Long Island Family Law and Mediation Blog

When a custody case is brought to a New York family court, the law requires the papers to be served to the other Summons Doorside, often in the form of a summons and petition. It is up to the parent that is filing the case to ensure that the other parent in the custody argument receives the papers – generally through in-hand delivery. Ensuring the service of papers is essential, as the law recognizes that there are few things more important in child custody cases than ensuring that every person entitled to make a claim on the behalf of the best interests of the child will receive notice of the proceedings taking place. Importantly, the law dictates that services of a petition and summons should be given at least eight days before the first court appearance is required of the other party. However, in practice, it is worth noting that regardless of how a respondent may receive the notice to attend court – so long as they attend and admit that they were served the papers, then the court will be given jurisdiction, and have the right to proceed with the case.

In cases of custody, visitation, or other matters brought before the family court, I often find that the case is started using an order to show cause, instead of a summons, and a petition. While the petition underlines what the person presenting the case to the court wants to address, the order to show cause specifies how service should be addressed.  When service is directed pursuant to the Order to Show Cause, how to serve the papers is spelled out by the judge who signed the order.  It takes the guess work out of service, however, it then becomes important to precisely comply with the method and timing of service that is directed. Continue reading

Issues of parenting in child custody and visitation cases are often very complicated, as they consider a wide range ofParentsPJS factors when determining the best interests of a child. After all, it is the responsibility of the New York court to ensure that their decisions regarding custody orders are made according to the needs of the specific children, or child involved in the case. Because of this, before a final decree is declared in a dissolution, divorce, or custody case, the court of New York might require parents to complete a course of Parental education which may be different and cover different matters depending on the nature of your circumstances.

Although the lessons can be different in parental education classes in regards to such things as format, the general idea of all parent education classes is to help parents separating from a partner or spouse to better understand the way their divorce from an ex-partner might affect their children. This education therefore ensures that the parents have the skills and resources necessary – regardless of whether they are a non-custodial, or custodial parent – to provide the appropriate care for their child, and help them move through a transitional period in their lives with as little distress as possible. Continue reading

This blog article will discuss the pros and cons of overnight parenting time to the non-residential custodial parent on Businessman Childrenschool nights.  Discovering a schedule for parenting time or child visitation that works for both parties involved in a divorce or child custody case, as well as the children in question can be one of the most important things a single parent does. After all, child custody cases or divorce is difficult enough upon existing family dynamics, without the confusion of an ever-changing and disruptive visitation schedule adding extra problems into the mix. Whether drafting an initial example for a possible parenting time plan, or attempting to make sense of the schedule that the court has presented to you, it’s crucial to remember that different scenarios work better with different circumstances. Ultimately, the visitation that is ordered by the court, and the plans you come up with through mediation and other measures, should reflect the best interests of the children.

Although each family is unique, there are some arrangements in the world of custody that have gathered more popularity than others – remaining a favorite of many family court counselors and parents who choose to develop their own parenting plans. Indeed, I often see many parents opting for the most common “alternating weekend” schedule, with some modifications here and there designed to cater for specific families. However, parenting time schedules are much more flexible than you might think, and there are other options available when it comes to meeting the individual needs of each unique family. For instance, you might find that your ideal schedule allows for extended weekend visitations that permit the children to have more time with the non-custodial parent. On the other hand, you might even look into the possibility of mid-week overnight visitation.  However, sometimes that might not be in the best interest of the children.  Whether or not overnight visitation on school nights is appropriate really depends on the specific family. Continue reading

When a New York couple undergoes a divorce, it’s natural for their financial circumstances to change. After all, JudgeReadingseparating partners are moving from a single-household environment, to a situation where they each must pay their own bills, rent, and expenses.  Or as the couple moves apart emotionally, while still living together they might not be taking care of their financial obligations to each other and the household.  The divorce may draw attention to the fact that one spouse has expenses, such as a mortgage, that they are unable to afford by themselves, and pendent lite maintenance awards help that individual to cover their basic expenses and maintain a particular lifestyle until the divorce is formally settled. Commonly, in a Pendente Lite award, the spouse with the greater income might be required to provide monthly payments to the spouse with less income, or pay for certain bills. Pendente lite can also commonly apply to payments of attorney fees, child custody and temporary child support.

Determining the amount to be awarded in a pendente lite case can be complicated, as it depends on a number of crucial factors to be addressed by the court.  There is a formula for pendente lite maintenance that courts are supposed to follow or enumerate specifically why the court deviated from the formula.  Before the first enactment of the formula for Pendente Lite maintenance in 2010, which law was updated in 2015, the foundation for determining the appropriate level of pendente lite support, a court would look at the needs of the dependent spouse in maintaining a reasonable standard of living, as well as the means held by the supporting spouse, and the level of income required for each spouse to remain comfortable until the finalization of the divorce. Continue reading

Although divorce lawyers are required to remain current with their knowledge in all areas involving family law, this FinancialNeutraldoesn’t negate the value of accessing external insight from other professionals during a divorce mediation or collaborative law procedure. I often find that divorcing couples seem unsure of their rights regarding financial matters during a divorce, and may be unaware of the financial implications posed by different settlement options. Just as a child specialist can be effective in helping couples to navigate the complexities associated with child-centric cases, a financial neutral can be beneficial in providing guidance regarding financial concerns. Specifically, financial neutrals can be particularly helpful in answering the question of how both sides in a divorce can manage the transition from one household, to two households, in a way that maintains financial stability.

Unlike collaborative cases – which often involve a team of professionals, most mediation sessions involve a divorcing couple, and a mediator. However, this doesn’t mean that mediation, like collaborative law, cannot be supported by independent parties. In fact, mediating coupes are regularly advised to seek out review attorneys who can review their mediated agreement and help them understand their rights. In the same vein, there’s nothing preventing other professionals from joining the mediation for the best interests of both parties involved. After all, during a litigated case, other experts are frequently retained and court ordered. In collaborative cases, financial neutrals, and neutral divorce coaches usually make up vital parts of the team. Continue reading

Matters of family law are almost always more complex when they involve children. This is one of the many Young Couplereasons why a large number of parent’s attempt to resolve disputes and concerns through amicable legal methods such as mediation and collaborative law, in an effort to avoid some of the frustration and turmoil that can result through litigation. Sometimes, in order for a mediation or collaborative case to have the most successful impact in any given situation, it may require the input of additional input beyond that given by the neutral mediating party, and any collaborative lawyers present. In fact, many mediators and collaborative lawyers actively advise working alongside other experts during a negotiation-friendly discussion of child custody and parenting time issues whether in the context of a divorce or not.

One of the many valuable experts involved in collaborative and mediation cases for parents, is a child specialist. These individuals are often engaged in an attempt to assist with easing the emotional transition and friction involved in making decisions based on parenting time, custody, and other highly significant family matters. Child specialists are unique in their ability to offer significant value to many cases in the form of additional specialized knowledge, techniques for dispute resolution, and more. While child specialists are referred to most commonly in the context of collaborative law, they can also be used to positive effect in mediation. Continue reading

Grueling custody battles between parents are rich with emotion and frustration, which means that they are Parent Coordinatorperfectly poised to become hostile and antagonistic. In most circumstances, the greatest amount of conflict may not even be caused by addressing significant life-altering decisions, but when dealing with the day-to-day agreements of where to meet to exchange children, or how to provide the correct educational and medical care. Because of the significant friction in custody cases, it can be difficult to find a scenario that works well for both parents, and the children involved. However, in New York and Long Island, the presence of a parenting coordinator, as part of the custody and parenting time order, could be the tool required to prompt an amicable agreement for the resolution of future issues.

Usually, the parenting coordinator comes in to assist with decision making issues, after the case is done.  After all, if there are two parents voting there could be ties on certain issues.  How will the ties be broken?  Continue reading

The goal of divorce mediation is for a couple to reach a settlement on one or more issues related to their divorce. To that end, a neutral third party known as a mediator helps each side understand the relative strengths and weaknesses in their position and tries to move them closer to a consensus. While neither party may get exactly what they want, they try to come to an agreement with which they can both live. Often, mediation allows for a better outcome than litigation, and it can be easier on a couple’s children.

If an agreement is reached at mediation, it may be formalized in a separation agreement. Courts treat this agreement the way they would treat other contracts. Although a neutral third party may help the parties reach a different outcome than what a judge would have decided, the court will treat the agreement seriously, except in certain circumstances.

In Ruparelia v. Ruperalia, a husband and wife were married in 1994 and had three children. The husband was a doctor, and the wife had a Master’s degree in social work. In 2011, the couple experienced significant discord, causing them to participate in divorce mediation. During the mediation, they reached an agreement as to asset distribution, spousal maintenance, and child support. These agreements were formalized in a separation agreement, executed in the summer of 2011.

Continue reading

grandparents-1256161In a 2015 case, Matter of Rumpff v. Schorpp, a New York appellate court heard an appeal regarding grandparents’ rights. The petitioner was the father of two children. The respondent in the case was the children’s mother. Soon after the younger child was born, the Department of Social Services started neglect proceedings against both of the parents, claiming that their drug and alcohol abuse had caused them to fail in providing the children with adequate supervision and guardianship. They agreed to have the children live with their maternal grandmother, also a respondent in the appeal.

Later, the grandmother asked for sole custody. The parties stipulated to joint legal custody for the father, mother, and grandmother, with the children physically placed with the grandmother. In 2011, the father sought physical custody of the kids by filing a petition to modify custody.

The order continued the prior custody arrangement by the agreement of all the parties. In 2013, the father again brought a petition to modify, seeking sole custody. The family court granted him sole legal custody and physical placement. The mother was given parenting time, and the grandmother was given visitation. The grandmother, the mother, and the children’s attorney appealed this decision.

Continue reading

CPS ( Child Protective Services ), ACS ( Administration for Children’s Services ), and Judges in New York make determinations to indicate or found cases regarding neglect and Children Grassabuse of children in New York or whether these determinations should stand.  But, when these findings are challenged, when should an emotional neglect finding stand or not?  In the State of New York, the law dictates that emotional abuse, including neglect, can be defined by the omissions or acts made by caretakers or parents that result in serious changes to a child’s conduct, cognitive, mental, or behavioral functions. Parents have a responsibility to support the proper physical and emotional development of their children – failure to offer that support, either deliberately or passively, can be a sign of neglect. Under section 1012(f) of the Family Court Act, a maltreated or neglected child is an individual under the age of eighteen who has had their physical, emotional, or mental condition impaired as a result of his or her parents, or caretaker’s action or inaction. The minimum degree of care expected from parents or caretakers according to the New York law, includes:

  • Supplying the child with adequate education, shelter, clothing, and food.
  • Providing medical, optometric, dental, or surgical care.
  • Giving the child proper guardianship or supervision to reasonably prevent potential harm and risk when possible.

One example case drew attention to proof provided for the injuries that a child sustained as a result of neglect. The case determined not only that the condition of the child was legitimate, but also that it could not have occurred within a typical five-year-old, without the presence of neglectful behavior from the parent. In this particular case, the respondent mother was the primary caretaker of a five-year-old who consistently exhibited troubled behavior, an obscene vocabulary, and an obsession with deviant and explicit sexual conduct. Regardless of whether the respondent in question tutored her son towards this behavior, or allowed the traits to take place in an environment wherein she should have been exercising control, the case of neglect was made. Continue reading