On June 8, 2022, Rosenthal & Markowitz, LLP’s very own Sherry A. Bishko, Esq. was sworn in as Vice President of the Westchester Women’s Bar Association (WWBA) at the WWBA’s annual dinner and installation of officers at the Mamaroneck Beach and Yacht Club in Mamaroneck, New York! Sherry is also co-chair of the WWBA Mentorship Committee which pairs law school students and new lawyers with mentors in the Westchester County legal community. Rosenthal & Markowitz, LLP is a long-time supporter of the WWBA and remains committed to further the mission of WWBA which is promoting justice for all, regardless of sex; to advance the social, economic and legal status of women through the law.
“Sherry A. Bishko, Esq. Co-Chair of the Westchester Women’s Bar Association’s (WWBA) Mentorship Program co-developed and attended a Public Sector Employment Night at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University on Thursday evening, April 7, 2022. The panel discussed public sector employment opportunities for the law students and was a rousing success!”
Telling your spouse you want a divorce is only the beginning. The next steps will depend on the reaction you get. Do the two of you want to settle things amicably? Aside from not wanting to be married anymore, are you able to work together in the best interests of your children?
If there are any domestic abuse issues, or you expect the process to be contentious, you will likely need to pursue traditional litigation. In other cases, Mediation or the Collaborative Divorce process may be the best approach.
Maintain Financial Status Quo and Gather Documents
You should both try to keep as calm and civil as possible. Try not to fight. Do not close or deplete any joint bank accounts. Instead, begin gathering all the information you can. You will need:
- Documents of all bank accounts and credit cards. Your goal is to obtain statements from the last five years.
- Tax returns.
- Real estate deeds. How property is titled is relevant to property division.
- List of property you believe is your own separate property.
- List of all the personal property and real estate you accumulated together during your marriage.
There are situations where one party has access only to a savings account. You might not have a checking account or credit card. You may not have access to any funds and worry how you will survive. Even then, before you access your one source of available funds, you need to consult with your attorney for advice on what to do next.
How to Tell the Children You are Getting a Divorce
If possible, as parents you should be together when you tell the children about the divorce. You need to reassure the children that they did nothing to cause the divorce. The divorce is strictly between their parents and that you will both still love them and take care of them.
This is a good time to consult with a family therapist to help the children through the process and help you know how to proceed with the divorce in ways that are in the best interests of the children.
Contact Family Law Attorneys at Rosenthal & Markowitz, LLP
For answers to your questions about the divorce process, whether through traditional litigation, mediation, or collaboration, contact our family law attorneys at Rosenthal & Markowitz, LLP. You can reach us online or by calling 914.347.1292.
Choosing a divorce attorney is almost like entering a long-term relationship. You need someone who is qualified and with whom you are also compatible. There are some questions to ask and ways to evaluate whether an attorney is the right divorce attorney for you.
How to Hire Your Divorce Attorney
Friends or relatives are often eager to recommend attorneys to you. This is helpful, but you want to be sure that the attorney is knowledgeable and experienced in family law issues. An attorney who obtained a great personal injury settlement for your brother’s neighbor’s uncle’s nephew may not be the right one to pursue your divorce.
It is a good idea to narrow down your search to about three attorneys. You will want to interview them all. You will be looking for someone:
- Whose primary practice area is family law.
- Who is trained in Mediation and/or the Collaborative Divorce process?
- Find out if the attorney has taken the requisite courses and has the requisite credentials.
- Someone who shares your philosophy. If you want to have a “nuclear war” and “win” at all costs, you will choose a different attorney than one who focuses on amicable settlements.
- Ask what will happen if your case is not right for Mediation or Collaboration. Will the attorney pursue traditional litigation?
- Determine the best way to communicate with the attorney. Phone calls? Email? Text messages?
Look at the attorney’s website. That will generally tell you the attorney’s practice areas and whether they are passionate about Mediation and Collaborative Divorce.
You will have a working relationship with this attorney, possibly for a long time. Although it is a professional relationship, at times it will feel personal. You want to feel a rapport. You need to feel comfortable with the difficult but necessary conversations you need to have about your family.
Contact Family Law Attorneys at Rosenthal & Markowitz, LLP
For answers to your questions about the divorce process, whether through Litigation, Mediation, or Collaboration, contact our family law attorneys at Rosenthal & Markowitz, LLP. We want to be sure you are comfortable with how we approach your divorce. You can reach us online or by calling 914.347.1292 to schedule a consultation.
No matter how you handle it, divorce is a traumatic experience for your children. But if you put your children’s needs above your own and work together with your spouse to focus on what is in the best interest of your children, you can ease their transition in ways that will have a positive influence on them that will follow them for the rest of their lives.
Where to Start
The first thing for you to do is settle the custody issue. From there, other issues can be resolved, like child support.
Focus on the needs of the children and answer their questions. Children want to know:
- Where will we live?
- Will we have to move?
- Will we need to change schools?
- What about extra-curricular activities?
- Will we lose our friends?
- Will we still see our other parent?
You may not be able to answer all these questions, but you can tell them it’s not their fault and that you both will continue to care for them. Consider that you will be co-parenting these children for the rest of their lives. Their needs will change as they grow, but you and their other parent will always need to work together as you both remain involved in their lives.
We tell our clients, “You are parents of these children, not until the end of the divorce, but for the rest of your life. God willing, you will be grandparents together. You should be able to get along. For the sake of your children, work toward a good relationship.” That is what it means to put your children first.
Mediation and Collaborative Divorce are Child Centered
Mediation and Collaborative Divorce are divorce processes that help to put the children first. One of the benefits can be to bring in a child-parent coordinator to help you learn how to communicate with your co-parent in positive ways. You learn co-parenting as an evolving process as you learn to work together in the best interest of your small children and as they grow through middle-school, high-school, college, and become parents themselves.
Parenting is a long journey. Your children will need you even when they are adults. It is important for you to build a relationship with your co-parent that always focuses on the best interests of the children, no matter how old they are.
Contact Family Law Attorneys at Rosenthal & Markowitz, LLP
For answers to your questions about how to have a child-centered divorce, or questions about the divorce process, contact our family law attorneys at Rosenthal & Markowitz, LLP. You can reach us online or by calling 914.347.1292.
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.
There is an easy answer to the question, “Who needs an estate plan?” That answer is “everyone.” You may think you do not have enough assets to make it worth your time to draft a will, but there is more to estate planning than just writing a will.
Documents Involved in Estate Planning
There are many documents that might be part of an estate plan. Some of these are:
- Will. A Will is a document in which you direct how you want your assets to be distributed after you die. You can be very specific about particular items of property and about who will be the beneficiary. For example, you can name a person you want to receive your house or your car. You can direct that the beneficiary get the property outright, or that the property be held in a trust which means distribution will be restricted. You can also name someone who you do not want to inherit anything. However, a Will must be signed in a very particular way, and it is not valid unless correctly signed.
- Power of Attorney. In this document you name someone to be your agent, and you give your agent authority to manage your financial affairs. Picking the agent and the types of authorities requires discussion (not just a form you download from the internet). A power of attorney must also be signed in a very particular way, and it is not valid unless correctly signed.
- A Living Will. This document provides you the opportunity of establishing exactly what type of care you want, and do not want, if you cannot express yourself or you are not competent. It can cover testing, treatment, artificial nutrition, hydration and respiration. It can cover your wishes about resuscitation, hospitalization, etc.
- A healthcare proxy. In your health care proxy, you designate someone you trust to make healthcare decisions for you if you are unable to make them for yourself.
- Various types of trusts. Each type of trust serves a different purpose. For example, while you are alive you may want to gift assets to reduce your estate taxes, or because you want to take care of someone else. Your intended beneficiary might be a minor or a person who is not competent, or is a person who might have creditor or matrimonial issues. Or you might need to consider using a trust when doing estate planning to create trusts after you die. Or you might need to consider using a trust to avoid probate.
If you die without the documents which implement your estate plan, your assets will be distributed according to New York State law. The NYS law does not know you, or who is important to you, or whether your favorite people have capacity to manage their assets. NYS law makes no provisions for your best friend, or your favorite charities, or trusts for your adult children who are not quite ready to manage their own assets.
You can, and should, be making your own decisions about your health care and the disposition of your property during your lifetime and after your death.
Contact Estate Planning Attorneys at Rosenthal & Markowitz, LLP
For answers to your questions about estate planning, contact our will, trusts, and estate attorneys at Rosenthal & Markowitz, LLP. You can reach us online or by calling 914.347.1292.