Divorce, separation and Mediation
You are unique. And the dissolution of your marriage must be unique and tailored to suit you, your finances, and your lifestyle. Your divorce will determine how you live your life: where you live, how your children will be parented, and your well-being. The right representation is crucial. You need is a lawyer who will understand your lifestyle and your financial, social, and family circumstances. You need a lawyer who will find the best resolution for you. Christine has based her practice on one key objective -- each client deserves representation that is tailored to their own unique circumstances.
Christine is experienced in the different forms for marriage dissolution.
A litigated divorce through the court system begins with the filing of a summons and complaint. Temporary orders or stipulations may be entered into which will govern how you proceed during the pendency of the divorce action. For example, you will agree on visitation with children, payments of child support or temporary maintenance from one spouse to the other. The matter may be heard at a preliminary conference early so that your case is placed onto a timing schedule for the exchange of financial documents and further discovery. Attorneys will exchange documents and if needed depose the parties. If a settlement cannot be reached, your case will be placed on a trial calendar and proceed to trial. The issues tried can be distribution of marital assets, support, and visitation.
Mediation allows the party a greater control over how to resolve the issues of the dissolution of their marriage. It can be less stressful and less costly than a traditional litigation divorce. The result if successful will be a separation agreement in which the parties and their respective attorneys arrive at the terms. Extensive negotiations take place in a mediation, oftentimes with both parties and their attorneys sitting down to come to terms of settlement. Other times the parties approach a single attorney with the terms they arrived at themselves. The attorney will assist in drafting the separation agreement and file the necessary court documents for the divorce.
Although not as common, some couples decide to separate before considering divorce. Why? Very often it's about health insurance. If the parties are under the employee-sponsored plan of the husband or wife, the plan ends for the non-employee spouse when the divorce is final. In order to maintain insurance, divorce is put off and the parties instead separate. Other times, a couple is not ready for divorce but believes they will eventually go in that direction. Parties can stay separated as long as they want. An advantage of separation is that the assets accumulated by the husband and the wife while separated (through work, retirement accounts, etc.) becomes separate property which will not be distributed in a divorce.
A divorce attorney must anticipate financial pitfalls in a divorce and advise her client accordingly. She aims to maintain the standard of living that will work for each of her clients. In a divorce, finances can undergo big changes. Two incomes now dwindle down to one. The cost of living doesn't change, but the disposable income might. A good divorce lawyer foresees these changes and works to soften the transition. Protection of income for you and perhaps for your children is key to a positive outcome. Spousal support, also known as maintenance and formerly referred to as "alimony," arises from a disparity in income between the spouses. A marriage is a partnership, and when the partnership divides, consideration must be afforded to each partner's contributions to the partnership over the years. This determination will help reach an equitable level of spousal support.
Custody, Visitation, and child support and Paternity
You love your children and want what's best for them. The parenting of your children will be the most important part of your divorce. If you and your spouse can agree on a shared arrangement for custody, you have overcome a significant obstacle. But, when two parents cannot agree on this very important matter, Courts will get involved and will look to "the best interests of the child." Christine's experience and knowledge of how Courts determine this most crucial question will ensure the right outcome for you. Christine has stood before judges of Family Courts in Westchester, Dutchess, Orange, Ulster and Sullivan Counties and has represented clients from all walks of life in this crucial area. Christine has tried child support cases and has extensive experience in the Child Support Standards Act. In Westchester and the surrounding counties, incomes can go over the child support cap. Christine has advocated for the extent to which income must exceed the cap in order to best meet the needs of the children. Child support is not as negotiable as spousal support. New York law imposes a formula to which all Courts adhere, including the costs of future college tuition and expenses.
In some instances, paternity must be established before child support can be obtained. The petition for paternity is submitted to the Family Court Support Magistrates.
While you think you have reached the end of a terrible chapter in your life, there are certain instances where the divorce fall out just won't go away. A judgment of divorce sets forth the obligations and requirements of finances, child rearing, support. But when one side doesn't comply, the other must seek the Court's intervention and ask for post-judgment relief. The good part, however, is that the side who refuses to obey the terms of the judgment, will pay legal fees when the other side must seek judicial assistance.
Pre-nuptial Agreements and Marital Agreements (Post-Nuptial agreements)
An agreement entered into prior to marriage is known as a prenuptial agreement. This type of "contract" is binding on both parties throughout the marriage unless they enter into a new "contract" to either change it or void it completely. The prenuptial agreement in New York freezes the nature of your assets prior to marriage so that the assets (real estate, financial accounts, retirement plans) never change from a separate asset to a marital asset. What's the difference? In a divorce marital assets under New York law are distributed to each spouse equitably. This is often 50/50 but not always. The prenuptial agreement can also address maintenance so that each party knows what to expect int he event of a divorce.
An agreement entered into while married is a Marital Agreement, also referred to as a Post-Nuptial Agreement. Like a separation agreement, the assets accumulated while under the Marital Agreement are accumulated as separate property not subject to distribution in a final divorce.