The decision to divorce can be painful, confusing and more difficult than new math. Our divorce lawyers can help.
- Whether you’ve been married for 40 years, or forty minutes.
- Have a high net worth or a part-time job.
- Own a business.
- Have minor children (from one or more marriages).
- Have high credit card debt or no credit card debt.
- Have pensions, a 401k or other retirement assets.
- You want to learn how to turn your divorce distributions into greater wealth.
- You need to enforce a prior divorce judgment.
- Want to know whether — and how much — you will have to pay or receive in maintenance (formerly “alimony”) and/or child support.
To file for divorce in New York, you used to need “grounds”. In October 2010, New York became the last state in the U.S. to adopt “no fault” divorce. The grounds for divorce in New York include: cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment, adultery, legal separation, irreconcilable differences, imprisonment and now “irretrievable breakdown” (aka, “no fault”).
Divorces are like snowflakes – no two are exactly alike. It’s important to discuss your reasons for wanting divorce (or, if you have been served with a divorce summons, the reasons stated in the summons and complaint against you) with one of our divorce lawyers at the initial consultation. Request a strategy session now.
Ninety-nine percent of the time the grounds for divorce will have absolutely no bearing on equitable distribution or child custody. Because of this, filing under the new “no fault” law can usually save clients time, money and aggravation.
Jonna’s Legal Lowdown: If your approach to the divorce process is, “I just want out”, place your hand on your attorney’s desk and ask her to whack it with a ball-peen hammer. This will remind you that making decisions in haste hurts.
A prenuptial agreement is a legal agreement entered into before a marriage. In my opinion, prenuptial agreements are an absolute necessity, especially for those who have been married previously and therefore have more fingers in their pensions, retirement accounts and other assets than their favorite pair of gloves.
The key to an effective prenup is to draft them correctly. This way, you will minimize the chance that there will be loopholes or other avenues ripe for attack when (and if) you decide to dissolve the marriage.
Our divorce lawyers can customize a prenuptial agreement that will protect you fully against the loss of assets in the event of divorce. With a properly drafted prenup, you will also stand to save THOUSANDS of dollars in attorney’s fees if you do get divorced simply because a properly drafted prenup will minimize, if not eliminate, the need for a contested matrimonial matter. Request an appointment.
Jonna’s Legal Lowdown: The best time to plan for divorce is BEFORE you walk down the aisle! A carefully drafted prenuptial agreement will protect you and your assets in the event “happily ever after” turns out to be entirely too long.
A postnuptial agreement is a contract that a couple enters into after their marriage in order to settle such matters as alimony, property division and even child support in the event of a separation agreement or divorce. It can provide a number of benefits to both spouses. I like to refer to a postnuptial agreement as “pre-divorce” planning.
If you consider your marriage and all of your financial wealth (both that which you bring to the marriage and accumulate during the marriage) as one of the biggest, most important “assets” you own, it makes perfect sense to protect it as well. That is the function of both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements in New York.
Generally speaking, for a postnuptial agreement to be valid, it must be in writing, must be voluntarily agreed to by both parties, must have full and fair disclosure at the time of the agreement and must be executed before a notary public. The divorce lawyers at Jonna Spilbor Law can assist you with your postnuptial agreement. Request an appointment.
Jonna’s Legal Lowdown: Some criticize both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements as “unromantic” and “planning for disaster”. I see them more as insurance policies. Think about it. Would you drive a car or buy a home without protecting against “disaster” by insuring your asset is protected against a calamity? Of course not!
In New York, separation can be grounds for divorce. But before either you or your spouse bid one another “Hasta la vista, baby,” it’s best to have a properly drafted Separation Agreement. It can save both parties from enduring an expensive and time-consuming divorce.
In many cases, when both spouses agree that they want to divorce, they file for a separation agreement with the county clerk’s office. This is a legal process that basically declares the spouses legally separated, including stipulations regarding child custody, visitation, child support, maintenance and property division. One year after successfully executing a separation agreement, one spouse may then sue the other for divorce based upon the separation agreement, and the other spouse can consent to this.
A legal separation acts to “stop the clock”. In other words, anything that either spouse acquires after the date of separation will be considered separate – not marital – property. Additionally, the monies that are deposited in a spouse’s pension and/or retirement account will not be a part of the valuation after the date of separation.
Contact Jonna Spilbor Law and speak with one of our divorce lawyers about seeking a legal separation.
Jonna’s Legal Lowdown: Filing a separation agreement is optional and only required if and when you are suing for divorce. It can be, however, a very useful, money saving tool.
The times they are a changin’. In 2010, new laws affecting all contested matrimonial matter in New York (called the Divorce Reform act) created guidelines for determining temporary maintenance.
The “monied” spouse, the spouse that earns the higher income, is the spouse who, absent extraordinary circumstances, will be required to pay maintenance (formerly “alimony”), the other spouse’s attorney’s fees, and other costs while the matter is pending. These payments are often referred to as “interim” obligations as they are subject to be changed by agreement between the parties, or by order of the court after trial.
The formula is, in essence, as follows: Where the payer’s income is up to the $500,000 annual cap:
(a) The court shall subtract twenty percent of the income of the payee from thirty percent of the income up to the income cap of the payer.
(b) The court shall then multiply the sum of the payer’s income up to and including the income cap and all of the payee’s income by forty percent.
(c) The court shall subtract the income of the payee from the amount derived from clause (b) of this subparagraph.
(d) The guideline amount of temporary maintenance shall be the lower of the amounts determined by clauses (a) and (c) of this subparagraph; if the amount determined by clause (c) of this subparagraph is less than or equal to zero, the guideline amount shall be zero dollars.
If the income of the payer exceeds $500,000 annually the court shall use the formula above to determine temporary maintenance on the first $500,000 of income and then it shall consider 19 factors as set forth in the new law to determine what, if any, maintenance should be awarded on income over that cap.
The act states that if the court finds the above results in an award that is unjust or improper, it can adjust it based upon 17 factors also listed in the law. Contact one of our divorce lawyers to learn more about temporary maintenance and how it applies to you.
Post-Judgment Maintenance in New York Divorces
This act does not state any presumptive amounts or duration but lists instead 20 factors for the court to consider when making such awards. What this law does not cover are answers to what impact the formula for setting temporary maintenance will have upon courts in determining the appropriate dollar amount and duration of final awards of maintenance.
Jonna’s Legal Lowdown: It is crucial to “do the math” with your lawyer as soon as possible. When the court gets involved and renders an interim maintenance award against the monied spouse, and the same spouse is also obligated to pay child support, it often shifts the power, so to speak, and can be a serious financial burden on the payer during the pendency of the action. The sooner you and your attorney do the math, the smarter your decisions can be in moving forward.