

Divorce is always an emotionally trying time for everyone involved. Just the decision can be painful and heartbreaking, especially if there are children involved.

You may know someone whose divorce seemed to take forever. That may be because of issues that took time to resolve. Child custody, property division and financial affairs are some of the most common sticking points in a divorce. They can take months or even years to resolve before finalizing.

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Consequences Of Violating A New York Visitation Agreement

After a relationship ends, children benefit best from an uninterrupted relationship with both of their parents. If one parent violates the visitation and/or custody agreement, it can change the child’s relationship with the parent.

Arrangements can occasionally become an obstacle when it is time for visits. It’s always important to be on time when meeting your children for scheduled visitation, whether you’re picking them up or returning them to their other parent. Even with a valid reason, the other parent will likely take notes of occasional tardiness.

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What Happens To Children of Unmarried Parents In New York When They Split?

 

Most people think that family law is mostly about divorce, child custody, and child support. But in addition, family law also deals with the rights of parents who are not married when their relationship ends.

In a divorce situation, the law presumes that the husband is the father of all the children. Then the family court follows the procedure to decide child custody and child support.

Because there isn’t a formal and legal relationship between the two people, there is no need for a divorce proceeding.

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Are Jury Trials Disappearing?

 

Most people are familiar with divorces that make the news when they head to trial. They can take months or even years to resolve, and be very costly. Divorces that don’t make the news can be just as difficult.

But jury trials for divorces—as well as other civil cases—are actually decreasing in favor of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), including mediation. Parties who choose mediation frequently settle without the need for a trial, and walk away with a more favorable outcome.

A recent study by social scientists Shari Diamond and Jessica Salerno, published in the Louisiana Law Review, examines the sharp decline in overall cases that involve a jury trial. Although 80% of civil attorneys interviewed believe that a jury trial is worth the money it costs. Mediation and other ADR decisions are more client-driven because of the cost and the uncertainty.

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How an Attorney for the Child Can Help New York Children

An Attorney for the Child, also commonly referred to as an “AFC”, can be appointed by the Court to represent any child (from birth to 21 years of age) who is subject to a Family Court Petition. Empowered by the Family Court Act, an AFC gives the child a voice in family legal disputes. The Attorney for the Child is literally that: they represent the child’s wishes and feelings directly, and not those of the child’s parents. The attorney has the same ethical and legal responsibilities to the child as they would to an adult client.

What Does an Attorney for the Child Do?

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How To Make Your Visitation Schedule Work During Covid-19

One of the many ways that the Covid-19 pandemic has upended families is that it has thrown many custody and visitation situations into disarray. In addition to worrying about the health of their children, some parents have the added stress of adhering to their visitation schedules in light of social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and other novel restrictions that have come as a result of the unprecedented pandemic.

Many parents are surprised to find out that, despite Covid-19-related restrictions, child custody orders are still legally binding exactly as originally ordered; parents who violate their visitation schedule without the consent of the other parent or without a temporary custody order can be found in contempt and be sanctioned by the court. Sanctions for violating a custody and visitation orders can be severe, including loss of custody.

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The 4 Basic Steps in New York’s Child Custody Mediation Process

Child custody agreements don’t have include bitter court battles; with the help of an experienced New York child custody mediator, you can achieve a custody and visitation schedule that is right for your family in just 4 easy steps.

Step 1: Choose the right mediator and have initial meeting

First, choose the best mediator for your needs. Your mediator should have experience mediating child custody cases similar to yours, be able to provide information and answer questions in an accessible way, and excel at both compromise negotiation and communication.

At your initial meeting, your mediator will discuss the mediation process including what to expect during future conversations, explain certain rules that apply to mediation such as confidentiality, and answer any questions you or your spouse may have.

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Pros and Cons of Uncontested Divorces in New York

For those who qualify, an uncontested divorce can be faster, cheaper, and better for the long-term post-divorce relationship of the spouses.

To find out more about uncontested divorces in New York, including eligibility requirements, advantages and disadvantages of an uncontested divorce, and how to receive a personalized consultation with an experienced divorce lawyer, read on.

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New York Divorce Mediation and Nesting

One of the hardest struggles for families going though a divorce, especially those with young children, can be the division of the family into two separate homes. For children, the process can increase feelings of upheaval, stress, and loss while parents may struggle with the financial burden of acquiring a second home, paying property taxes, and the cost of replacing household items that became property of the other spouse at the conclusion of the proceedings.

Some families, however, have developed their own unique way to slowly progress towards living in separate homes: “nesting” or “bird nesting” has become a smart option for families that want to reduce upheaval in the home and save money on expenses.

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Parenting Plan Modifications

Whenever a couple with children divorce, a parenting plan helps facilitate the transition by outlining the terms of custody and visitation as well as other issues that affect their child. Once the parenting plan is accepted by the court, it is official and enforceable: violations of the parenting plan have serious consequences, including loss of custody.

If, however, one or both parents want to change the original parenting plan, the court allows for modifications in most circumstances. New York law provides parents with 3 options for parenting plan modifications: coming to an agreement on their own, using custody mediation, or litigating the proposed modification in family court.

The easiest way to modify a parenting plan is when both parents agree with the changes: the modified parenting plan is simply filed and (usually) accepted by the court.

When couples don’t agree on the proposed changes to the parenting plan, they can either choose to use a custody mediator or to take their case to family court.

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Divorce Mediation and Gray Divorces

Divorce rates are increasing for couples in long-term marriages. Known as a “gray divorce,” these couples have issues unique to the length of their marriage as well as their age.

Gray divorces are much more complex than the divorce of a couple married for a shorter time: special issues like retirement, home equity, and possible ailing health of the parties can complicate the divorce process significantly.

As the rate of gray divorces continues to climb, so does the number of couples who choose divorce mediation over traditional divorce litigation.

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Property Division in New York Divorce

Dividing a couple’s property during a divorce can lead to confusion and endless arguments; whether the property at issue is your great-grandmother’s antique clock, the kitchen table, or your primary residence, New York law establishes who gets what during a divorce and the division might not be as obvious as couples think.

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The Effect of Alcohol and Drug Use on New York Custody Cases

Whether you are concerned about the alcohol or drug use of the parent of your child, or your own use has been questioned, alcohol and drug use can impact your New York custody case.

The use of drugs and alcohol can affect the entire family; however, the impact of parental alcohol or drug abuse can be especially devastating to a child. Like all legal cases involving children, the court’s objective is to come to a custody arrangement that is in the best interest of the child. Because parental substance abuse can deprive the child of stability, safety, and a healthy relationship with the using parent, the court takes parental drug and alcohol use seriously.

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Getting Custody of Your Children Back in New York

Losing custody of a child is devastating: whether you have lost all custody rights or are simply unhappy with your current custody order, having restricted access to your child doesn’t have to be permanent. With the help of a qualified and experienced New York family law attorney, you can regain custody or change your current custody agreement in certain circumstances.

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What You Need to Know About Getting a Divorce in New York

Getting a divorce is a hard decision that requires careful thought and planning. As an experienced New York divorce attorney, I have helped hundreds of clients navigate through this stressful and difficult time.

While every divorce is unique, there are standard guidelines and requirements that apply to every New York divorce: by understanding the divorce basics, you can be better prepared for your initial consultation with a qualified family lawyer.

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3 Tips on Sharing Child Custody During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is here!

No matter which holidays you celebrate, or how far in advance you begin preparations, the holiday season is always busy and stressful. But when you share custody of your children with an ex, the holiday season can turn into a battleground when conflicting family events put your co-parenting arrangement to the test.

Minimize conflict with your ex by following these 3 simple tips on sharing custody during the holiday season:

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What are a Father’s Custody Rights in New York?

One of the most common misconceptions about child custody is that the court will always favor giving custody to the mother over the father. While at one time that was the case, modern courts have changed their way of thinking and are embracing the positive impact a father’s role has on their child’s life.

The evolution of father’s rights in New York New York

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