http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com Thu, 04 Jun 2015 19:51:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Finally I am Divorced! Now What Do I Need to Do? http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/finally-i-am-divorced-now-what-do-i-need-to-do/ http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/finally-i-am-divorced-now-what-do-i-need-to-do/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 14:47:14 +0000 http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/?p=1483 Seven simple financial and legal steps to take after divorce to protect yourself and your assets.

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Now that you have spent all that time and money making sure you received what you are owed from your marriage, it is time to protect your future finances.

After all of that divorce drama, do you really want your former spouse or his or her relatives to collect money at your death? Only you can take the steps necessary to ensure that this does not happen. And, if you and your spouse used the same attorney to divide up property during the divorce, you should use a separate attorney for your post-divorce protection, to avoid any conflict.

We suggest the following:

7 Basic Steps to Take after Divorce to Protect Your Individual Finances

  1. Make sure that all joint bank accounts are closed and all joint credit card accounts are terminated. This is very important as you would not want to be liable for post-divorce debts accrued by your ex-spouse. Make sure that you and your spouse are required to run credit reports prior to the end of the divorce process so that you can ensure every single account is covered. You may have long since forgotten about a store credit account opened and this could come back to haunt you. Six months after the divorce, obtain another credit report to ensure that all items have been covered. You have to be the one to make sure this happens.
  2. Change bank account beneficiaries. Check all of your accounts including bank, brokerage, retirement, college savings accounts, custodial accounts, life insurance, and etc. When opening such accounts you generally are required to name a beneficiary. Probate of your estate can be complicated enough without an ex-spouse trying to gain rights to your hard-earned personal assets.
  3. Draft a new Last Will and Testament. Make sure that your former spouse is removed and your assets are allocated to specific parties. If you are separated but not divorced, make sure that your will is updated and located in a place where your family members can locate it. This will ensure that your spouse (remember, if you are separated but not divorced you are still married!) does not recover under state law because your will is not accessible to your family.
  4. Update your health care proxy. You doubtfully would want your former spouse making healthcare decisions on your behalf after divorce or during the divorce. Once you decide the divorce is going to take place, the time is now to give your healthcare proxy to someone else.
  5. Update your Power of Attorney. Select a family member who can act on your behalf should you be unable. It is crucial that this document be updated as it can have serious consequences should you become disabled or unable to make decisions.
  6. Update your appointment of agent. This is the individual who is in charge of disposing of your remains after death. Do you want that to be your ex-spouse?
  7. Update all records. If you plan to use your maiden name or other prior surname, you can start by changing your driver license. Then you will also want to change your passport, social security card, and other identification cards.

At Keil & Siegel LLP we make sure to instruct our clients to delineate all such rights in the parties’ marital settlement agreement that we file with the court. That way there is some record of the divorce terms. Thereafter, we advise our clients to take proactive steps immediately to formally update these basic life documents.

Do you need help with your legal situation after divorce? Complete our short intake form today to schedule a FREE consultation. We will respond promptly.

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Image source:  Moyan Brenn on Flickr. Used with Creative Commons License.

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Is Social Media Related to Higher Divorce Rates? http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/is-social-media-related-to-higher-divorce-rates/ http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/is-social-media-related-to-higher-divorce-rates/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 15:16:55 +0000 http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/?p=1477 Recent studies suggest, though inconclusively, that the use of social media and Facebook lead to higher divorce rates. Be careful what you post.

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Does Facebook cause a higher divorce rate?

Facebook… innocent enough website, right? How can we not be entertained by looking up a former girlfriend or a first love? It never hurt anyone to reminisce about a youthful uncomplicated romance. Innocence at its best.

Except that some commentators are calling Facebook “just a click away from an affair.” And affairs often lead to divorce.

According to a survey by the UK’s DivorceOnline, Facebook was implicated in a third of all divorce filings in a recent year. Moreover, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers has cited in the not-so-distant past that over 80% of U.S. divorce attorneys have witnessed a rise in the number of cases as a result of social networking. A study published in July 2014 in the journal, Computers in Human Behavior, revealed that the use of social networking sites “is negatively correlated with marriage quality and happiness, and positively correlated with experiencing a troubled relationship and thinking about divorce.”

Author Jason Krafsky, who wrote Facebook and Your Marriage, states that when couples deal with social media sites: “It is not enough to have good intentions. Most affairs do not start because someone says to themselves ‘I think I’ll have an affair.'” He states that Facebook “puts temptation in the path of people who would never in a million years risk having an affair.”

Many research studies are referring to “internet infidelity” and “virtual adultery” as a national epidemic. Apparently the anonymity associated with electronic communication allows users to feel more open and free in talking with other users. This anonymity and attention makes the “virtual affair” fun, easy, increasingly appealing and accessible.

But there is conflicting evidence. A study by the Journal of Family and Economic Issues found that there is no evidence of an increase of divorce due to social networking. Rather, this study suggests that Internet sites are simply an accessible means to explore relationships outside of marriage.

Regardless, Facebook and other social media sites are cited over and over as the cause for divorce and can also be influential as evidence in pending divorce matters. In a notable recent matter, Connecticut Judge Kenneth Shluger ordered a divorcing couple to swap login details for their Facebook and dating website accounts. Judge Shluger handed down the ruling after the husband told his lawyer that he had seen incriminating things on his wife’s Facebook account (via their shared computer at home) that could help him in a custody battle.

At Keil & Siegel we see how in this modern, fast-paced world marriages are tested in a variety of ways. Challenges can be Internet-based or develop elsewhere. Our advice to clients is to be smart about what they write, send and post online. As a rule of thumb, you should never post something that you would not want your worst enemy to see which, in a contested divorce, just may end up being your spouse.

Once you click “enter”, the decision is made. Proceed with caution and don’t add to the statistics on impulse.

Do you need help with your divorce? Complete our short intake form today to schedule a FREE consultation. We will respond promptly.

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Image source:  mumolabs on Unsplash. Free stock photo without copyright restriction.

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When a Spouse is a Threat: Protection Orders in New York http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/when-a-spouse-is-a-threat-protection-orders-in-new-york/ http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/when-a-spouse-is-a-threat-protection-orders-in-new-york/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 17:38:26 +0000 http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/?p=1466 State of New York courts offer some protection to individuals in danger or who fear that they may be in danger of physical harm from their spouse.

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My Spouse Is A Threat To Me. How Can I Protect Myself?

All too often in family law matters the threat or act of violence is real. What can a spouse in New York do if they feel their partner is a danger to them?

The State of New York offers some protection to those who are in danger or who fear that they may be in danger. It is not unusual that a spouse (usually a wife) expresses concern, not that they were already physically harmed (though this happens, too), but rather that they fear the occurrence of harm.

To obtain an order of protection, a person need not have been harmed already; a threat is enough. A New York court will grant an order of protection in response to threatening behavior or when actual harm has been caused to a person or to their minor child. In other words, it is enough to fear that harm will occur. The threat of it alone is enough to obtain protection under the law.

Where do I go to get an order of protection?

  1. Family Court: Family Court is an appropriate venue when you are seeking an order of protection from a family member, parent of your child, former spouse, close friend or companion.
  2. Criminal Court: To obtain the order in criminal court, the request must be against a person who is charged with a crime. The crime can be in your matter or as a condition precedent to a release from custody or bail.
  3. Supreme (Trial) Court: If you already are in court for a divorce, you may seek an order of protection from the Judge overseeing your divorce proceeding, either by written motion to the court or orally while in front of the Judge.

I have an order of protection. How do I make sure it is obeyed?

The way to enforce an Order of Protection is to stick to its terms and not allow it to be violated. If the order directs, for instance, that a person stay out of your home or a certain distance away from you, do not allow that person into your home, or within that distance from you, no matter how safe it seems at the moment. If there is a violation of any kind, you must call the police. As long as your abuser knows about the order of protection, and was served with a copy of the order by the police or while in court, the police should arrest the abuser for violating the order.

Keep a copy of the order of protection with you at all times, including extra copies in your home, in your car, and at your place of employment.   Be vigilant always and keep in mind that an order of protection is not a guarantee against further violence.  If you are in danger, immediately call 911 and trust your instincts in doing so.

Image source:  Rori. D on Flickr. Used with Creative Commons license.

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If My Spouse Declares Bankruptcy, Will All My Support Be Lost? http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/if-my-spouse-declares-bankruptcy-will-all-my-support-be-lost/ http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/if-my-spouse-declares-bankruptcy-will-all-my-support-be-lost/#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 21:42:34 +0000 http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/?p=1447 Spousal support and child support after divorce in New York are treated specially during bankruptcy. Support payments cannot be discharged.

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Spousal support and child support in New York are treated specially during bankruptcy

In a New York divorce, it is not uncommon that one spouse is required to pay to the other either spousal support (also called maintenance or sometimes referred to as alimony) or child support or both. What happens if one of the spouses faces bankruptcy?

Support orders receive special treatment in the New York judicial system. Under the federal Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, spousal and child support are designated domestic support obligations and, as such, are priority debts. This means that in Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings, spousal support and child support orders are not dischargeable by the debtor. That is, those support obligations are not wiped away by the bankruptcy. As a result, the “automatic stay”, designed to give a debtor breathing room and a break from creditors, may not be used to avoid making support payments. Other personal debts such as unpaid medical bills, credit card or housing debts may potentially be discharged.

The failure to pay a support obligation may be prosecuted in the criminal justice system, which differs substantially from the failure to pay other debts. Decide on your own to stop paying child support? You can face incarceration from contempt of the child support order. Such enforcement remedies are much greater than for other types of debt judgments.

Because of the special legal treatment of support, it is crucial to have support awards structured properly. On occasion, marital settlement agreements are structured as a trap, whereby a spouse is induced into accepting lump sum payments over time. The problem is that these payments are not considered a support obligation, but instead a property settlement under Section 1041 of the Internal Revenue Code. As an equitable distribution of marital property, they are not deductible or includible in whole or in part by either Party on his or her income tax returns. These property settlements are often long term payments and, unlike a support order, would likely be dischargeable in a bankruptcy proceeding.

Public policy mandates that debtors continue to pay support obligations. The theory is that if a party does not receive support for living expenses, other means of support such as public assistance or other state programs for support will be utilized. That result is contrary to the intention of the bankruptcy statute, which does carve out protection for spouses and children in need of support for daily living needs.

If you are the support provider and you are facing serious financial difficulties, the situation may not be hopeless. In the event that a debtor has a substantial change in circumstances such that he or she is unable realistically to cover his child support obligation, the proper course of action is to seek a modification of the support order. A modification may be obtained at relatively low cost in Family Court. A debtor will be required to prove the change in circumstances from the time of the original order such that the modification is necessary.

Do you need help ensuring support payments, or are seeking a change in a support order owing to financial difficulty? Complete our short intake form today to schedule a FREE consultation. We will respond promptly.

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Image source:  Arctic Plane Crash Blue Grey by Public Domain Archive. Free stock photo without copyright restriction. Image modified.

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A Decent Lawyer’s Dilemma http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/decent-lawyers-dilemma/ http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/decent-lawyers-dilemma/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 22:52:03 +0000 http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/?p=1438 Is it right for a non-monied estranged spouse to appear from nowhere to claim spousal support in New York state? The law supports this. What do you think?

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Is what’s the law in a divorce always what’s right?

After the recent revisions in New York State matrimonial law, there is an automatic presumption in favor of the non-monied spouse receiving interim spousal maintenance as well as payment for legal fees.  So, what happens when a client calls with the following scenario:

My wife and I were together for 10 years and then separated 15 years ago and have rarely seen each other since.  We never got divorced and I have moved around a lot.  Since then, I have been unemployed and had odd jobs earning just enough to live on but never a really salary.  She, however, works for a large investment bank.  The last I heard, she was making at least a six figure income and definitely has some large retirement accounts.   I am told that if I sue her for divorce, the court will automatically give me a monthly support amount and she will have to pay my legal fees because she has a lot of money. 

What is a lawyer to do?  Is it right for an estranged husband, to appear out of no where to claim spousal support? The husband in this case understands  that there is a presumption in his favor.  And, the court looks at the entire length of the marriage, excluding the separation, which is not considered under New York law.  So, regardless of the circumstances, the husband shall be awarded legal fees and spousal support.  Is it right for an attorney to take the case?  Is it morally wrong?  If one attorney declines, won’t another step right up to take the case?

At Keil & Siegel LLP, we understand that New York divorce law affects significant financial rights of those involved.  Our goal is always to protect the health and well-being of the children in any matter first.   We strive to ensure that all children are protected with respect to health insurance, child care and education.  After that, we take seriously our responsibility to represent the best interests of our clients and to achieve the best outcome on each and every client’s behalf.

So what would you do if you were the husband’s lawyer? Let us know what you think.

Are you facing a claim for spousal support or need spousal support? Complete our short intake form today to schedule a FREE consultation. We will respond promptly.

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Photo source: Justice sends mixed messages by Dan4th Nicholas on Flickr, used with Creative Commons license. Use does not connote endorsement. Photo edited.

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Divorce Litigation Takes Forever… When Does Support Start? http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/divorce-litigation-takes-forever-support-start/ http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/divorce-litigation-takes-forever-support-start/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 21:36:08 +0000 http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/?p=1416 Given how long divorce litigation takes in New York, when can I reasonably expect child or marital support payments to begin?

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Given how long divorce litigation takes, when can a person reasonably expect support payments to begin?

Once a client makes a motion for support (that is, asks the court to make an order for support), it takes some time for the process to conclude. It starts with motion papers being submitted to the court. Then a judge is assigned.  Thereafter, the judge reviews the papers and gives a date by which papers must be served by the parties, and also sets a return date for the motion (that is, the date that the parties must appear before the court to argue the motion).

Between the service date and the return date, the party being served often gets a chance to submit reply papers (which express their point of view on the issue).  After the reply papers comes a chance for the moving party to submit an opposition to the reply.  With us so far?

Good. Now let’s turn to the attorneys, because they may add to the delay, too. During the motion process the attorneys for one side or the other (or both) may be engaged on another matter and may ask for an adjournment of time to submit papers.  Generally, with consent of the court, attorneys will give each other the professional courtesy of additional time to submit papers.

Finally, the attorneys and clients appear in court on the return date, however delayed, to argue the motion.  The judge often issues an order on the spot, but he or she instead may notify the parties of the court’s decision at some later date. Like attorneys, judges too may have to deal with other matters.

With all the time passing from the start of the motion papers through the time that the court finally imposes an order, it’s not unusual for clients to worry about the lack of support received during the lengthy motion process.

Does a party have to wait all that time for support to start? Pursuant to Domestic Relations Law Section 236 [B][7][a], temporary child support payments are retroactive to the date of service of the first application.  So, the date that the papers are given to the payor party is the date that the support begins. For example, if you serve your papers on May 15th and the (return) court date is June 30th and the court order is received on July 3rd, the payments are due effective May 15th.  All arrears  that have accumulated (payments due between May 15 and July 3) will be paid immediately, with the monthly (or weekly as applicable) payment to begin following the payment of arrears. (Note though, that in the above realistic example, actual payment is not ordered until close to two months after support is sought, so the party requesting support would have to deal with a period of time without support payments flowing in.)

Also note that courts are likely to reimburse the non-monied spouse for reasonable legal fees required in pursuing litigation.  Litigants often fear the court process, especially newly divorced individuals who were not employed throughout the marriage.   These litigants often fear the court process, the fees involved and the fairness of the awards.  However, our experience suggests that New York courts are fair and reasonable so long as the award sought is within the boundaries of the law, and reasonable in terms of the marital assets and standard of living obtained throughout the marriage.

It is a good idea to seek legal advice from multiple attorneys prior to heading into litigation.  At Keil & Siegel LLP we talk with you, prior to commencing litigation, about the legal fees required to litigate a divorce, the potential support to be received, and the time, delay and stress involved during the process.

Worried about support during your divorce? Complete our short intake form today to schedule a FREE consultation. We will respond promptly.

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Image Source: Public domain clipart from openclipart.org.

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Listen To Your Lawyer: Take The Notary Requirement Seriously http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/listen-lawyer-take-notary-requirement-seriously/ http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/listen-lawyer-take-notary-requirement-seriously/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 15:26:20 +0000 http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/?p=1405 In family law matters, you must take seriously the notary requirement for executing documents. Failure to comply can void a document.

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Dealing with a small headache now (like getting a document executed properly) can prevent huge headaches later (like a judge declaring the document null and void).

In New York, all types of family law (including divorce) documents and agreements require the signature of a notary public. Such documents include prenuptial, child custody, property and support agreements, and divorce papers.

It’s not unusual, however, for a client to consider it a headache to seek out a notary public to acknowledge their signature. At Keil & Siegel LLP we have received probably hundreds (we lost count) of requests from clients to disregard the notary rules or to ignore the notary request all together. Our answer is always the same: “Sorry. We cannot ignore those requirements. Not even for you.”

The May 2013 New York case of Galetta v. Galetta confirms that clients not only should use a proper notary, but should check to make sure the notary is familiar with the New York requirements and will properly execute the document.

In Galetta the parties entered into a prenuptial agreement prior to their wedding. It declared that all property listed therein would remain separate in the event of a divorce. Further, the agreement provided that in the event of a dissolution of the marriage, neither party would seek spousal support or maintenance from the other. When the husband commenced a divorce action, the wife sought to have the prenuptial agreement invalidated because the husband’s notary did not contain a certificate of acknowledgment confirming the husband’s identity. Seems like a trivial point, right?

Not so. The case went up to New York’s highest court, which invalidated the entire prenuptial agreement. The court based its holding on the premise that the husband’s certificate of acknowledgement was fatally defective. The court cited the landmark case of Matisoff v. Dobi, 90 N.Y.2d 127, 133 (1997), which held that the notary’s acknowledgment serves to prove the identity of the person whose name appears on the instrument, while also imposing a measure of deliberation on the signor in the act of executing the document.

These cases are just examples of many that confirm the importance of formality when signing legal documents. What should you do? Take care to do it correctly from the start. There are so many reasons why litigation ensues as a result of ambiguous or incomplete phrases within legal documents.

Something as simple as having the notary public present to execute the document properly is essential to reduce any cause for concern as to the document’s validity. It is sometimes the simple things that get overlooked and end up causing the most headache.

Need help with the divorce or separation process? Complete our short intake form today to schedule a FREE consultation. We will respond promptly.

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Divorce Hotel: Check in Married; Check Out Separated and Nearer Divorce http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/divorce-hotel-check-married-check-separated-nearer-divorce/ http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/divorce-hotel-check-married-check-separated-nearer-divorce/#comments Tue, 20 Jan 2015 19:18:57 +0000 http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/?p=1395 A new low cost and less stress alternative to litigated divorce is here: the Divorce Hotel. Spouses voluntarily check out with their marriage dissolved.

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We recently blogged about getting divorced in a single day. This time around we’re writing about getting divorced over a weekend…

You may have seen some news recently about a relatively new concept in divorce, known as “Divorce Hotel.” A Netherlands company put this concept into play, whereby couples check into a hotel on a Friday, work with a mediator and lawyers to resolve differences and, theoretically, check out of the hotel on Sunday with a divorce agreement. They even have a website: http://www.divorcehotel.com/.

According to founder, Jim Halfens, he has only had one unsuccessful couple. Apparently, the husband in that matter was being demanding and unreasonable in such a way that a deal was unworkable. (No word on whether he otherwise enjoyed his stay at the hotel.) Mr. Halfens reports that the process of taking these individuals to a hotel gives them a chance to be removed from routine daily stresses and allows them to take a refreshing step out of daily life. Eliminating outside influences, combined with the counseling involved in the process, has been an effective means to achieve settlement-oriented results.

At Keil & Siegel LLP, we believe that divorce mediation may very well be the fastest and cheapest way in New York to get divorced with fair results. The parties may end up conceding on some points, financial or otherwise. However, compared with the steep cost of litigation, mediation can result in financial benefit for the couple in the end. Not to mention, mediation can save each of the parties and their families untold stress generated by the adversarial process.

New York saw its entry into the “Divorce Hotel” market some months ago, with news coverage focusing on the concept being deployed at one of Saratoga’s landmark hotels upstate. (Given the hotel’s desirability, it may not be as cheap as other mediated divorces, but perhaps the stress is reduced even further by the location’s luxury.) According to Mr. Halfens, other states are to join in.

Perhaps seclusion is the key to Divorce Hotel’s success. Anything that works to make the divorce process more palatable for couples is a concept that we support. We looking forward to monitoring the progress of Divorce Hotel and whether it can result in a viable cost-effective divorce alternative in New York.

What do you think? Would you visit the Divorce Hotel to get divorced? Leave your comments below.

Are you interested in a low cost divorce alternative? Complete our intake form today to schedule a FREE consultation. We will respond promptly.

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Image Source: “The Breakers Hotel: Palm Beach, Florida by Florida Memory circa 1920 in Flickr Commons.

 

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Is a One-Day Divorce Possible in New York? http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/one-day-divorce-possible-new-york/ http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/one-day-divorce-possible-new-york/#comments Wed, 14 Jan 2015 16:42:31 +0000 http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/?p=1379 One Day Divorce is not yet possible in New York. But it is in trend setting California. NY divorce can take months of waiting on the courts.

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We thought we’d start our year of blogging by sharing some information with you on a potential divorce trend: the one-day divorce.

There are many flat rate online divorce services in New York. You’ve probably seen the ads online: “Get your quick NY divorce for only $99.00!” At Keil & Siegel we are often called upon to correct the errors and omissions of companies in charge of preparing documents.  Largely, documents are drafted by paralegals without the requisite experience to understand the laws regarding child support and equitable distribution.  It is not unusual for these services to miss the mark on court requirements. The result? The divorce process takes twice as long as it should have, had it been done correctly from day one. The errors can produce frustration, delay and an increase in animosity between parties.

What “fast divorce” companies commonly fail to reveal is that absent an emergency sworn affidavit (no, the court does not consider remarriage and taxes an emergency) there really is no way to speed up the divorce process in New York.  Once accurate papers are filed with the court, from there, and depending on the county of filing, it can take several months to conclude the divorce in the court system. The delay occurs even under circumstances where the parties are in complete agreement!  How long it takes ultimately depends on how many other cases are on the docket and how many judges are available to review them. It’s really anybody’s guess.

But are these days of the “waiting game” in New York numbered? A new program has caught on in at least two California counties whereby pre-qualified litigants proceed to court in the morning and walk out with a divorce judgment in the afternoon that very same day. The couple first meets with a neutral coordinator (who offers no opinion on the merits or advice to either side) to confirm that the paperwork is in order, and then they go before a judge. Assuming all is in order, the day ends with a divorce judgment in each party’s hand.

The no-fault divorce trend started in California and has now been implemented in all fifty states, including New York in 2010.  Prior to that time New Yorkers often had to contrive a basis (e.g., cruelty or abandonment) in order to get divorced.  Further, couples had to submit sworn affidavits explaining the turn of events surrounding such behavior.  Prior to 2010, it was the attorney’s task to assist the client in deciding which of these fault grounds best applied.  Now, just five years later, thanks to the California legislature, this approach seems outdated and archaic. Could the one-day divorce be next?

At Keil & Siegel we do our best to file our clients’ papers expeditiously and to perfection.  Nevertheless, because of the court delays, we are forced to caution that once the paperwork is in the court’s hands, we can only estimate how long the processing will take.

In applicable cases, what a pleasure it would be to advise clients that they have the option of a one-day divorce program! Let’s hope 2015 is our year!

What do you think? Will one-day divorce take hold in New York? Leave your comment below.

Do you need help with an uncontested NY divorce? Complete our intake form today to schedule a FREE consultation. We will respond promptly.

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Image obtained from Bing online image search and with a Creative Commons license.

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Gray Divorce on the Rise. How do you prepare? http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/gray-divorce-rise-prepare/ http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/gray-divorce-rise-prepare/#comments Tue, 02 Dec 2014 13:58:10 +0000 http://www.lowcostdivorceny.com/?p=1369 Gray divorce - after decades of marriage, is a growing trend. Learn about the special considerations to consider for divorce later in life.

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gray-divorce-statsRecent academic studies in both the United States and France show that so-called “gray divorce” —divorce of couples over 50— is on the rise. Indeed, a recent study from researchers at Bowling Green State University reveals that between 1990 and 2012, divorce has doubled for those 55-64, and tripled for those 65 and older. See graph (source: http://www.bgsu.edu/content/dam/BGSU/college-of-arts-and-sciences/NCFMR/documents/FP/FP-14-16-age-variation-divorce.pdf).

The statistics reveal that this phenomenon derives not so much from the dissolution of second marriages or late-in-life marriages, but divorces of couples who have been married for two or three decades —long term marriages. Often the process is driven by women, who increasingly are financially independent.

At Keil & Siegel, LLP we are seeing many older couples who thought of divorce as “taboo” in the past. Perhaps it was not acceptable in their community, regardless of whether the marriage was failing. Social norms have evolved over time, and divorce is more commonplace and accepted. (Take a look at the rampant frequency of celebrity divorces and reporting thereon.) Older individuals, in an age when “50 is the new 40”, often arrive at the realization that they are in good health, and want and deserve to be happy. The idea of ending a marriage that, in reality, was emotionally dissolved years prior, can be empowering.

Because gray divorces tend to involve long term marriages, there are

Special considerations to take into account in a gray divorce:

1. FINANCES: While a financially secure couple can better weather a divorce, divorced individuals in general are much less financially secure than married individuals. A couple that has been together for a long time tends to have thoroughly interwoven finances, as well as a mindset that all property is joint property. In a divorce marital property needs to be equitably distributed and, the longer the union, the greater the likelihood that division of assets tends towards a 50/50 split. Of particular concern is the marital home and retirement accounts. As couples age, their earning capacity tends to diminish. How the couple will outlive their financial resources becomes of paramount concern.

2. CARETAKING: Most caretakers of the elderly in the United States are women, who also tend to outlive men. As people are able to live longer, they are also susceptible to additional ailments that often accompany aging, including both physical and mental frailty. Ensuring that a caretaking plan is discussed and in place should be a priority of any couple contemplating divorce in later years. The discussion involves a thorough evaluation of finances.

3. HEALTH INSURANCE: Perhaps the biggest concern is healthcare benefits. In long term marriages, it is not unusual that one spouse has a health insurance plan that the other has relied on for decades. Couples often decide to become legally separated (and not divorce) until Medicare/Medicaid benefits are available, or social security benefits and pension benefits are distributed. How to manage healthcare is the driving factor in many “gray divorce” negotiations.

Couples may decide, after the children have grown and their lives have taken different paths, that divorce is appropriate for them. Older individuals would do well to divorce with open eyes, and carefully assess the special challenges facing older individuals who will no longer have a spouse with whom to share some of the financial and other challenges of aging.

Helpful links on Gray Divorce

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