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White Plains Divorce Law Blog

Setting goals for your New York divorce mediation

We talk about divorce mediation a lot in our legal blog because we believe in the process. Our attorneys have witnessed mediation many times and in each successful case, both spouses walk away feeling as though most, if not all, of their needs were met.

As family law attorneys serving residents in the White Plains region, we are also big believers in the power of preparation. All life events benefit from proper preparation, including divorce mediation. A large part of getting ready for mediation involves setting realistic goals for what you hope to get out of the process.

What factors affect the equitable distribution of property?

There is little doubt that property division is a complex part of getting a divorce. Aside from matters involving children, it is the most dreaded portion of the divorce process in most cases. What you might not realize is that dividing marital property under New York's equitable distribution laws need not be frightening.

As in all legal matters, there exist rules that govern how courts ultimately divide property in a divorce. Once you--and hopefully your spouse--understand these rules, it takes at least some of the stress away from the process.

When it’s time to modify your parenting plan

Life changes fast, and sometimes what worked six months ago is no longer feasible.

Because of this, courts are open to changing a parenting plan, provided you have the right reasons for doing so. Here are a few situations in which changing your parenting plan can be a good move:

Finding out what your kids think about your divorce

When parents get divorced, they spend a lot of time thinking about what is best for the children -- or, at least, what they think is best. While it's good to put the children first, do not forget that they have opinions and desires of their own. It's wise to talk to them and find out how you can make things go as smoothly as possible for them.

For instance, many children wish they could tell their parents how much they love both of them. This can become a point of contention when the parents are not on good terms and want to talk down about each other to the kids. Children don't enjoy this since they love both people equally.

Get to know these common family law terms

You might go through your entire life without ever needing the services a family law attorney provides. On the other hand, you may find yourself in a situation in which such a lawyer is invaluable. Examples of these situations include getting a divorce, adopting a child or negotiating child custody and child support.

If you ever do need to consult with an attorney or appear in family court, you may hear many terms with which you are not familiar. We would like to help you learn about some of these terms so that you always understand what is happening with your case. While this list isn't exhaustive, it will help you define some of the most common terms you might hear in New York family law courts:

  • Modification: The process of changing a previous court order
  • Judgment: A decision the judge or the court makes
  • Emancipation: When a minor child seeks to separate from his or her parents legally
  • Change in circumstance: A significant change in one or both parents' financial, emotional or physical circumstances
  • Mediation: An out-of-court form of alternative dispute resolution used in divorce and other family matters
  • Paternity: Legally fathering a child
  • Guardianship: A person assigned to watch over and protect another person
  • Arrear: Overdue or unpaid debt such as child support
  • Petitioner: The person who initiates a family law case
  • Respondent: The person who responds to a petitioner's case

How does New York enforce child support obligations?

All states have laws governing how noncustodial parents must handle their child support obligations, and New York is no exception. Because child custody and support are important issues, no divorce in the state is final until negotiations regarding these matters are complete.

If you disagree with the final decision about child support, it is never wise to disobey or ignore the court's ruling. In fact, violating a court order involving child custody or support could result in severe penalties.

Is there a right time to get divorced?

As you start thinking about divorce, you may find yourself wondering if there is a right time to take this next step. Is there something you should be waiting for? What is the best time to file for divorce or to tell your spouse? What about telling the kids?

The thing to remember is that every situation is unique. Experts note that there is not a right time to get divorced or a wrong time to do it. It's different for everyone.

What should you tell your kids about divorce?

There’s no easy way to go through a divorce. The emotional and mental toll can be overwhelming. However, you may be even more concerned about how your children are going to handle the process.

You may want to shield your kids from the sometimes messy and complicated ordeal that is divorce. But your kids need to be included in some aspects of divorce. This is their life too and they need to be involved in parts.

The important role an attorney fills in divorce mediation

Here is one of the most common questions we hear from those considering mediation. Why do I need a lawyer when I am divorcing out of court? This is a valid question, and it deserves a good answer. The truth is, you can complete divorce mediation without attorney assistance, but there are many benefits associated with lawyer assistance.

Many attorneys practicing family law in New York have acquired the education and training necessary to mediate divorce disputes. Our lawyers are included in this group and have amassed many decades of experience in divorce mediation. This has taught us to approach our mediation duties with only the best interests of the family in mind. Some of the other ways an attorney facilitates successful mediation include the following.

  • Acts as a source of knowledge about how divorce mediation works
  • Helps individuals prepare themselves for the mediation process
  • Evaluates and advises individuals about potential divorce settlements
  • Assists in the selection of the right mediator
  • Acts as the mediator in many cases
  • Reviews the final settlement for errors or missing information
  • Prepares the paperwork required to divorce through mediation

Defining separate property in a New York divorce

The last time we addressed property division in our legal blog, we discussed how courts in the state divide property under the equitable distribution law. Due to the brief nature of the blog format, we were unable to talk about other important elements of property division. This post will address separate property, which a spouse may keep when the marriage ends.

Separate property is the term for assets that belong solely to one spouse and is not shared between both spouses. For most couples, it is challenging to keep such property separated from marital funds. The moment a couple allows separate assets or funds to mix with marital property, it is no longer separate. This means that the other spouse may have a right to part of this property.

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