New York Family Law Attorney

Family is the most important thing to people. It is necessary to pursue guidance from a reputable New York family law attorney. Our attorneys here at The Douglas Family Law Group understand the significance of resolving domestic disputes as quickly as possible, especially when it deals with children.

Call our office in White Plains, NY today at 914-615-9058 to schedule a consultation and learn more about how The Douglas Family Law Group attorneys can help you.

Table of Contents

What Qualifies as a Family Law Case?

Our family law attorneys in White Plains, NY have experience handling a wide range of cases, across the state of New York.

Contested and Uncontested Divorce

There are two kinds of divorce.  Those where the spouses are not in full agreement about how matters should be resolved (contested) and uncontested divorces, where parties can work together to come to a mutual resolution.

Generally, all divorces are filed as uncontested, but your spouse’s response determines whether the status remains that way.

Regardless of which type of divorce you are seeking, Douglas Family Law Group is here to support you on each step of your journey. From determining the value of assets and dividing them fairly to trying to set up mediation sessions to settle things sooner. The goal is to ensure you can follow all of the required legal steps and that your divorce is handled without any issues.

Our divorce lawyers understand that you are going through life events that are affecting you both financially and emotionally. The team wants to make sure that we are seen as a partner every step of the way. Your partner may already feel like an adversary and we do not want to gain that distinction as well.

Parental Rights, Child Custody, and Child Support

When there are children involved in a divorce, things can get rather complicated. There may need to be a formal custody agreement put in place, one parent may seek to have the other’s rights terminated or they are advocating for their right to remain a part of the lives of any children involved.

In addition to parental rights hearings, custody agreements, and the like, a family law firm can help parents reach an agreement that will ensure the child will be financially supported by one or both parents, depending on the specifics of the divorce.

Keep in mind that child custody and visitation may go hand in hand, but that does not mean either is a given. There may be reasons a parent is not allowed to see a child, yet they may still be required to pay support. an attorney would have to look at the details of your unique situation to help you understand what would be the best arrangement for all.

Spousal Support and Maintenance

In some cases, one party may be responsible for paying maintenance to support the other after the marriage has dissolved. Keep in mind that gender is not a factor when it comes to determining who will be responsible for what. The purpose of this is to make sure that the person receiving support will be able to live the lifestyle they became accustomed to during the union.

Legal Name Changes in New York

If you want to change your name or that of your child in the state of New York, it would be in your best interest to get an attorney involved. Remember this is something that can be done whether or not you are currently in the process of getting a divorce.

Douglas Family Law Group will review your case and all of the reasons you have for wanting a change, then an attorney will do their best to compel the court to grant your request. The goal is to have this resolved quickly and efficiently.

Restraining Orders

This form has handled numerous cases where clients have had to seek out a restraining order, also called an order of protection. When there is domestic violence, a judge can put an order in place to protect one or more parties. A restraining order may also be necessary if a parent without custody or visitation rights tries to interfere with a child’s life.

In many cases, restraining orders are resolved when both parties agree to stay away from one another. It is not required that anyone admit to any wrongdoing, but if an agreement is made it is legally binding.

DSS Cases

There are some family law cases where social services become involved and it makes matters more complicated than before. Instead of trying to navigate this on your own, it would be a great idea to allow an attorney to assist you in achieving the best outcome for the family.

Pre & Post-Nuptial Agreements

A pre-nuptial agreement is a written contract that a couple enters into before they get married, while a post-nuptial agreement is a written contract that spouses enter into after they’ve wed. These contracts spell out how financial matters, including property division and support, will be managed in the case of divorce.

For anyone considering a prenup or postnup agreement, consulting with an experienced attorney is essential.

When You Should Hire a New York Family Law Attorney

Why Should You Hire a New York Family Law Attorney?

As you already know, getting a divorce is not an easy process. It can take a toll on you in more ways than one. The good thing is that you do not have to go down this rocky road on your own.

There are numerous benefits one can gain from getting in touch with a good family lawyer. Here are some of the ways we can assist you with a divorce or another family law issue.

Knowledge of the Law and Skilled Representation

Attorneys have knowledge of different aspects of the law that may not be apparent to the average person, which gives them the upper hand and increases the chances of things going in your favor.

Some people have difficulty finding their voice and speaking up for themselves. Getting a lawyer means that you will have someone there on your behalf ready to fight until the very end.


If you need resources, like mediators, child counselors, and things of that nature, an attorney will be able to point you in the right direction by offering referrals or information that pertains to your case and can be helpful in the long run.


Many people feel isolated and alone when their marriage is not doing well. While a legal team cannot offer a magic wand that fixes everything, they do have an understanding of what you are going through and they will represent you and your interests to the best of their ability.

What Are the Grounds for Divorce in New York?

In the state of New York, seven grounds can be used to seek a divorce.

Irretrievable Breakdown

This is when a marriage has become so damaged that it has no hope for repair. It is required that this situation has existed for a minimum of six months. A court will only grant this type of divorce once all matters concerning child support, custody, maintenance, and visitation have been resolved.


If your spouse is no longer residing in the marital home and has no intentions of returning, you can file a divorce on the grounds of abandonment. They must have been away for at least one year before the time you begin your case and have no intention of ever coming back.

Cruel and Inhumane Treatment

You do not have to tolerate anyone treating you cruelly or in a manner that is considered inhumane. If your mental and/or physical health is at risk if a marriage continues, you have legal grounds to seek out a divorce. Keep in mind that this treatment must have happened within the past five years of the marriage for it to be considered grounds for dissolution.


If your spouse has stepped outside of the union and committed adultery with someone else, you may have grounds for divorce. There are some instances where this is not the case:

  • If you continued to be intimate with them after finding out about the affair.
  • If you decide to seek revenge by sleeping with another party.
  • You incite them to commit adultery.
  • It has been more than five years since you learned of the indiscretion.

Another thing to note is that you cannot serve as the only witness to the infidelity of a spouse. You will have to find someone willing to corroborate your statements on the matter.


Some spouses are willing to wait if their partners are imprisoned, then some find this unacceptable. If you are married to someone who has received a sentence of more than three years, you are allowed to use this as a solid reason to divorce. This is only valid if your spouse was released in the past five years.

Divorce concept, judge gavel with wedding rings on a broken heart

Judgment of Separation

In the case that you have been legally separated from your spouse and you have not lived together for at least a year. This is not a very common option people take advantage of since you have to offer the same amount of proof as you would if you filed for divorce. For this reason, many omit this step and go to divorce court.

Separation Agreement

If you have been granted a judgment of separation and both parties have followed all of the stated conditions, it is grounds to move forward and get a divorce.

How Do You Start the Divorce Process?

Getting a divorce can be a very stressful and lengthy process. You can make things a bit less burdensome if you are aware of the steps that need to be taken to begin the divorce. Here is a brief overview.

Ensure You Meet the Requirements

You must meet the residency requirements of the state of New York. Proof must be shown that either you or your spouse resided in the state for at least one year before filing.

Verify that you meet one or more of the grounds for divorce (detailed above).

Prepare and File Forms

You will have to prepare and file all of the forms. This is a great deal of paperwork, which can be rather discouraging, but it is a necessary part of the process. There are separate papers that need to be filed depending on whether or not you and your spouse have children under the age of 21.

Serve Your Spouse

After filing, you have 120 days to serve your spouse with the papers. You are not allowed to serve them yourself. You have to find someone who is over 18 and a New York resident to complete this part of the process on your behalf.

Your Spouse Responds

Your spouse is allowed up to 40 days after receiving the paperwork to submit a response. If they agree with what you have stated, they should return the signed forms right away. If they are contesting any part of the divorce, then the divorce will now be considered contested.

A contested divorce will not be as cut and dry, and a judge will have to make some of the decisions for the two of you.

How Does the Division of Property Work in New York?

When you and your spouse need to reach an agreement on how to divide property in a divorce, having an attorney will help immensely. They will assist you in determining which property is separate and which should be split between the two of you.

Anything you owned before the marriage, inheritances that were acquired before or during the marriage, and judgments you received for pain and suffering due to personal injury are usually considered separate. All other property is considered jointly owned and you will need to have an attorney take a look and let you know how a court is likely to rule.

What Are the Different Types of Custody?

There are different types of child custody arrangements in New York. Legal custody refers to the parent who will have the right to make decisions on behalf of the child. Physical custody determines where the child will live.

If one person is given sole legal custody, only that parent has the right to make decisions. In joint legal custody, the parents make major decisions about the child together. As far as everyday decisions, such as curfew and chores, these should be decided by the parent who is physically taking care of the child at the time.

If the Judge gives joint physical custody, the child lives with each parent for an equal amount of time. If the Judge gives sole physical custody, the child lives with one parent more than 50% of the time and the other parent will have visitation.

Visitation is something that may need to be scheduled according to different factors, such as the work schedule of the parent and any activities that the child may participate in. Since every situation is unique, this is something that can vary greatly from case to case.

White Plains family law attorney concept image

How Is Child Custody Decided?

Our attorneys can help you negotiate a custody agreement with your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

Visitation is something that may need to be scheduled according to different factors, such as the work schedule of the parent and any activities that the child may participate in. Since every situation is unique, this is something that can vary greatly from case to case.

Douglas Family Law Group is here to assist you in creating custody plans and visitation schedules that fit your family’s needs.

If a couple can’t reach an agreement, a judge will make a decision about custody based on the best interests of the child(ren).

What Is Spousal Maintenance and How Is It Decided?

Spousal maintenance is financial support that one party has to pay the other in the event of divorce. The purpose of this is to ensure that the person who was not the breadwinner will have a way to maintain their lifestyle once things have come to an end. The person who made more money during the marriage is often given the responsibility of making payments.

New York law requires courts to use a formula to calculate a suggested amount of maintenance. But judges can award a different amount than the guidelines if they feel that is more fair.

There are several factors to consider when trying to determine the amount one must pay for spousal maintenance:

  • The contributions that each person made to the marriage
  • The financial standing of both parties
  • The length of time the couple was married
  • The earned income of both parties
  • The age and physical health of each person

This may seem like a lot to factor in, but the idea is to make sure that no one is left unable to care for themselves due to a divorce.

Keep in mind that there has been legislation in New York that offers interim support during the divorce process. In cases where someone makes two-thirds of the amount their spouse makes, they may be entitled to interim assistance while everything is still being worked out.

Contact a New York Family Lawyer Today!

Dealing with matters like divorce, child custody, and child support is difficult both emotionally and financially. No matter what type of family law case you’re facing, you can rely on our team.

Douglas Family Law Group is one of the best family law firms in New York. Instead of wondering what can be done for you, give us a call at 914-615-9058. Someone will be waiting to discuss your case and help you determine what the next course of action will be.

Contact us today.

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