What Are New York’s Alimony Guidelines?

When you’re a party to a divorce, you likely have some questions about alimony and how it’s determined in the state of New York.  While alimony is not granted in every case, it’s worth understanding how the court considers needs and how it decides when alimony is applicable and under what circumstances it should be paid.

Temporary maintenance may be awarded when the divorce proceedings begin.  It takes into account the immediate financial needs of one spouse by evaluating the standard of living before the divorce and the reasonable needs of the spouse to be supported.

After divorce, alimony or spousal support can continue for a specific period or it can stop when certain life events happen.  Examples of these life events including the supported spouse living with someone else, the supported spouse getting remarried, or the death of either spouse.

New York uses a specific formula to determine what amount of spousal support will be awarded.  There are situations, however, when a judge may not use that formula.  If the formula is, for some reason, found to be “unjust” or not appropriate in the determination of New York spousal support, the judge then considers other factors.  These include the age and health of each spouse, the standard of living for the spouses during the marriage, and the earning capacities of each spouse.

Courts can consider many different factors in determining whether spousal support should be awarded at all.  This includes the existence of a joint household before the marriage, the future and present income of both spouses, the length of the marriage, the income and property that each spouse has, and the ability of the receiving party to become “self-sufficient” at some point in the future.

Need more information?  A New York family law attorney will be able to further explain the intricacies of the guideline.

When Can I Modify Child Support Arrangements in New York?

Just because a child support order was handed down to one party or another doesn’t mean that life always stays the same.  In fact, major changes in the circumstances of involved parties can be grounds for altering child support arrangements in New York.  Either parent has the right to ask for changes in the child support order.

The parent who wants the change in the child support order has to go to the court and petition by filling out the New York paperwork necessary to request an official child support order change.  There are certain circumstances under which changes can be requested.

A substantial change in the circumstances of one of the parties to the child support order is one such reason.  The other two primary reasons for requesting a child support modification order  in New Yorkis when there has been a 15 percent increase or decrease in a parent’s income after the original order was issued or when three or more years have passed since the initial order was put into place.

Substantial changes in circumstances can seem a bit confusing, but applicable situations include when there are sudden medical needs for the child, an increase in medical bills, an illness on behalf of the paying parent, or a decrease in the income of a parent.  Review your situation with an experienced New York family law attorney to determine whether your circumstance meet the criteria for a change in a New York child support order.  If the court approves the petition, it will be backdated to the day the parent actually went to court to file the New York child support modification petition, not the specific date when the parent alleges changes in circumstances has actually happened.

Tips for Drafting Parenting Plans in New York

When you are heading into discussions over your New York parenting plan, it pays to be informed.  Knowing what to expect and how you can best structure the process to leave parties mutually accepting of the terms is critical for success.  Here are the top tips for putting together parenting plans in New York.

You’ll want to have all important information before you put together the parenting plan.  This means factoring in parental work schedules, the pattern of time-sharing with the child that happened before the divorce was final, the ability of the child to adapt to changes, as well as long term plans like set-in-stone vacation arrangements that should be accounted for.

It’s a good idea to consider how communication should happen between the parents if there are emergencies or last-minute changes that need to be considered.  Setting up a communication plan of action can limit arguments between you and your former spouse and set out clear protocol about discussions over altering the existing schedule.  This can ultimately be a positive step to help out the children involved in the case, too, by limiting a constantly shifting schedule and any particular disagreements related to when and under what circumstances the schedule can change.

Finally, factor in the developmental needs of each child.  Often, a cookie cutter New York parenting plan is not the best approach because it might miss out on some of the individual needs of the children.  If there are any psychological or behavioral disorders, as well as any medical need that should be factored in, bring those to the table when you’re drafting your parenting plan.

A parenting plan can be made easier by consulting with an experienced New York family law attorney as soon as possible.

Prenuptial Agreements in Westchester County Just Got Easier

Prenuptial Agreements in Weschester County have not only become more popular—they’ve become easier than ever to make.   With the rise in alternative dispute resolution processes like prenuptial agreement mediation, determining how property will be distributed and what scope of alimony would be fair doesn’t require “lawyering up” to make the process more difficult than it has to be.

But I love him/her…

While most marrying couples like to believe that they will never separate or need to go through with the terms of the agreement, the simple fact is: separation happens often, and to the strongest relationships.   Beyond the normal “triggers” for divorce, there are situations that occur that are out of the control of both parties, making marriages dissolve and separations happen even in the most well-meaning relationships.   Preparing for this possibility is not cynical or unromantic—rather, it is smart thinking and wise financial planning for both partners.

This is why you need it.

When separation and divorce does occur, for most couples going through it, the transition can be financially and emotionally devastating for everyone in the family—including the children.   The primary reason this happens is because the family hadn’t planned for this, or hadn’t thought of the logistics of how it would work out to separate one household into two.   In addition to moving costs, the costs of an additional mortgage or rent payment, and the expense of new furniture and household goods, the emotional toil a separation or divorce has a heavy cost, too.   With a mediated prenuptial agreement, there is already an outline of how to shield the family as much as possible from these costs, or from one person taking on an unfair portion of them.

Why Separation Agreements in Rockland County Aren’t As Complicated As They Seem

Separation agreements in Rockland County don’t have to be as complicated as many make them.   In fact, with alternative dispute resolution processes like separation agreement mediation, separating couples can easily and legally settle on equitable distribution of property for far less money and less time than it would take to litigate such a dispute.

Enforceability

One of the first questions separating couples entering separation agreement mediation want to know is this: can our agreement be legally enforced if the other party doesn’t hold up his or her end of the bargain?

The answer is yes, but only as much as any standard contract can be enforced.   This means that as with any other contract, if the agreement is not upheld, one party must sue the other for breach of contract.   Keep in mind that being the one that upholds the agreement puts you in a favorable position with the judge if you do have to take it to court.   With the right evidence, the judge will be able to see that the other party did not hold up their end of the contract and rule accordingly.

Confidentiality

A separation agreement does not come without some emotional upheaval and (possibly) embarrassment.   You are dividing property that you likely bought together and the emotional connections to that property are often shared by both parties.   In situations like these, having your personal affairs aired in a public courtroom is one of the last things you’d want to do.   This is where separation agreement mediation wins over litigation every time.

Separation agreements mediation in Rockland County is a confidential process and there is no public record of the process, nor is their public record of the agreement that is reached.   You will be able to handle the equitable distribution of property in a fair, private and quiet manner—an attractive prospect for most people going through this emotional process.

Three Frequently Asked Questions about Equitable Distribution in New York

Equitable distribution in New Yorkdoesn’t have to be a difficult process.   In fact, many divorcing or separated couples have discovered mediation to be a highly useful, cost-effective approach to splitting up the property that they have accumulated together during the years they have been married or cohabitating.

What is equitable distribution mediation?

Mediation for equitable distribution of property in New York is an alternative dispute resolution process that allows couples who are divorcing or separating to distribute the marital property fairly.   Often, this type of conflict can be charged with emotion (for example, property that reminds parents of their children’s early years, or property that has intense sentimental value for both disputants).  Equitable distribution mediation encourages communication instead of litigation, and is facilitated by a neutral, third-party mediator who is an expert in divorce, property ownership, and equitable distribution law.

How does equitable distribution mediation work?

In equitable distribution mediation, the mediator will help you go through the process of determining what marital property you have, the value of each item of property, and how to split the marital property fairly considering all circumstances.

How do we find an equitable distribution mediator in New York?

Ask around and see if any of your friends, co-workers or family members have used mediation to resolve a divorce, separation or property distribution case.   If you don’t get any referrals, take the time to research the mediators in your area who have had extensive experience dealing with cases similar to yours.   Many will have this information available on their websites or by contacting them via email.

Three Reasons You Should Mediate Your Divorce in New City, NY

Contested and uncontested divorces in New City, NY can be successfully handled with mediation, an alternative dispute resolution process that puts the settlement in the hands of the parties seeking resolution and dissolution of a marriage.  There are several benefits of using mediation for divorce, including:

  1. Confidentiality.   A mediated divorce takes place in the privacy of the mediator’s office, keeping the situation confidential and out of the public eye.   In a litigated divorce, it is the opposite—the divorce is a matter of public record and in many cases, takes place in a public courtroom where others will hear the details of your private lives together.
  2. Cost-effectiveness.   A litigated divorce is expensive, with some costing around $10,000 for attorney and court fees.   The price can be especially high if there are children involved, as custody arrangements tend to be a point of contention in a divorce.   In a mediated divorce, however, the price of mediation is far less than the cost of litigation, and is often split between the parties.
  3. Less contention.   There’s no doubt about it—litigated divorces are highly contentious, especially when one partner feels betrayed by the break-up and seeks to bring that emotion into the negotiations.   In both contested and uncontesteddivorces in New City, NY, mediation is an alternative dispute resolution method that makes communication and respect the top priorities of the discussion, allowing settlement to occur with far less contention than would be present when both parties “lawyer up.”

ASK & ANSWER COLUMN

Q. Is mediation for everyone?

A. No. The only requirement for a successful mediation is an honest desire to discuss separation issues. However, some people are so filled with anger and resentments that it makes mediation impossible.

Divorce Mediation – is it less stressful?

Mediation is a voluntary, cooperative settlement process in which a neutral professional helps you make practical, informed decisions to resolve your differences. It is used frequently and successfully by separating and divorcing couples who want to plan their futures rationally, in an atmosphere of cooperation and mutual respect. With the guidance of a trained mediator, you work together through a series of orderly steps to create a fair and reasonable agreement. The mediator helps you define the issues to be settled, gather and analyze the necessary information, and communicate effectively.

After evaluating your options, you–and only you–make the decisions that become the agreement. The goal of a successful mediation is to reach an agreement that is custom-made for your family, your finances, and your future. At the conclusion of the mediation process you will have a full and complete stipulation of settlement.

Alternatives to Divorce

Getting a divorce means your marriage is legally over, and you are once again a single person. You are free to remarry and you are in charge of your own finances, plans, and future. If you’re not ready for such a permanent break from your spouse, you can choose separation instead. Separation means you are living apart from your spouse—it’s not a divorce, and you’re still legally married. However, getting separated does affect the financial relationship between you and your spouse. The Agreement deals with custody, visitation, child support, spousal maintenance, asset and debt distribution, health insurance, life insurance, etc. The divorce documents just deal with

the divorce.