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Matrimonial and Family

Family ties are thought to be the most private and enduring relationships in society. As most can attest, however, these relationships are rarely free from conflict. When domestic issues cannot be solved within the home, family law seeks to restore order and provide a fair solution for all parties involved.

For many, family law is thought to be synonymous with divorce proceedings. In reality, divorce is just a small part of family law which covers a broad array of domestic issues including adoption, premarital agreements, paternity, child custody and support issues.

When legal action is necessary to resolve familial matters, it is essential that you entrust your most private matters with compassionate and knowledgeable family law attorneys. Our dedicated attorneys and staff serve as good listeners, confidants and strong advocates for all of our clients during their most difficult times.

Caring
You may be surprised to find this to be the first heading on our Family Law page.  However, we understand that in these matters, a client in need of representation cannot even begin to consider the legal ramifications of a divorce or separation on themselves, their family and/or children, unless they can first deal with the emotional aspects.  We understand the difficulties of divorce, custody and parenting time disputes and their effect on children and families.  We know the importance of proper legal representation from the start.  We also understand how overwhelming and traumatic the process can be.  Proper legal representation in such matters requires caring and understanding for the particular people involved, as well as an ability to prioritize the particular needs of those people.

Clients come from all walks of life.  They have varying financial concerns, and varying familial desires.  When you first meet with us, your consultation (free, up to one hour) will consist of a thorough discussion regarding the facts and circumstances of your particular matter and needs.

Child Custody
Do you have children?  How will this affect them?  What discussions have taken place relating to custody and parenting time with your spouse (or even the children)?  What are your goals and desires?  Given a choice, what would be your preferred result?  How achievable is this?

Times have changed.  Old rules about mothers getting custody practically automatically have largely disappeared.  This is important for our clients to know, whether we represent the mother or the father.  In the age of same sex marriages and domestic partnerships, the demise of don’t ask don’t tell, and similar cultural shifts, fathers are getting far more parenting time and often get outright custody.  From a father’s point of view, this should give you a reasonable expectation that if it is your desire, you can in most instances insure a satisfactory continuing parenting relationship with your child(ren) or obtain outright custody in many cases.  From a mother’s point of view, you should be aware that since custody is no longer a given, it cannot be taken for granted.  Joint custodial arrangements are very common as well.  Under the right circumstances, these and other creative arrangements can be quite beneficial to the children and their parents, but they need careful guidance and examination.

The dissolution of any marriage or partnership raises a plethora of issues. When children are involved, the resulting issues are even more complex as custody and child custody and support issues come to the forefront. To ensure that a fair arrangement based upon the children’s best interests is reached, you should contact a knowledgeable matrimonial lawyer.

Our firm has over 15 years of experience handling divorce and child custody cases and can help to determine the best custody arrangement for you and your children. We will review the custody evaluator’s recommendations, identify the children’s preferences and explain how local and state laws impact your specific case and family situation. Considering these factors, our lawyers will work with you to devise a plan of custody for your children.

Child custody is dual faceted in that it encompasses both the physical and legal custody of the child. Physical custody is where the child primarily resides, while legal custody entails the decision making process for the parents including the right to decide education preferences, religious practices, medical treatments and activity involvement. Both of these aspects must be considered during child custody proceedings.

We are committed to promoting strong parental involvement by both parents and their child(ren)’s lives whenever possible and putting the child(ren)’s needs above either parent’s animosity towards one another. We strongly believe that continued involvement of both parents is the most important part of any divorce proceeding.  We are also committed to insuring that neither parent uses the child(ren) and the issues of child support or custody as leverage against the other spouse for monetary or other gain.

Our compassionate team of child custody attorneys will work with you to achieve the best possible outcome preserving your parental rights and protecting the children’s best interests.

Finances
Many people have substantial financial resources that they wish to protect.  Others, particularly those experiencing economic uncertainty and setbacks, have as their greatest concern the ability to finance the cost of proper legal representation.  If you don’t have financial independence, you may be comforted to know that courts not only have the power, but are now mandated to insure that the party with less resources is not disadvantaged in having qualified representation because of a lack of money, and that a Court Order for the wealthier spouse to pay some or all of the less advantaged spouse’s legal fees is often one of the first orders of business.  If you do have the resources, then your desire to protect those resources from over reaching by the courts or your spouse’s attorney is an obvious and legitimate concern.  We can help to zealously protect and promote your interests, whatever they are.  A qualified attorney will not only help you negotiate or otherwise achieve through trial the best possible long term financial result, but will bring in the best possible experts to value assets and business holdings, even those that may be hidden by the use of forensic accountants and other professional valuators.

What about child support and maintenance (alimony)?  Much has changed in this area of law particularly since October of 2010, when the New York State Legislature drastically revised the controlling statutes eliminating the need to litigate “grounds” to dissolve a marriage. We will discuss all of these concerns with you in a caring and understanding way.

Divorce
Divorce proceedings usually involve intense emotions and significant expense. Our dedicated matrimonial attorneys can work with you throughout your divorce to minimize the emotional strain and cost normally associated with these proceedings. We handle complex contested and uncontested divorces.

During the divorce proceedings, we will assess all of the assets and debt involved and strive to attain the largest possible distribution of marital assets for our clients.  When appropriate, we will work closely with you to achieve proper financial support through equitable distribution and maintenance (alimony).  If children are involved, we will work with you to obtain joint or sole custody of your children, child support payments or help in the development of a parenting plan, if preferred.

If you and your spouse choose to keep your divorce proceedings private and away from the courts, our law firm will work with you through voluntary mediation known as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). During this process, both you and your spouse will meet with a neutral mediator to help resolve issues by bringing both parties to agreement on a fair solution. With ADR, there is complete disclosure and no litigation.  Many individuals prefer this method as it tends to be faster, less costly and produces a more amicable outcome, but it requires an absolute willingness by both parties to put aside animosity and agree to significant compromises.

Paternity
Paternity lawsuits may be necessary to determine parental rights, custody or support matters when the identity of the biological father is in question. In these instances, the court will order a genetic test. The results of this test are then used to establish a legal relationship between the parent and child and determine the extent to which the father has an obligation to support the child. Even if the biological father does not wish to play an active role in the child’s upbringing, he still has the obligation to provide financial support to the minor.

These suits may be brought by the mother, the presumed father (in many instances the husband of the mother), the man alleged to be the father, a government agency or the child (if he or she is underage, a representative must act on his or her behalf). Our family law firm is available to offer you legal guidance, assist in filing a paternity suit with the appropriate court or defend you against paternity action.

Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is unfortunately prevalent in many relationships and may include harassment, assault, sexual abuse or neglect.  If you or someone you love has been physically or emotionally abused by their spouse or another relative, you should contact the police and an experienced lawyer who can inform you of your rights.  Our dedicated attorneys will work to obtain an Order of Protection from the court to ensure your physical safety.

In the case of marital abuse, if you wish to pursue a legal separation or divorce in light of the events, our legal team can advise you on the best steps to keep you safe and dissolve the marriage as fast as possible while keeping your best interests in mind.

Our entire staff understands the sensitive nature of domestic violence and will strive to provide you with peace of mind throughout the proceedings. Should you require additional support beyond the legal realm, we can refer you to other professionals and resources to address all of your needs and begin the healing process.

Divorce Mediation
We can either represent you as an attorney in your divorce, or we can provide mediation services to you and your spouse/partner to help you avoid court.

For many people, going through a divorce is one of the worst periods in their lives. The legal process of divorce can be emotionally, not to mention financially, draining. However, divorce mediation is increasingly becoming a popular way to resolve issues in a divorce. In divorce mediation, rather than both parties going to court and using a trial to resolve divorce issues, such as a property settlement, child support and child custody, the parties will sit down with a neutral third party, called a mediator. The mediator helps both individuals come to a solution on which both parties can agree.

Divorce mediation offers so many advantages to a couple working through a divorce. The divorce mediation almost always takes less time than litigating a divorce, especially for those couples who haven’t worked everything out in advance of the divorce. Divorce mediation also helps spouses tell each other what they want, without lawyers speaking for them or telling them what they should do.

Mediation helps spouses reduce the tension involved in a divorce.  Couples who mediate are generally happier with the outcome than those who go to court, primarily because they feel like they were more directly involved in the outcome, having not left it up to a judge.  The mediator can help couples with both immediate concerns and long-term concerns. Mediators can help focus couples on present issues, rather than bringing up hurts from the past that can be unproductive to reaching an agreement. Another benefit to mediation is that it is private, unlike a court case.

However, divorce mediation is not for everyone. If couples are unable to work together in the same room, mediation may not be the best bet. Some couples are dealing with spousal abuse or substance abuse. In those situations, it’s probably best for an attorney to speak on each spouse’s behalf.

Divorce mediation begins by learning more about the process. Next, the couple will gather information and provide it to the mediator. This primarily includes financial information such as assets owned, debts, bank accounts, automobiles, etc. Then, the issues that need to be resolved will be determined, such as division of property and debts, and child custody and support.

The couple will then begin to discuss concerns in the presence of the mediator. The couple will make decisions about the type of arrangements they want in a step by step manner. The divorce mediator should take care to make sure the needs of the children, as well as the spouses, are met. The mediator will help the couple explore various options available. Once an arrangement is agreed on, an independent attorney for each party will review the agreement (at a drastically reduced cost compared to litigation) and the parties will sign.

Family Law raises emotional and legal challenges for all parties involved. In such cases, it is essential that you surround yourself with trusted advisors and friends. Our law firm provides you with the legal and emotional support needed to get you back on your feet. We look forward to finding ways to help you through what is likely a transformational time in your life.