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Matrimonial Law and Mental Illness

Divorce between two parties with children is emotionally, and often financially, difficult. Divorce can involve many legal aspects: worrying about visitation rights – now known as ‘parenting time’ – alimony considerations, custody battles and other issues. These matters are further complicated if there is evidence of mental health issues which may have contributed to the marriage dissolution. In order to make divorce proceedings run as smooth as possible – for everyone, especially the children – it’s best to get a little education on what help is available to couples.

Difficulties Within a Marriage

First, if you’re experiencing difficulties within your marriage there are many steps to try before deciding on traumatic, and often costly, divorce proceedings. It’s probably worthwhile attending marriage counseling or family therapy before making any life-changing decisions, especially if children are part of those decisions.
If ultimately, however, both parties view divorce as the best solution there are considerations relating specifically to mental health issues and their impact on divorce proceedings.

Mental Health Issues

If one parent is suffering from a mental health issue, it’s imperative that the other parent is fully aware of this, and as supportive as possible, regardless of marriage status. There is help for mental illness available, whether that help comes in the form of therapy, educational resources for yourself or someone you know who is suffering, or information about paying for healthcare.

Postpartum Depression

Increasingly, postpartum depression is recognized as playing a role in modern marriages – and sadly, therefore, as playing a role in modern divorces. Postpartum depression is thankfully recognized nowadays as a debilitating mental health issue that can range from feelings of low self-esteem and mild depressive feelings to full-blown psychoses. Additionally, there is lots of information online offering assistance on how to spot warning signs, what help is available if symptoms present themselves, and how to cope with postpartum depression. However, the pressures of living with such a problem can strain a marriage to the point of divorce. If a marriage reaches this point – and if both parties agree – it would probably be best to proceed on no-fault divorce grounds. This should probably mean less legal intervention which tends to keep the costs down and also alleviates the possibility for animosity between parties – particularly important where children and mental health issues are involved.

Fathers’ Custody Rights

In New York, fathers are entitled to equal rights regarding custody and visitation with their children but it can sometimes seem like an uphill struggle, so fathers’ rights lawyers are now available to best put forward the fathers’ rights and wishes in court. In cases where the father has reason to be concerned about the well-being of his children – in a mental health case, for example – the law is tricky. For example, postpartum depression (which is far more common than most people realize with 1.3 million women suffering from it per year) is still fairly new as a consideration in custody proceedings. What remains clear is that many women are concerned to seek mental health services for fear that they may lose custody of their children, whether this fear is unfounded or not. But women must come forward so that proper analysis can take place – to ensure that postpartum depression is diagnosed and helped, rather than mistakenly treated as a longer-term and more extreme mental health problem. Not that postpartum isn’t serious: there have been unpleasant cases in the news whereby mothers have injured or killed their own children in the grip of postpartum depression.

What Can a Husband Do?

So what happens if a husband has good grounds for believing his children’s well-being may be at risk – does he have the right to request custody on these grounds? And to what extent are mental health issues taken into consideration by the divorce court, anyway? This is an area that needs more attention. At the moment, guidelines for child custody evaluations are available but reasonably vague. The bottom line is that postpartum depression and mental health issues are common factors within marriage difficulties and divorce and custody cases. If you’re suffering – either directly or indirectly, do seek help. The more this area is discussed and analyzed in the courtroom, the better equipped the legal system will be to understand it and deal with it appropriately.

This article was presented by a guest author, Melissa Johnson.

History Lesson On Marriage

divorce family attorneyMarriage was originally a way for families to make alliances with each other. In addition, marriages were used to expand the family labor force. Alliances even within families were common. In the Old Testament, Isaac and Jacob married cousins. In many parts of the world, marriage between cousins still is common. This is particularly true in many of the countries of the Middle East.


Today, monogamy is considered the norm for all marriages. However this was not always the case. Polygamy was common throughout ancient history. For many early cultures, if a woman turned out to be infertile a man could take another wife for the purpose of having children. The early Christian church took the position a marriage could be annulled if a woman could not conceive. Monogamy became the standard for marriages in western culture in the ninth century. The Catholic Church is largely responsibly for the elimination of polygamy in western culture.


In early cultures, promiscuity by men was widely accepted. However, promiscuity by women was considered a serious social taboo.

Religious Or Civil Marriages

In recent history, governments have gotten more involved in regulating marriages through the issuance of marriage licenses. This is now standard in most States in the United States.

Obligations Of Men And Women In Marriages

Only during the past fifty years has the concept of equality between men and woman in marriages gained a level of acceptance. In the past, men’s and women’s roles in marriage were gender based. Women raised the children and the men supported the family.

DOMA And Marriage

The Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA) defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman was recently struck down by the United States Supreme Court. Now marriage can be defined as a relationship between two people. The world has come a long way!

About The Author

divorce assistance for mothers and fathersElliot S. Schlissel, Esq. is an attorney practicing in the metropolitan New York area for more than 37 years concerning issues involving divorce, child custody and parenting rights issues.

Relocating After a Divorce

divorce lawyerWhen 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.maintenance and custody attorneys

Judge Allows Egregious Fault Inquiry in Equitable Distribution Case

matrimonial attorneysJustice 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.

New York Fathers Rights’ Lawyers

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.

family law and divorce on Long IslandThe attorneys of the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo 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.

Autism and the Child – Part III

assistance for parents of special needs childrenPrivate Schools and the Autistic Child

Child support in all fifty states in the United States is based on the Child Support Standard Act.  This statute lays out a schedule of child support payments and ancillary expenses the non-residential custodial parent must contribute to.  However, private school tuition is not one of the items included as a necessary payment obligation for non-custodial parents.  Courts have discretion to adjust the child support figures related to the special needs of a disabled child.  Divorce courts can utilize their discretion to order a parent to contribute to private schooling costs for an autistic child with special needs.  In situations where the public schools do not offer the specialized programs for an autistic child it may be in the child’s best interest to attend a school that can deliver specialized educational services related to autism.  The tuition costs for these types of schools should be taken into consideration by courts in making custody decisions concerning autistic children.

Emancipation and the Autistic Child

In the State of New York, a child is considered emancipated at the age of twenty one unless the child at an earlier age marries, enters into the armed services, or is working and self supporting.

An autistic child may never be emancipated.  Courts should consider whether a child’s disability should extend the time the child is unemancipated for child support purposes.  A child over the age of twenty one who is disabled and incapable of maintaining himself or herself because of illness or disorder should be considered to be unemancipated even if over the age of twenty one.


Autism is a tragedy affecting more and more American children.  Divorces caused by the tension and stress created by the necessary dealing with the unique problems of the autistic child are on the rise.  Courts, parents, and attorneys need to cooperate in creative decision making with regard to dealing with unique problems associated with raising an autistic child.

About the Author

family law and divorce on Long IslandElliot S. Schlissel, Esq., has been practicing Family and Divorce law in the metropolitan New York area for more than thirty years.  Elliot and his team of dedicated, hard working lawyers deal with all aspects of matrimonial and family law including issues involving divorce grounds, family lawchild custodychanging visitationchild abuse and child neglectdrafting separation agreementsprenuptial and post nuptial agreements.  We also have litigated cases involving mothers’ rights and fathers’ rights.

Autism and the Child – Part II

advocates for parents of special needs childrenSpecial Needs For The Autistic Child

Autistic children require expensive therapy and special education regimes that are not available in local school districts.  This results in additional expenses for families.  Judges hearing divorce cases involving autistic children need to pay special attention to the needs of the autistic child.

Residential Custody of the Autistic Child

The residential custodial parent of the autistic child will have a significant burden in dealing with all the idiosyncrasies of the autistic child.  When determining custody of an autistic child the judge should take into consideration all of the following issues:

1.  The acknowledgment and acceptance of the child’s disorder.

2.  Each parents ability to follow through on recommended behavioral interventions for the child.

3.  The parent’s capacity to understand the nature and circumstances of this disease.

4.  The willingness of the parent to place the child’s needs over his or her needs.

5.  Each parent’s ability to handle the psychological stress involved in raising an autistic child.

Joint Custody of the Autistic Child

Sometimes with healthy children, joint custody is the best route to deal with parent’s access to their children.  However, autistic children require special consideration when it comes to joint custody.  Joint custody will not necessarily be in the best interest of the autistic child. Autistic children require predictable and consistent schedules.  They do not function well when their schedules are interrupted.  Autistic children need regimented behavioral therapy.  This can be difficult to maintain when the child is going back and forth between two households.

It is extremely important both parents, the residential custodial parent and the non-residential custodial parent, be educated as to what autism involves and the types of long term therapies autistic children require.

Parenting Schedules and the Autistic Child

In cases involving autistic children parenting schedules should give special consideration to the child’s therapy regime.  Autistic children may be in year round extended school year programs related to special education.  When school regimes are interrupted for autistic children they can regress.divorce attorney on long island

Autism and Divorce – Part I

marriage and divorce attorneyDivorce is a common occurrence in today’s world.  In some states almost half of the marriages end in divorce.  When a married couple has an Autistic child it further complicates the home situation.  The inability of one or both parents to deal with the stress and problems in raising an autistic child can be a cause of divorce.  Parents of children with autism experience higher degrees of stress in their lives.

The Autistic Society of America, in a study, found the following cause for stress among autistic parents:

1.         Parents inability to determine the child’s needs.

2.         Reactions from society to the autistic child and the feelings of isolation.

3.         Concerns regarding future care for the autistic child.

4.         Finances and economic pressures caused by the cost of the therapies for the child.

5.         Feelings of grief.

6.         Lack of personal time.

7.         Stress from reactions by siblings and other family members

Divorce and Autism

There are special issues that affect parents of an autistic child during divorce proceedings. Issues involving child custodyvisitationchange in child custodychild supportfamily court issueschild abuse and child neglect proceedings, special education expenses for the child, and health insurance for the autistic child are issues that need to be dealt with.

Autism in America

There has been an astronomical increase in the past ten years in the number of children born in American who develop autism. Now approximately 1 out of every 90 child born in the United States develops autism.

Autism affects children in different ways.  Autistic children often have difficulty speaking.  Some autistic children only repeat what they hear others say.  Autistic children have difficulty making eye contact.  They can engage in obsessive-compulsive behaviors.  Examples of this type of behavior include lining up objects in a row and repeating a task over and over again for many hours.

Some autistic children do not understand danger. They can place their hand on a stove even if they were burned by doing this previously.  Autism is a serious disorder.  An autistic child’s ability to learn, communicate and socially interact is negatively affected.  Although autism is not curable, early diagnosis and intense behavioral treatment can allow the child to make significant improvements.maintenance and custody attorneys

Same Sex Marriages: Rights and Obligations in New York

On June 26, 2011, the Marriage Equality Act was passed in New York.  New York became the fifth state to recognize same sex marriages.  The Marriage Equality Act states “a marriage that is otherwise valid shall be valid whether the parties of the marriage are of the same or different sex.”  The intent of the statute is to allow marriage to become a fundamental human right in same sex relationships.

Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA)

The Defense of Marriage Act, which is a federal statute passed by Congress, does not recognize same sex marriages.  This statute bars the Federal Government from recognizing same sex marriage as being constitutional.  The law states “no state, territory, or possession of the United States or Indian tribe shall be required to give effect to any public act, record or judicial proceeding or any other state, territory, possession or tribe respecting relationships between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other state, territory, possession, or tribe or right or claim arising from such other relationship.” It should be further noted pursuant to Section Seven under Title One of the United States Code marriage is defined as a legal union between a man and a woman and the term spouse only refers to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.

Rights Under New York’s Marriage Equality Act

The Marriage Equality Act in New York conveys certain rights to individuals in same sex marriages.  The following are a list of some of these rights:

1.         Family and Medical Leave

2.         Veterans and military benefits

3.         Workman’s Compensation benefits

4.         Pension and survivor benefits

5.         Immigration rights

6.         Health insurance

7.         Automobile Insurance

8.         Burial rights

9.         Testate and Intestate Spousal rights under New York State law (Inheritance Rights)

10.       Creates tenancy by the entirety regarding real property ownership (marital rights to real estate)

11.       Allows a New York State Tax exemption

12.       Creates certain spousal evidentiary privileges


The New York Marriage Equality Act goes a long way in recognizing same sex marriage and providing the parties to these marriages with many benefits.  However, until the Federal Government revokes the Defense of Marriage Act there are numerous federal benefits that won’t attach to individuals in same sex marriages.

New York and Long Island Divorce and Family Court Lawyers

The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo have been litigating a myriad of issues involving divorce and family court situations for more than thirty years.  The attorneys at this firm have more than 100 years of combined legal experience.  Some of the matters handled by the law firm involved divorces, divorce grounds, orders of protection, high net worth divorces, grandparents’ rights, equitable distribution of assets, annulments, no fault divorce, child abuse defense, issues involving reduction of child support, custody issues, changing child custody, orders of protection, father right issues and mothers’ rights issuesFeel free to contact the firm for a consultation.

Lie To The Court and Your Divorce Gets Dismissed

Justice Charles J. Markey was recently presented with two cases involving divorces that had similar fact situations. In both cases judgments for divorce had been granted to the parties based on sworn statements that there were no children from the marriages. However in both situations the court eventually discovered that there were children of these marriages.

The court found intentional fraud or inexcusable recklessness due to the fact there were unemancipated children of the marriages who required child support to be paid on their behalf. Since there were misrepresentations in the original documents, there was no child support in the divorce judgments.

In both situations the court vacated the judgments of divorce. The court refused to amend the divorce judgment to include the children. Both divorce law suits were dismissed by the courts.

Stayed Foreclosure Allowed To Continue

The court took note that in both situations there were homes in foreclosure. He put in previously granted stays with regard to the foreclosure proceeding during the pendency of the divorces. The court vacated the stays of the foreclosure matters and allowed the two foreclosures proceedings to proceed. Conclusion, tell the truth in your divorce admissions!

New York and Long Island Divorce Lawyers

The attorneys of the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo have extensive experience in handling matrimonial and family court cases. The lawyers have a total of 100 years combined experience. These attorneys have extensive experience with regard to divorce grounds, family law, child custody, changing visitation, child abuse and child neglect, drafting separation agreements, prenuptial and post nuptial agreements. We also have litigated cases involving mothers’ rights and fathers’ rights.

Elliot S. Schlissel has litigated numerous cases dealing with professionals whether they are doctors, lawyers or dentists whose practices were being equitably distributed. The firm pays special attention to individuals who have high net worth divorce situations. Feel free to call for a free consultation 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 and 718-350-2802.

Nassau County Judge Blocks Marriage

Jennifer Burger wanted to marry Mr. Diack. Michael Diack is a convicted level one sex offender. Jennifer brought a proceeding before Judge Maron, who sits in the Supreme Court located in Nassau County, New York. She asked the court to set aside a January 2009 stipulation contained in her divorce judgment from her previous husband Robert Burger. She sought to set aside this stipulation so she could marry Michael Diack. The stipulation, which she had executed, required three adults be present any time Mr. Diack was around the Burger’s children, currently 8 and 13 years of age.

Judge Refuses to Set Aside Stipulation

When Judge Maron refused to set aside this stipulation, he effectively blocked her from ever marrying Mr. Diack. She couldn’t marry Mr. Diack because she could not live with him in the same residence as her children pursuant to the stipulation.

The Judge’s decision stated there was no change in circumstances that would justify his setting aside this agreement. Jennifer’s attorney, stated “this woman should not have to choose between the man she loves and wishes to marry and being the custodial parent for her children, when her fiance poses no risk of harm to the children.”

Jennifer’s fiance has pled guilty in 2001 to possession of child pornography in the third degree and for grand larceny for writing bad checks. He was given a sentence of two to four years in prison and labeled a level one sex offender.

Father Seeks to Protect His Children

The children’s father, Mr. Burger opposed the vacating the stipulation, claiming Mr. Diack would be a danger to his children. Mr. Burger’s attorney claimed his client’s opposition to setting aside the stipulation was driven by a “a legitimate concern” for his children.

Father’s Rights Lawyer

Fathers have rights that need to be protected. In situations involving divorces orders of protection, child custody, child visitation, child abuse and child neglect proceedings, fathers need aggressive, experienced advocates. Fathers dealing with issues concerning paternity, annulments, equitable distribution of assets in a divorce, relocation problems and parental alienation problems should seek out the very best lawyers available to represent them. The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo is a recognized father’s rights law firm. We have litigated numerous matters on behalf of fathers throughout the Metropolitan New York area for more than 30 years. We are well known and respected in the courts and by our adversaries. Call us should you have an issue you wish to discuss.

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