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Extreme Hardship The Standard To Suspend Maintenance (Alimony) Payments

marriage and divorce attorneyJustice 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.”

Separation Agreement

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.matrimonial assistance through divorce

Getting Divorced During an Economic Downturn

divorce-150x1502The financial crisis in the United States is causing tension within families. Financial problems can be the cause of a divorce. In most marriages the family home is the largest asset. The decline in home values over the past three or four years has resulted in many homes being worth less than the mortgages on them.

Postponing Divorce

Recent studies have shown that nearly a third of all couples who considered divorce have postponed their divorce plans due to financial problems.

Divorce and Real Estate Issues

What do you do with the house in the divorce? Who stays in the house? Who is responsible for paying the bills on the house? These are significant issues that must be dealt with.

Living Together Until Financial Problems Can Be Dealt With

One choice for couples who don’t get along is to continue living together, but not as man and wife. These couples live together with the hope that their financial situation will improve and they will be able to sell their home and get their equity out of it. However, there is no sign the real estate market is improving throughout the majority of the United States. Furthermore, there is always a question as to whether living with someone you don’t get along with creates a negative environment for the children or will result in domestic violence.

Are the Mortgage Payments Behind?

If the mortgage payments are behind, the unhappy couple will eventually be receiving a foreclosure notice. Is it better to sell the house now or wait until it’s sold in foreclosure?

Modern Divorce

Divorce can be a contentious issue or it can be negotiated. The best solution for couples that don’t get along is for them to sit down with attorneys and negotiate in a mature, amicable manner, in either a divorce settlement or separation agreement. This will help avoid the acrimony and high cost of litigation.

New York and Long Island Divorce Lawyer

The Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo have been handling divorces in the Metropolitan New York area for over 33 years. We litigate all aspects of divorce related proceedings in the Supreme Court and Family Court. These proceedings involve divorce grounds, no fault divorce, child custody, mothers’ rights, fathers’ rights, child support, downward modification of child support, spousal maintenance (alimony)and domestic violence issues. In addition, we negotiate separation agreements, prenuptial agreementsand post-nuptial agreements for our clients. We litigate equitable distribution issues involving doctor, dentist and lawyer licenses. Call us for a free consultation.

Child Support and College Expenses

child-150x150The Child Support Standards Act provides a formula for child support payments. A non-residential custodial parent pays child support of 17% of gross wages, less FICA and less New York City taxes (where applicable), when there is one child receiving support. The figure goes up to 25% for two children, 29% for three children, 31% for four children and 35% for five children.

What happens to the child support when the he or she attends college?

The main expenses in college involve tuition and room and board if the child is not living at home. Recent cases hold that a parent paying child support should receive a dollar for dollar credit for all monies paid by the parent for room and board while the child is attending an out of town college.

Issues with regard to payments of tuition are more complicated. Some courts have held that parents should pay tuition up to the cost of a state university of New York college education based on the earnings of each parent. An example of this would be if one parent made $70,000 a year and the other parent made $30,000 a year. The parent making the $70,000 a year would pay 70% of the tuition costs and the parent making $30,000 would pay 30% of the tuition costs. This only works if the parents have the financial ability to make these payments.

College funding gets more complicated when there is more than one child receiving child support. Since most divorce cases are settled, the issues of college expenses, whether they be room and board, transportation or tuition, should be clearly delinated in the stipulation of settlement or settlement agreement entered into between the parties. These agreements are quite technical in nature and should only be drafted by qualified attorneys with extensive experience in handling matrimonial and family law matters.

If you are involved in a divorce or negotiating a separation agreement, it is important to consider the interaction between college expenses and child support at the time the agreement is being negotiated.

Fathers’ Rights Attorneys

If you’re a father with matrimonial and family law problems, the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo can help you. For 34 years, we have aggressively litigated all types of issues on behalf of the fathers we have represented. We have an expertise in dealing with child abuse and child neglect situations. We litigatepaternitychild supportchild custodychild visitationspousal maintenance (alimony), and we bring proceedings for the downward modification of child support on behalf of our clients.

We advise our clients with regard to all types of issues in divorce proceedings. We assist our clients in obtaining divorces on the basis of irreconcilable differences under the new New York No Fault Divorce Statute. We litigate equitable distribution of property in divorce proceedings. When the mother relocates, we bring relocation litigation to bring the child back to New York or change custody to the father. Should the mother turn the child against the father, we litigate issues involving parental alienation and parental alienation syndrome. In addition, we assist grandparents with grandparents’ rights cases. Feel free to call us for a free consultation.

Long Island and NYC Divorce Lawyer on New York’s New No-fault Divorce Law

nofault2-120x150Hooray! New York has now joined the other 49 states in the United States concerning the grounds for divorce. On October 12, 2010, New York’s new no-fault divorce law went into effect. This is the first change in New York’s divorce law since the mid 1960’s. New York is now in conformity with the other 49 states in granting parties whose marriage has broken down a divorce without airing their personal problems in a court of law.

New Ground for Divorce

To obtain a divorce in New York, you now only need to allege that the marriage between the parties has been irretrievably broken down for a period in excess of six months. That’s it! That’s the entire ground for divorce. Parties in a divorce proceeding no longer need to allege adultery, cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment or living separate and apart for one year under a separation agreement. However, all of the aforementioned grounds for divorce still exist in the State of New York and nothing prevents individuals seeking a divorce based on these four other grounds.

New Spousal Maintenance (Alimony) Law

A statute accompanying the new no-fault divorce law deals with the issue of temporary maintenance (spousal support) while the divorce is pending in the courts in New York. This new statute creates a new formula and a list of factors for the court to follow in providing temporary spousal maintenance for the less financially secure spouse. The purpose of this new statute is to prevent the non-breadwinner spouse from going into a state of poverty during the pendency of a divorce proceeding.

The new statute creates a presumption that the less-monied spouse is entitled to receive both spousal maintenance and attorney fees during the course of the divorce proceeding. Under the law that previously existed, a party seeking to obtain attorney fees had to make an application to the court during the divorce process to obtain either temporary attorney fees or permanent attorney fees. The new law has considerably liberalized the rules concerning spouses receiving temporary spousal maintenance and attorney fees from the very beginning of the divorce process.

Speeding Up Cases

The purpose of the new no-fault divorce law, the new spousal maintenance law and the law regarding attorney fees is to simplify and speed up proceedings for divorce in the courts of the State of New York. During the 2009 calendar year, there were 13,212 contested divorce actions in the state of New York. Spouses no longer have to go through painful, long, expensive trials on the issue of who did what to whom in their divorce proceedings. They can now concentrate on the economic issues and the custody and visitation issues in divorce proceedings.

Should you wish to be divorced, the lawyers at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo can help you with this new simplified process. Feel free to call us at 1-800-344-6431, 516-561-6645 or 718-350-2802. Our phones are answered 24/7.

New Divorce Law In New York

NoFaultDivorce1-150x150On August 15, 2010, Governor Paterson signed into law new statutes that significantly change divorce law in New York.

No Fault Divorce

The most significant of the statutes adopts a true no-fault divorce law, making New York the 50th state to adopt such a law. The new statute eliminates the need for a person seeking a divorce to claim that they either have been living apart pursuant to a written separation agreement for a period of one year or that the spouse has committed adultery, abandonment, cruel and inhuman treatment or has been sentenced to prison for a period of three years or more.

The party seeking the divorce simply has to claim that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” for a period of six months. The other party does not have to consent or agree to it. Once the allegation is made by one party, there is no defense available to the other party that will stop the divorce from going forward. The court then has to deal with issues involving child custody, child support, spousal maintenance, equitable distribution of property and other related matters.

Temporary Maintenance Awards

In addition, one of the new statutes changes the process by which courts grant temporary maintenance (money) to a spouse while a divorce is pending. The statute creates a formula and a list of factors to govern these awards. The purpose is to allow for a quick resolution of temporary spousal maintenance issues and enable the financially worse-off party to continue with litigation without being impoverished.

Attorney Fees

The third statute creates a presumption that the less well-off spouse in a divorce proceeding is entitled to the payment of his or her attorney fees. Under existing law, a party might be unable to secure legal representation must make an application to the court for attorney fees at the end of the litigation process.

Should you, a loved one or a friend be involved in or considering a divorce, feel free to contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo at 1-800-344-6431, or by email.

No Fault Divorce Comes To New York

dealdivorce-150x129New York is now joining the other 49 states in the United States with regard to divorce laws. The New York State Assembly has passed a no fault divorce law. Now both the State Senate and the Assembly have passed the liberalized New York divorce law, and it is anticipated that Governor Patterson will sign the new no fault divorce law very soon.

The new no fault divorce law will provide a ground for divorce where one spouse can unilaterally end a marriage by swearing under oath that the marriage has been broken beyond repair for at least six months. This is a major change in the divorce laws of the State of New York. New York was the last hold out to the modernization of its divorce laws; New York is now in synch with the other 49 states.

Up until now to obtain a divorce in New York, one party had to prove a fault ground such as cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment, constructive abandonment, or adultery. The only ground for a no fault divorce was living separate and apart pursuant to a written separation agreement for one year.

It should be noted that the new divorce law only deals with the issue of fault. It does not deal with issues concerning child custody, visitation or division of property (equitable distribution).

The new law will allow individuals in an unhappy marriages to get divorced more quickly than they could have in the past. Critics claim that the new divorce law will allow people to place less importance on marriage and therefore increase the divorce rate.

Some critics have raised issues concerning the new divorce law with regard to individuals abandoning critically ill spouses. In situations where a spouse may need to go into a nursing home, obtaining a divorce may free the individual from supporting the spouse and create a further burden on Medicaid or other publically funded programs to pay the expenses for the nursing home. There is also concern that more affluent spouses will use the new divorce law to quickly end marriages and leave the less affluent spouses destitute.

I believe the new New York No Fault Divorce Law is a good thing for the residents of the State of New York. It may help simplify some divorces and make the system more efficient and user friendly. Query: Should marriage now become contract that is subject to renewal every 5 years?

If you have any questions concerning New York Divorce, contact the divorce attorneys at the Law Offices of Schlissel DeCorpo by email or at 1-800-344-6431.

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