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

For some people, the thought of going through a divorce can Collaborative-Meeting-300x200be terrifying. Divorces are emotional experiences, that require a great deal of thought and planning to make sure that you walk out at the other end of the procedure prepared for your future. As a divorce attorney, I know that the last thing many of my clients want to do when they’re dealing with the vulnerability they feel during a divorce case, is to present their argument in front of a New York court. Even if the divorce is amicable, taking the process to court can be an overwhelming, and time-consuming process. That’s why opportunities have emerged that allow people considering divorce to choose other methods of dispute resolution.

Alternative dispute resolution proceedings allow you to resolve the issues that appear during the divorce process, through a series of informal negotiations between spouses. These negotiations can take place in more comfortable office spaces, and may ensure that you never have to step inside of a court room. Eventually, the purpose of an alternative dispute resolution is to allow both parties to come to a voluntary settlement about how they want their divorce to be handled. Here, we’ll take a look at the two most common forms of alternative dispute resolution, both of which I can perform from my office here in Long Island.

Using Divorce Mediation for Alternative Dispute Resolution

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There are various elements involved in ensuring the best results fromJudgesbooks-300x200 a child custody case. Closing statements are one of the unique and valuable opportunities that child custody lawyers use when attempting to present their side of the story to the judge. Because managing a case with children involved can be particularly tricky, a summation or closing statement can provide a memorable way to draw all the facts of the case together into something that the judge can use to make their decision. Otherwise known as a “summation”, a closing statement, when performed by an effective child custody lawyer or divorce attorney, can sweep away any pre-existing feelings that the judge had, and replace their thoughts with a new insight into a custody case and why their clients desires are in the best interests of the child or children.  After all, that is what a child custody and parenting trial is all about.   

To some degree, a closing statement is similar to an opening statement. For instance, in both the opening and closing statements, the attorneys for both parties will have the opportunity to directly address the judge, and “discuss” the case, giving them a framework for understanding the role of each party in the case, and how the evidence should be considered. However, a closing statement can involve arguments that allow the child custody attorney to make their point more effectively, whereas an opening statement requires the lawyers for both sides to stick to the facts. Though arguments can be made about the evidence and how it was presented to help sway the judge or undermine the other party’s case, it’s worth noting that there are rules to follow. Continue reading

After a divorce is finalized, the former husband and wife will go their separate ways. When the former couple has children together, this may result in one of the parents leaving the state with the children. While the state overseeing the initial divorce proceeding generally issues an initial custody order, that order is subject to revision.

U.S. MapCustody orders can be revised by either the state where the original proceeding occurred or, under some circumstances, by the state where the child resides. A common issue in New York family law cases is the state’s ability to enforce custody orders that were made by another state.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act

Lawmakers understand that situations like the ones discussed above are likely to arise, and as a result, they have developed a uniform act to streamline custody proceedings across state lines. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) has been adopted by 49 states, including New York, and provides guidelines as to which court has the power to issue binding custody determinations and modifications. It also allows for consistent enforcement of out-of-state custody determinations.

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Child custody trials can be very challenging experiences for every individual Lawyer-Justice-Scales-226x300involved. After all, they require the court to consider the best interests of a child when moving forward after a divorce case. An important element to remember is that while many professional techniques are used during a child custody battle, no-one really “wins”. Instead, the best arrangement will be suggested based on the unique needs of the child, and the ability of a parent to provide the healthiest upbringing for that child.  It is very much preferred for parents to be able to make agreements as to what the custody and parenting time arrangements for their children will be.  Trials build the animosity between the parties and thereby are harmful to the children.  That being said, custody hearings and trials happen as people involved in a custody battle sometimes cannot or will not settle.

Opening statements represent the start of a custody trial.  Often times custody lawyers choose to waive opening statements as the trier of fact in the case is a judge (there are no jury custody trials in New York), not a jury, and the judge most likely would rather proceed to the testimony rather than hearing opening statements.  Opening statements are not evidence so a judge might actually appreciate the first witness being called who can provide evidence by their testimony, rather than hearing the musings of the child custody attorneys.  Continue reading

When it comes to pursuing the best interests of a child in the case of “child Kitchen-couple-fight-300x200custody” there are many different paths for an individual to choose. For instance, some partners considering divorce who must think about child custody concerns will decide to undergo a professional course of mediation, Mediation allows couples to negotiate over potential outcomes for their child, in a setting that allows each side to have their say, without the emotional hardship of litigation. On the other hand, there’s also a “middle-ground” between mediation and litigation that’s known as collaborative law, where spouses will work alongside divorce attorneys and other experts to make decisions regarding parenting time and visitation rights.

Of course, there will always be some cases in which the only option to truly outline the best interests of the child, will be to take the matter to court. In front of the New York Court, divorce attorneys and child custody lawyers will attempt to present a case that shows their client as being the care-provider who can offer the best future for the child in question. This will help the court to make a decision regarding the “best interests” standard for child custody. To present a case fully, attorneys like Mr. Shapiro will frequently use questioning in the form of direct examination, and cross examination.

The Difference Between Cross Examination and Direct Examination

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