It is not uncommon for married couples to share finances, regardless of each party’s individual earnings. If they divorce, though, they may disagree regarding property rights.  New York is an equitable distribution state, which means that the courts divide assets in a fair, rather than equal, manner in divorce actions. As discussed in a recent New York opinion, however, in many instances, the courts aim to distribute property as equally as possible. If you are contemplating ending your marriage, it is in your best interest to speak to a New York divorce attorney regarding what actions you can take to protect your interests.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is reported that the parties, who were married for seventeen years, divorced. The court issued an order dividing the couple’s marital assets. Specifically, among other things, the order determined that one of the couple’s businesses had no value at the time the divorce action began and, therefore, made no distribution for that business. The court granted the wife 30% of the value of another business and 40% of the value of third. The wife appealed, arguing in part that the trial court improperly valued and divided the couple’s business interests.

Equitable Distribution in New York Divorce Actions

On appeal, the court modified the trial court ruling. With regard to the valuation of the first business, the court noted that the parties agreed to value their marital business interests near the start of their proceedings. Continue reading

When co-parents cannot agree on how to divide custody rights, they will often turn to the courts to resolve their disputes. In any custody action filed in New York, the court’s driving concern is what is in the child’s best interest. The courts can only issue rulings in cases in which they can properly exercise jurisdiction, however. Thus, if a court issues a custody order in a case that falls outside of its jurisdiction, it may be vacated, as demonstrated in a recent ruling issued by a New York court. If you need help defining or protecting your parental rights, it is wise to consult a  New York child custody attorney to discuss your options.

Factual and Procedural Background

It is reported that the mother and father married in Albania in 2014. They then moved to New Jersey and, in 2016, had a child. The following year, during a visit to Albania, the father filed for divorce. The mother and child subsequently relocated to New York while the father stayed in New Jersey. Courts in both New Jersey and Albania issued orders regarding custody arrangements and parenting time.

Allegedly, in 2019, the mother filed a petition in a New York court seeking a modification of the custodial terms and asserting concerns for the child’s safety. The court temporarily suspended the father’s parenting time, but after an investigation deemed the concerns to be unfounded, the court lifted the suspension. In October 2020, the father filed a petition in the New York Court seeking a modification to his scheduled parenting time. The parties ultimately entered into an agreement, which was reduced to a written order. The mother then appealed. Continue reading

People often relocate for job opportunities without issue. When a person who wishes to move to another state shares custody of a child, however, it can create complications. In evaluating a petition to relocate or any custody issue, the court’s main focus is on what is in the best interest of the child involved. As demonstrated in a recent New York opinion, what arrangement is most beneficial for a child can change over time. If you have questions regarding your rights as a parent, it is in your best interest to speak to a  New York child custody attorney promptly.

History of the Case

It is reported that the mother and the father were co-parents of a minor child. The father, who had sole custody of the child since 2016, filed a petition for relocation in 2021. The court appointed a forensic psychologist, who found recommended that the court deny the petition; his recommendation arose out of conversations with the minor child that occurred over a year prior to the hearing, however.

Allegedly, the court conducted a lengthy Lincoln hearing with the child, after which it determined that the child wished to relocate. Thus, the court found it to be in the child’s best interest to allow the father to relocate with the child to California. As such, it granted the father’s petition for relocation and established the mother’s parental access schedule with the child. The mother appealed. Continue reading

In New York, parties entering into marriage have the right to protect their interests via prenuptial agreements. Generally, the courts will enforce valid prenuptial agreements, but parties may attempt to challenge enforcement by arguing, among other things, that the provisions of the agreement are vague. As demonstrated in a recent opinion issued in a New York divorce action, however, such challenges will not be successful if the court finds the agreement is written in plain language that has a precise meaning. If you have a prenuptial agreement and you want to end your marriage, it is smart to talk to a New York divorce attorney to determine how the agreement may impact your case.

Factual and Procedural Background

Reportedly, the parties married in December 2008. The wife came to the United States on a 90-day fiancée visa that was set to expire shortly before the marriage. The husband asked the wife to sign a prenuptial agreement that his attorney drafted, and the wife complied, signing the agreement two days prior to the wedding.

Allegedly, the agreement contained an escalator clause that required the husband to transfer certain assets to the wife on the tenth anniversary of their marriage. The husband filed for divorce in May 2018 but argued that the prenuptial agreement was unenforceable because it was vague. The court found in favor of the wife and enforced the agreement. The husband appealed. Continue reading

Discovery is an essential part of family law cases, as it allows the courts to evaluate parties’ rights and obligations with regard to child support, spousal support, property division, and other matters. If a party fails to engage in a discovery process, therefore, it can be prejudicial to their opponent and may be grounds for the court to sanction them, as demonstrated in a recent New York child support case. If you share custody of a child, it is important to understand your parental rights and duties, and it would benefit you to speak to a New York child support lawyer.

History of the Case

It is reported that the husband and wife married in 2001. They had two children during the marriage before the wife filed for divorce in 2013. She subsequently moved to compel the defendant to comply with specific discovery requests, and if he did not, requested that the court bar him from offering evidence at trial regarding financial matters. The court granted the motion, stating that if the defendant declined to comply with the discovery order, the court would evaluate child support based on the needs of the children instead of the factors and formulas defined in the Child Support Standards Act.

Allegedly, the husband appealed the order, but it was affirmed. He then failed to comply with the order and as such, was precluded from presenting evidence regarding his finances at trial. The court then directed him to pay approximately $5,600 per month in child support. The husband appealed. Continue reading

The following questions are examples of frequently asked questions during a consultation as it relates to contested divorces for parties with children. These are typically the topics that cover most contested divorce proceedings with children.

Divorces for people with children:

  1. How long do Contested Divorces usually take?

In New York custody actions, the court’s primary focus is the child’s best interest. Typically, the courts find that it will benefit a child to foster the parent-child relationship. As such, in cases in which parents share custody, if one parent attempts to alienate the child from the other parent, the court may find it in the child’s best interest to modify the custody arrangement. Recently, a New York court delivered an opinion in a child custody matter, in which it discussed what evidence is needed to establish parental alienation sufficient to warrant a custody modification. If you need help establishing or modifying your custody rights, it is in your best interest to confer with a New York child custody attorney as soon as possible.

Factual History

It is alleged that the mother and father married in 2007 and had two children during their marriage. They entered into a separation agreement in 2015 in connection with a divorce action that was filed but discontinued. Under the terms of the agreement, they shared joint legal custody of the children; the mother had residential custody, while the father had the right to parental access.

Reportedly, in 2016 the father filed an action in the Family Court seeking to enforce the separation agreement. The father asserted that the mother was interfering with his right to parental access. The court subsequently granted the parties joint legal custody but awarded the mother residential custody. The court modified the plaintiff’s parental access schedule as well. In 2018, the father filed an action for divorce and other relief seeking sole custody of the children, arguing that the mother regularly interfered with his parental access. The mother filed a cross-motion for sole custody. Following a lengthy hearing, the court granted the father sole residential and legal custody of the children. The mother appealed. Continue reading

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

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