New York Matrimonial Law
If you find yourself facing a Divorce or another type of Family Law matter, a Matrimonial Law attorney can help. At the Law Offices of David S. Harris, we cover the full range of Family Law cases. We have offices in Jamaica Queens, Manhattan, and Long Island. You can call us at (718) 291-5544 to get started.
The law does not require you to work with an attorney on your matrimonial dispute, but it can be smart to do so. Courts are required to dismiss cases because of procedural mistakes. Hiring an attorney can help you to avoid costly mistakes that can be irreversible.
An Overview of Divorce in New York
Typically, Matrimonial actions fall into one (1) of two (2) categories: contested and uncontested. If anything is in dispute, you have a contested case. Many contested divorce cases settle during the pre-trial process, eliminating the need for a trial. We can negotiate with opposing counsel to try to save you the expense and unpredictability of going to Court. If your soon-to-be former spouse refuses to agree to reasonable terms, we have no qualms about fighting for you in Court.
If you are fortunate enough to have an amicable uncontested divorce, we can handle that for you. New York Law used to require people to prove that one of the parties committed marital fault before a Judge would grant the dissolution of marriage. The Law finally changed to allow no-fault divorces. We only have to show that the marriage is irretrievably broken and has been for at least six (6) months.
Regardless of whether you have a contested or uncontested divorce, we must deal with issues like:
Child custody, visitation, and support
Spousal support, also called maintenance or alimony
Allocation of marital and individual debts
Distribution of marital and separate assets
Depending on the facts of your situation, you might have additional elements we will need to address.
How Can a New York Matrimonial Attorney Help with Annulments?
When a judge grants an annulment, in the eyes of the Law, the marriage never happened. The requirements for an annulment are strict. An annulment is appropriate only in limited circumstances. You might qualify for an annulment if you discovered that your spouse is already married to someone else or deceived you about a fundamental aspect of marriage, like wanting to have children.
Although it is difficult to get a divorce if the marriage was less than six months ago, you might be eligible for an annulment. Another reason people seek an annulment instead of a divorce is religious convictions.
How Can a New York Matrimonial Attorney Help with Legal Separation?
Sometimes, people do not want a divorce, but they also do not want to live together. For example, a person whose religion forbids divorce might decide to get a legal separation instead of a divorce. Another example is when your spouse makes lifestyle choices that you cannot accept, but you have moral objections to divorce.
Some people get a legal separation while they wait for a religious annulment, which can take years. Also, legal separation can be an attractive option for people who need time to adjust to the concept of divorce. After being legally separated for a year, the separation can serve as grounds for divorce. Many legal separations get converted into divorces eventually.
If you want a legal separation so that you can stay on your spouse’s health insurance or Social Security, be aware that some insurance companies treat legal separation the same as divorce. Social Security eligibility rules can change in the future.
Just as in a divorce, you cannot get a legal separation without dealing with the essential issues that apply to your case. You must have a written document that contains terms about the children, spousal support, debts, and assets.
When to Mediate Matrimonial Issues in New York
We can provide mediation services for spouses who would prefer to resolve disputes in an amicable manner rather than running to Court every time they disagree. High-conflict divorces destroy relationships. While that result might not seem like much of a loss, it can matter if you have children in common.
The joy of future events, like your child’s graduation and wedding, can be damaged forever if you and your spouse hate each other after a high-conflict Family Law case. This situation hurts your children the most. Sometimes, children dread what should be some of their happiest events because they know that their parents will make an unpleasant scene.
Mediation can help you avoid this situation. The process of talking through and resolving disputes cooperatively with your spouse can transform how you interact.
Navigating Prenups and Postnups in New York
A prenuptial agreement is a document that you and your soon-to-be spouse sign before the wedding. These papers lay out the terms of your agreement about individual assets and debts. People can limit the amount of money their spouse can inherit from them and how much the spouse can receive in property and support in the event of a divorce.
A post-nuptial agreement accomplishes the same results, but the parties sign this document after they get married.
How Can a New York Matrimonial Attorney Help with Spousal Support?
New York law requires judges to evaluate several different factors when deciding whether to order one spouse to pay spousal support to the other. The judge will also determine how much financial support is appropriate and how long the paying spouse will have to make the payments. Even if you and your spouse reach an agreement about these terms, the judge will have to approve the arrangement.
Some of the elements the judge can explore include:
The ability of each spouse to be self-supporting
The health, age, education, and work history of each spouse
The length of the marriage
The value of the property each spouse will receive
The quality of life the parties enjoyed while together
Expenses of the children can also be a consideration when determining spousal support questions.
Special Issues with New York QDROs
A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) allows the administrator of a spouse’s retirement plan to distribute a portion of the account to the other spouse without triggering adverse events. If you do not have the judge sign a QDRO, the spouse whose retirement account gets split can face income taxes and early withdrawal penalties for taking the money out of the account before the allowed age.
What You Should Know About Property Division in New York
Usually, the judge sets aside to each spouse that person’s separate property. Separate property can include things like assets you had before the marriage and did not mingle with marital property. The judge then tries to make an “equitable division” of the marital property. Equitable is not the same as equal. Perfectly equal distributions are seldom possible. The constant fluctuation in the market value of investments, for example, makes 50/50 division impossible.
The judge will consider the net value of the property after deducting loans and other indebtedness on the items. Also, the amount of debt each party has to pay after the divorce will be a factor in the property distribution.
We understand that having to deal with so many different factors can be overwhelming, but you do not have to go through your divorce or another family law matter by yourself. At the Law Office of David S. Harris, our Matrimonial Law team can help.