It is not uncommon for a divorcing couple to enter into a settlement agreement establishing their rights and obligations. If they have children, such agreements may include provisions regarding child support. While any agreement pertaining to children must be in the children’s best interests, if the courts incorporate a stipulation of settlement into a divorce judgment, they will typically be enforced as written. When determining whether a stipulation of settlement is enforceable, the courts will assess, in part, whether the language is clear and unambiguous, as demonstrated in a recent ruling issued in a New York case in which the parties disputed whether child support for add-on expenses was warranted. If you want to learn more about your rights with regard to child support, it is wise to meet with a New York child support lawyer as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is reported that the parties were married and subsequently divorced through a judgment entered in June 2015. The judgment incorporated a stipulation of settlement but did not merge the stipulation into the settlement. The wife later moved for child support add-on expenses in excess of $30,000, as well as attorneys’ fees. At the same time, the husband moved to end his child support obligation for the couple’s older child. He also sought to compel the wife to provide proof of child support add-on expenses going forward and to hold the wife in contempt for failing to comply with the stipulation of settlement. The trial court granted the wife’s motion and denied the husband’s, after which the husband appealed.

Interpretation of Stipulations Regarding Child Support

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling with regard to the child support for add-on expenses.  In doing so, the court emphasized that a stipulation of settlement, when incorporated but not merged into a divorce judgment, is a contract subject to contract construction and interpretation principles. Continue reading

Many New Yorkers who are unsure about the status of their marriage separate before ultimately making the decision to divorce. In such instances, it is not uncommon for them to enter into a separation agreement that defines their rights and obligations. Many separation agreements are eventually incorporated into divorce decrees as well. As discussed in a recent New York ruling, it is important for anyone considering entering into a separation agreement to understand that it is a legally binding document that, in most instances, will be enforced by the courts. If you want to learn more about your options with regard to ending your marriage, you should speak to a New York divorce lawyer promptly.

Case Setting

It is alleged that the parties divorced; the trial court incorporated by reference the parties’ separation agreement into their final judgment of divorce.  The wife subsequently filed a motion seeking a money judgment for unpaid maintenance arrears totaling $70,857. The husband filed a cross-motion to reform or vacate certain provisions of the separation agreement. The court denied both motions but granted the wife’s request for counsel fees. Both parties appealed.

Enforceability of Separation Agreements

On appeal, the court affirmed the lower court’s decision regarding the enforceability of the maintenance provisions in the separation agreement. The court found that Domestic Relations Law § 236B(3) governed the case since the parties sought resolution through agreement rather than judicial intervention. The separation agreement, which was in writing, subscribed by the parties, and acknowledged appropriately, was deemed valid and enforceable. The court rejected the husband’s argument that a different section of the Domestic Relations Law applied due to his lack of legal representation during the proceedings, as the parties had a valid separation agreement. Continue reading

Generally, a judgment of divorce issued by a New York court dissolves a marriage and determines the rights and obligations of the formally married couple. In some instances, though, justice requires that such judgments be set aside. For example, as explained in a recent New York ruling issued in a divorce action, if a default judgment issued in dissolution proceedings is the product of fraud or deceit, there may be grounds for vacating it. If you have questions about how you can protect your rights in dissolution proceedings, it is smart to confer with a New York divorce lawyer as soon as possible.

Case History

It is reported that the parties married in 2008 in Queens County, New York. They had one child during their marriage. In 2022, the husband initiated a divorce action in Kings County despite the fact that neither party resided there. The trial court granted a default judgment of divorce in March 2022, citing an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage for over six months with resolved ancillary issues. In February 2023, the wife (filed an order to show cause seeking to restore the case to the court’s calendar, alleging that the divorce was based on false information and perjury by the husband.

Grounds for Setting Aside a Default Divorce Judgment

The court conducted an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the divorce judgment should be set aside and whether sanctions should be imposed on the husband. Further, the court explained that CPLR 5015(a)(3) allows a party to be relieved from a judgment due to fraud, misrepresentation, or other misconduct. Continue reading

In New York, when determining whether to impose child support calculations, the courts will assess, among other things, the parties’ income. In doing so, the court will not only evaluate the parties’ stated income but may also impute income to them based on the evidence of record. This was demonstrated in a recent New York ruling issued in a child support case, in which the court explained the grounds for imputing income to a party. If you need assistance navigating a child support dispute, it is wise to meet with a New York child support lawyer promptly.

Factual Background

It is reported that the parties got married in 1994 and had two children. The wife initiated divorce proceedings in May 2016, leading to a nonjury trial in December 2017 to address various issues such as custody, child support, parental access, equitable distribution, and counsel fees. The trial court imputed an annual income of $72,000 to the husband for the purpose of calculating child support. As a result, the court ordered the husband to pay $1,384.10 per month in basic child support and 66% of the children’s unreimbursed undergraduate college and medical expenses. Subsequently, the court entered a judgment of divorce, which the husband appealed.

In New York, judgments of divorce will typically not only legally end a couple’s marriage but will also establish their rights and obligations with regard to child support, spousal maintenance,  and property division. As such, if a party fails to comply with the terms of a divorce judgment, they can be held in contempt. Recently, a New York court discussed the burden of proof for a party asking the court to hold their former spouse in civil contempt in a divorce case. If you have questions about the legal process of ending your marriage, it is in your best interest to talk to a New York divorce lawyer at your earliest convenience.

History of the Case

Allegedly, the parties in this case were married in 1993 and had four children. They got divorced, and a judgment of divorce was entered in October 2016. The divorce judgment was based on a decision that resulted from a trial held in February 2015. This decision from the trial was incorporated by reference into the final divorce judgment.

Most divorces in New York are resolved through a settlement agreement.  Written Settlement Agreements set forth the terms of the parties’ division of property and support obligations. Generally, the courts will incorporate such settlement agreements into the final divorce decree and enforce them as they would other contracts. This means, as discussed in a recent New York ruling, that any modifications of such agreements must be in writing. If you intend to seek a divorce, it is smart to meet with a New York divorce attorney to assess your options.

Case Background

It is reported that the parties were married in 1998 and divorced in 2013, with a judgment that incorporated a separation agreement. The judgment stipulated maintenance payments of $400 per month while the wife resided in the marital residence or until its sale, and $900 per month afterward. The separation agreement allowed both parties to continue living in the marital residence and listed it for sale in 2013. The agreement specified that it could only be modified in writing with formal signatures. The husband moved out in March 2013, no maintenance was paid, and the residence was not sold.

Allegedly, in 2019, the wife moved to hold the husband in contempt and sought maintenance arrears, sale of the residence, return of personal property, and counsel fees. The husband presented a written modification agreement dated February 2013 stating that maintenance would end when the wife resided with another person. The husband argued this agreement modified the maintenance terms to allow postponement until their child’s graduation. The trial found the modification valid and enforceable, awarding counsel fees to the husband, and denied the wife’s claims. The wife appealed. Continue reading

In New York divorce actions, the lesser-earning party will often seek spousal or child support from their spouse. The courts typically rely on income-based guidelines when evaluating such requests. In cases in which the higher-earning spouse’s income exceeds the income cap, the courts have the discretion to include income above the cap when making their decision. In doing so, however, they must consider certain factors, as discussed in a recent New York ruling. If you are interested in learning more about the economic consequences of ending your marriage, you should speak with a New York divorce attorney as soon as possible.

Procedural and Factual History

It is reported that in February 2018, the husband initiated an action for divorce. In August 2018, the court issued a temporary order that mandated the husband to cover all marriage-related expenses except for cell phone bills for the wife and their three children. The order also obliged him to pay $300 weekly as “unallocated support.” Subsequently, a parenting agreement was established in May 2019, leading to a financial hearing that month. Although the parties initially agreed on financial matters in July 2019, the wife never ratified this stipulation; as such, the financial hearing resumed in May 2021.

It is alleged that during this hearing, the parties settled on numerous issues, including maintenance and child support. The referee issued a memorandum decision post-hearing, which the court partially adopted and modified, culminating in the final judgment. The parties both appealed, asking the court to modify the awards for child support and maintenance. Continue reading

Pursuant to New York law, when a married couple divorces, the court will typically distribute their marital property in an equitable manner. While in some instances, the process is relatively straightforward, in others, it can be complicated. For example, if the parties comingle separate and marital assets, they may have to provide proof of the nature of the property to establish their ownership interests. Recently, a New York court discussed what level of proof is required in an opinion in which it upheld the trial court’s equitable distribution determination. If you need assistance ending your marriage, it is prudent to consult a New York divorce attorney to evaluate your options.

Background of the Case

It is reported that the husband and the wife divorced. The trial court entered a final judgment in which it determined that the husband’s business held a value of $691,000. Additionally, it granted the wife a credit of $150,000 for her separate property contribution to the marital home. The court made additional determinations with regard to imputed income, attorneys’ fees, and child support calculations. The husband appealed, arguing in part that the trial court erred in granting the wife credit for a portion of the value of the marital home and for adopting her expert’s assessment of the value of his business.

Evidence Used in Making Equitable Distribution Determinations

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. In doing so, the court stated that the trial court’s decision to grant the wife a separate property credit amounting to $150,000 for the acquisition of the marital apartment was deemed appropriate. The court explained that the trial court’s reasoning aligned with established New Your case law holding that a spouse’s entitlement to receive credit for their contribution of separate property toward the purchase of a shared marital residence, which includes any contribution that can be directly traced to separate property. Continue reading

In many New York divorce actions, the courts will find it fitting to order one party to pay the other spousal or child support. Typically, support obligations are based, in part, on the income of both parties. In cases in which the courts believe a party is learning less than they are able to, however, the courts may impute income to them. In a recent New York divorce action, the court discussed when the imputation of income is appropriate. If you are considering ending your marriage, it is recommended that you meet with a New York divorce attorney to discuss how your decision may impact you financially.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the parties were married and subsequently divorced. The final judgment of dissolution addressed spousal maintenance, child support, custody arrangements, and property distribution. The husband appealed on several grounds, and the wife filed a cross appeal.

In New York divorce actions involving children, the courts’ driving concern is what is in the best interest of the children, and they will issue custody orders accordingly. As such, a parent that wants to modify an existing custody order must meet a significant evidentiary burden, not only to demonstrate that a change is necessary but also to be granted a hearing on the issue. In a recent New York ruling, the court discussed what a party needs to demonstrate to obtain a hearing on a request for a custody modification.  If you are involved in a dispute over custody of your child, it is advisable to meet with a New York child custody attorney as soon as possible.

Factual Background

It is reported that the mother and the father were married and had two children together. They subsequently divorced. In the divorce judgment issued in November 2019, the court granted joint legal and residential custody of the children to both parents. The order specified, however, that the mother would be the custodial parent for child support purposes only. In May 2022, the father filed a motion to modify the custody provisions and secure sole legal and residential custody of the children. The trial court denied the motion without holding a hearing; the father appealed.

Grounds for Modifying Child Custody Orders

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. In doing so, it explained that in order to modify an existing custody agreement, the moving party must present evidence of a subsequent change in circumstances that necessitates modification in the best interests of the child. Further, the petitioning parent must make a threshold evidentiary showing of such a change in circumstances to be entitled to a hearing on a modification petition. Continue reading

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