While married people generally have the right to buy and sell assets as they see fit, parties engaged in the process of ending their marriage via divorce generally do not enjoy such freedoms. Specifically, New York law generally enjoins parties from disposing of marital assets without express permission. Recently, a New York court elaborated on the law restraining parties involved in divorce actions from transferring assets in a matter in which the husband sought permission to sell a wine collection to pay marital debts. If you are contemplating seeking a divorce and have concerns about how the decision to end your marriage may impact your rights, it is prudent to confer with a New York divorce attorney regarding your options.

Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the wife instituted a divorce action and sought ancillary relief in July 2018. Later that year, the husband moved for permission to sell part of the parties’ wine collection while the divorce was pending and advised the court that he intended to use the proceeds of the sale to pay marital expenses and debts. The trial court denied the husband’s motion, after which he appealed.

New York Law Regarding the Disposition of Marital Assets in Divorce Cases

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. In doing so, the court explained that New York Domestic Relations law section 236 dictates that upon the commencement of a divorce action orders prohibiting the parties from disposing of or transferring marital property without the consent of the court or the written consent of the opposing party will automatically issue. Continue reading

Many couples who decide to end their marriage are able to negotiate the terms of their separation successfully. When such agreements are memorialized in writing and submitted to the court, they typically will be incorporated into the judgment of divorce. While written separation agreements deal with family law issues, they are nonetheless contracts and are construed and enforced in the same manner as any other contract. Recently, a New York court issued an opinion discussing the interpretation of a written separation agreement in a case in which the former wife sought enforcement of the agreement between her and her former husband. If you intend to end your marriage, it is important to understand the implications of your decision, and you should speak to a trusted New York divorce lawyer.

History of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife married in 1984 and had three children during their marriage. In 2007, they entered into a written separation agreement that stated, among other things, that the husband was responsible for the expenses associated with the former marital residence and had exclusive possession of the residence, where he would live with the children. In 2010, however, they modified the agreement to grant the wife exclusive possession of the residence until the youngest child turned 21, at which point the home would be placed on the market.

Allegedly, the parties divorced in 2011, and the written separation agreement was incorporated into the judgment of divorce. In 2018, the wife moved to enforce the provisions of the agreement requiring the husband to pay expenses associated with the house and child support arrears. The court denied the motion, and the wife appealed. Continue reading

It is common for courts to issue orders that impose financial obligations on parties in New York family law cases. Such orders are legally binding and enforceable by the courts. For example, if a party fails to comply with the terms of an order, they may be held in contempt. Recently, a New York court discussed what a party seeking to hold someone in contempt for failing to comply with a family court order must prove in a case in which a former wife moved to hold her former husband in contempt for failing to pay counsel fees and arrears. If you have questions regarding the enforcement of orders in New York family law actions, it is in your best interest to consult a New York family law attorney as soon as possible.

The Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the former husband and former wife were divorced by judgment in September 2013. Among other things, the judgment directed the former husband to pay the former wife over $420,000 in arrears for carrying on the marital home and counsel fees in the amount of $30,000. The judgment was later modified to reduce the arrears owed by the former husband to slightly over $200,000; the award of counsel fees in the amount of $30,000 was affirmed. A second judgment for additional counsel fees was entered against the husband in April 2017.

Allegedly, in May 2018, the former wife moved to hold the former husband in civil contempt for failing to pay the arrears or counsel fees. The court granted the motion. The former husband then moved to vacate and set aside the contempt order. The court denied his motion, and he appealed. Continue reading

The New York courts place great importance on a parent’s duty to financially support their child. As such, if the courts determine that a party neglected to uphold their support obligation, they may choose to impose sanctions on the party. Not all failures to pay child support are sanctionable, though, as demonstrated in a recent New York opinion issued in a matter arising out of a dispute over a father’s financial obligations to his children. If you need assistance with a child support matter, it is in your best interest to contact a knowledgeable New York child support lawyer to assess your rights.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the mother and father shared custody of their three children, and the father had an obligation to pay the mother child support. The father neglected to pay support for an unspecified period of time, and the mother filed a motion for enforcement and for sanctions. The support magistrate determined, among other things, that the father’s failure to pay child support was not willful. He also declined to grant the mother’s request that the court order the father to pay half of one of the children’s private school tuition. The mother appealed.

The Court’s Findings

The appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling. First, the court found that the support magistrate’s finding that the father’s failure to pay child support was not willful was entitled to great deference, as it rested largely on the magistrate’s credibility determinations. Specifically, the magistrate found that the father credibly testified that he was unable to seek regular employment due to his parenting responsibilities. Continue reading

Under New York law, when a couple divorces, any marital assets are subject to equitable distribution. In other words, the courts will allocate them in a manner they deem fair, which does not necessarily mean they will be divided equally. Separate property, on the other hand, remains the property of the spouse to whom it belongs. In some instances, however, a party may be entitled to a percentage of the increase in value of their spouse’s separate property, as demonstrated in a recent New York case. If you have questions regarding how a divorce may affect your property rights, it is advisable to speak to an experienced New York divorce lawyer as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the parties married in 2007 and had two children together, both of whom were born in 2010. The husband subsequently filed an action for divorce. The case proceeded to a bench trial, after which the judge entered a judgment of divorce and awarded the husband, among other things, 50% of the value of appreciation of the marital home. The wife appealed.

Property Rights in New York Divorces

The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s order with regard to its decision to grant the husband 50% of the value of the appreciation of the marital home, which was the wife’s separate property. The court explained that under Domestic Relations Law section 236, equitable distribution of assets must be based on the unique circumstances of the case in consideration of multiple statutory factors. Continue reading

When parents share legal custody of a child, they typically must confer with one another regarding major decisions. If they are unable to come to an agreement as to which course of action to take on an issue, they may seek a resolution from the courts. If a court finds that the relationship between co-parents has deteriorated so that a joint decision is impossible, it may modify an existing custody arrangement. For example, in a recent New York ruling, a court examined whether a mother and father’s contrary viewpoints on whether their children should receive the COVID-19 vaccine warranted a change to the order defining custody. If you are concerned about your rights with regard to legal custody of your child, it is smart to meet with a trusted New York child custody lawyer to evaluate your options.

The Factual Background of the Case

It is alleged that the husband and the wife married in 2005 and had two children during their marriage. The husband commenced a divorce action in 2016, and the parties entered into a settlement agreement that was incorporated into a judgment of divorce issued in 2018. Pursuant to the agreement, they shared legal and physical custody of their children. In April 2020, the parties entered into a consent stipulation that required them to comply with all New York guidelines related to COVID-19.

When couples with children divorce, one parent will often bear the burden of paying the other child support. Child support obligations that are instituted when children are young may need to be revisited over time, as changing circumstances may render them inappropriate. Not all changes warrant modifications to support orders, though, as demonstrated in a recent ruling issued in a New York child custody case. If you have questions about your rights and obligations with respect to child support, it is in your best interest to consult a New York child support lawyer to discuss your case.

The History of the Case

Reportedly, the mother and the father were married and had three children together. They divorced in 2017 and entered into a stipulation regarding child support. Pursuant to the stipulation, the father agreed to pay the mother $3,250 in child support each month until December 1, 2020, when his support obligation increased to $4,157. The court incorporated the stipulation into the divorce judgment.

It is alleged that in 2020, the father filed a petition asking the court to make a downward modification of his child support obligation. He argued that a substantial change in circumstances warranted the obligation; namely, his oldest child turned 21 and was emancipated. The mother moved to dismiss the petition. The trial court granted the mother’s motion, and the father appealed. Continue reading

In many marriages, one spouse earns the majority of the couple’s income. As such, if a couple with dissimilar incomes decides to seek a divorce, the court may find it appropriate to grant the lesser-earning spouse maintenance. The courts do not merely rely on the parties’ assertions when considering whether to grant maintenance, and if so, in what amount, but will consider other factors as well. Recently, a New York court discussed maintenance awards in a matter in which the husband argued that the court abused its discretion in granting the wife nondurational maintenance. If you have questions regarding the financial impact of divorce, it is smart to speak to a New York divorce lawyer to address your concerns.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the husband and the wife married in 1985 and had four children. In November 2012, the wife instituted a divorce proceeding. When the trial was underway, the parties entered into a stipulation that resolved the issues of counsel and professional fees, separate property, and equitable distribution. The court subsequently issued a decision that imputed an annual income of $800,000 to the husband and approximately $62,000 to the wife.  It also entered a judgment of divorce that incorporated the stipulation of settlement agreed upon by the husband and the wife and granted the wife nondurational maintenance in the amount of $25,000 each month for five years, then $20,000 per month for an additional five years, and then $12,000 per month until either party died or the wife remarried. Both parties appealed.

Determination of Maintenance Awards

One of the issues on appeal was whether the trial court providently exercised its discretion in granting the wife nondurational maintenance. In assessing a party’s maintenance obligation, a court does not have to rely on the party’s own report of their finances but may impute income based on established future potential earnings or past income. It may also impute income to a person based on their future earning capacity, employment history, money received from friends and family, and educational background. Continue reading

People who share custody of a child often live in the same city, and in some cases, they may include a provision in their custody agreement that requires them to live within a certain geographical area. Circumstances can change, however, and one parent may wish to move to another location. In such instances, the court typically must evaluate whether the geographical restriction is in the best interest of the child, as demonstrated in a recent New York opinion. If you are involved in a custody dispute, it is smart to contact a New York divorce lawyer to discuss your options for protecting your parental rights.

The Subject Agreement

Reportedly, the husband and wife entered into a marital settlement agreement that provided they would share custody and enjoy equal visitation time with their children. The agreement also dictated that they would reside in the same geographic location. Subsequently, the husband relocated to a home outside of the area defined by the agreement and filed an application to modify the agreement. The wife then filed an affidavit seeking enforcement, a recalculation of child support, and changes in the visitation schedule. She requested primary full custody of the children as well.

Geographical Restrictions in Custody Cases

In evaluating the parties’ applications, the court noted that the relief requested by the mother could only be granted if there was a change in the circumstances and the modifications sought would be in the best interest of the children. The court determined that the father’s relocation outside of the geographic area set forth in the agreement constituted a change in circumstances sufficient to warrant such relief, but the agreement lacked clarity in that it did not define what sanctions if any, either party would face for violating the geographic restriction. Continue reading

Typically, people marry with the intent to stay together for the rest of their lives. Many marriages are short-lived, though, and last only a few months or years. Simply because a marriage does not endure for a long time does not mean that either spouse is immune from support obligations, however. This was demonstrated in a recent New York ruling in which the court rejected the assertion that a husband should no longer be required to pay pendente lite support for a marriage that lasted 16 months. If you wish to seek a divorce, it is smart to speak to a New York divorce lawyer to determine how your decision may impact you financially.

Procedural History of the Case

Allegedly, the husband and the wife married in February 2017. The couple had one child during their marriage, and the husband filed for divorce in August 2019. Resolution of the matter was delayed extensively, in part due to the husband’s failure to comply with court orders or engage in discovery and his failure to appear for hearings.

It is reported that in April 2021, the husband filed a motion asking the court to vacate a December 2020 order that required him to pay spousal maintenance, arguing that as the couple was only married for 16 months, he should not be compelled to pay pendente lite spousal maintenance 26 months after he filed for divorce. The court ultimately rejected the husband’s reasoning and denied his motion. Continue reading

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