Creating a Visitation Schedule

Creating a Visitation Schedule

mom visiting her kid

When parents physically separate, they will need to create a visitation schedule with their child’s other parent. These schedules vary greatly, and should not be taken lightly. Just because a couple is on friendly terms at the time of their separation does not mean it will remain so; particularly if one of them establishes another relationship. Jealousy, rivalry, and work schedules may render a loose arrangement ineffective.

Try to be as reasonable as possible when creating a schedule. Sit down with the other parent and an attorney so that you can focus on the schedule of your child as well as the work schedules of both parents. Sometimes, a parent with greater financial resources may want to negotiate more time with the children so as to avoid paying a greater amount of child support.  Parents should be aware and resist a parent who places their needs above the child. Also, parents should avoid the “split the baby in two” to avoid litigation, because they will end up in court ultimately if the schedule is not viable.

Holidays can sometimes become difficult when you’re sharing custody with another parent. The office of Fass & Greenberg, family lawyers in New York, can help you develop a holiday schedule that is fair and that often means alternating schedules with the other parent each year. You should consider your child’s holiday schedule at school and the days you are able to get off work for each holiday as your child could stay with the other parent while you’re working instead of trying to find a sitter. There are also provisions such as “right of first refusal” that can be inserted into agreements which are designed to prevent a parent from being able to claim time with the children when they are in fact unavailable to be with the child due to work or other obligations.  Our family attorneys in New York can work with you to develop a schedule that suits both parents so that each person can fit events in during the year with your child.

requirements needed for annulment

In the State of New York, a marriage can end one of two ways: divorce or annulment. While divorce dissolves a legal marriage, an annulment retroactively determines the marriage was invalid from the outset. People with religious or cultural objections to divorce may view annulment as an attractive alternative means to end their marriages. However, an annulment is much more difficult to obtain than a divorce. The office of Fass & Greenberg, family lawyers in Garden City NY, can assist with gathering the information needed to file for an annulment in court and can assist in ensuring that the process is completed in a fair manner for both parties involved.

Types of Annulments

There are two different types of marriage annulments, religious annulments and civil annulments.  Religious annulments are conducted by religious institutions and have no bearing upon an individual’s legal marriage status.  Civil annulments are issued by courts and follow a similar procedure to divorces.

In New York, the legal action to declare a marriage annulled is brought in the Supreme Court, the court of general jurisdiction.

Void Marriages

There are two different types of marriages that can be annulled: void marriages and voidable marriages. A void marriage is void at its inception and, as a result, can never be made legal. Examples of void marriages include a marriage between an ancestor and a descendant, such as between a parent and a child; a marriage between an uncle and his niece or an aunt and her nephew.  Other examples of void marriages include: a marriage between siblings; a marriage with a person who is already married, whose marriage was not terminated or dissolved, and whose spouse is still alive; and a marriage performed by someone who did not have the legal authority to perform the marriage.

Although a void marriage is not recognized as valid, such a marriage cannot be legally terminated without obtaining a declaration of a nullity of the marriage. In addition to the declaration, the court can also legitimize children of the marriage and address all issues of the marriage, such as custody of the children, child support, maintenance and equitable distribution of marital assets.  There is no time limit on bringing an annulment for a void marriage. The action may be brought anytime during the life of the parties.

Voidable Marriages

Voidable marriages are marriages that, although legal at inception, can be annulled if any of the following conditions are met:

  1. A marriage involving a person younger than 18 may be annulled at the discretion of the court, if the spouse who is under 18 wants an annulment. The annulment will not be granted if the minor freely cohabited with the other party as spouses after reaching the age of 18;
  2. Either spouse was unable to understand the nature, effect and consequences of the contract of marriage because of mental incapacity (mental illness or mental retardation).  This action may be brought by a relative of the incapacitated spouse at any time during the mental incapacity or after the death of the incapacitated spouse.  This action may also be brought by the incapacitated spouse at any time after he/she has been restored to sound mind.  This action may also be brought by the non-incapacitated spouse during the incapacity if the incapacity was present at the time of the marriage and the non-incapacitated spouse did not know of the incapacity at the time of the marriage.  This action may not be brought if the spouses have freely cohabitated with the other party as spouses after the incapacitated party has been restored to sound mind;  
  3. Either spouse was incurably unable to have sexual intercourse at the time of the marriage.  This action must be brought within 5 years of the marriage;
  4. Either spouse consented to marry as a result of force, duress, or fraud by the other.  An action brought on the basis of fraud must be brought within 3 years of the discovery of the fraud; or
  5. After marriage, either partner becomes incurably insane for five years or more.  

A legal action is also required to annul a voidable marriage. In most cases, only the spouse not at fault may commence the action to annul. Actions for an annulment require a higher degree of proof than a divorce. Often, corroborative evidence from other witnesses is required to establish the proper grounds. Each of the reasons for an annulment listed above may also contain further restrictions.

The vast majority of annulments are based upon fraud. Fraudulent acts that warrant an annulment include marriage for a green card; falsely claiming the desire to have children; falsely claiming to love the other spouse; and falsely claiming to be pregnant.

Conclusion

Annulments are more difficult to acquire and less common than divorces, but for those who qualify, an annulment can be a great relief. Consult our family lawyers in Garden City NY to see if your situation allows for the possibility of an annulment.

O-PARENTING WITH YOUR EX-SPOUSE

Custody battles between parents are frequently emotional and frustrating, making them perfectly poised to become hostile and antagonistic. In most circumstances, the greatest amount of conflict may not even be caused by addressing significant life-altering decisions, but when dealing with the day-to-day agreements of where to meet to exchange children, or how to provide the correct educational and medical care. Because of the significant friction in custody cases, it can be difficult to find a scenario that works well for both parents, and the children involved. One option that many parties find effective is to hire a parent coordinator (“PC”). Our Garden City lawyers at Fass and Greenberg can assist you with all of your legal concerns and questions.

What is a Parent Coordinator?

PC’s are professionals that offer guidance to parties who are unable to make joint decisions for their child. These experts are trained to provide a method of dispute resolution in high-conflict cases of child custody which puts the child first above all else. By helping to highlight decisions in the best interests of a child, a parent coordinator can reduce the level of friction in cases by assisting parents to make better decisions as parents. Though PC’s don’t necessarily determine which parent should be the primary caretaker of the child or children in question, they can help to manage a great deal of the parenting time issues after the case is over and the parents have a custody and parenting time order in place.

Who Hires the Parent Coordinator?

New York courts may appoint a PC in any case, regardless of the parties’ objections.  Courts do so most frequently in cases with high conflict parents who have demonstrated an inability or unwillingness to make parenting decisions with the best interest of their children in mind. High conflict cases are ones where the parties exhibit excessive anger and distrust, causing them to engage in excessive litigation, physical aggression, and verbal abuse. Parents in these cases are often consumed by their disdain for each other, leaving their children caught in the crossfire and preventing them from cooperating in their care. 

While most PC’s are appointed by a court, some parents voluntarily choose to seek the assistance of a PC. This can be a smart, proactive decision if the parties foresee their divorce becoming contentious.

What Roles Does the Parent Coordinator Play?

The PC’s primary role is to assist the parties to work out disagreements regarding the children with minimal or decreasing conflict. As a neutral facilitator the PC may utilize dispute resolution skills from principles and practices of negotiation, mediation and arbitration. To assist the parents in reducing conflict, the PC may monitor the parents’ communications and suggest more productive forms of communication that limit conflict.

PC’s also serve as educators. PC’s educate the parties about how their actions will affect their children’s development. This knowledge allows the parties to make informed decisions on their own when solving the problems that inevitably arise during divorce.

PC’s can only make decisions to the extent agreed upon by the parents or by court order.  When parents are not able to decide or resolve disputes on their own, the PC can make decisions to the extent allowed by the court.  These decisions are not regarding custody and visitation, but generally deal with enforcement and/or modification of existing orders. The PC may also make reports and recommendations to the court.  The issue of whether or not they can be used as evidence is decided within the parameters of their engagement by the court or by the parents through mutual stipulation.  These are not binding on the parties but are often shown deference by courts.

How do Parent Coordinators Work?

In an attempt to resolve disputes, the PC will generally hold a number of meetings that include both parents. These meetings act as a space wherein the parents can discuss concerns regarding the parenting plan, and the PC can offer a combination of dispute resolution techniques, parental education, and counseling to assist in facilitating agreements. Often, PC meetings are not attended by the attorneys of the parties involved, but there are exceptions to this when the parents and PC both agree to the presence of legal representation, or when the court orders that attorneys should be present during all meetings. Day to day disputes might be solved through a phone call with the PC.

During the negotiations, the PC attempts to find solutions for problems before they have the chance to escalate. Ideally, this process should help the parents involved to meet a settlement that they both consider to be fair, and which is also in the best interests of the children involved. PC can be given a significant amount of power and sway in a child custody or parenting time order. While they may be unable to determine where the child lives, or who is given custody, these professionals can decide on a number of issues to be included in their recommendations. For instance, a PC cannot change a court order, but they can make minor changes or clarifications to the schedules outlined in the order, and parenting time decisions, such as temporary variations, holidays, and vacations. Additionally, parent coordinators can:

  • Establish recommendations and make small changes to the custody and visitation orders based on their understanding of the child’s best interests.
  • Report suspected abuse of children to protective services
  • Determine where, when, and how the family and friends of the non-custodial parent will be permitted to see the children.
  • Manage complaints from the parties involved in the case about various subjects, and make decisions that the parties must utilize, such as which friend’s children can visit, what religious services they should attend, and so on.
  • Prevent parents from having conversations with children that involve certain topics.
  • Make determinations as to where the parents involved are allowed to go during their day with the child, and which activities should be allowed.

The PC cannot advocate specifically for one party, and they do not have the right to compromise the parent’s ability to be heard within the process. For a PC to have a positive impact within a child custody case, it is crucial to maintain neutrality, accessibility, and fairness for both parents. Many PC’s have significant training in psychology and mental health, but they are prohibited from offering mental health services or counseling to any child or parent they have been appointed to.

What are the Risks of Having a Parent Coordinator? A court may not delegate the authority to resolve issues affecting the best interests of the children to parent coordinators, but courts are very deferential to their recommendations. 

lawyers ethical standards

Professional misconduct is the most common reason for attorney discipline. Lawyers can also be disciplined for conduct in their personal lives. In addition to suffering the legal consequences of any criminal activity in some instances, i.e., if the crime involves dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, a lawyer may also be subject to discipline imposed by the Grievance Committee of their State Bar Association. While some may believe it is unfair to impose a higher standard of ethical conduct upon lawyers in their personal life, they must keep in mind that this professional discipline is a result of the legal profession’s self-regulation. It is meant to encourage ethical behavior among lawyers as well as public trust of lawyers and the legal system.      

The Model Rules of Professional Conduct

The American Bar Association (“ABA”) created the Model Rules of Professional Conduct (“MRPC”) as a model on which states can base their legal ethics laws.  The MRPC has been adopted in whole or in part by 49 states and the District of Colombia, making it the best rubric for legal ethics in the United States. 

What Qualifies as Misconduct?

One type of misconduct outlined by the MRPC is “criminal acts that reflect adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.”  This means that a lawyer who commits a crime may face professional consequences, in addition to criminal consequences, if the crime includes dishonesty or calls the lawyer’s fitness into question.   Crimes that commonly result in discipline for lawyers are driving while intoxicated, failure to pay income taxes, and fraud.

Another type of misconduct outlined in the MRPC is “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation.”  This rule encompasses all actions, not only criminal ones.  This rule is aimed at punishing moral turpitude or depravity.  Though rarely enforced, the MRPC lists adultery as an example of an action that may implicate moral turpitude even though it is not related to the practice of law. 

Under these rules, New York lawyers have faced discipline for dishonest business practices in a real estate business, entering into a bigamous marriage in another country, continuing to live in a rent-controlled apartment after the leaseholder died, and falsely accusing a police officer of uttering a racial slur in order to get out of a speeding ticket.  In each of these instances, the lawyer was disciplined for actions unrelated to their practice of law.

What is the Penalty?

Courts have discretion to discipline lawyers by issuing a censure (which is a public condemnation with no legal ramifications), suspending them from the practice of law, or complete disbarment.  And while most discipline is the result of professional misconduct, courts often treat private misconduct just as harshly as professional misconduct. 

When determining how to discipline a lawyer, courts balance the severity of the conduct against any mitigating factors.  These mitigating factors could include a lack of a prior disciplinary record, cooperation with the ethics investigation, admissions of guilt, expressions of remorse, and a reputation for integrity. 

For example, in In re Bikman, a lawyer continued to live in her sister’s rent-controlled apartment after her sister died, without informing the landlord of her sister’s death.  While the lawyer “did not quite manage to commit criminal or common-law fraud,” the court found that “she surely was dishonest, she was deceitful and she did misrepresent.”  Furthermore, the lawyer did not admit to doing anything wrong, failed to cooperate with the investigation, and made efforts to impede the Committee’s investigation.  Based on these factors, the court suspended the lawyer for 18 months. 

Conclusion

The ability to practice law is a privilege, not a right.  To ensure that each lawyer is deserving of that privilege, the ABA and state legislatures have created a system of rules and punishments for unethical behavior.  And since the ethical practice of law is a vital element of society, these rules aim to punish lawyers for any conduct which suggests that they are unfit to practice law, regardless of whether the conduct was professional or personal. 

Should lawyers be held professionally accountable for their private actions?  The answer depends on what role lawyers play in society.  People often look to lawyers (as attorneys, judges, government officials, etc.) to hold others accountable for their actions.  This is a position of power within society, a position that could easily be exploited without oversight.  This alone may justify the rigorous self-regulation in the legal profession.  However, some lawyers may feel that such an interference into their private life is too much to ask.  Perhaps lawyers are fully capable of separating the moral problems of their private life from the ethical duties of their professional life.  But as things are today, these higher personal standards are the unavoidable cost of practicing law.

DIVORCE RECORDS PUBLIC IN NEW YORK

Unlike some states, New York requires divorce records to be sealed. This means that only the former spouses or someone with a New York state court order can access those documents with proper identification, such as a driver’s license, passport, or military ID. If the former spouses are represented by attorneys, those attorneys can also access the divorce records.

A Judgment of Divorce is the document signed by a judge which outlines the general terms of the parties’ divorce. A copy of the Judgment of Divorce can only be obtained from the Office of the County Clerk in the county in which the divorce was granted. You should check with your county clerk to get accurate information as to their procedure for obtaining this document. The Nassau County Clerk, for example, will provide the Judgment of Divorce only to the former spouses or their attorneys, with a valid government issued photo ID. The fee for a regular copy is .65 per page with a minimum of $1.30.  The fee for a certified copy is $1.25 per page with a minimum of $5.00.

General information about past or current divorces may be found through an online search of Supreme Court cases using New York State’s WebCivil Supreme feature on the e-Courts page. After selecting a county, using an Index Number or the name of one of the parties, the case may be found. Information to be accessed there includes the name of the presiding judge, the case history of appearances, the general outcome of each appearance, and any motions which have been filed. The next future appearance date, if any, will also be shown. Attorneys who have been involved in the case will also be named. What will not be found is access to any documents.

Family Court handles family law matters other than divorce. For general information about future appearance dates on active cases in Family Court, you can also perform an online search using New York State’s WebFamily feature on the e-Courts page. You need to first have a docket or file number, attorney or firm name, or the judge’s name and appearance date to access this information. Information on past cases is not available.

You may also contact Fass & Greenberg, LLP for assistance with accessing your divorce records, or with questions you may have about any divorce or family law procedures.

marital fault

For couples seeking to end their marriage, it is important to know that the State of New York is one of the few states to consider both at-fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. Prior to the enactment of DRL §170(7), a spouse needed to prove one of the following causes of action to obtain a divorce:

  • Adultery
  • Cruel and inhuman treatment
  • Abandonment for a minimum of one year
  • Confinement in prison for a minimum of three consecutive years
  • Living separate and apart pursuant to a written separation agreement for a year or more

For every one of the above cases, substantial evidence must be provided to prove the alleged cause of action as grounds for granting the divorce. The spouse who wanted the divorce, but was unable to prove the essential elements of abandonment, cruelty, or adultery, was at a distinct disadvantage in negotiating financial terms with their adversary spouse. In such cases, the adversary spouse could take the position that they would “consent to grounds” if they received an unfair financial benefit.  Similarly, a spouse who opposed the divorce had the power to force a “grounds trial’, which could result in the dismissal of the action, thus forcing the parties to remain married.

On August 15, 2010, then-Governor David Patterson signed the no-fault divorce bill which affects all divorces commenced after October 12, 2010. This provision referred to as the ‘no fault divorce” cause of action only requires a spouse to demonstrate that ‘the relationship between husband and wife has broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months “, to constitute a cause of action for divorce in New York.

While clearly, the 2010 law has made it less difficult to divorce in New York, there are many nuances to the statute which the Garden City lawyers, Fass & Greenberg, LLP., are familiar with. For example, there is a requirement that no judgment of divorce shall be granted under this subdivision unless and until all of the issues in the parties’ divorce, i.e., equitable distribution, spousal support, counsel fees, custody, etc., have been determined by the court or resolved by the parties and incorporated into a judgement of divorce. 

The law firm of Fass & Greenberg, LLP are familiar with the type of evidence needed and can inform you on the steps you need to take in this process. A lawyer can also draft the necessary documents that will state your expectations regarding the divorce, alimony, asset division, and arrangements for children. They can also be present at any mediation sessions (if that route is chosen) and can appear in court on your behalf at your hearings.

collaborative divorce

Whenever the court is involved in family issues, your divorce will become a battleground. The resulting conflict can have far-reaching consequences for you and your children. While the financial cost can be high, the emotional and psychological cost can be equally devastating.

The Collaborative Process

One way to diffuse the conflict is to engage in a collaborative approach.  Collaborative divorce offers a respectful process focused on reaching agreement, not battling an adversary.  When a couple decides to enter into a collaborative divorce, each party hires their own personal lawyer with training in collaborative law. Both parties must sign a collaborative retainer agreement with their lawyer. A collaborative retainer agreement is different from a traditional retainer agreement in that it states that, if the divorce needs to be litigated, the lawyer’s representation will terminate.  If the party wishes to continue to be represented by the lawyer during the litigation, they must abandon the collaborative process and sign a separate retainer agreement.

Once the parties have retained counsel, they meet privately with each other, their lawyers, and any neutral professionals they’ve hired.  These professionals may include appraisers, financial professionals and therapists concentrating in child psychology. These meetings are intended to produce a settlement through an honest exchange of information and clear understanding about needs and expectations, especially concerning the well-being of children.

If the parties are able to reach an agreement on all relevant issues in the divorce, a settlement agreement is written and submitted to the court for approval. 

Why Use a Collaborative Approach?

To Protect the Children

Children are the innocent victims of separation and divorce. Our family law attorneys in Garden City understand the stress, conflict and uncertainty that are present can be major risk factors for childhood development. Yet, as much as parents say they want what is best for their children, they often have difficulty working together for the sake of their children. With the cooperative atmosphere of a collaborative divorce, more attention can be given to the needs of your children. 

To Keep the Divorce Private

An adversarial divorce litigation involves a public trial where each party’s personal and financial secrets are revealed and recorded into public record. A collaborative divorce takes place in a controlled environment with only the parties and their attorneys. If a couple would like to keep the process as quiet and painless as possible, collaborative divorce is the way to go.

To Expedite the Process

While the length of a divorce often depends on the complexity of each individual situation, getting a court involved will likely increase that length. The litigation process involves many formalities and procedures on top of a series of court appearances that do little to solve the parties’ problems. In contrast, the full disclosure and open communication inherent in a collaborative process assures that the issues are covered in a timely manner.

Conclusion While some situations may be too contentious for a collaborative approach to divorce, many people prefer its cooperative and discreet nature.

Contact the family law attorneys in Garden City at Fass & Greenberg and let them explain how collaborative law may work for you.

mediation

Going to court isn’t the only legal process that can help you to solve a dispute. In many cases, the two sides of an issue can work together collaboratively to come to a decision that satisfies both sides. If you’re interested in an alternative way of bringing disputes to an end, the Garden City mediators at Fass & Greenberg believe that you might benefit from taking a closer look at mediation.

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution that allows two parties to come together and, with the guidance of a neutral third-party mediator, to craft solutions to their disputes that might not necessarily fall within the bounds of what the court is able to do. When you sit down for mediation in Garden City NY, you can go alone or with an attorney and you’ll be able to speak relatively freely.

Mediation in Garden City NY does, however, leads to binding results. If the two parties come to an agreement in mediation, that agreement can and will be enforced. The solutions that are found, however, are almost always compromises in at least some manner. The goal in mediation is to help the two parties find some sort of middle ground that will allow them to move forward with their lives.

It’s important to remember that mediation is also a process on which both parties have to agree. If no solution can be found to the problems at hand, the parties are still able to go through the traditional court system. Either party can walk away at any time, preserving their own rights to find a more traditional solution.

Mediation is an excellent way to solve problems and preserve a relationship at the same time. While the mediator is there to help all involved, it is ultimately the two parties that must come up with a solution. If you’re considering mediation, make sure to contact the Garden City mediators at Fass & Greenberg.

assets distribution

Divorce is difficult. In addition to the emotional ties that are broken during the process of marriage dissolution, there is also the matter of property (real and personal) that must be determined by the separating parties. In some states, there is community property, which requires all assets to be equally distributed.  

In New York, our divorce laws are governed by equitable distribution, which takes may factors into consideration before distributing the assets. Some of these factors include the ages and relative health of the parties, the length of the marriage, the presence of underage children, and future inheritance rights.  It may be the case that the spouse who did not work during the marriage takes more wealth away from the relationship in the end. Equitable distribution, then, works so that both parties are as financially stable as possible.

Garden City NY family lawyers such as those at Fass & Greenberg know about equitable distribution. They can help you navigate the process so that your divorce is not as chaotic as it would be without their help. Call them to schedule an appointment for a consultation after you get familiar with the following tips about how assets can be distributed equally in cases of equitable distribution.

1. Understand that equitable distribution only extends to marital property
Marital property is defined as property accumulated by either spouse from the date of marriage to the commencement of an action for divorce. However, there are exceptions.  For example, property gifted to a spouse from a third party, or monies awarded to a spouse as a result of a personal injury lawsuit are considered separate and not subject to equitable distribution.  Assets acquired before marriage are also not eligible for equitable distribution. A good family law firm in Garden City can help you determine what assets would need to be surrendered for equitable distribution.

2. Understand how marital property is valued
The home that you purchased together ten years ago is likely worth more than you paid for it back then. If a couple decides to their home, there is no need to obtain an appraisal.  If, however, a couple decides to “trade off” a pension for a house, there are experts in each field which must be retained to determine the value of each asset.  so as to avoid the idea of one party getting more of his or her share of the wealth. It is best, of course, to receive legal counsel from a family law firm in Garden City such as that of Fass & Greenberg before taking such drastic actions.

3. Be honest about your financial situation
Both parties are required to make financial declarations in equitable distribution. The document required to be exchanged between the parties is called a Statement of Net Worth. Such declarations serve as the basis for determining the manner by which assets are divided, and the Courts can impose severe penalties upon a party who is not truthful in this sworn document.  It is essential that you are completely honest with your attorney in preparing and executing this document. 

alimony payments when losing job

Are you divorced and paying alimony, i.e., “maintenance”, to your former spouse? Have you experienced a serious reduction in income due to loss of job, or medical infirmity? You may well find the amount of maintenance you are paying to be a serious hardship. What, if anything, can be done to reduce the payments?  Modifying an existing order or agreement regarding support is a difficult and potentially expensive process. You need to make sure your consult with the right attorney before going to Court. The Garden City firm of Fass and Greenberg can provide the advice and you need.

Under What Circumstances Could Your Alimony Be Changed?

If you have recently lost your job, or have been forced to take a lower paying job through no fault of your own, you may have grounds to seek a modification, or in some cases, a suspension of your maintenance payments. If, at the same time you lost your job, your former spouse receives a promotion, inheritance, or any substantial improvement in finances, you may have a case for a downward modification.   

If you consult with the Garden City firm of Fass & Greenberg, we will explain the legal technicalities surrounding your post judgement application. Specifically, there are different standards or thresholds involved if your maintenance obligation arose as a result of a court’s decision (judgement after trial), or written agreement (contract-based obligation) between you and your former spouse.

In the case of the former, you will need to demonstrate to the Court that there was a substantial change in circumstances from the time of the judgement to the time of your application, which would warrant a downward modification of your maintenance obligation.  Applications to downwardly modify maintenance payments have been granted where a spouse lost his or her employment due to the acrimonious and vindictive behavior towards him or her. Additionally, forced retirement, due to a leveraged buyout of a spouse’s employer, has been held to be a sufficient change in circumstances to justify a downward modification.

However, where the maintenance obligation resulted from a written agreement between you and your spouse, you will need to demonstrate more than just a change of circumstances to obtain a modification.  You need to demonstrate that compliance with said obligation creates an “extreme hardship” for the payor spouse (you). In these situations, downward modifications are granted in only very limited instances.  Even in the case of an attorney who was convicted of a federal crime and disbarred, the attorney (payor spouse), was held to have failed to demonstrate extreme hardship necessary to modify his maintenance obligations.  In this case, the Court reasoned that the payor spouse’s dilemma was created by the attorney himself, i.e., due to his  “volitional actions.”   

All potential clients need to understand that evidence of a loss of employment is not sufficient in and of itself to prevail. You need to demonstrate after losing your job that you made diligent efforts to obtain employment commensurate with your qualifications and experience. In addition, the Court will inquire if your reduction in income is in anyway voluntary (you decide to leave a lucrative job to become an entrepreneur, or artist), or can be attributed to your own behavior (such as engaging in criminal activity, or poor performance). In those cases, your application will be properly denied. 

Contact the Firm of Fass & Greenberg for More Information

When you have questions or concerns about your present or possible future rate of alimony, you can contact the firm of Fass & Greenberg. We are the leading family law firm in Garden City that can give you honest answers and top-notch legal assistance in this matter.

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