On August 3rd, Sherry A. Bishko, Esq. attended the Westchester Women’s Bar Association’s annual summer networking gathering held at the rooftop of the Red Hat Restaurant in Irvington, NY. The event was a huge success and attended by over 60 WWBA members and supporters. Sherry is currently serving as President-Elect of the WWBA. She is pictured with Magistrate Judge Kim Berg and retired Dutchess County Supreme Court Judge Christine Sproat.
Sherry A. Bishko, Esq. served and presented on a fabulous panel of experts on February 16, 2023 at Pace University School of Law entitled, Family/Matrimonial Law Overview: Diverse Perspectives From Current Practitioners with nearly 100 audience members. The program was hosted by the Westchester Women’s Bar Association and Pace University School of Law and was very well received!
If so, it is time for your child to do Advanced Directives. An Advance Directive gives a person (called an agent) a voice at a time when he or she is not able to do so. There are Advance Directives for health care decision-making (health care proxies and HIPAA Authorizations) and for financial decision-making (powers of attorney).
Without a health care proxy and HIPPA release, if your child gets sick or is in an accident while away from home, you would likely not be able to get medical information about him or her, nor would his or her doctor be able to speak with you – even though you are the parent! Your child’s Heath Care Proxy appoints someone to make medical decisions if your child is unable to make medical decisions for himself/herself. A HIPPA Authorization authorizes you to speak with the doctor of your 18-year-old even if your child is able to make decisions (you get to be a second set of ears).
And last, but not least, we recommend your 18-year-old execute a living will. A living will doesn’t designate authority to an agent, but it permits your child to describe what kind of health care decisions your child would want if he or she becomes unable to make his/her own decisions regarding health and medical treatment. We have two basic versions of the living will: “please stop treating if there is NO hope of recovery” and “treat treat treat”.
Please contact us for more information about these documents (and all other estate planning options), and to assist your child in preparing and executing these important documents.
Almost every divorce client will ask whether they will be entitled to child support or spousal support. These are two separate questions and New York law deals with them separately.
New York state has guidelines that establish how much money is required for child support. Child support depends on the family income. In addition, child support is statutorily required to include mandatory “add-ons”, such as childcare and unreimbursed medical costs.
If your income is over a certain amount, child support is determined outside of the guidelines and depends on many different factors.
The factors that the court will consider when determining if a spouse is eligible for spousal support are:
- What is the family income prior to the divorce?
- Did one spouse stay home to raise the children, while the other one was employed? If so, spousal support will be ordered to help the person who stayed at home get back into the workforce.
- The length of the marriage. The duration of the marriage determines the duration of the spousal support that is ordered.
In general, spousal support is ordered on an individual basis. The court will look at individual factors and decide if a spouse is entitled to spousal support and if so, what will be the duration of that support.
How Mediation or Collaborative Divorce Assist in Child and Spousal Support Decisions
During either mediation or the collaborative process, the spouses can come up with their own plan for child support and spousal support. The couple can focus on the needs of the other party in addition to their own needs and come to an agreement that works for them both and that they both feel is equitable.
Contact Rosenthal & Markowitz, LLP for More Information
For answers to your questions about child support and spousal support, or for any question concerning your divorce or the divorce process in general, contact our family law attorneys at Rosenthal & Markowitz, LLP. You can reach us at 914.347.1292.
One question almost all divorce clients ask is, “How long will this take?” In New York, there are procedural legal requirements that must be followed that cannot be changed. In addition, how fast the couple themselves come to a settlement agreement influences the length of time it takes to obtain a final divorce order.
Generally, if all goes well, it takes a minimum of one year to a year-and-a-half from the filing of the summons to the date the court signs the final order for divorce.
New York Legal Requirements:
- There is a residency requirement. In most cases, one of the parties must have resided in New York for at least one year prior to the commencement of the divorce proceedings. There may be an applicable exception.
- Time for response. If the defendant was served with the summons for divorce within New York state, he or she has 20 days to file a response after receiving the summons. If served outside the state of New York, the party has 30 days to file a response to the summons for divorce.
- A settlement agreement must be filed with the court. All issues must be settled between the spouses and a settlement agreement filed with the court.
- The court has 60 days to sign the final judgement of divorce. The clock starts running with the court on the day the settlement agreement is filed, and the court has 60 days from that date to sign the final order of divorce.
Time for Preparing a Settlement Agreement
Often times a couple will say they have resolved all issues in their case and are ready to present their settlement agreement to the court. However, when the attorneys review the case with the couple, they often find there are loose ends and more issues to be settled.
Generally, Mediation and Collaborative Divorce can move the case along faster since a team encourages and assists the couple with coming to settlement terms. A divorce case moves along as fast as the slowest person’s desires.
A Litigated Divorce Will Take Longer
When the couple needs court intervention to resolve their issues, and the case goes to trial, it takes longer. The attorneys can file a Request for Judicial Intervention (RJI) when the process is not moving along as it should. They are bound to comply with the court schedule and obtain court hearing dates.
Contact Rosenthal & Markowitz, LLP
For assistance in moving your case along, and for finalizing your divorce as expeditiously as possible, contact our family law attorneys at Rosenthal & Markowitz, LLP. You can reach us online or by calling 914.347.1292.
When you are going through a divorce, there is a lot of information you need to share with your divorce attorney. You also need to strike a balance between sharing all relevant information and not communicating unnecessarily, since every email, phone call, and text message can increase the cost of the divorce.
Communicating with Your Divorce Lawyer
It is important for you to understand from your very first visit that anything they tell your attorney is confidential. The information will not and cannot be divulged to anyone else.
This is an important concept since the attorney needs to know everything so there are no surprises from the opposition. Almost every divorce has some difficult issue, something that the client may not realize is important or is simply reluctant to share the information.
For example, maybe you have had trouble with your income tax return or haven’t filed for a few years. You need to share that information with your attorney so your attorney can deal with it. The issue will come up and it will reflect poorly on you if your attorney is blind-sided with the information during, or shortly before, a court hearing.
How Often and How Should I Contact My Attorney?
How often you contact your attorney depends on where you are in the case. At the beginning of the process, when you are focusing on things like a statement of net worth, you will communicate more often. As the case is winding down and near the final order of dissolution, there will be fewer things to discuss.
The most efficient way to communicate is by email, text, or phone. If you receive a communication from your attorney, respond quickly. Do not go “missing in action.” Your attorney needs to hear from you to move the case along.
Learning to Communicate with Your Soon-to-Be Ex-Spouse
At the beginning of the process, in some cases, your attorney acts as a go-between between you and your spouse. As the case nears the finish line, your attorney will encourage you to learn how to talk to your soon-to-be ex-spouse. That way, you do not run up future legal bills. Besides, your attorney will not be in your life forever and you need to learn how to speak with your ex without the conversation taking a negative turn.
For answers about communicating with soon to be ex and with your divorce attorney, or other questions you may have about the divorce process, contact us at Rosenthal & Markowitz, LLP. You may also call us at 914.347.1292.
Going through the divorce process is stressful. Often, the breakdown in communication is one cause of the divorce. Even those who thought their communication was good during the marriage have trouble communicating with their spouse during their divorce.
Emotions run high. One spouse may be angry and blame the other for the divorce. There is generally heartbreak and disappointment over the failed marriage.
If this describes you and children are involved, you need to learn how to communicate. You will be with your ex-spouse for your life as you co-parent your children. You will both want to attend graduations, weddings, and other family events.
How to Communicate During the Divorce
If you are in the process of divorce, there are some ways to communicate with your soon-to-be ex-spouse that can reduce your stress.
Establish boundaries. The boundaries you set depend upon your unique communication issues. Some suggestions are:
- Never, ever talk about your divorce issues in front of your children. Children suffer enough and often think they are the cause of the divorce. Be careful not to talk about it in front of them.
- Determine the best communication process for you, whether email, text, or telephone. Be careful what you put in writing. It is all discoverable and can come back to haunt you if you have said something rude, disparaging, or controversial and wish you could take it back.
- Limit the number of phone calls or messages if your spouse tends to contact you several times a day for non-emergency or non-urgent reasons.
Focus only on the issues. If you need to discuss finances, what is best for the children, and any other issue related to the divorce, do not stray into other volatile issues. It is easy to get an argument started and to say things like, “You always…” “You never…” Do not do that. Keep focused.
Keep it professional. Do not shout. Do not incite an argument. Do not be verbally abusive. Do not retaliate. Do your best to foster an environment conducive to open and respectful communication.
Consider using a mediator. If your attempts to communicate are still difficult and feel non-productive, it may be time for you to use a mediator who will provide you with the guidance you need to help you communicate respectfully.
Contact Rosenthal & Markowitz, LLP
For assistance in communicating with your spouse during the divorce process, or for mediation services that can help, contact our family law attorneys at Rosenthal & Markowitz, LLP. You can reach us online or by calling 914.347.1292.
A new issue for divorced parents that came with the COVID-19 pandemic is how to deal with their disagreement about COVID vaccines. There are two major areas where this disagreement affects the relationship:
1. When Parents Disagree About COVID Vaccines for Themselves
When one parent refuses to get vaccinated, the other vaccinated parent will likely have concerns about the unvaccinated parent passing the virus to the children during visitation. In one recent case, a mother was vaccinated and had compromised people in her family.
The mother was concerned that the children’s unvaccinated father would pass the virus to them during visitation and the children would then pass it on to family members. They handled this disagreement by agreeing that:
- The father and the children would always wear masks during the visit.
- The visitation would take place primarily outside.
2. When Parents Disagree About COVID Vaccines for Their Children
When parents disagree about COVID vaccines for their children, the options are:
- The court order controls. Look to the court order which will generally give one parent the authority to make medical decisions for the children. If this is not spelled out, the parent who has sole legal custody is the one who can make the decision. If the parents have joint legal custody, they have a problem because that means they have equal deciding authority.
- Mediation may help. If the couple is at an impasse, they may agree to have the help of mediation. The mediator can help them move from panic mode, terrified that their child is going to be very sick, into listening to a professional who can facilitate the conversation and ultimate decision making.
- Petition court for assistance. If parents cannot agree, even with the help of mediation, they can seek court intervention. In most cases, the court will look to the recommendation of the children’s doctor and make an order consistent with that medical advice.
For assistance with coming to an agreement if you and your spouse are unable to agree on Covid vaccines for your children, contact us at Rosenthal & Markowitz, LLP.