Child Support. What Does it Pay For?

What Is Child Support?   How much is child support? What does child support pay for? Can I pay my child directly? child_support_new_york_state

Child support is the financial obligation you have to support your child as he or she matures. If you have custody of your child, the courts assume that you fulfill your financial obligation. If your child does not live with you, however, the courts may require that you pay child support to the custodial parent.

What does Child Support Actually Cover?

You’ve arrived home from work and as you sort through the day’s mail you see there’s a note from your ex   asking for payment for Tommy’s new baseball uniforms and asking you to pick up some new clothes and toiletry items for Susie when she comes to stay with you next weekend.

But wait a minute; you’ve paid your child support this month and on time like you have every other payment.

With all the money you are paying for child support, why are you being asked to provide additional support to cover these other expenses?

It begs the question, what does child support cover?  It is important to note the following:

  1. In New York State child support is paid to the parent who has physical custody of the child/children. It is not paid to the child/children. 

  2. You cannot designate what the child support/current care amount will be used to pay for.

  3. You cannot require that payments be made above child support by the payor/parent without a court order. Child support is to cover the child’s needs along with the custodial parent’s contribution for care. So above, you could say no to the extras for Tommy and Susie.  However, many parents who want to insure their children have these extras pay anyway.  Of course, the choice will be up to you.

How Much Should You be Paying?

Child Support is based upon a formula according to the New York State Child Support Standards Act and the new Maintenance Laws.  It is also interesting to note the following:

  1. NEED:  Child support is not based on the needs of the children but the incomes of the parents.

  2. AGE OF CHILDREN: Child support is paid until age 21 or emancipation in New York State.  New York State is one of the few states with payments required until that date.

  3. PAYMENTS AFTER AGE 18: Payments after age 18 should be reviewed with an attorney.  There are often circumstances which would allow for a modification of child support.  There could be increase for college expenses or reductions if the child is working or not working or going to college.

  4. INCOME OF OTHER HOUSEHOLD MEMBERS: Incomes of new spouses or other household persons is not calculated for child support but can be a factor if seeking a modification.

  5. OTHER REQUIRED PAYMENTS: In addition to current care child support based on the Child Support Standards Act formula can be required for health insurance premiums and uncovered medical expenses and employment related child care.  These amounts are determined by the proportion of income of the parties.  Whoever makes more pays a greater amount, unless another arrangement is reached.

  6. DEVIATIONS TO THE FORMULA: Deviation is possible but often difficult.  If you are the parent who needs child support don’t agree to a deviation it can follow you for ever and make supporting your child difficult.  If you are the parent looking for deviation you will need to meet certain criteria that may require the assistance of legal counsel to get the Court’s approval.

True of False?  Joint Custody Means You Don’t Have to Pay Child Support. 

FALSE!!! First, joint legal custody has no real bearing on child support.

Second, joint physical custody where the parents each have the child or children the same amount of time (days and overnights) each week or month may have a child support deviation circumstance. This is where child support does not have to be according to the formula.  Please note that even in a joint physical situation NYS authority is that the higher income parent still pays child support to the lower income parent.  I recommend an experienced attorney to assist in this very complicated and subjective senerio. 

See also:

Purpose of an Initial Consultation

What Will My Divorce Cost Me?

ONLINE DIVORCE PACKETS, WHAT TO KNOW

Many might decide that instead of going through all the trouble of finding any paying for a lawyer and going balduf_divorce_attorney_onlineto court for the divorce process they will just jump online and be a hop, skip and jump away from being divorced. What many don’t know is that online divorces aren’t all they may be cracked up to be. Below are some things to look out for when considering an online divorce.

Fees:  While you may think an online divorce will be cheaper, it is important to understand whichever spouse files the divorce is the one that is likely to be responsible for all the fees.

State laws still apply: Divorce laws are different in every state. Even when  using online divorce packets all state divorce laws still apply. Just because you see it on the internet does not mean it contains the proper and updated forms necessary to obtain a New York State Divorce. Old information never comes down and other information may or may not be the most current and necessary information.

Beware of scams: Just like everything else on the internet there are reliable sources and unreliable sources.

Appearing in court: You might have chosen to use an online divorce packet thinking you didn’t have to appear in a courtroom at any point during the divorce.  It is important to understand that it does not mean you will never have to step foot in a courtroom. If you spouse contests any part of the divorce or doesn’t agree with every aspect of the divorce you will more than likely end up in court.

There are many ways to work through your divorce case. The traditional and recommended method involves hiring a divorce attorney that can handle your case and help you to interpersonally work through your current situation. You are hiring someone to give you advice and information you would not otherwise have. Yet some people opt for less practical methods of divorce, such as a DIY divorce or such as hiring an online divorce service  to process the paperwork for you or an online packet to file the paperwork yourself. As this story shows, not all of those ideas will work out satisfactorily.

A woman seeks to start her divorce.  She found the website on the computer and decided to use a do-it-yourself-packet to get the cheap and reasonably priced service she was looking for.  The woman was daunted by attorney’s fees and thought that using a website to packet would be the cheaper option. She was going through an uncontested divorce, meaning that there were no children involved and no property to split. In fact, her and her husband both agreed on the terms of the divorce, so the process seemed so easy a machine could handle it. She signed up with the web service, and paid two installments that totaled $519. After this, papers the were necessary to get a divorce were prepared by the woman and filed with the appropriate court where the divorce was being handled.

Unfortunately, the woman was shocked when the divorce court determined that the papers were not valid and that she could not use them to file. She tried to contact the online service but the divorce service would not respond to phone calls. Don’t set yourself up for a divorce scam like this one when you can have a dedicated and hardworking attorney on your side.

Contact me to represent you and work with you get a divorce and make a true life plan.  I want to help you with your divorce and will not charge you for unnecessary services.

Having an Experienced Attorney

Spouse Paying Attorney Fees

Uncontested Divorce

Help Your Children During Divorce

5 Ways to Help Your Children During Divorce

How to help your children cope with your divorce.

If you are nervous and anxious about the divorce process and you have some input and some control over the outcome, imagine what it is like for children who have neither.  You can help your children during divorce.  Here are some suggestions.

  1. Reduce traumatic effects. Reassure your children early and often that your divorce is not their fault, that you love them and will always be there for them. Provide as much stability, security and consistency as possible. An anxious child often appreciates a consistent routine, seeing familiar people, going to regularly visited places and dependable bedtimes. Offer your children during divorce choices, whenever possible, to increase their sense of power over their lives. These can include food choices, clothing choices etc.

  2. Don’t expose your kids to marital conflict. Experts say the amount of conflict the child witnesses during and immediately after divorce is a critical factor for his or her adjustment. One of the greatest gifts that two parents can give their child is to communicate with each other in civil terms. Don’t use your children as messengers in parental communications as in “Tell your father he’s late with his child support payment”. Resist all urges to “defend” yourself or “justify” your position in the divorce! I CAN HELP YOU WITH A PLAN TO MAKE THIS WORK.

  3. Allow your children during divorce to communicate openly without talking about the adult issues that are involved in a divorce. Don’t ask children to take sides or pick parents. Provide comfort and reassure them that they will be loved, continued to be cared for and safe. Be sure to remember they are children and not adults and should be shielded from adult choices and stress.

  4. Do not criticize your spouse in front of your child or on the phone. Remember that your spouse is still your child’s parent; when you criticize your spouse, whether you mean it or not, you’re also criticizing your child indirectly. This damages their self-esteem.

  5. Find support for yourself and your children during divorce. It takes a village. Reach out and ask for help from friends, neighbors, family members, religious support groups, teachers, school counselors and therapists. Educators should be informed when parents are separating or divorcing. They can provide valuable support during the many hours your child is in school. Free assistance is also available through Divorce Care class offered by many area churches and divorce support groups for children offered by Williamson County Schools. Experts say that it takes about two years for children to adjust to the changes from divorce.

Helping children cope with divorce is important because kids model future behavior on current experiences. Whether we like it or not, our children watch everything we do, and tend to remember for a long time. Set a good example. Please give me a call.  Part of what we work out together is how to address divorce and your children. It is so important to do this right.  I have over 28 years of experience.  I am an Attorney for Children. My children were 1 and 5 when my ex-Husband and I divorced.  The right attorney allows you to make informed choices and secure your future and your children’s future. Don’t just get divorce.  Get a smart divorce.

 

Have an Experienced Divorce Attorney?

Hired an Experienced Divorce Attorney?  Listen to the Divorce Attorney.    balduf_legal_advice_experience_divorce_attorney

 

 

I represented a man over two years ago.  I was his divorce attorney.  During the divorce process on many different occasions he would speak directly with his Wife without sharing these discussions with me, without getting my input or advice.  The final agreement, drafted by his Wife’s attorney was sent to me and I was informed that my client had signed it and the matter was concluded.  Once again I had not discussed the agreement and its specifics with .my client.  Upon my review of the document I had grave concerns, but my client believed he knew best.  The stress of it all, his internet research and reliance on side agreements with his spouse contributed to his belief that he knew more than I did on these matters. He was so very sure.

Today, that same educated, successful businessman and I we were in Court.  It is likely that the Court will determine that he has willfully violated the terms of that agreement/divorce.  He is facing probation or incarceration.  He is paying me to represent him and is likely to be ordered to pay his now ex-Wife’s attorney’s fees as well.

Today, my client told me that he should not have entered into that agreement.  He told me that he made a serious mistake.  I told him that it was unfortunate, and he had been persuaded to make choices that were not in his best interest at the time of his divorce.  I then had to tell him that none of that mattered.  He was stuck with what he entered into and the consequences for not living up to those terms.

Don’t let that be you!  Don’t hire a divorce attorney just to have their name on your paperwork.  Hire a true counselor at law, a real divorce specialist.  Listen to their advice, let their experience work for you.  The choice is always yours, and so are the consequences of those choices. 

 

STRESSFUL DIVORCE?

 

Lacking a good night’s sleep either during or after the divorce  or family law proceedings?  Are you experiencing a stressful divorce or family law matter?

Chances are, your sleep patterns have been disrupted by your divorce or family law matter. Here are some suggestions on how to restore the balance. 

stress_divorce

Can’t Sleep PBedding

Health and Well-Being

O.K. I admit it: I’m a charter member of the Insomniacs Club. I’ve always been an insomniac. When you are awake in the middle of the night, it can feel like you’re the only person in the world not peacefully asleep and dreaming.

Even if you used to be a champion sleeper, the experience of divorce is traumatic enough to disrupt anyone’s sleep patterns. For some, this means sleeping all the time; for others, a good night’s sleep becomes a distant memory. And if you’re not sleeping well at night, you can’t be fully alert — let alone vibrant — during the day. It becomes a vicious circle: the worse you feel during the day, the less productive you are; the less productive you are, the more you worry at night; the more you worry at night, the harder it is to fall asleep; then the whole thing starts again when you drag yourself out of bed the next morning.

Emotional stress can be a major sleep-stealer: feelings of sadness or worries make it particularly hard to fall or stay asleep. And even if you manage to fall asleep, you may not be experiencing the “right kind” of sleep — the kind that refreshes and invigorates you.

Tips for a Good Sleep

Lighten up! A little sunshine every day helps to reset your body clock. During the long Central New York winter, try light therapy to help reset your body’s rhythm. If you’re a night-owl, sit under high intensity lights for a couple of hours immediately after getting up. If you’re asleep by 9 p.m. and up at 4 a.m. — even though your alarm is set for 7 a.m. — sit under the light in the evening, from 8–10 p.m. Light therapy may take a couple of weeks to start working, so don’t give up if you’re not “cured” immediately.

Make a sleep schedule and stick to it. Following a regular schedule helps to regulate your body clock, so go to bed and get up at the same time every day — including weekends.

Work it out. Regular physical exercise promotes sleep. The best time to exercise is four to six hours before bedtime, since it results in falling body temperature (a powerful sleep cue) when you want to go to sleep. Exercising shortly before bedtime, however, can inhibit sleep because it can leave the body temperature too high.

Soak your cares away. A warm bath raises body temperature, which then falls, causing drowsiness.

Art and Music Therapy.  Take art or music classes or simply just dabble in the arts.  Go to art exhibits and concerts.  Let music and art become part of your daily life and you may find that your stress level is considerably reduced and joy finds its way back to you.  This will help you find a peaceful rest. I started art classes after age 50 and I love it.

Eat, drink, and be merry — but stop at least six hours before bedtime. One exception to this rule is a light carbohydrate snack (no protein, please), which tends to promote sleep. Alcohol might put you under, but it causes fragmented, non-restful sleep, and caffeine after early afternoon is right out.

Create a ritual. Train your mind to wind down by performing the same bedtime rituals every night.

Relax! Learn and practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation. You can listen to audiotapes that guide you through the relaxation process, or ones with soothing music and/or sounds of nature.

Check your problems at the door. If you’re a late-night worrier (I belong to this club), take time to write down your problems and some possible solutions during the day — preferably several hours before bedtime. Keep a notebook and pen by the bed to jot down urgent thoughts.

Create a good sleeping environment. When you’re stressed out, your central nervous system is hyper-aroused. This makes it harder to get to and stay asleep, since external cues (noise and light particularly) can easily wake you up. Block external light and noise, using thick curtains or an eye mask and earplugs, if necessary. Your bedroom should also be cool, so turn down the thermostat and put a fluffy comforter on your bed.

Bed is where you sleep. Period. Don’t work, read, or watch TV in bed, and if you’re still tossing and turning after an hour, get up and move to another room. Read a boring book in your living room for a while, then go back to bed when you’re feeling sleepy. The only exception to this rule is if you’ve found a new partner: then bed is for sleeping and sex. Period.

Try herbal remedies — such as chamomile, passion flower, valerian root, or hops — for particularly stressful evenings. Before taking any medication — and this includes herbal medicines — discuss it with your family doctor.

If possible, avoid drugs that disrupt sleep, such as some kinds of painkillers, decongestants, asthma drugs, steroids, diet pills, and diuretics.

Ongoing Stress

The ongoing stress — such as facing the many different challenges of divorce? Just as love and marriage go together, so do stress and divorce. Except for the death of a spouse or child, divorce produces more stress that any other life event. It ranks so high because it includes so many major stressors — such as a change in finances and accommodations; sexual problems; and conflicts with ex-spouses, in-laws, and children, to name just a few.

If you find that stress and/or lack of sleep causing you to feel overwhelmed, see a professional or speak to your attorney about possible ways to address this.  Your health is the foundation of your well-being. Remember to take care of yourself during your divorce.

Spouse Paying Attorney Fees?

Spouse paying attorney fees in your divorce?spouse_paying_attorney_fees

It is possible that your spouse will have to contribute to your divorce attorney fees.  The Court has discretion, and the basic law is that if there is a spouse with greater resources, the spouse with fewer resources may be able to get attorneys’ fees. However, for actions filed after October 11, 2010 there is a presumption that if your spouse has more money, then your spouse will have to pay for your lawyer. That’s right– your spouse paying attorney fees. This law is somewhat complicated and is not an absolute so a motion is often need to obtain this.  It is important to note that there are arguments which can be made to oppose this request for fees.  Having an attorney make and argue a motion on your behalf is essential to getting the money you need.

The fundamentally fair concept that the playing field should be level in divorce litigation and that both spouses are entitled to a relatively equal opportunity to litigate important issues in an appropriate manner has gained considerable following as evidence by the New York State Legislature’s revision to applicable laws.

Don’t ever expect to get a free ride by having all your expenses paid. However, if you’ve tried to work things out and your spouse is playing hardball with you, the court may award you a substantial portion of your fees and costs. The court will see this as fair to you and encouragement to your spouse to try a little harder to avoid taking up the court’s time.

Contesting payment of spouse’s attorney fees?

It is also possible that you can contest your payment of your spouse’s attorney fees.  There are some arguments which go to your spouse’s income and resources which can affect your presumption to pay.  You will need an experienced attorney to make the right argument for you. It is complicated and requires a very specific presentation of the facts and legal argument to be successful given the revision to the applicable New York State laws.

Additional Blog:  The Best Representation or the Cheapest Legal Costs

http://bestfamilylawyersyracuse.com/custody/the-best-representation-or-the-cheapest-legal-costs

 

The Attorney for Children, Law Guardian

Judge gavel and colourful letters regarding child custody, family law concept

What is the purpose of the Attorney for Children?

The purpose of the Attorneys for Children (hereinafter AFC) Program is to provide representation to minors in many kinds of court proceedings (such as juvenile delinquency, custody and visitation, and child protective proceedings). There are approximately 850 attorneys who serve as AFCs on panels in the twenty two counties comprising the Fourth Department.  Please note that the title “Attorney for Child” replaces the previous reference to “Law Guardian”.  Stacey Balduf has been appointed as an Attorney for Children and/or Law Guardian for over 25 years.

How are attorneys for children assigned?

Each county has its own practice. Generally, appointments are rotated among attorneys for children on the County’s panel, although Judges sometimes appoint more experienced attorneys for children to complex cases and may assign a particular attorney for children if the Judge thinks the attorney is especially suited to the case.

How is the Attorney for the Child paid?

They are paid the State of New York in many cases.  Some cases, particularly in Supreme Court have Courts which order the parties to pay for the Attorney for Child based upon their incomes.

Summary of Responsibilities of the Attorney for the Child.

While the activities of the attorney for the child will vary with the circumstances of each client and proceeding, in general those activities will include, but not be limited to, the following:

(1) Commence representation of the child promptly upon being notified of the appointment;

(2) Contact, interview and provide initial services to the child at the earliest practical opportunity, and prior to the first court appearance when feasible;

(3) Consult with and advise the child regularly concerning the course of the proceeding, maintain contact with the child so as to be aware of and respond to the child’s concerns and significant changes in the child’s circumstances, and remain accessible to the child;

(4) Conduct a full factual investigation and become familiar with all information and documents relevant to representation of the child. To that end, the lawyer for the child shall retain and consult with all experts necessary to assist in the representation of the child.

(5) Evaluate the legal remedies and services available to the child and pursue appropriate strategies for achieving case objectives;

(6) Appear at and participate actively in proceedings pertaining to the child;

 (7) Remain accessible to the child and other appropriate individuals and agencies to monitor implementation of the dispositional and permanency orders, and seek intervention of the court to assure compliance with those orders or otherwise protect the interests of the child, while those orders are in effect; and

“Best Interest” vs. “Wishes” of the child.

If the child is capable of knowing, voluntary and considered judgment, the attorney for the child should be directed by the wishes of the child, even if the attorney for the child believes that what the child wants is not in the child’s best interests. The attorney should explain fully the options available to the child, and may recommend to the child a course of action that in the attorney’s view would best promote the child’s interests.

When the attorney for the child is convinced either that the child lacks the capacity for knowing, voluntary and considered judgment, or that following the child’s wishes is likely to result in a substantial risk of imminent, serious harm to the child, the attorney for the child would be justified in advocating a position that is contrary to the child’s wishes. In these circumstances, the attorney for the child must inform the court of the child’s articulated wishes if the child wants the attorney to do so, notwithstanding the attorney’s position.

 

 

Am I a Victim of Emotional Abuse?

Am I a Victim of Emotional Abuse?  abuse

I have some good news and some bad news regarding emotional abuse.  The bad news is that if you have been emotionally or physically abused by your partner/spouse the Divorce Courts seldom if ever punish for this treatment.  The good news—you don’t have to establish abuse to dump the jerk and get everything you are entitled to!!!

Is this your life?

Has your partner manipulated you into believing that you are: stupid, forgetful, crazy, to blame for anything and everything upsetting?

Do you second-guess yourself in ways you never did before you were with this person?

Nearly one-quarter of women in the U.S. are victims of severe physical violence at the hands of their partners at some point in their lives, but nearly twice as many endure psychological aggression, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.

Do you feel dependent, disempowered and trapped?

Financial abuse is such an effective form of control that most abusers employ it in one way or another.

Money Moves that Will Protect All Women

  1. Maintain Full Access to all credit cards, bank accounts, statements etc. Getting an “allowance” implies a power differential.  Insist that cards and accounts have your name as an authorized user.  Refuse to sign tax returns without a written copy for your personal file. Remember, just because you “only sign it” does not prevent you from being liable to whatever is in the return.  The first time this is unacceptable to your partner should be a warning sign to you….

  2. Make all decisions regarding spending and saving jointly. Don’t let anyone tell you that because you didn’t earn the money that you have no say in how it is saved or spent.

  3. Get a credit card solely in your name versus being an additional user on your husband’s account. Use the card now and then and always pay on time.  It is important to establish credit of your own.

  4. Know all the social security numbers, something solved by getting a copy of the tax return. Keep a copy of any and all important looking documents.  If possible, scan them into a computer and keep a back up drive or secured cloud storage.

What are signs of abuse:

 -Your partner is limiting your access to money and credit cards.

-Your partner closely monitors or restricts your spending

-You have become anxious about how your partner will reach to everyday expenses like groceries, gas or doctor visits.

In New York State it is helpful to be aware of a few empowering facts: 

  • Whatever is earned, saved or accrued during the marriage belongs to BOTH of you. It does not matter whose name is on it or who “earned it”.

  • Whatever is owed by either or both parties are owed by both. The debt belongs to BOTH of you.  It again, does seldom matters whose name is on the debt or who charges it up.

  • If the income or incomes fit the parameters all you have to do is, ASK for attorney fee contribution or alimony/maintenance. There is no real defense to this request.  It is NOT affected generally by any behavior; it is almost strictly monetary.

The underlying goal of all abuse is the same:  to gain and maintain power and control. However, with the right support and legal representation you can break that hold.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncontested Divorce

uncontested-contested-divorce

Uncontested Divorce or Contested Divorce…what do you really know?

Most people are aware that there are two main types of divorces in NY:  Uncontested and Contested Divorces.  But are you aware that both uncontested and contested divorces require a law suit and the same paperwork.  Are you aware that documents signed by the parties are only enforceable if correctly drafted or that going to Court with the right attorney can also help your case and is nothing to be “afraid” of.

An uncontested divorce involves both parties agreeing to every single aspect of the divorce including issues surrounding dividing assets, child support and custody and spousal maintenance often known as alimony.

A contested divorce on the other hand is when the parties don’t agree on one or more of the issues. Yes, it only takes ONE  issue that you can’t quite work out the details for–to make a divorce contested.

Obtaining a divorce is an emotional and stressful process. Even if you believe that your divorce will be “uncontested,” meaning that your spouse will agree to the divorce, there are many issues beyond simply ending the marriage that you have to think about before you work out your details.

Are you sure you know all the options and consequences of your choices?  That is what having legal advice can do for you.  Consulting with or retaining an attorney is always a smart thing to do. I can make sure that your legal rights are protected and can assist you with any issues that may arise throughout the course of your divorce. There are no “do overs” so you want to make sure that you get this right.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce normally goes as such:

The parties agree to what will happen with the many items necessary to reach a written settlement or separation agreement.  These items include but are not limited to, custody, child support, alimony or maintenance, houses, cars, insurance, debts, retirements, personal property, pets.  Resolving these issues must be in the proper format and follow the NY State legal requirements. All agreements are subject to a Judge’s review.  This cannot be a document you whip up yourself. Many clients often start out thinking that as long as you both agree it can automatically be so.  Unfortunately, this is not true in NY. 

Preparing and Filing Your Forms

Obtaining a divorce in New York is very complicated and involves filling out and filing many court forms, even if your divorce is uncontested.

An uncontested divorce is still a law suit in the State of New York and follows the same requirements as a contested divorce.

You begin by preparing and filing a Summons with Notice and Verified Complaint, Barriers Affidavit and purchasing an Index Number from the clerk.  The written and filed Settlement Agreement that resolves all of the equitable distribution issues, custody or maintenance is attached.

The filing fees are the same for both contested and uncontested divorces you purchase Index Numbers, RJI Numbers and Trial Note of Issues for each type of divorce.

Serving Your Forms

You have to “serve,” or get your spouse a copy of the summons and complaint (if you filed one) within 120 days of the date you filed. An additional Affidavit is prepared and then filed with the Court that proves this service.

Your Spouse’s Response

If your spouse agrees to the divorce an affidavit can be prepared for him or her to sign or your spouse simply does not answer the papers and a default uncontested divorce can then be obtained without going to court.

If your spouse files a “Notice of Appearance” and disagrees with any part of your divorce papers, then your divorce is no longer uncontested.

Placing Your Case on the Divorce Calendar

If your spouse signed the affidavit of defendant or does not answer after approximately 40 days you can put your divorce on the matrimonial calendar.

The following forms, all of which must be prepared and are required to place your case on the court calendar are:

  • Summons with Notice or Summons and Complaint

  • Affirmation of Regularity (Form UD-5, which requests that your case be put on the calendar)

  • Affidavit of Plaintiff (Form UD-6)

  • three copies of the Note of Issue (Form UD-9)

  • Findings of Fact/Conclusions of Law (Form UD-10)

  • Judgment of Divorce (Form UD-11)

  • Affidavit of Defendant (Form UD-7, if your spouse signed and returned it to you)

  • Certificate of Dissolution of Marriage

  • USC 111 – Divorce and Child Support Summary Form.

After submission the Court will take anywhere from 2 to 12 weeks to review and sign your Judgment of Divorce.  But you are still not done.  In NY the divorce is not filed until those papers are picked up and a Certification Form is provided and they are filed with the clerk.

A Contested Divorce

A contested divorce follows the same process only since you have not agreed on all of the issues necessary to prepare a written settlement agreement you will be filing for court intervention after the initial papers are served.  You will then go to court where the process is often set up to offer the opportunity to discuss and settle issues that are preventing settlement.  Ultimately, a settlement will either be reached or a trial or hearing held where the Court will settle the issues.  Once the issues are settled the paperwork set forth above is submitted.  With the right attorney the Court process is nothing to be afraid of and will have the necessary result to complete your divorce.

It is interesting to note that the Court does not prepare even its own documents. They are provided by the attorneys.

Also see:

 CRUCIAL FACTORS FOR NEGOTIATING YOUR DIVORCE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

PURPOSE OF INITIAL CONSULTATION

The purpose of the initial consultation should be to find answer the following question: Is it in my best interest to hire this lawyer for my divorce or family law matter?  This is the fundamental and most important question for anyone seeking legal representation.  Having said that how do you determine which lawyer is best for you?  I offer a free initial consultation because making sure my client and I are a good fit is crucial.  I don’t want to take a dime from you until we, you and I, are a good fit. initial-consultation-balduf

The following questions and their potential answers should help you find the best fit for your circumstances.  During the initial consultation ask  yourself…

  1. Did this divorce and family law attorney begin to lay the foundation for a successful relationship with me if I actually become their client?

Trust your gut!  If you are put at ease continue exploring the possibility of a working relationship.  If you are not comfortable or feel edgy, move on.  It seldom gets better from this first meeting.

  1. Did the lawyer demonstrate to me that they will deliver quality service in a timely and cost-effective manner?

An attorney should not talk “at you” but to and with you.  If you ask questions as to what the divorce process might look like, you should get real answers.  This is not to say that you will get advice at this stage as to the specifics of your matter (the gathering of more information from you will be necessary to discuss real specifics with you), however, the attorney should be able to go through with you how they work with you toward your goals and answer this with some detail.

  1. How will I be charged and what are the fees and costs of divorce?

billing and charging practice.  You need to feel that it is acceptable practice to discuss your bill and charges with you attorney at any time.

This issue is usually uppermost in the mind of every prospective client who sits across your desk.  Did the attorney take the time to review their retainer and the basis of how they will be compensated, the billing process etc.

Did they promise a total price or cost?  I am aware that today’s client is concerned not only with the basis for the fee but also the overall cost of their divorce.  I am quite conscious of the legitimate concern that all clients have with respect to legal costs.  Although many of the variables which affect the cost of a case are largely outside of our control, such as the actions of your spouse or your spouse’s attorney, the judge assigned to the case and how expeditiously he or she moves the calendar, I am committed to doing all that I can with respect to those things which I can control to keep your cost as low as possible consistent with rendering quality service. So, if someone promises you a total price…RUN as fast as you can.   So what is the answer, you are not made of money?  You need to trust your attorney and understand the the billing and charging practice.  You need to feel that it is acceptable practice to discuss your bill and charges with you attorney at any time.

Some additional tips regarding cost:

  • Does this attorney appear to be organized and gets to the point, indicating that they do not waste time and ultimately your resources (time is money)?

  • Does the attorney offer opportunities for you to do certain things that would result in the same level of representation and work but less time spent doing it by the attorney?

  • Did you get the feeling that being cost-effective is important not only to you but to them.

I will often explain to my client’s that I have enough clients and work that it is essential that we be cost-effective and not spend any more time on a given task or activity than is necessary to meet the standard of excellence and quality for which our firm is noted.

  1. Will we be able to successfully communicate with each other?

I’m often in court or in conference, and not able to take your call or return it right away.  But I’m exceedingly conscious of how important your case is to you, as it is to me, and I always want to be as responsive as possible to you and all of my clients.  I do not take more cases that I can give the proper amount of attention.  You are creating the attorney-client relationship with me, not a paralegal or someone else from an office.  We talk during the initial consultation what communication options are available including, phone, phone conferences, email and in person appointments.  It is so important that you will find reference to this in my retainer agreement.

  1. Is this lawyer experienced and respected in the legal community?

This one is tricky.  Word of mouth is the most reliable source.  In addition to past clients it is amazing how many referrals I get from people who I did not represent-I represented their spouses.  There are of course the reviews online.

You can also ask questions such as:

How long have you been practicing in this area of law?

How much of your time do you spend in court?  (You want an attorney who goes to court regularly and stays in touch with the courts and their practices.  You want an attorney who is not intimidated to take a case to trial if that what it takes to get you a reasonable and favorable resolution.  If the opposing counsel knows your attorney doesn’t like to go to court, they often “low ball”  offers knowing the attorney will “sell” it to their client to avoid trials.)

Does this lawyer specialize in divorce and family law?  Yes, this matters.

Does this lawyer give you options and choices to consider or just tell you what they think you should do?

See also:

The best representation or cheapest? Legal costs.
What Will A Divorce Cost Me? Can I Save Money?

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