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Matrimonial and Family Law Blog

Saturday, September 24, 2016

New York State Court of Appeals Rules to Expand the Definition of Parenthood


Who can seek custody of a child in New York?

New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, recently issued a monumental ruling that expands the definition of parenthood.  Under the new law, caretakers that are not related either biologically or through adoption to a child will still have standing to seek custody and visitation rights.  The ruling will have a significant impact for parents, especially same-sex couples, and brings New York into line with mainstream beliefs in the United States that parents need not be related to their children by blood, adoption, or marriage.

The case that brought about this important law change involved a same-sex couple that announced their engagement in 2007, though same-sex marriage was not permitted at the time in New York.  One of the partners later became pregnant with their child through artificial insemination.


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Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Broken Engagement – Who Gets The Ring?


You and your partner are happily engaged and have spent months tirelessly planning a beautiful and elegant wedding.  The invitations have been sent out to all of your friends and family and the honeymoon is finalized.  To your shock, your partner tells you that the relationship is over and cancels the wedding.  Who gets the diamond ring? 

Every jurisdiction has certain elements that it uses to determine which party is legally entitled to the ring.  Sometimes, the court’s decision will turn on the issue of whether the engagement ring was a “gift.


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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Things You Should Consider Before Asking for a Prenup


Should I ask my fiancé to sign a prenuptial agreement?

Millennials have been dubbed a “prenup generation.”  Prenuptial agreements are more popular than ever, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML).  Their survey of 1,600 divorce attorneys revealed an overall increase in prenups during the last three years, with most clients electing to sign a prenuptial agreement in order to protect their separate property.  Many millennials watched their parents or grandparents get divorced and want to save themselves from the cost, time, and heartache of arguing over assets.  Before you ask your future spouse for a prenup, consider the following:

Prenuptial Agreements Are About More than Divorce

Asking your fiancé for a prenup is not an easy topic to broach, but handling the matter delicately can lead to a thoughtful conversation that may benefit your relationship in the long term.


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Tuesday, August 9, 2016

With No Prenup, Billion Dollar Macklowe Divorce Turns into Heated Battle How important is a prenuptial agreement?


The divorce between New York real estate mogul Harry Macklowe and his wife Linda has become increasingly contentious as the couple battles over the billions of dollars at stake.  Harry and Linda Macklowe wed 57 years ago.  They did not sign a prenuptial agreement.  Earlier this year, Harry Macklowe reportedly filed for divorce from his wife amidst rumors that he was dating another woman.  Now, the couple is expected to duel it out to receive their share of the substantial property and wealth at stake, which includes over $1 billion in art alone.


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Friday, August 5, 2016

Imputed Income & Child Support Obligations


What can you do when your spouse tries to circumvent the law during or post-divorce proceedings?  Spouses often resort to this tactic in order to avoid their child support payments and obligations.  

Child support payments often consist of school costs, child care, and medical care expenses, and must be paid by the non-custodial parent until the child’s twenty-first birthday.  An attorney can estimate what you will owe by relying on the designated percentages under “New York’s Child Support Guidelines.”  For example, the percentage of a spouse’s income that is set aside for one child is 17%, for two it is 25%, and for three it is 29%.  However, any excess income over the threshold of $136,000, may be allocated differently.


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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Depp/ Heard Divorce Involves Claims of Domestic Violence


How will Heard’s claims of domestic violence affect her divorce from Depp?

People get divorced for a variety of reasons. These include incompatibility, adultery and abandonment. But, sometimes things take a more dangerous turn and domestic violence is involved. When domestic violence becomes an issue it can have a major affect on the way the divorce turns out. A recent example of this is that of major movie star Johnny Depp and his current wife, Amber Heard.


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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Pre-Nuptial Agreements - What Couples Should Discuss Before Tying The Knot

A pre-nuptial agreement, also referred to as an antenuptial agreement, is typically an uncomfortable subject for couples planning to get married.  That is because it is a contract between both spouses under the Domestic Relations Law that anticipates a divorce.   However, this type of contract is worth the seemingly uncomfortable discussion.  It can save you and your spouse the substantial time, expense, and emotional turmoil of having to argue over terms and protect your property in the event of dissolution of marriage.
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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Cohabiting After Divorce - A Growing Trend


Is "birdnesting" -- sharing a home after divorce -- a practical solution or terrible idea?

Celebrities do it. Regular folks do it too. More and more divorced couples from all walks of life are "birdnesting," an arrangement in which a husband and wife share and rotate in and out of the same home even after their marriage has dissolved.

Birdnesting as a Solution to Financial Pressures

Financial exigencies sometimes play a role in the decision to birdnest. When a house is heavily mortgaged or when a spouse is having career difficulties, sharing it can prevent financial losses or foreclosure and the disruptive impact these events would have on children.


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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Fighting for Custody of Fido


When a couple divorces, who gets to keep the family pet?

Fido the dog and Chloe the cat are not just pets. They are members of your family. So, did you ever think about what would happen to them should you and your spouse decide to divorce?  Probably not. Well, with two-thirds of American households containing a pet and many of these households made up of couples who are waiting longer to have children, the issue of pet custody has become a hot one in divorce cases. 

When it comes to pet custody, there are a few things you should know.


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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Minors Getting Married


Should those under the age of 18 be allowed to marry?

These days it might seem as if all our teens are worried about is the latest fashion trend or what is going around on social media. So, you would probably be surprised to find out that tens of thousands of minors enter into marriages every year in the United States, many of them at ages 14 and 15. Is this good for our teenagers? What kinds of adverse effects does underage marriage have on young people?  Should they be allowed to marry?

While underage marriage is more popular in developing countries, it occurs in the U.


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Monday, April 25, 2016

Parents Can Now Legally Eavesdrop on Children's Conversations


What are the implications for divorce and custody agreements when a child's conversations with others can be recorded?

In a new watershed decision, New York's highest court has ruled that parents may sometimes eavesdrop on their children's conversations without obtaining consent.

Typically, in New York, the consent of at least one party is required to record or wiretap a conversation. But a parent or guardian who believes it is in the minor child's best interest can make an audio or video recording of a conversation without the consent of either the child or the other party

Parents Must Be Acting in Good Faith

A recording is not legal if the parent does not genuinely believe that it is necessary, and the belief must be "objectively" reasonable to others. It is not sufficient for the parent simply to decide to do it without justification. For example, if a child were possibly being physically harmed or emotionally or sexually abused, a reasonable person might conclude that a recording would help as a step toward seeking protection for the child.
Read more . . .


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