September 27th, 2012
Justice Dollinger, sitting in the Supreme Court in Monroe County, recently suspended a man’s spousal maintenance (alimony) because he found it would be “an extreme hardship” for him to continue to make these payments. Justice Dollinger stated in his opinion in the matter of Platt v. Platt, 2012 N.Y. Slip Op. 51583(U), “[w]e debate ‘extreme politics.’ Even the New York songster, Billy Joel, wondered – ‘darling I don’t know why I go to extremes.’ ” Judge Dollinger, in his opinion, stated the legislature had not established a specific standard for “extreme hardship.” The Judge wrote “what constitutes an extreme hardship is a fact-specific inquiry that depends on the overall financial condition of the moving party.”
In the matter of Platt v. Platt, the judge found the husband was unemployed. He lived below the poverty level. In this case the wife also lived at the poverty level. Both the husband and wife were enduring extreme hardship. The Judge’s opinion stated “this Court cannot stretch the family resources beyond the dollar and cents limitation, when both parties are facing a new, but unwanted, life below the poverty line.”
Christine Platt and William Platt had entered into a separation agreement in 2011. Under the terms of the agreement Mr. Platt was to pay spousal maintenance of $700 per month. In February of 2015 this increased to $1000 per month when their daughter graduated college. Unfortunately Mr. Platt lost his job. At that point the Judge reduced his monthly spousal payments to $400 per month. Eventually, Mr. Platt’s unemployment benefits expired. At that time Mr. Platt moved to have his spousal maintenance obligations suspended due to “extreme hardship” pursuant to New York State Domestic Relations Law section 236. His wife Christine Platt opposed the motion.
Justice Dolinger, in his decision, suspended the spousal maintenance payments. His decision stated the suspension was temporary. He wrote that the maintenance would resume “in an amount that the Court deems proper upon the husband obtaining employment or receiving other benefits from another source including gifts from his parents.”
About The Author
Elliot S Schlissel, Esq. is an attorney practicing matrimonial and family law in the metropolitan New York area for more than 34 years.
July 31st, 2012
When a custodial parent seeks to relocate, he or she may run into more complications and difficulties than he or she anticipates. An order of custody and/or divorce judgment may contain clauses specifically preventing a custodial parent from relocating. Whether the custody order or the divorce judgment contains a clause of this nature, the custodial parent, who seeks to relocate, must bring a proceeding in the State of New York, either in the Supreme Court or in the Family Court. The proceeding will be for the purpose of obtaining a court order authorizing the relocation of the custodial parent.
Good Reasons For Relocating
The application brought by the custodial parent must contain a compelling reason for relocating with the child or children. Some of the reasons that have been alleged in petitions of this nature deal with employment in another locality, it is closer to family members for a support system and opportunities for the children to enhance their education.
The Impact On The Non-Custodial Parent
In most situations, the relocation of the children will have a negative impact on the non-custodial parent’s visitation rights. To compensate, the non-custodial parent is often offered additional parenting time. Additional parenting time can involve summer vacations, school vacations, school recesses and other periods of time when school isn’t in session. In some situations, the parent who seeks to relocate may have the obligation of paying the cost of transportation of the children back to visit with the non-custodial parent.
Courts in the State of New York are reluctant to grant relocation applications due to the negative impact it can have on the other parent’s visitation rights. To be successful in New York it is extremely important to show the relocation will be in the children’s best interest. To accomplish this goal it will be necessary to show how the children’s lives will be enhanced either economically or in another manner.
Present A Plan to the Court
If you seek to relocate it is important to present, in your court petition, a plan for visitation with the non-custodial parent. This plan must show the children will be able to maintain their relationship with the non-custodial parent. Since the party bringing the application will have the burden of proof, it is essential in the proceeding to be represented by an experienced family law attorney who has previously dealt with relocation cases before the local courts in your jurisdiction.
April 24th, 2012
Justice Palmieri in the Supreme Court located in Nassau County, New York, has rendered an unusual decision in a divorce case. Divorce Law in New York does not make fault a factor in equitable distribution of assets unless there is “egregious marital fault.” In this case, the wife’s husband of ten years had been convicted of sexually molesting her eight year old granddaughter from another marriage. The attorney for the wife sought to make an inquiry with the husband with regard to his conduct being a potential factor in the equitable distribution of the property. The husband’s attorney brought a protective order application alleging that this conduct is not material to the equitable distribution of assets.
Sexual Abuse Is Egregious Fault
Judge Palmieri, in his decision, stated “it cannot be seriously argued that this could never be a sufficient basis…for finding ‘outrageous’ or ‘conscious shocking’ conduct no matter what disclosure of the underlying facts might reveal.” He therefore, allowed the discovery of material to develop the facts in this situation.
Mrs. G stated that after her husband was convicted she had a nervous breakdown. She was forced to take medication which prevented her from functioning properly. She needed therapy, but could not continue with the therapy because her husband refused to pay for the treatment.
Judge Palmieri in his decision stated “notwithstanding the plea, no trial Court can fairly determine whether the defendant’s conduct was sufficiently outrageous or conscious shocking to affect equitable distribution on a conviction alone.” This is due to the fact plea bargains are often the result of negotiations in which various factors come into play. The judge went on further to say “the issue is his conduct and the effect on the plaintiff and his alleged victims cannot be used as shields.”
Judge Palmieri has deviated from the established law with regard to allowing fault to be taken into consideration in the equitable distribution of assets. I presume this case will be appealed. It is my expectation that it will be reversed by the Appellate Division.
Sometimes when fathers come into Court, they find the playing field is not level. The Family Court is often referred to as “mommy’s court.” However, there is a way to level the playing field and that is to hire the most experienced, most competent aggressive fathers’ rights lawyers available.
The attorneys of the Law Offices of Elliot Schlissel are recognized throughout the metropolitan New York area as the premiere father’s rights lawyers. We litigate issues involving divorces, child custody, visitation, changing child custody, child support, child abuse, child neglect, annulments, parental alienation cases, as well as orders of protections. Call us for a free consultation at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645, 718-350-2802.
January 14th, 2012
Female children in England now have an equal chance to become the Head of State. If newlyweds Prince William and Kate Middleton have a daughter, she can now become Queen. This is true even if she has younger brothers. The countries in the English Commonwealth have recently agreed to change the century-old rules concerning who can become the Head of State in England. In the past, ascension to the throne always took sons over daughters. But now if William and Kate, Dutchess of Cambridge, have a daughter she would be beat out her younger brothers to becoming the Head of State. She would become Queen! Before these changes can become fully effective they must be approved by the legislators of all sixteen nations in the English Commonwealth where Queen Elizabeth is considered the Head of State.
There has been speculation that Kate Middleton will be starting a family soon. This rule change has been discussed for the purpose of dealing with Kate’s children, especially if the oldest child is a daughter.
Hugo Vicors, an expert on the Royal Family, recently stated “you shouldn’t muck around too much with the Constitution, but it is a good idea to change this at this time. It’s much better to have it sorted out before any babies come along.” Although the new rule applies to future heirs to the throne, it does not impact on the current lines of succession. The current prime minister, David Cameron is a big proponent of these changes. He feels it’s important to give women equality regarding this issue.
Both men and women have equal rights involving divorces and family court issues. They are both entitled to protect their rights with regard to issues of child custody, orders of protection, visitation (parenting time), child support, spousal maintenance (alimony), child abuse, child neglect proceedings, and issues involving divorce and separation agreements. The attorneys at the Law Office of Elliot Schlissel have more than 100 years of combined legal experience in dealing with these issues. Should you have a matrimonial or family law issue, call us we can help you.
August 19th, 2011
Divorces are very personal legal proceedings. You need a divorce lawyer who you have faith in, who is reliable and who you can trust. How do you decide that you have the right lawyer to represent you? Here are some suggestions:
1) Is your attorney familiar with the local court practices and procedures? Things are handled differently in different jurisdictions. The courts in New York City and Long Island differ on how they handle some aspects of matrimonial and family law issues. Is your attorney aware of these practices?
2) How do you feel about your lawyer? You should trust your instincts when you hire a lawyer. Are you comfortable with him or her? Is he or she dealing with your issues in a manner that makes you feel secure?
3) Does your attorney return your calls. Litigating divorce and family court issues can be aggravating and nerve racking. When you call your attorney, does he or she return your calls within 24 hours? Are your lawyers paying attention to your case?
Is Your Attorney Compassionate?
The law and the courts are cold. You may not always obtain the result you desire. Your lawyer should have compassion for your personal circumstances. You should be treated as a person with personal problems, not as a case file!
Professionalism and Interaction with Courts and other Attorneys
Your attorney should act in a professional, competent manner. He or she should do his or her best to deal with judges and opposing counsel. Sometimes antagonistic and difficult situations arise and your attorney must be very aggressive. Aggressive litigating may be necessary to get your point across. There are other times your attorney should be taking a negotiating posture to try and obtain the best possible result for you.
We represent fathers! We have been doing this for more than thirty years. We litigate all aspects of divorce, including child custody, visitation, child support, spousal maintenance (alimony)and equitable distribution of property. We also represent fathers with regard to proceedings in family court. We litigate issues involving paternity, downward modifications of child support, relocation problems, parental alienation cases and issues involving parental alienation syndrome. We also negotiate separation agreements for our clients. Feel free to call us for a free consultation.
August 10th, 2011
In 1991, Kristine Cushing killed her four and eight year old daughters. She was tried for these murders and found not guilty by reason of insanity. Her defense counsel claimed that she murdered her children due to a bad reaction to Prozac. Kristine spent four years in a mental institution. In addition, she had ten years of psychiatric monitoring. She received an unconditional release in 2005 from the State of California.
Kristine Cushing has now moved back in with her former husband, John P. Cushing. John had two children with Theresa Conlin. Their sons are 13 and 14 years of age. The 13 year old lives with Mr. Cushing. Since Theresa Conlin has moved back in with Mr. Cushing, he also lives with a convicted murderer, who murdered her two children. This does not sit well with the 13 year old boy’s mother, Trisha Conlin.
Theresa Goes to Court in California
Theresa has brought a proceeding in the King County Superior Court to prevent her sons from spending time alone with a convicted murderer. Mr. Cushing originally lied to Theresa. He advised her that he was not living with his ex-wife.
In the court proceedings, Mr. Cushing’s attorney stated that Miss Cushing was temporarily insane and didn’t know what she was doing. They are taking a position that she has recovered from this temporary insanity and presents no immediate threat to children.
In June, Miss Conlin received a court order giving her full custody of both of her sons for a period of 30 days. The court advised her that she would have to make a showing on the next court date why this new parenting plan should become permanent. She is still dropping off her sons to spend time with the Cushings on Sundays. Query: Should an ex-murderer be allowed to be alone with children?
Mothers and fathers have rights when dealing with issues concerning their children. Children should be kept in a safe environment. They should not be subject to child abuse or neglect.
The law offices of Elliot Schlissel have been representing parents in matrimonial and family law matters for more than 30 years. We have developed an expertise in dealing with divorce, orders of protection, child custody and visitation. We litigate changing child custody, child support, spousal maintenance (alimony) and issues involving paternity. We also negotiate prenuptial and post nuptial agreements on behalf of our clients. We are especially adept in dealing with parental alienation issues and parental alienation syndrome. Call us for a free consultation.
May 10th, 2011
On February 17th, Justice Maron, sitting in the Supreme Court of Nassau County, rendered a decision in the case of S. S. v. M.S, denying the defendant husband a downward modification of his child support and spousal maintenance payments. The husband’s application to the court indicated that his income had been greatly reduced. He stated his income had been reduced by 58%. He explained the reduction in his income was caused by being terminated from his high-paying position. He claimed he was only able to find employment at a greatly reduced salary.
Liquidation of Assets
The father claimed he had been forced to liquidate assets to maintain the current rate of his financial obligations for child support and spousal maintenance. He also alleged his health was being negatively impacted by this situation.
Justice Maron found the father’s net worth statement was not complete. His decision stated that the father failed to set forth the total amount of his assets. He found the father was a title owner to a brokerage account worth over a half million dollars and, in addition, he owned an individual retirement account with a cash value of over $163,000.
Justice Maron reached a conclusion, based on the father’s additional assets, that he had sufficient liquid assets available to fulfill his financial obligations for child support and spousal maintenance. The Judge ruled the current child support and spousal maintenance payments did not create an extreme hardship for the father.
The law office of Elliot Schlissel represents individuals with regard to all aspects of matrimonial and family law. We litigate the grounds for divorce, orders of protection, child custody, child abuse, child neglect, annulments, issues involving fathers’ rights, mothers’ rights and we participate in mediation to resolve divorce matters. We also draft pre-nuptial agreements and post-nuptial agreements. Feel free to call us for a free consultation at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.
April 1st, 2011
This past summer, Justice Falanga, a Supreme Court Judge sitting in Nassau County, made a ruling that despite a child’s wishes, the relocation of the child with the mother to Michigan was denied. The wife decided to relocate from New York to Michigan. She had residential custody of the parties’ children. The father brought a proceeding for custody of the parties youngest child. He took this action in spite of the fact that the child had specifically expressed her desire to move to Michigan with her mother.
Dad Asks For Custody
Dad argued that the custody change was not in the child’s best interest. Justice Falanga decided that this was not a typical relocation case. Instead, he felt it was an application for change of custody resulting in the relocation of the child to another state.
The judge stated in his decision that the wife had the burden of demonstrating that the child’s best interest would be served by this relocation to Michigan, and by the changing of the residential custody from the father to the mother. The court noted that under child modification principles, the wife had established that she believed the child would be happier if she was allowed to reside with her in Michigan. However, she did not prove such change in circumstances would be in the child’s best interest.
The court also took into consideration the fact that the father had made diligent sustained efforts to develop the child’s relationship with his wife. The court ruled that he was the parent best able to provide for the child’s emotional, intellectual and social development. The judge further stated in his opinion that he could provide a more secure standard of living and financial future for the child.
In this case, a father’s rights were protected by the court. Thank you, Judge Falanga!
Fathers need to have their rights protected. Important issues in matrimonial law involving divorce, fathers’ rights, orders of protection, child custody, child visitation, child support, spousal maintenance (alimony), child abuse, child neglect, paternity, equitable distribution and relocation problems require experienced, dedicated fathers’ rights attorneys. We also represent fathers concerning issues involving parental alienation, parental alienation syndrome and paternity. Should you be presented with one of these issues, please feel free to call us.
December 10th, 2009
Reports have been circulating the past few days that Tiger Woods has been in negotiation with his wife Elin to “update” the pre-nuptial agreement to induce her to stay in the marriage after news of several of his extra-marital affairs became public.
Originally, the couple’s pre-nuptial agreement, signed in October of 2004, stipulated that Ms. Nordegren would receive a $20m payment from Mr. Woods after 10 years of marriage, which would have been in the year 2014. But with the recent revelations, news sources have reported that he has offered her an immediate payment of $5m and an additional $55m if she stays with him until October of 2011. The new agreement would reportedly also given her even another $20m if she stayed longer (totaling $80m). It would have also required her to attend public events with him and allow him to show the world (and his corporate sponsors, who are sticking with him so far) that he and Ms. Nordegren had reconciled completely.
These reports make it (mildly) surprising that she left for Sweden this week, thus potentially forfeiting any payment under either the old pre-nuptial agreement or any new agreement. It would definitely be understandable if she simply felt that no amount of money is worth staying in a miserable marriage. Alternatively, her stay overseas may be temporary and the couple will be getting back together. Not much is known publicly at this point.
It is noteworthy that although most news sources are reporting that the couple were in negotiations to sign a new “pre-nuptial agreement,” that term is not the correct one. If a couple who is already married signs the equivalent of a pre-nuptial agreement, it is called a “post-nuptial agreement” because the nuptials have already taken place.
You can always contact the office by phone at 800-344-6431 or by e-mail for questions about pre or post-nuptial agreements, divorce, or any other kind of legal matter.
Picture courtesy of thisisdiversity.com.
September 21st, 2009
In an effort to bring in blog traffic discuss the laws relating to having a marriage annulled in New York, it is worthwhile to bring up Britney Spears’ petition to annul her marriage signed just hours after her Las Vegas marriage. The couple tied the knot in a Las Vegas chapel Saturday morning, January 3, 2004 at 5 AM. She signed a petition to have the marriage annulled that same day, it was filed Monday morning, and a judge granted the annulment on Tuesday, January 6th. The marriage lasted about 55 hours. Las Vegas Review Journal.
The manager of Nevada Divorce and Paralegal Services said that an annulment makes it “like [the marriage] never happened in the first place.” This is not the case in New York. Here, under NY Domestic Relations Law § 7, the marriage is only void “from the time its nullity is declared by a court of competent jurisdiction,” meaning that the marriage was legally valid from the time it began until the court declares it null and void.
If a party is under age 18, then the judge may annul the marriage at his/her discretion, taking into account all of the facts and circumstances.
If either party is mentally incapable of consenting to a marriage because he or she is unable to understand the consequences and significance of a marriage.
If either party is physically and permanently incapable of entering into a marriage (i.e. having sexual relations). Sterility does not count.
The marriage occurred through force, duress, or fraud. Fraud may be shown where one party conceals or misrepresents some fact so material to the essence of the marriage that the other party would not have entered the marriage had it known about that fact.
One party has been mentally ill for five years or more before the marriage.
Britney Spears declared that the basis for her application for annulment was NRS 125.330, which allows annulment “for want of understanding.” This statute is worded very similar to New York’s, which allows annulment when “either of the parties to a marriage for want of understanding shall be incapable of assenting thereto.” New York’s law is almost the same allowing annulment when a party is “incapable of consenting to a marriage for want of understanding.” But Britney Spears said she was “incapable” of agreeing to the marriage because she and her new husband “did not know each others likes and dislikes, each others desires to have or not have children, and each others desires as to State of residency.”
I don’t think this would work in New York. Incapacity does not mean that one simply doesn’t yet know certain information about the person she is marrying. It means she is actually incapable, due to “mental illness or retardation,” of knowing what marriage really is, its significance and its consequences. Levine v. Dumbra, 604 N.Y.S.2d 207, 208 (2nd Dept. 1993). While some might claim, tongue in cheek, that Ms. Spears does suffer from some mental defect, it is doubtful that a court would find that she suffers from any actual mental illness that deprives her of the capacity to understand what marriage is. She may not have known her new husband’s favorite color, but this hardly rises to the level of incapacity to understand the nature of marriage itself.
If you need assistance with any matrimonial or family law matter, whether it be divorce, separation, child custody, annulment, adoption, or anything else, our office has over 30 years experience in these areas. So please contact our office by e-mail or call 800-344-6431 for help.
Picture courtesy of blog.canoe.ca.