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A wife brought a case in Rockland County Supreme Court before Justice Robert Berliner. In this case the parties had been divorced by a judgment dividing the marital portion of each of the parties’ pension and retirement benefits. Thereafter the wife submitted a Domestic Relations Order concerning the husband’s New York City Fire Department (hereinafter referred to as ‘FDNY”) pension. In November 2015 the wife received her first payment of the husband’s pension. The monthly payment she received was for $1,762.88.

Husband’s Pension in Pay Status

The husband’s FDNY pension however was in pay status going back to May 2014. The wife’s application sought $31,731.84 which represented her 50% interest related to her marital portion of husband’s pension from May 2014 through October 2015. The wife’s attorneys presented an argument that her financial interest in husband’s pension vested when the parties entered into a Stipulation of Settlement regarding their divorce on April 22, 2014. There was a delay with regard to submitting the Domestic Relations Order. However, the delay in submitting the Domestic Relations Order the wife claimed should not impact on her receiving the retroactive portion of her husband’s pension. The husband’s attorneys argued the wife’s application was not in conformity with the Stipulation of Settlement the parties entered into. He also argued the Domestic Relations Order submitted by wife sought to modify the Stipulation of Settlement in the divorce which had been resolved 2 years prior.

Wife’s Interest in Husband’s Pension Vested
Upon Execution of the Stipulation of Settlement

Attorney Elliot Schlissel

Justice Robert Berliner agreed with the wife’s position. He held the wife’s interest in her husband’s pension vested when the Stipulation of Settlement was executed. He further held the delay in submitting a Domestic Relations Order did not impact on her rights to half of her husband’s pension. The judge found the wife was entitled to $31,731.84 in back payments. This constituted her 50% share of her marital interest portion of husband’s pension. The husband had to pay her back this money because these funds were paid out prior to the court entering the Domestic Relations Order causing the New York City Fire Department to pay the wife $1,752.88 per month.

Elliot discusses what you should look for when choosing a divorce lawyer.

Handcuffs & keys

On February of 2017 federal immigration agents arrested 41 people in the State of New York. After the arrests the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) provided details as to why these individuals were detained. These individuals had been convicted of offenses against children, convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol, rape, robbery and cocaine distribution convictions. All of these convictions are considered aggravated felonies and are therefore offenses that individuals can be deported for.

Thomas R. Decker, the Director of Enforcement Removal Proceedings for ICE’s New York Office quotes: “Citizens of New York City and the surrounding areas are safer every time another criminal is removed from the street.” “Our nation has a proud history of immigration,” however, he went on to state: “No one should be allowed to pick and choose which laws they decide to follow.”

Attorney Elliot Schlissel

The individuals arrested were from a variety of countries including Mexico, Guinea, Guyana and Jamaica. Carlos Gerardo Izzo a spokesman for the Mexican consulate stated: “These were specific operations to pick up each one of them and not randomly take someone off the street because there was a Mexican place where there were a lot of people.” Mexican family members have been warned by consulate officials that they should not fear being arrested while on the street. The individuals arrested in the New York Metropolitan area were part of the approximate 700 people who were detained on a nationwide basis.

Aggravated Felonies

A Gavel & Law Book

A criminal conviction after November 29, 1990 for what is defined as an aggravated felony is a permanent bar to becoming a naturalized American citizen. Under the Immigration and Naturalization Law some crimes under State and other federal laws would be considered misdemeanors are considered aggravated felonies for naturalization purposes. Examples of crimes that are considered aggravated felonies are crimes involving theft, where an individual is sentenced to one year in jail, drug trafficking and various other crimes. Some crimes which are not aggravated felonies also may prevent you from becoming a naturalized American citizen. The law involving becoming a naturalized American citizen requires that you provide documentation that for a period of five (5) years you have shown a good moral character. In some instances spouses of United States citizens only have to prove they have had a good character for three (3) years.

Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude

There is a category of crimes involving moral turpitude that can be a bar to becoming a naturalized American citizen. Examples of these types of crimes are drug offenses, multiple gambling offenses, crimes where a judge has sentenced you to five (5) years imprisonment or more and any crime for which you have been confined to a prison for a period of six (6) months. A list of other crimes which are considered crimes of moral turpitude involve sexual offenses, robbery, receiving stolen goods, prostitution, counterfeiting, larceny, murder, burglary, writing bad checks, blackmail, bribery, rape and prostitution.

Citizens Application From Being Deported

If you apply to become a naturalized American citizen and you have been convicted of a crime involving more than five (5) years imprisonment or under certain circumstances three (3) years imprisonment, you can as a result of applying to become a naturalized American citizen be deported for your criminal act. Your case can be referred to an immigration Court for deportation action.

Attorney Elliot SchlisselElliot S. Schlissel and his associates are criminal lawyers who are not only experienced in representing clients with regard to criminal problems but are knowledgeable with regard to the immigration impact criminal convictions can have.

Marriage certificate being cut in half

Ben Vereen married Andrea Tonsley Vereen more than 50 years ago. The Marriage was short and sweet. It lasted only 2 years. Thereafter, Mr. Vereen remarried. Both Mr. Vereen and Ms. Tonsley remarried and had children with their new spouses. They stayed friendly during the 50 years that have ensued since they split up.

Applying for Social Security

Last year, Andrea applied to Social Security. When she applied, she found out she was still married to Mr. Vereen. Mr. Vereen recalled appearing in court and having their marriage dissolved. He assumed he had been divorced. However, the Social Security Administration had no record of his divorce. Mr. Vereen became concerned because he had remarried in 1976 and had 5 children with his second wife. He wondered as to whether he was a bigamist.

Prior Attorney Deceased

The lawyer that had represented Mr. Vereen in the 1970’s was deceased. Mr. Vereen hired several lawyers to try to uncover the problem brought up by his first wife. The New York Post and People Magazine wrote articles about the situation. This created an embarrassing situation for Mr. Vereen.

Eventually Mr. Vereen found a lawyer who was able to uncover the fact that in 1974 a final judgement of divorce was entered between him and Andrea Tonsley Vereen. They actually had been divorced for 42 years.


Attorney Elliot Schlissel

It is highly recommended when you get divorced to save a copy of your divorce documents. You will be surprised how often these documents will come in handy.

Pre-nuptial Agreements
There can be a variety of reasons for individuals entering into a pre-nuptial agreement. However unless a pre-nuptial agreement is enforceable it’s not worth writing. If a divorce proceeding is initiated a claim can be made is to set aside the pre-nuptial agreement. The purpose of this blog article is to discuss a variety of issues that should be dealt with to limit the potential of a pre-nuptial agreement being set aside.

Avoid Last Minute Pre-Nuptial Agreements

Issues of duress and coercion can be the basis of trying to set aside a pre-nuptial agreement. To avoid these issues each party to the pre-nuptial agreement should be represented by independent counsel. The pre-nuptial should not be executed the day before, a night before or even a week before a date of a wedding. The parties should have a reasonable period of time to prepare, review and execute the pre-nuptial agreement without being impacted on by the impending celebration of their marriage.

Full Financial Disclosure

The parties who enter a pre-nuptial agreement in the State of New York should disclose their assets, debts, income and financial obligations. This allows the parties to make a knowing, reasonable decision with regard to entering into this agreement.

Avoid Unconscionable Terms

When a pre-nuptial agreement is challenged a court of competent jurisdiction will review the agreement. It must not be so unfair or imbalanced on its face that a court will refuse to enforce it. Unconscionability deals with the issue of an agreement being so unfair as to shock the consciousness of the judge ruling upon it. This means for an agreement to be fair and reasonable between a monied spouse and a non-monied spouse there must be come consideration given to the non-monied spouse.

Independent Counsel

Attorney Elliot SchlisselIn the State of New York each of the parties should have independent counsel representing them with regard to the preparation and execution of the agreement. Each party having their own attorney who can explain and make sure their client fully understands the agreement and all of its implications. Each party having their own attorney is especially important when they are waiving important legal rights they would be entitled to in a divorce proceeding. As a general rule my office will not enter into a pre-nuptial agreement unless the other party is represented by an attorney.

Elliot S. Schlissel, Esq. has been drafting pre-nuptial agreements for clients located throughout the Metropolitan New York area for more than 35 years.

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