Divorce and Family Law – Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I choose you as my matrimonial attorney?

In short: my experience, my compassion and my willingness to meet with you personally as often as is necessary to make certain that you understand the Law as it applies to your situation. At least 90% of matrimonial cases do not go to trial, which is why you need to hire an effective negotiator who understands your goals and desires. Just because you may not be entitled to something under the Law, does not mean that we will not be able to negotiate a favorable settlement. For instance, we may be able to help you keep your marital residence or protect your retirement benefits.

Do we have no-fault divorce in New York State?

Domestic Relation Law §170 was amended to add “irretrievable breakdown” as a “no fault ground” for divorce. It provides that when a relationship between a husband and a wife has broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months, a party under oath may assert the aforesaid as the grounds for divorce. However, no judgment of divorce may be granted upon such a finding unless and until the economic issues of equitable distribution, support, custody/visitation, have been resolved by the parties or determined by the Court.

Am I entitled to Child Support?

The custodial or residential parent of a child or children is entitled to child support from the non-residential parent under the New York State Domestic Relation Law §240 and Family Court Act §413. The statutory percentages for parties with a combined income of less than $136,000.00 are as follows:
•One child; 17%
•Two children: 25%
•Three children: 29%
•Four children: 31%
•Five children: no less than 35%

There are many factors involved in determining the mandatory income of the parties, the gross total income as report for Federal Income Tax purposes, investment income, and additional income such as workman’s compensation, disability, unemployment, social security, veteran, pensions and retirement plans, fellowship and stipends, annuity payments, are included in determining a spouses income. In addition, a Court may consider as additional income, non-income producing assets, fringe benefits such as meals, lodging, automobiles, etc., and money, goods or services provided by relatives and friends.

Deductions from income often include federal insurance contributions (FICA) unreimbursed employee business expenses, maintenance for a spouse or child support for a child not a party to the action, by prior Court order or written agreement, public assistance, supplemental social security, etc.

It is important to ascertain all sources of income and/or credits to which a spouse may be entitled when determining spousal maintenance and child support.

Am I entitled to share in my spouse’s retirement benefits?

A spouse is entitled to a distributive share of retirement benefits acquired by their spouse during the course of the marriage, such as profit sharing plans, pension plans, 401k plans, IRA accounts, and other retirement benefits provided privately or by the government.

What is a Property Settlement or a Separation Agreement?

A Property Settlement Agreement or Separation Agreement is intended to settle the parties respective property rights and other matters arising from the matrimonial relationship, including but not limited to custody/access, child support, child care and maintenance, equitable distribution of personal property, real estate, retirement benefits, assets and debts acquired during the course of the marriage. It is a contract that, once entered into, becomes binding between the parties, enforceable in a Court of Law, and typically incorporated into a judgment of divorce once an action for divorce is initiated.

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