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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.

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.

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.

New No Fault Divorce Law Eliminates the Need for a Trial

divorcepic1-114x150Supreme Court Justice, Robert J. Muller, has decided that under the new New York No Fault Divorce Law an objecting party is not entitled to a trial on the issue of fault the marriage is beyond repair. Justice Muller’s decision is an interpretation of New York’s year old No Fault Divorce Law. The Judge’s decision interprets the legislature’s intent that the new No Fault Divorce Law does not give an option to a spouse to demand a trial on the issue that the marriage is irreconciably broken.

The Judge in his decision stated “New York Legislature has enacted in DRL Section 170(7), a true No Fault Divorce Law which does not require proof of any fault, and which does not require or permit the government, through it’s courts, to put people seeking a divorce on trial regarding their marriage.” Justice Muller pointed out in his decision that his ruling is in agreement with a decision of Nassau County Supreme Court Justice Anthony J. Falanga in the case of AC vs. DR, where Judge Falanga ruled that a woman could not challenge her husband’s declaration the marriage was irretrivably broken. In that case the woman was also not allowed to have a trial on the fault ground.

Divorce Made Simple

The New Divorce Law eliminates litigation concerning fault issues of who did what to whom. However, issues involving child support, spousal maintenance, custody, orders of protection, visitation rights (parenting time) and attorneys fees in divorces are still subject to litigation.

Father’s Rights and Mother’s Rights

Mothers and fathers have equal rights regarding custody, visitation, child support, spousal maintenance and other issues in divorces. The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo have been litigating these issues for more than three decades. In addition, the law firm negotiates separation agreements, pre nuptial agreements and post nuptial agreements. In cases of one parent turning the children against another, the law firm litigates parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome related issues. Call for a free consultation. The offices phone numbers are 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802. The law firm phones are monitored 24/7.

No Fault Divorce Denied to Father

Scott Schiffer was divorcing his wife, Lynn. He made an application under the new New York Domestic Relations Law section 170-70 for a Summary Judgment based on a irretrevable break down of his marriage to his wife Lynn for a period of six months.

Lynn opposed the Summary Judgment application. Summary Judgment asks a court to render a decision on the issues presented to it without the need for a trial. Lynn claimed that a judgment could not be granted because under the new law both economic and custodial issues concerning custody of the children had to be resolved for the court to finalize a judgment on the case. Her attorney argued to the court since neither of the issues have been resolved the court could not grant a Summary Judgment application on behalf of her spouse in this divorce proceeding. Justice Charles D. Woods, sitting in the Supreme Court of Dutchess County agreed with Lynn’s lawyer’s argument. The court’s decision held the new No Fault Divorce Statute clearly states a judgment cannot be granted unless the economic and issues in concerning child custody and visitation are resolved.

Long Island Divorce Lawyers

The divorce lawyers at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo have been assisting New Yorkers and Long Islanders in obtaining divorces for more than 30 years. Our office has developed an expertise regarding issues concerning divorce, orders of protection, child custody, child abuse and child neglect, annulments, and issues involving high networth divorces. Our law office also negotiates pre nuptial and post nuptial agreements. We litigate issues concerning mother’s rights and father’s rights. Should you have Matrimonial or Family Court issues, call us. Our phones are monitored 24/7.

Problems Men Face in Family Courts

mensrights-150x150Have men’s rights in Family Courts become a civil rights matter? Do men need to band together to protect their rights that are being abused in Family Courts? Is there an inherent bias against men in the Family Courts? Do Family Courts make presumptions that have a negative effect on men’s rights?

Women as Nurturers

Prior to 1989, there was a presumption, in the courts of New York, that women would receive custody and men would support their families. In 1989, a gender neutral statute eliminated the statutory bias in favor of women in custody cases. The statutory bias was based on the assumption that women were the primary nurturers of young children and, therefore, they should have custody of their children. Since 1989, men and

women have had equal rights regarding custody of their children. So why have men not faired well in the Family Courts?

Primary Care Givers

Arguments are made on a regular basis that women are the primary care givers of their children and they should therefore have custody. If a court hears this argument over a long period of time, does the judge develop a bias against men who seek custody of their children? What can men do if they want to obtain custody of their children? To start, they must be dedicated, nurturing, loving parents. They must participate in their children’s lives. They must go to school events, participate in athletic events and take their children to the doctors. They must make time for their children. In the event of a divorce or Family Court situation, they must retain aggressive, experienced, dedicated attorneys. They must be prepared to expend the time, money and effort to go through protracted custody litigation in order to obtain custody of their children. Too often men talk the talk, but they don’t walk the walk!

Fathers’ Rights

Fathers who come to our law office often claim that they are treated like second class citizens in the Family Court regarding child custody, visitation, child support, spousal maintenance (alimony), orders of protection and issues involving child abuse and child neglect. They also relate to us that in divorce proceedings in the Supreme Court they are not treated fairly.

Our law office represents fathers with regard to all types of proceedings in the Family Court and the Supreme Court. We aggressively protect fathers’ rights. We deal with difficult issues, such as downward modifications of child support, relocation problems, parental alienation cases and issues involving parental alienation syndrome. For more than 33 years, we have been recognized as one of the premier fathers’ rights law firms in the Metropolitan New York area. If you have matrimonial or family problems, we can help you. Call for a consultation at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802.

Joint Custody Modified, Father Given Temporary Custody of Both Children

father-150x150Justice Connelly, sitting in the Supreme Court of Westchester County, modified a joint custody order and gave the father sole temporary custody of both of his children. The parties had entered into a stipulation of settlement wherein each of them would have joint custody. The children would reside with the mother and the father would have regular parenting time with the children.

Prior to a judgment of divorce being entered, the children were removed from the mother’s residence. There was an incident which alleged that she was using physical force against the older child. Criminal charges were pending against the mother.

The children were temporarily placed in the father’s custody during the pendency of the criminal allegations against the mother. The mother asked the court to award her sole physical and legal custody of the parties youngest child and joint custody of the parties other child. The mother argued that this was in conformity with the recommendation of a court appointed forensic evaluator. Judge Connelly rejected the forensic evaluator’s suggestions. He found that splitting the children up could cause more potential trauma and harm. The court refused to transfer the temporary custody of the younger child to the mother. She awarded the father, based on the children’s best interest, temporary custody of both children.

Fathers’ Rights Lawyers

We represent fathers! We have been doing this for more than thirty years. We litigate all aspects of divorce, including child custodyvisitationchild 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 supportrelocation problemsparental 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.

Hiring the Right Divorce Lawyer


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.

New York and Long Island Fathers’ Rights Lawyers

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.

Jobs, Money and Marriage

layoff-150x150As the economy falls back into recession, monetary issues will become more significant to American families. Men and women will argue even more about financial issues.

Losing Your Job

When the primary bread winner loses his or her job, it creates an enormous amount of stress. The job market impacts on all aspects of family life. It becomes an issue for couples who are married or who are thinking of getting married. Can you imagine the impact the word “unemployed” has on your Facebook site! Putting this on a dating profile basically eliminates all your opportunities for social interaction. Dating and marriage relate to economic unions. No job, no deal!

Washed Up

Men in their forties and fifties who lose their jobs and are divorced will find it very difficult to get remarried. While unemployed, these men must live off their savings, if they have any. A recent Newsday article stated that men in their forties and fifties who lose their jobs have the same odds of returning to their peak earning potential as they do of their hair growing back!

Financial Distress

Recent surveys indicate that women are three times more likely to feel financial stress during periods of unemployment. Surveys women have greater guilt and concern about being unable to support their children than men.

The Economics of Divorce

The economics of marriage are difficult. The economics of divorce are even more complicated. When a marriage breaks up and both parties have to maintain their own household, both the man and the woman end up poorer. Some studies have indicated that it can take a divorced woman who has custody of her children up to five years to regain her pre-divorce standard of living.

Protecting Fathers’ Rights

The fathers’ rights lawyers at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo have been representing fathers in matrimonial and family law proceedings for more than 33 years. Our law office aggressively represents fathers!  We litigate all aspects of divorce, including child custodyvisitationchild 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 supportrelocation 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.

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