Ending a marriage is often difficult both financially and emotionally, especially if you don’t have the right legal representation. If you plan to end your marriage or have been served with a divorce petition a New York divorce lawyer can be an invaluable asset. They will help you determine what the best options are for reaching a favorable outcome in your divorce.
At Douglas Family Law Group, we understand just how difficult divorce can be. We are committed to providing comprehensive divorce representation for all clients. If you work with us, you can approach the situation confidently. As your divorce lawyer, we provide years of practical experience and individualized representation for all the cases we accept.
Call us today at 914-615-9058 to schedule a consultation with one of our divorce lawyers. Our White Plains law firm is here to help.
What Are the Grounds for Divorce in New York?
The following are accepted grounds for divorce in New York.
The relationship between you and your spouse is irretrievably broken down for at least 6 months, which means that your relationship is broken beyond repair. A divorce cannot be granted on these grounds until after spousal support, visitation, child custody, debts, property, and child support have been settled or decided by the court.
Cruel and Inhumane Treatment
Being the victim of cruel and inhumane treatment by a spouse. It means that your mental or physical health is in danger if you continue living together. If the most recent abusive treatment, however, happened over 5 years ago, divorce cannot be granted for this reason if your spouse objects.
You are an “abandoned” spouse for at least 1 year. It means that your spouse has left you, or kicked you out, with no intention of returning. Abandonment can be either physical or emotional, which means that your spouse may have left the home without planning to come back or refused to be intimate with or have sex with you, respectively.
If your spouse is incarcerated for 3 years in a row or longer during the marriage, you can use this ground for divorce. If your spouse was released over 5 years ago, however, divorce cannot be granted for this reason. Furthermore, the imprisonment must have happened after you got married.
If your spouse commits adultery. However, it cannot be valid grounds for divorce if you commit adultery yourself, forgive your spouse by having sexual relations with them after discovering the adultery, or encourage your spouse to commit adultery.
Divorce can also not be granted if it has been over 5 years since you discovered the adultery. Furthermore, you cannot testify yourself to prove the adultery, so you must have a witness that’s willing to testify.
Judgment of Separation
You and your spouse haven’t been living together for at least 1 year because of a Court-issued “Judgment of Separation” or “Decree of Separation.” You’re required to obey all the conditions of the judgment or decree. A Judgment of Separation, however, is unusual since it requires similar proof to a divorce.
You and your spouse haven’t been living together for at least 1 year because of a written “Agreement of Separation.” You and your spouse are required to sign this agreement before a notary and the agreement must follow specific legal rules if you live in New York. If the rules aren’t followed, the agreement becomes invalid.
What Is a No-Fault Divorce?
A no-fault divorce means that you aren’t required to prove that the marriage is ending due to something that’s the other spouse’s fault. All that has to be stated and proved in your divorce papers is that the marriage has been “irretrievably broken” for at least 6 months. One spouse must state this under oath.
It is that simple. Still, a divorce cannot be granted until all the issues of spousal support, child support, child custody, visitation, and distribution of property have either been agreed upon by the parties or decided by the court.
What Is the Difference Between Legal and Physical Custody?
In New York, child support is split into legal custody and physical custody. A New York family court can only issue a child custody order until the child becomes a legal adult, which is when he or she becomes 18 years old.
Legal custody refers to a parent’s right under the law to make important decisions about their child, such as where the child will be attending school, the type and level of medical care the child will receive, where the child will live, and what religious beliefs the child will be brought up following.
If legal custody is awarded to both parents, it means that they both have the right to make major decisions about the child together. It does not matter whether the child lives with one parent most of the time – both parents will have to make major decisions about the child as a team.
Physical custody is also referred to as residential custody in New York. It refers to being responsible for the child’s physical care and supervision. If the court awards joint physical custody, it means that the child spends an equal amount of time living with each parent.
If the court awards sole physical custody to a parent, it means that the child will live with that parent over 50 percent of the time. The parent who has sole physical custody is called the “custodial parent” while the other parent is the “noncustodial parent” who receives visitation and pays child support.
How Is Child Support Determined?
In New York, child support is usually calculated using the New York child support formula. The New York government website provides an online calculator that can be used to determine the exact amount of child support you are responsible for.
The formula factors in the proportion of each parent’s total income along with predetermined ratios required to be dedicated to child support. The following is a brief breakdown of each step of the formula.
Step 1: Establish the Total Income of Both Parents
Determining the total combined income of both parents is the first step. It is relatively straightforward since the court simply adds together the gross income of both parents based on the tax returns of the most recent year of filing.
Step 2: All Applicable Deductions Are Subtracted From Total Income
The total combined gross income is adjusted by subtracting all the applicable deductions. Here are some of the items typically deducted from total income:
- City income taxes
- Supplemental security income
- FICA taxes
- Public assistance
- Child support or maintenance paid to other spouses.
Step 3: Determine the Percentage of Income to Allocate to Child Support Based on the Number of Children
In New York, the courts usually set out the child support guidelines based on a percentage of the adjusted total income of both parents. The percentage is then scaled up depending on the number of children in the family. Here’s a breakdown of the figures:
- 1 Child: 17 percent
- 2 Children: 25 percent
- 3 Children: 29 percent
- 4 Children: 31 percent
- 5 or more Children: 35 percent
Step 4: Establish Each Parent’s Pro-Rata Share of Child Support
After calculating the total amount of child support from step 3, the next step is determining each parent’s portion of the support payments. The courts typically assign a pro-rata share of the total child support based on each parent’s proportion of total adjusted income, usually paid out monthly.
It is done by dividing the contribution of each parent to the total adjusted income. Parents that are higher earners are thus responsible for a higher proportion of child support. Income can also play a part in determining the custodial and non-custodial parent.
The calculation above covers just basic child support and doesn’t factor in expenses such as medical bills and daycare costs. These are usually shared equally between the parents unless ordered otherwise by the courts.
Note: In cases of high-net-worth divorce, the formula described above may vary based on other additional factors.
How Will Property be Split in the Divorce?
The division of property between partners or spouses is a critical matter to be resolved in any divorce. If you’re in the midst of a divorce in New York, you should seek legal counsel to ensure the fair distribution of your assets. If you lack proper guidance, you may not have the opportunity for claiming the funds and properties legally entitled to you.
Under New York’s divorce laws, the court only divides marital property that’s acquired during the marriage of the spouses looking to get divorced regardless of who made the purchase. A spouse is only allowed to keep their separate property that’s not purchased throughout the marriage.
What Is Considered Marital Property?
When spouses first enter a marriage, they each bring what they currently own, which is referred to as separate property. It can also include what was bought by one spouse during the marriage but wasn’t used by the other spouse during the marriage.
Marital property, on the other hand, is the property that you and your spouse bought during the marriage. It can include but isn’t limited to:
- Real Estate: Home, Land, etc.
- Personal Property: Artwork, Furniture, Vehicles, etc.
- Gifts to Each Other
- Money: Bank Accounts, Cash, etc.
It can be difficult to divide property evenly in the divorce and can be a challenging task to do alone. Fortunately, the White Plains, NY divorce lawyers at Douglas Family Law Group are highly experienced and will fight for you to get the property you are legally entitled to. Call us today at 914-615-9058 if you want property distributed equitably in your NY divorce.
What Is Equitable Division and How Does It Work?
New York is an equitable distribution state. Equitable division means that when you file for divorce, the court divides the marital property fairly or equitably. However, it does not automatically mean that the property will be divided into equal parts between the couple.
The court will usually consider the following when dividing the property between the divorcing couple:
- The income of each spouse
- The future financial condition of each spouse
- The age, mental and physical health of each spouse
- The duration of the marital relationship
- The pension, health benefits, or inheritance either spouse risks losing due to the divorce
- Ways in which either spouse has contributed to the other’s career or education
- A custodial parent’s need to occupy or own the family home
- Tax concerns related to the property division
- Spousal support (if any)
- Other factors considered “just and proper” by the divorce court.
Besides the factors listed above, the court also considers what each spouse is likely to lose after the divorce, such as health benefits, pension rights, and interest in an inheritance. Future losses in terms of taxes are evaluated too.
What Happens to the House?
Divorcing spouses often wonder what will happen to their home once the divorce is finalized. Since most houses are considered marital property, they are subject to equitable distribution in New York, which means that the property has to be divided fairly between both spouses.
If an asset is acquired or bought during a couple’s marriage, it is considered marital property. So, if two spouses purchase a home together, once they are married, the house is considered marital property and can be subject to equitable distribution in a divorce.
Equitable Distribution of a House
It’s worth noting that when a property is equitably distributed in a divorce, it isn’t necessarily done equally. Instead, it’s done in a way that benefits both spouses rather than just one. When it comes to the equitable distribution of a house, there are 3 main ways it can be done.
Selling the House
The vast majority of spouses cannot afford to buy out the other and keep up with the home costs, which is why this is usually the easiest option. Once sold, the proceeds are divided equally between both spouses. Alternatively, it may be divided unequally to compensate a spouse for giving up a different asset.
Arrange a Buyout
One spouse can also buy out the other spouse’s equity. Once this happens, the spouse that buys usually arranges to refinance the loan while the spouse that sells receives their share of the equity and the loan is now only in the name of the buying spouse.
Continue to Co-Own the House
It is a common option when a couple has children who benefit from staying in the same family home. In such instances, one spouse moves out and waits for a period of time before they can sell the house.
How Long Will Divorce Take?
Every divorce has different circumstances, which can make it incredibly difficult to prescribe a single timeline. However, a simple uncontested divorce can take as little as 2 to 3 months while a contested divorce, on the other hand, may take anywhere from 18 months to 2 years or even longer.
The length of divorce proceedings in New York can be affected by many different factors, which include:
- Whether you’re already legally separated
- Whether you choose fault or no-fault grounds for divorce
- The number of shared assets owned by the couple
- Whether the divorce involves minor children
- The length of time the couple has been married
- Whether one spouse is financially dependent on the other
- The ability and willingness of the couple to reach a resolution without the need for litigation in court.
If you would like to get a more accurate estimate of how long your divorce is likely to take you should consider calling the White Plains New York divorce lawyers at Douglas Family Law Group today at 914-615-9058.
How Much Will a Divorce Lawyer Cost?
The rough estimate for a lawyer-led divorce in New York ranges from $13,000 to $25,000 at the base level. Things likely to affect how much your divorce lawyer costs will depend on many different factors, which include but aren’t limited to:
- Whether you have children
- Whether there are substantial assets that need to be divided
- Whether it is a no-fault divorce or whether you have grounds
- Whether you have agreed on things such as child custody, property division, maintenance, etc.
- Whether the aforementioned things can be negotiated or will have to be resolved in court
- Whether it is a contested or uncontested divorce
Getting Divorced in New York? Call Us Today!
If you are considering a divorce in New York, you should seek skilled legal advice before making any decisions. The New York Divorce Lawyers at Douglas Family Law Group have represented clients through some of the most challenging times of their lives and can do the same for you.
Call us today at 914-615-9058 to schedule a consultation to discuss your needs.