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It’s a well-known fact that in the United States, nearly fifty percent of all marriages end in divorce. While we have a lot of research into the “why’s” of marital decline and dissolution, we are still left with the very real aftermath of a family in pain. As New York City attorneys in family law, we are tasked with navigating couples and their children through these emotional times, while ensuring their legal rights and long-term best interests are protected.
If you are considering a divorce, you don’t have to do it alone. As New York’s premier divorce lawyer, I will guide you through these trying times and help you move forward.
Family and divorce law is not only about financial and child custody outcomes. An experienced family law attorney in Manhattan deals with real people and real problems that can’t be easily navigated through the eyes of a “case” or distilled into dry legal concepts.
As a family maneuvers one of the most emotional and painful times of their lives, the a good New York family lawyer acts as a friend, a confidant, and a shoulder, as well as a skilled legal representative and advocate.
What Do Family Lawyers Do?
Family law attorneys help bring a compassionate and rational approach to
● Divorce, including spousal support and division of property
● Issues concerning minor children such as support and custody
● Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements
● Modifications of court orders dealing with child custody, visitation, child support, or spousal support
A good family law attorney must seek the best of solutions in the worst of times. That skill is only developed with time and experience. Over my years in practice in New York City, I have led my clients through these difficult times, helping them understand their rights, the legal implications of their options and decisions, and helped them get to a place where they can see optimistically into the future.
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Custody arrangements in New York will be determined by the court based on what is in the child’s best interest. Each family dynamic is unique and the court will make every attempt to understand each family’s needs and carefully evaluate what the best needs are for the children considering
● The stability and quality of the home environments of the parents
● The parents’ willingness to support the child’s relationship with the other parent
● The physical and mental health of the parents
● Parenting skills
● History of substance abuse
● History of domestic violence
● The work schedules of the parents
● The child’s wishes
and other factors.
New York family courts work hard to support both parents who want to share in the upbringing of their children, but the bottom line is what benefits those children. When one parent is seeking sole physical custody of the child without the agreement of the other parent, the potential custodial parent must prove to the court how it would be of benefit to the child.
Custody is not always awarded to a parent if the court determines that the parent is unavailable or otherwise unsuitable. In these cases, other family members may seek and be awarded custody of the child.
There is no more important aspect to family law than the care and wellbeing of a couple’s children during and after the divorce process. One of these aspects is how the couple approaches child custody.
In New York divorce law, there are several nuances when it comes to the custody arrangements for the children and how it will be shared (or not) by the parents. These include physical custody – who the child will live with – and legal custody – how important decisions will be made with regard to the children’s life. One parent may be granted sole custody or the couple may share joint custody:
● Sole physical custody determines that a child will live with one parent, the other parent typically granted visitation.
● Joint physical custody determines that a child will move between both parents subject to an agreed-upon schedule.
● Sole legal custody determines that one parent will have the sole authority to make decisions concerning the child’s healthcare, education, and religious training
● Joining legal custody determines that both parents must share in making these important decisions about healthcare, education, and religious training.
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In a marriage, both partners are legally responsible for the financial support and welfare of their children until they are 21 years of age. However, in a divorce case in New York, the financial wellbeing of the children will be formally determined to ensure that the support obligation is fair under divorce laws and understood by both parties. A child support order will be filed and the amount of support determined using a set of guidelines that make it straightforward and equitable.
Child support in New York is based on fixed percentages of the parents’ gross income and the number of children they have at the time of the divorce:
● 17% of combined parental income for 1 child
● 25% of combined parental income for 2 children
● 29% of combined parental income for 3 children
● 31% of combined parental income for 4 children
● No less than 35% of combined parental income for 5 or more children
In the case where the child spends the majority of time with one parent, the non-custodial parent pays child support to the custodial parent. Sharing joint custody of the child does not necessarily mean that neither parent pays child support. In the case of joint custody, the courts in New York will typically require the parent who earns more income to pay child support.
Extra expenses are shared by both parents, which are typically prorated based on income. These can include costs for education, medical costs, or a child’s extracurricular activities among other things.
In most cases, both parents want to spend meaningful time with their children and New York family law courts uphold that right whenever possible unless it is detrimental to the child.
When determining custody, divorce law suggests that a visitation schedule be developed to set out the terms of the arrangement between parents. It will specify how parents will share time with the child on weekdays, weekends, school breaks and holidays, special occasions, and vacations.
A visitation schedule will offer a clear and concise structure for parents. Even the friendliest of divorces can take a turn when it comes to who children will spend time with on holidays and special events. A well thought out visitation schedule takes this off the table and helps prevent future disagreements.
In those cases where there is a proven concern over the child spending time with one parent, the court can choose to grant supervised visitation. It is rare that the court will withhold visitation entirely.
In New York divorce law, a grandparent has limited legal rights to visitation with their grandchildren after a divorce. If necessary, a grandparent can request visitation of the grandchildren through the courts under certain circumstances:
These rights only apply to the biological grandparents of the child and do not extend to other relatives or family members.
Child custody and divorce laws in New York are subject to many factors with domestic violence being an important one. Domestic violence is a pattern of abuse perpetrated by one person in the household to gain control over another person or persons. It affects the safety and wellbeing of the entire family.
When New York family law courts look at domestic violence in a family, it considers the divorcing parents. But it can also extend to those who are not related by blood or marriage including former spouses or co-parents, other children, or those who have previously had an intimate or dating relationship with or resided with one of the parents.
There are many ways that a New York family lawyer has at his or her disposal to ensure the safety of victims of domestic violence during and after divorce. Although the court will always take valid domestic violence allegations seriously, it can be complicated to prove. Whenever violence is a factor in a divorce, it’s important to get experienced legal assistance to ensure physical and emotional safety and protect the legal rights of all involved.
Do I Need a Family Lawyer in New York?
Making the decision to divorce is never an easy one. Although some couples choose to try to maneuver the system without the benefit of a family lawyer, there are invariably going to be areas of conflict. Getting the objective advice and guidance of a compassionate NY family lawyer can help navigate an emotionally difficult time with a rational eye toward the future.
When you need the skill and experience of a family law attorney in New York City, call the Midtown offices of Juan Luciano Divorce Lawyer to schedule a consultation. Since 2008, I have dedicated my law firm and my career to the rights of couples and children in the throes of divorce so they can go on toward a brighter future. We can help with family law issues in New York, Bronx, Westchester County, Upper East Side, and all other areas of New York City.
You Don't have to do this alone