Matrimonial Law

Case Type
Accordion Content

The choice to obtain a divorce is a major decision, and it is imperative that when deciding to proceed with a divorce, a party retains a firm with enough experience and knowledge so as to protect a party’s rights in divorce.   With divorce often comes, parental, economic, emotional, and psychological issues, all of which need to be traversed in a careful manner by counsel so that the rights of their clients are protected.

Although the issues within a divorce can be quite complex, New York State has adopted no-fault divorce under Section 170(7) of the Domestic Relations Law which allows for divorce upon an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage lasting more than six months. Thus, it is not necessary to prove adultery, cruel and inhuman treatment, or some other grounds for divorce in order to end a marriage.  However, even this, seemingly simple issue of no-fault divorce grounds can be tricky and needs to be correctly presented with counsel in order to assure that the divorce is granted by the Court.

New York law encourages parties to resolve their issues amicably.  Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements are useful tools to provide certainty to married couples with certainty in the unfortunate event of divorce.  However, different considerations must be considered depending on whether the parties are entering into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.

The Courts in New York generally enforce prenuptial agreements as valid.  Prenuptial Agreements can serve to simplify economic concerns in the event of divorce.  They often define the parties’ rights rather than remove them.  Prenuptial Agreements are particularly useful in protecting the assets a party owns prior to marriage (e.g. a business) or assets that a party will eventually inherit from her/his family.   Prenuptial Agreements are often enforced years after their execution and their effects are often felt for decades after their entry.  Thus, when considering a prenuptial agreement it is imperative that a party retain counsel with the experience and knowledge necessary to draft an agreement which protects her/his rights.

A postnuptial agreement is an agreement entered into between a married couple which defines their rights in the event of divorce or separation.  This agreement is governed by a heightened standards due to the fact that spouses have a fiduciary duty to each other, whereas, an engaged couple does not have the same duty to each other.  Thus, in negotiating a postnuptial agreement, it is imperative to have knowledgeable counsel that is able to draft an enforceable postnuptial agreement.

The attorneys at Rosenfeld & Vallejo-Juste, LLP possess the experience and knowledge necessary to traverse the complexities of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements and in negotiating a favorable deal for its client.

The issues surrounding the equitable distribution of marital property can be complex.  Issues of valuation of assets, spousal contributions, separate property, can all have tremendous effects on how property is distributed between a married couple going through a divorce.   While most people think that the law in the State of New York calls for equal (50/50) distribution of marital property, the truth is that the law calls for equitable distribution, which may not necessarily be equal distribution.

Having effective representation can make all the difference in assuring that a party’s rights to marital property are adequately protected.  Whether it be in pursuing claims to marital property or acting to protect separate assets, our attorneys act aggressively to protect the rights of their clients.

The area of spousal support or maintenance has been the subject of tremendous change throughout the past decade.  In 2010, the legislature enacted laws which calculated the amount of temporary maintenance would be owed while a divorce is pending.  Recently, the New York State legislature modified the formula used to calculate maintenance and also allowed for the formula to apply after the finalization of the divorce.  Add to this that amendments to Federal tax law, which have altered the way maintenance payments are taxed, which could make the payment of maintenance a much more expensive proposition for the payor.

As the law has changed in this regard, the attorneys at Rosenfeld & Vallejo-Juste, LLP have assured that they have kept abreast of all such changes so that they can provide their client’s with the most effective representation possible.

No area of matrimonial or family law is more sensitive than those surrounding the custody of children. A parent’s right to parent her/his child are considered fundamental human rights by the Court.  No rights are more sacred.

While most custody matters are settled, custody disputes often involve the appointment of an attorney for the children and a forensic evaluation of the parties.  The Courts utilize the “best interests of the child” standard in examining custody matters.

In custody matters, parties will either share joint custody, or one of the parents is granted sole custody of the child.  Generally speaking, a Court will not grant parties’ joint custody to parents who are not capable of co-parenting.  Thus, a joint custodial arrangement is usually one that is agreed upon by the parties.

We have litigated custody matters in the Supreme and Family Courts throughout the New York City Metropolitan Area, and provide zealous representation to our clients to assure that their parental rights to their children are provided the maximum protection allowed by law.

Along with custody, the issue of child support can also be complex.  While the legislature has enacted legislation utilizing a formula to determine the presumptive amount of child support due to a primary residential custodian, the parties are free to vary from these provisions, provided reasons are set forth in an agreement.

Once an award is obtained or agreed upon, the support award is collectible either directly from the party or through the Support Collection Unit.

In addition to child support, the payor may also be liable to contribute towards a child’s add on expenses, which includes childcare for a parent who is working or in school, medical expenses, and education expenses.  In addition to these expenses, parties often agree to contribute towards a child’s extracurricular activities.

Child support awards are tremendously important as they can last for decades.  If child support is agreed to, it is not modifiable unless there has been a substantial change in circumstance, more than three years has elapsed since the agreement, or either party has had a 15% or more change in income.   Parties are able to waive their ability to modify the agreement after three years or in the event of a 15% or more change income.

While New York State has granted same-sex couples the right to marry, true equality in the law remains a goal rather than a reality in many cases involving LGBT couples, particularly those surrounding family law issues.  The attorneys at Rosenfeld & Vallejo-Juste, LLP have substantial experience in representing LGBT couples and their families in navigating the legal system and assuring that the rights of LGBT couples and their families are adequately protected in Court.

The attorneys at Rosenfeld & Vallejo-Juste, LLP have litigated Family Court Proceedings throughout the New York City Metropolitan Area, including the prosecution of Family Offense Proceedings and the obtaining of the Orders of Protection necessary to protect their clients from domestic abusers.

While most matrimonial and family matters end in settlement, the attorneys at Rosenfeld & Vallejo-Juste, LLP will  not hesitate in going to trial when a favorable settlement for its clients are not possible.  Having tried cases in all five boroughs, Westchester, and Long Island, we have the trial experience necessary to win our clients the relief they are entitled to a trial.

Our attorneys have substantial experience on Matrimonial and Family Law appeals and have participated in the appeals of important issues to the Appellate Courts.

Even after entering into an agreement or after a case is tried and appealed, there are times when a party simply refuses to abide by the Court’s Orders.  In such cases, post-judgment or enforcement proceedings may be brought in either the Supreme Court or the Family Court.

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