As a divorce mediator and family law lawyer, I know that there are questions people have when bringing an end to aMediation-Picture-300x200 marriage. Though divorce is never easy, it becomes particularly complex when children are involved, as the end of a relationship also means a huge change in family dynamics for all parties. Since the aim of any divorce and child custody agreements should be to come to terms on agreement that preserves the safety and comfort of the child in question, I offer my clients a range of alternative dispute resolution methods to choose from, alongside standard litigation.

I find that many of my clients prefer to use the less-combative strategy of mediation when it comes to making decisions for the benefit of their children. After all, not only does mediation allow both parties within a divorce to come to an agreement that suits either side, but it can also preserve some of the relationship that remains between divorcing couples, which can be key to joint custody and visitation agreements. One of the many important issues I address with my clients during the mediation process, is “child support”, and what that term should mean to both parties involved. Continue reading

When parents are divorced, they have several concerns they need to think about when it comes to maintaining theSuit-Child-Support-300x200 best interests of a child. For instance, they may need to make a decision about parenting time, custody, and visitation, or whether one of the parties should be asked to pay child support to help ensure that the child in question can continue to live a comfortable life after a marriage comes to an end. Importantly, however, it’s worth noting that decisions about child support don’t have to be limited to the discussion that occurs during a divorce.

When I am acting as a mediator it is usually for married divorcing couples.  In that instance I usually find that my clients are most likely to address the concept of child support during mediation and they will make an agreement that eventually will become part of their divorce. However, non-married couples can also come to me to discuss child support through mediation. Continue reading

When it comes to addressing difficult topics during a divorce or family law matter, there are options available that allow for a Couple-Unhappy-300x200solution beyond litigation. When it comes to parenting time, visitation, and custody arrangements, many parents prefer to use a method of alternative dispute resolution known as mediation. With mediation, it’s possible to come to terms about the future of a child, or children, without leaving decisions entirely in the hands of the court. Additionally, because mediation is naturally less combative than litigation in most cases, it can allow for some semblance of a relationship to be preserved between the parents in a case.

Though I work as a divorce attorney and child custody lawyer for my clients here in New York and Long Island, I can also offer them alternative options for dispute resolution in the form of mediation and collaborative law. When my clients choose to engage in mediation, the first thing I like to tell them is that there aren’t necessarily any hard and fast rules about how mediations need to proceed. Instead, each mediation session is adjusted according to the needs of the couples, individuals, and families in question. Subsequently, the dynamics of the mediation will also be unique. Often, I’ll start by asking whether the couple have already discussed the issue of parenting time and custody, and whether they have any ideas on how an agreement should look. Continue reading

After taking the time to in my last blog series to discuss the ins and outs of divorce litigation, I hope to share more of Couple-Mediation-300x200my experience in the world of family law by turning to some blogs about mediation, my favorite method of dispute resolution. Most of my mediated cases involve divorce, however, it’s also possible to use mediation as a solution for coming to agreements that do not including divorce as well. For instance, mediation can be particularly useful for people who want to address family law issues like child custody and parenting times without discussing divorce. Mediation can also be used for couples that want to be legally separated, or make pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements.

The principles that are addressed when mediating parenting time and custody within a divorce, and outside of a divorce are often the same. However, the mechanism that turns the agreements made within mediation into binding orders can be very different for unmarried couples. Usually, it’s expected that the Supreme Court will incorporate a Stipulation of Settlement for a divorce or Separation Agreement into the Judgment without the need to see parties in court.  My engagement with the couple will provide that after the settlement agreement is signed I can draft and submit the uncontested papers to the court for them.  For the purposes of bringing the papers through the court system my name will go down as attorney for the plaintiff, but it is understood that I am neutral between the couple.  The reason I can be listed as the attorney for the plaintiff in that instance is because there are no remaining issues of contention between them since we settled the case by the Separation Agreement.   Continue reading

A divorce case will often be an emotional and complicated time for everyone involved. Feelings are hurt, and in courtroom-898931_960_720-300x226some cases, sadness spurred by the end of a marriage can turn into anger, making the experience of litigation even harder to handle for those involved.  While I am a strong believer in alternative dispute resolution through processes like mediation or collaborative law for couples willing and able to go those routes, often, litigation is the process used.  As a divorce lawyer and child custody attorney, it’s my responsibility to help the people dealing with the complications of divorce to present their case as clearly, calmly, and effectively as possible in front of a New York judge. Often, this will mean telling a story on the behalf of the client, that begins with an opening statement, continues through to a body featuring witness testimonials, direct, and cross examination, and finishes with a closing statement.

From the very beginning when I start working with a client on their divorce case, we will discuss their circumstances in detail with them, and at times writing what I like to call “golden nuggets” of information down in the trial folder, so that we can refer to them later. This allows me to know what kind of story I want to tell throughout the course of the case, although it’s important to listen carefully to what the witnesses, and opposing lawyer says throughout the experience, as this can sometimes alter the considerations that need to be considered when presenting a divorce summation. Continue reading

Fair-Hearing-Pic-300x199Although the nature of divorce trials can change from one case to the next, it’s worth noting that divorce attorneys and child custody lawyers like myself often use a very specific set of techniques when presenting our case to the court. Those techniques allow us to create a story for the judge to follow, beginning with an opening statement that explains the nature of the state, then moving onto direct and cross examination. While direct examination is a process used by divorce attorneys to question our own witnesses and establish context within a trial, cross examination is a strategy that’s more focused on changing the perspective of the court to suit our specific client.

During a cross examination, divorce lawyers such as myself ask witnesses essential to our client’s case to provide an in-depth account of the facts that support the case presented by whichever party called the witness to begin with.  Cross examination allows opposing lawyers and perhaps the attorney for the children, if there is a custody dispute, to ask questions of the witness, in an attempt to reveal information that’s beneficial for their clients. For instance, as a cross-examiner in a divorce case, I might use carefully-worded questioning to draw light to points that present my client in a good light. For instance, I could ask the witness to reveal something positive that my client did, or draw more attention to the bad behavior of the opposing party. Continue reading

As a child custody lawyer, divorce attorney, and family law lawyer, I’ve been involved with several different divorceLawyerpinstripe-300x200 trials across Long Island and New York. While the specifics of these trials might change from couple to couple, it’s worth noting that the formats and many strategies attorneys typically use to present a case in front of a judge or jury have similarities. One of the most important elements involved in a divorce trial is the process of “direct examination”. This is the method that lawyers like myself use to outline facts and introduce exhibits, through our witnesses for the person we’re representing in any specific divorce case.

In the legal world, the concept of direct examination is used to refer to circumstances within a litigation trial, where the attorney questions his or her own witness to help give greater context and detail to a situation. After one side questions their witness on direct examination then the lawyers for the other parties, such as opposing counsel and sometimes the attorney for the child or children question the cross examination, where both attorneys can ask questions of the witness for the trial. I typically use direct examination as a way of getting to the bottom of the story with a witness, uncovering as much vital information as possible that can be used to support my client. Continue reading

A marriage is about joining two lives together at multiple Lawyer-with-Judge-300x200different touchpoints. When you agree to a marriage, you interweave almost every aspect of your life with your partner. For that reason, when a divorce takes place, it can be very complicated to untangle the situation, and make sure that both people come away feeling in-tact, and secure. While some cases of divorce can be handled with alternative dispute resolution strategies like mediation and collaborative law, some will eventually find themselves in front of the New York court. If your divorce requires litigation, then it’s worth understanding the different elements of a divorce trial, which you may need if your case does not settle ahead of time.

The opening statement for a divorce trial is basically the introduction to your case. It gives the judge context that they can use to understand the story behind your divorce. Petitioning parties in New York courts provide their opening statement to begin with, before the responding party has their opportunity. The important thing to remember about opening statements is that they’re generally not argumentative. Divorce lawyers like myself are not permitted to comment on the credibility of the other side during these statements, nor can we craft a story in an attempt to appeal to prejudice or passion. Continue reading

When a couple splits up in a New York divorce, and the couple has children together, the court, or the divorce lawyers involved, must determine whether either of the parties is entitled to child support.  If the matter is handled in Family Court, in making this determination, the court looks at New York Family Court Act section 413, which outlines the considerations that must be taken into account when ordering child support. The exact formula is somewhat complicated, but essentially it looks at each parent’s income and the number of children involved.

Wedding RingsOnce a court makes a determination as to child support, that order will remain in effect unless one of the parties asks the court to reconsider the child support amount. Courts routinely make changes to child support orders based on either party’s changing circumstances. For example, if one of the parents loses a job, that parent may then petition the court to adjust the child support payments they are required to make. A question that often comes up in New York divorce cases is whether the income of a remarried parent’s new spouse can be used when calculating child support payments.

The general rule under New York law is that a step-parent has no obligation to support their step-children. However, there are ways that the income of a step-parent may be relevant to a child support determination. For example, assume parent A and parent B have two children and get divorced. Parent A has custody of the children, and Parent B is ordered to pay child support. Later, Parent B remarries. Normally, when it comes to determining Parent B’s child support obligation, Parent B’s new spouse’s income would not be considered. However, if Parent B has a child with the new spouse, the new spouse’s income may become relevant because the needs of the children that live with the non-custodial parent of the subject children of child support case  can be taken into account. According to the statute those children’s needs can be considered to deviate from the guideline amount of child support, but only if the resources available to support the children living with the non-custodial parent are less than the resources available to support the child or children that are the subject of the divorce or post judgement divorce or child support case.

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The college application process can be a daunting thing not FinancialNeutral-300x200just for aspiring students, but also for the parents that hope to support their children’s education. When it comes to children of divorce, the concerns regarding which schools to apply for and what courses to take can extend to additional worries about which parent should be expected to pay the ongoing expense of tuition, room and board, books, travel, and the rest of it.   In New York, the rules regarding college costs for child support cases or following divorce are often impacted by something called the “SUNY” cap. The SUNY cap is a concept commonly used by the New York courts to address the issue of how college education should be paid for. Parental payment for their children’s college isn’t automatic in the state of New York, the trend has been for courts to use a more child-friendly approach to financing college education.

The legislature has codified in the Domestic Relations Law and Family Court Act that courts need to order parents to contribute to a child’s college education, depending on the circumstances at hand, and the child’s best interests.  The cases have held that this determination is done according to the parent’s ability to pay, the expectations the parents had for the children (such as their own educational backgrounds), and the children’s academic abilities. Continue reading