Robert G. Smith, PLLC

New York High-Stakes Family Law Blog

Be wary of dips in income that coincide with a divorce petition

A person who has decided that their marriage is over will begin to pull away from their partner. While this is challenging in almost every case, it comes with some special considerations if you own a business together. This is especially true if only one person knows about the finances of the company.

It's possible that the spouse with that knowledge might try to tip the divorce settlement in their favor by hiding revenue for the business. This is known as sudden income deficit syndrome (SIDS). In short, it means that they aren't being truthful about what the company is making. While the other spouse may think that the company is doing fine financially, this spouse makes it appear that it isn't.

Children have rights, even when their parents divorce

Children have specific rights as they grow up. These don't go away just because their parents are going through a divorce. As one of the adults in the relationship, you should review these rights so that you're able to ensure your children are getting what they need.

One of the most important things to remember is that your children need to continue to build relationships with family members. The divorce is between you and your ex, but your child should still have meaningful relationships with you and your ex. They also need to know extended family members, but they may feel unsure of how each parent will feel about this. Be sure you're encouraging them to do this.

Parenting plans for young children have special considerations

Parents have children in the hopes of raising them as a team, but things don't always happen that way. When you and your child's other parent end the relationship while the kid is young, you might be facing some unique challenges.

Infants in particular can make the situation challenging, especially if the mother is breastfeeding. In this case, the baby might not be able to be away from her for long periods until the infant will drink from a bottle, and the mother's milk supply is established.

How might divorce affect your kids?

Many parents who face divorce share concern over the effect their divorce could have on their children. There is no denying that children usually thrive with routine and stability, which are usually impacted by divorce. However, most children fare better than parents expect them to fare.

Some factors that might contribute to the effect divorce has on a child include the amount of parental conflict before, during and after the divorce. Other factors may include the child’s developmental stage, the child’s personality and the custody arrangement.

Know what you can reasonably afford during property division

People who amassed a lot of assets during the course of their marriage will often have a complex time trying to divide everything if their union ends. These divorces require that you split everything up, but this often takes a lot of thought. Anyone who's in this position should take the time to think about what they can reasonably support when the marriage is over.

We know that many people know the financial situation they're facing when they go through a divorce. Not only are you dealing with the loss of your spouse's income, you're also working with an increase in bills because of the expense related to the divorce.

Court battles occur in the absence of prenuptial agreements

A high-asset divorce is sometimes challenging to work through because you have to think about how each division option is going to impact your future. One of the first things that we do when we work on a divorce that includes considerable property is find out if there is a valid prenuptial agreement in place. If there is, the terms of the agreement are what we will follow.

When there isn't a valid prenup in place, the court will look at several factors before deciding how everything will be divided. The length of the marriage and the contribution of both spouses play a role in what the court decides. The health and age of each spouse and a host of other factors are also used when determining how things will be divided.

Children can learn life skills during divorce

Children who have parents going through divorce will face a rough time, but this doesn't necessarily mean they will walk away from the situation in a poor position. Instead, children can learn a lot when they see their parents going through this situation.

How you handle things during the split can have an impact on what your children learn. Ensure that you're being a good model for them, so they are reaping the best benefits.

Divorce can negatively impact your credit so be careful

Many factors go into determining who is going to walk away with what assets in a divorce. It is imperative that anyone who is ending a marriage understands what is going to impact the settlement they receive. This is especially important in high-asset divorces because the stakes are serious.

Going through a divorce is almost always a stressful situation; however, knowing what to expect and having an idea about your rights and responsibilities might make it a bit easier. You must determine what steps you need to take to protect your future.

3 reasons to avoid badmouthing your ex in front of your child

If you are going through divorce, it is natural to have some negative feelings toward your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Talking about these feelings can be a healthy way to help you manage them. It may be beneficial to lean on a trusted person, such as a therapist, parent, sibling or friend. However, there are several reasons why it is not a good idea to vent your feelings to your child.

16 Years of "Mere Silence" Eradicates A $ 53,312 Spousal Maintenance Obligation

In an interesting  case titled Makris v. Makris, decided on January 8, 2020, a New York appellate Court has employed the waiver doctrine to retroactively vacate a former husband's  $ 53,312 spousal maintenance obligation. The litigants were married with two children, and divorced in 1998.  The New York divorce judgment obligated the husband to pay both child support and spousal maintenance.   Alleging the existence of an oral agreement dating back to June 2001, the husband had stopped paying spousal maintenance in June 2001.  In August 2017, presumably when the child support obligation terminated, the wife hauled the husband into Family Court to collect 16 years' of allegedly unpaid spousal maintenance, which had by then grown to $ 53,312.   The husband thereafter filed a court petition to retroactively terminate the spousal maintenance obligation.  No doubt faced with a classic "he said - she said" conflict, not supported or refuted by any documentary evidence, the Support Magistrate found the husband's testimony to be credible and prospectively vacated the spousal maintenance obligation.  But the Support Magistrate did not retroactively vacate the  $ 53,312 spousal maintenance arrears. As all first year law students learn, a waiver is the voluntary relinquishment of a known legal right.  New York law also holds that a waiver cannot be inferred from "mere silence".  In the Makris case, the New York appellate court has held that 16 years of silence is not  "mere silence". There is nothing in the appellate court's published decision to suggest that Mr. Makris had suffered any adverse change in his financial circumstances.  The court used "mere silence" to retroactively vacate the $ 53,312 spousal maintenance obligation, holding that the husband had "good cause" under the New York statute Domestic Relations Law Section 236(B)(9)(b) not to previously attack the spousal maintenance obligation until 2017, after the wife had taken him to court to enforce it.  The stretch of that statutory language might open the door to authorize the husband's delay; but it does not address a Court's statutory authority to nullify an official court judgment without considering whether an adverse change of circumstances had occurred. 

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