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Articles Posted in Family Law

Parents-Walk-300x200For some time now, I’ve been using this blog as an opportunity to share valuable information about family law, child custody, and divorce with people who need guidance. With many years of experience working as a child support attorney and divorce lawyer in New York, I’ve answered a lot of questions in my time.

The blogs and articles here and on my website cover some of the complex topics that can arise during a divorce or when parents split in more detail, while these bullet-point guides take a more compact approach. Today, in the third issue of the child support guide, we’ll be looking at family law in New York, the Uniform Interstate guidelines, and the decisions that couples must make about child support.

Child Support Cases in New York

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ParentsReading-300x200Throughout the past year, I’ve been publishing a series of guides intended to support anyone who wants to learn more about the common issues that emerge in family law and divorce cases. This particular guide is a continuation of the Child Support series.

For this section of the guide, I will be looking at constructive emancipation, and what it means to child support requirements in a family law case.  There are certainly cases where the emancipation of a child might be deemed appropriate.  This will lead to a termination of child support in those instances. In this blog I will also be discussing the complexity of paternity in family law.

For the paternity part of this guide, we’ll consider what equitable estoppel means, and when DNA might not matter to legal decisions. Continue reading ›

Negotiationpic-300x207Lately, I’ve been frequently adding new updates to my blog as part of a bullet point series on divorce litigation summarizing the more in-depth articles I posted over the years. These bullet point guides aim to offer a quick overview of some of the most common questions and concerns that emerge in litigation.

Though litigation is only one option when it comes to getting court orders or making agreements in a divorce process, it is a common choice, particularly when at least one of the sides of the case will not negotiate or mediate. However, there are a lot of rules and guidelines to be aware of before you move into the litigation process. Today, we’re going to be looking at residency requirements for a New York divorce, and whether it’s possible to withdraw a divorce in litigation. Continue reading ›

Phone-call-300x216Currently, as I’m writing this blog, the Darren Shapiro Law and Mediation Office is still doing business, albeit since the governor ordered 100% of the workforce must work from home, I am working from home by phone, email, skype, zoom, and whatever works. Even before the order, we were taking as many steps as we can to protect our clients, and the people who come to us for help. This means not only ensuring that we follow all precautions for health and safety, but also supporting everyone adhering to social distancing guidelines.

Since it seems, for now, people need to avoid meeting your divorce attorney or mediator in person, but you still have options. For new clients, we have always, and will continue to provide initial consultations, with up to the first half hour free, that are available either over the phone, skype, zoom, or other digital means. If you want to discuss your case, you can connect with me over the phone, via email, or schedule an appointment for a video conference, we will make different arrangements work.

Dealing with Mediation and Litigation

Currently, divorce mediation can still be done via phone or video. We can initiate Skype videoconferencing, Zoom, audioconferencing, or possibly other sessions for people since we will not be able to attend a mediation session in person. This option has been used in the past by our office for those who were unable to attend meetings due to distance, work or travel commitments. Payments can also be collected via email, text, or over the phone. We can use encryption in emails to protect your personal data. Continue reading ›

Changing your name in New York or Long Island isn’t always a complicated process. If you are a legal adult, then you have the right to change your name without a court order, provided that the legal name is not misleading. In other words if it will not perpetuate a fraudulent activity, or interfere with someone else’s rights it is usually approved. Adults in Long Island and New York also have the option to change their child’s name – however, in this case, the circumstances are slightly different. When an adult attempts to change a child’s name, then the courts need to consider a number of things, including whether or not the name change will be in the best interests of the child.

In any family law case that concerns a child in New York or Long Island, the courts will always use the best interests standards as the basis for their decisions. This basically means that the courts will attempt to make a decision that will not harm the child’s physical or mental status in any way. For instance, in a case I advised a client on, a mother requested for the Nassau County Supreme Court to change the surname of her child to include her name. In this case, the mother and father were not married but were once engaged. As such, she originally was not concerned about giving the child just the father’s last name as she intended to take on the same last name when they got married. However, the romantic relationship fell apart and the couple never got married. Therefore the child and the mother had different last names. The mother was the residential custodial parent. The mother felt that because the child was under her primary care, his name should reflect both the names of the father and the mother.

The father in the case above said that the petitioner only wanted to change the name to alienate the child from him. The respondent felt that the mother’s reason to seek a name change was based on a need for control. However, the court found that the proposed name change to a hyphenated surname was in the best interests of the child because it meant that the child could share the same last name as both his father and his custodial parent. The petitioner (mother) was therefore given permission to change her child’s name. Continue reading ›

Newspaper-Publication-300x209If you’re an adult, you have the freedom to choose the name that you want to go by for yourself. You can even legally change that name according to the law if you choose to do so under most circumstances. As the parent of a child, you also have certain rights to make decisions for that youngster, including, perhaps, what they should be called. However, there are certain rules that need to be followed when it comes to things like name changes in New York and Nassau or Suffolk County Long Island. For instance, the public is entitled to know about any changes someone makes to their name, or the name of the child. That’s why the courts usually require the file for the request for a name change open and viewable to the public. Additionally, name change orders are also published in newspapers before they’re officially complete.

As I often tell my clients, changing your name, or the name of your child isn’t always as simple as just telling the court that you want a name to be altered. Usually, there’s a specific process to follow. For instance, a client will come to me and we draft a petition for a name change that can be submitted to the courts. If the court thinks that someone should be entitled to receive notice that a person’s name is changing, then they will make sure that the notice is delivered (such as a creditor or other parent of a minor child). If the court feels that all relevant parties have had the chance to make their objections heard, they’ll usually grant the name change without any further issue provided there is no reasonable objection to it. Continue reading ›

Baby-and-Mom-300x200When a child’s parents are unwilling, unavailable or unfit to care for their children for any reason, another adult may be awarded either a guardianship of the children or custody of the children. Under New York family law, guardianship and custody are two related but distinct concepts, and the intersection of the two can be complex at times.

As a default rule, a child’s parents are awarded custody of their children. This includes physical custody (where the child lives) as well as legal custody (the right to make important life decisions for the child). However, in some cases, a child’s parents are either unavailable or unable to care for their children and an alternative caretaker must be established. Thus, custody in this context generally refers to a non-parent.

New York Guardianship

A minor child who is under the age of 18 and is not married must have a legal guardian. Once appointed, a legal guardian has the same power as a child’s parent to make decisions for the child.
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There are many complex cases to consider in the world of family law. Some of the most often-discussed cases includeTeenage-girls-bench-300x200 those to do with divorce, child support, child custody and parenting time cases. However, there are also instances in which a parent may be accused of neglecting or abusing a child – either in a case brought in family court or outside of court after a CPS or ACS investigation.  Child neglect can appear in many different allegations, from a parent being accused of being unable or unwilling to provide their child with the right food and hygienic care to keep them healthy, to a care-provider being accused of neglecting to give a child the expected education.

The law says children are entitled to an education. If a parent fails to provide their child with that education, the belief is that they could be harming that child’s future and making it harder for them to succeed in life. As such, issues with education are often referenced in cases regarding abuse and neglect.

In New York, the family court defines a child suffering from educational neglect as an individual under the age of 18 whose mental, emotional, or physical condition is either impaired or in danger of becoming impaired because of a failure on the behalf of the parent to provide the right level of education. Parents are responsible for supplying children with an adequate education in accordance with the New York Education law. Continue reading ›

It is no secret that going through a New York divorce can be a difficult and trying time. However, it does not necessarily have to be. In some cases, in which a couple agrees that it is time to go their separate ways and can also agree to work together in negotiating the details of the divorce, it may be possible to complete a stipulation of settlement.

A stipulation of settlement is a document that is filed with a family court that includes all the terms of a New York divorce. A properly drafted New York stipulation of settlement includes all aspects of a New York divorce, including: property division, child custody and support, and future costs for the couple’s children, such as college tuition. Not only will the document cover these items, it should also outline what is important to each party, so in the event an unanticipated concern later arises the parties can refer to the document to resolve the issue.

In order to be a legally binding document, the stipulation must be written in a specific manner and contain certain language. Otherwise, points that a party thought were already negotiated and agreed upon may later turn out to be unanticipated impediments.

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In a previous post, we considered a situation in which the grandparents of a child or children sought visitation when the custodial parent was opposed to such visitation. This week, we consider a related, although slightly different situation in which the children themselves have expressed a desire for the court not to order grandparent visitation.As was the case in the previous post, section 72 of the New York Domestic Relations Law and Section 651 of the Family Court Act govern court-ordered grandparent visitation. Under section 72, grandparents who can establish that “circumstances show that conditions exist which equity would see fit to intervene” may obtain visitation rights.

While the issue of grandparent visitation can be a complex one, it is governed by a simple principle; as is the case in most New York child custody and visitation matters, courts will do what is in the best interest of the children. Of course, the expressed desires of a child may come into play when determining what is in a child’s best interests, although that will not always be the case.

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