Queens and Nassau Divorce Lawyers and Family Lawyers

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Brooklyn Divorce & Family Lawyers

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Brooklyn Divorce and Family Lawyers: Are You Residing in Brooklyn and Thinking of Getting a Divorce?

If you are experiencing marital difficulties, contact Brooklyn Divorce Lawyers & Family Lawyers for a FREE consultation and case evaluation.  Our highly experienced divorce and family lawyers will educate you and keep you on the right track for a successful divorce or family law case.  

We take pride in delivering one-on-one attention to clients that few firms can match.  We are always available to answer questions and explain your options, such as: filing a motion to have your spouse pay you funds for counsel fees, how to obtain temporary maintenance during the divorce, obtaining child support, and informing you what assets you are entitled to, such as a portion of your spouse’s 401k, pension, or other retirement plans.  We educate and guide you on the way courts make custody decisions for your children, how visitation issues are determined, which parent will have “final decision making authority” for your children, ways you may be able to settle your case without protracted litigation, what to do if a parent violates a visitation order or interferes with the relationship with your child, what NOT to do in a divorce case, and many other issues. 

It is imperative to have a good lawyer from the beginning of your case because the way your case proceeds from the beginning can have a profound effect on the outcome.  Start with highly experienced attorneys from the beginning to give yourself the best chance of success, and keep in good graces with the court.  In this brief guide, we explain common issues that arise during a divorce case in Brooklyn.  If you have any questions, call us to educate yourself further, you’ll feel better that you did!

Child Custody

Courts grant two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody.  Legal custody involves decision making authority over your children.  Physical custody concerns the parent the children primarily live with. The custodial parent is the parent that the children primarily live with.

It is important to understand that custody determinations are based on the “best interest of the child.”  This means courts will look at the important factors in the child’s life, such as schooling, special needs, the child’s relationship with the parents, the child’s interest, and other factors to determine which parent is best able to meet the needs of the child. If a child has a disability the court closely examines the qualifications and attributes of each parent to determine which parent is best able to help the child overcome his or her disability.

Often, the court will appoint an attorney for the child.  The child’s attorney will interview the child to determine what is going on at home and ascertain which parent the child would prefer to live with.  If the child tells his/her attorney that he/she would rather stay with a certain parent—the court will afford great weight to the child’s request.  Generally, courts will provide joint legal custody to both parents, which gives both parents a say in how their children are raised.

 Final Decision Making Authority

Courts often award “final decision making authority” to one parent for certain issues, such as schooling, religious upbringing, medical care and other day to day issues.  This will allow the custodial parent to take action on behalf of the child over the objection of the non-custodial parent.  While final decision making authority is often granted to the custodial parent—this is not certain.  There are instances where litigation is required to achieve “final decision making authority.”

Joint Custody

In many cases courts provide 50/50 joint physical custody to the parents.  In these cases, the children will spend an equal amount of time with both parents.  The parents can agree to the schedule, such as a week-on week-off schedule.  In the summer months this can be extended to month-on, month-off to permit vacations and travel.  It is important to understand that physical custody will dictate which parent receives child support.  If a child spends, even slightly more time (a few hours) with one parent, the parent who has the child for the majority of the time will receive child support.  If parenting time is evenly split, court’s generally order the monied spouse to pay the less monied spouse child support.  Talk to your attorney further to determine how custody and income determine child support payments. 

New York courts apply a mathematical formula to determine child support.  The child support formula considers each parent’s income to determine the amount of child support that needs to be paid to the custodial parent (the parent that the child primarily lives with.)  Child support must be paid until the children reach the age of 21 or become emancipated through marriage, military service, or the child becomes self-supporting through substantial employment.

Child Support

Child support is vital to the wellbeing, care, and upbringing of children.  New York courts provide two types of child support: basic child support and support for add-on expenses (commonly referred to as “add-ons”).

Basic child support is calculated through a mathematical formula that is explained more fully below.  Add-ons are additional payments for certain expenses.

Mandatory add-ons, include, health insurance premiums, un-reimbursed medical or dental expenses, and day care expenses.  In some cases, the court will order payment for additional add-on expenses, such as after school programs, tutoring, summer camp, and other extra-curricular activities.  The payment of additional add-ons are determined on a case by case basis upon considering the parties’ income to cover these expenses and the specific needs of the child.  The non-custodial parent will be required to pay a portion of the add-ons.  This is known as the parent’s pro-rata share of add-ons.  

Determining the Amount of Child Support

The amount of basic child support is determined by a statutory formula that incorporates the combined income of each parent and the number of children.  Child support is paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent.  As noted above, if the parents have joint custody, generally the less monied parent will receive child support payments from the monied parent (the parent who has greater income.)  During the pendency of the divorce case, the court can order the non-custodial parent to pay child support.  Your attorney will file a motion for child support to achieve this relief.  After the divorce is finalized the non-custodial parent will continue to pay child support, unless there is a change is circumstances.  If the parent’s income increase or decrease by at least 15%, an application for an upward or downward modification of child support can be made by either parent.

The Child Support Formula

The formula to calculate basic child support is as follows:

  1. Determine both parent’s adjusted gross income by subtracting Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes (FICA taxes), and NYC local taxes/Yonkers taxes from each parent’s gross income.  Note, do not subtract other Federal or State taxes. 
  2. Add both parents adjusted gross income to obtain their combined income (up to the statutory income cap, which increases each year.)
  3. Depending on the number of children, the combined income will be multiplied by 17% (for one child), 25% (for two children), 29% (for three children), 31% (for four children), 35% (for five or more children). This gives you the basic support amount.
  4. Next it must be determined how much (what portion) the non-custodial parent must pay, known as the pro-rata share. To determine the non-custodial parent’s pro-rata share, divide the noncustodial parent’s income by the combined income. This gives the pro-rata share.
  5. Multiply the basic support amount by the pro-rata share to determine the amount of child support that must be paid.
  6. Maintenance payments will affect the amount of child support paid. If the noncustodial parent is paying maintenance, the maintenance payments are subtracted from their income and added to the custodial parent’s income. This will reduce the non-custodial parents pro-rata share of child support payments during the time maintenance is paid.
  7. Courts can deviate from the support formula for a variety of reasons.  Courts can instruct a well-off parent to pay greater amounts above the statutory income cap.  Courts can also reduce the amount of payments due to sickness, disability, and/or poverty issues.  If a parent is working below his or her earnings capacity, income may be “imputed” to the parent, based on their work history, education, and ability to earn. If a parent is receiving free-housing or other benefits, this may be imputed as income by the court. These issues should be explored by your divorce attorney and reported to the court when applicable, so that fair and just child support is paid.  

Example Calculating Child Support 

Below is an example of the child support formula with $7,500 annual maintenance payments:

                                                                         Non-custodial Parent                                   Custodial Parent

Adjusted Gross with Maintenance

(obtain adjusted gross income after subtracting NYC local taxes & FICA taxes)

*Add/subtract maintenance payments

$100,000 – $7,500* =

$92,500

$50,000 + $7,500* =

$57,500

Combined income

$92,500 + $57,500 = $150,000

Multiply combined Income by 25% E.g. for 2 kids

$150,000 x .25 = $37,500 

($37,500 is the basic support amount)

 

Calculate Pro-rata share  
(Divide each income by combined income)

$92,500 / $150,000 = 62% (non-custodial parent)

$57,500 / $150,000 = 38% (custodial parent)

Calculate payments

$37,500 x .62 = $23,250 annually

$1,938 monthly child support paid

In this example, the custodial parent (the parent who has primary physical custody of the children), would receive $23,250 in annual child support (or $1,939 monthly) from the non-custodial parent. In addition, the non-custodial parent is required to pay 62% of add-on expenses (such as unreimbursed medical expenses, child care, etc.)

In this example, the non-custodial parent is paying $7,500 in annual maintenance to the custodial parent.  Upon the completion of maintenance payments, the non-custodial parent’s basic child support payments and pro-rata share of add-ons will increase.  The calculation will have to be redone without the $7,500 maintenance payments. 

Maintenance

In New York, Maintenance Payments (commonly referred to as alimony in other states) are payments made by the monied spouse to the less monied spouse based on a mathematical formula that considers both spouse’s income, the duration of the marriage, and other factors.  Like child support, the primary factor for maintenance is the income of the spouses.

Underreporting Income

There are instances where a spouse underreports income in an effort to reduce the amount of maintenance and child support payments.  Intentionally underreporting income is fraud and must be brought to the attention of the court.  In instances where a spouse receives  off-the-books cash income, we take measures to identify their cash income and disclose it to the court. 

 

Business Income

In some instances a spouse will inflate business expenses to reduce net profits.  In these instances the business records will need to be examined to determine if excessive expenses are made.  Whenever a spouse actively conceals cash and other assets, additional discovery is typically required into the monied spouse’s business interests, off-the-books earnings, business expenditures (made in an effort to “zero out” their company and avoid distribution payments), as well as other sources of income the spouse may be hiding.  In situations where a spouse conceals income, close cooperation between you and your attorney is required to identify hidden income and reveal it to the court.

Imputing Income

In some instances a spouse may willingly choose to work below his or her earnings capacity in an effort to reduce child support and maintenance obligations.

Generally, courts will “impute” income to the spouse to reflect the true value of their earnings capacity.
This is another instance that requires close cooperation with your attorney to demonstrate to the court that your spouse is voluntarily making less money to reduce his or her maintenance and support payments.  We examine past earnings, education, experience, and other factors to demonstrate true earning potential. At Solomos & Storms, PLLC we develop a close working relationship with our clients, in order to ensure that they receive a just and equitable outcome in their divorce case.

Temporary Maintenance

Many people are not aware that the court can order their spouse to pay them temporary maintenance, from the inception of the divorce action.  At the commencement of a divorce case, a pendente-lite application may be filed with the court requesting certain relief during the pendency of the divorce case, such as temporary maintenance, child support, attorney’s fees paid to you by your spouse, consolidation of any pending family court actions, and other relief that may be appropriate. 

This upfront relief helps to ensure your standard of living during the divorce as well as provides you with legal funds to obtain a just and fair resolution in your divorce case. 

 

Post Divorce Maintenance

Post divorce maintenance are payments that the monied spouse makes to the less monied spouse after the divorce is finalized.  In order to determine the amount and duration that post divorce maintenance is paid, courts consider the duration of the marriage, the age of the parties, the health of the parties, earnings capacity and several other factors.

Generally, for marriages from 0 to 15 years, maintenance is 15-30% of the duration of the marriage. Thus, for a 10-year marriage, maintenance would be paid for 1.5 to 3 years. For a 15-20-year marriage, maintenance is 30-40% of the duration of the marriage. Thus, for a 20-year marriage maintenance would be for 6-8 years. And marriages more than 20 years, maintenance is 35-50% of the duration of the marriage. Thus, for a 30-year marriage maintenance would be paid for 10.5-15 years.  The court may modify the duration of maintenance based on a variety of circumstances.

Visitation

Generally, the non-custodial parent will be afforded generous visitation with the children, unless improper conduct arises during visits, such as neglect, mistreatment, abuse, or other harmful actions. Courts encourage visitation as the default position is that contact with both parents is in the best interest of the child.

Misconduct During Visitation

Unfortunately, during visitation periods, some parents engage in an activity known as “alienation.”  This concerns efforts by a parent to interfere with the other parent’s relationship with the child.  This can include not allowing a child to talk to the other parent during visitation, monitoring phone calls, or instructing the child to say hurtful things to the parent, such as, “I don’t love you.”  In some troubling cases, a parent will actively try to manipulate a child to get them to avoid seeing the other parent.

Alienation

Alienation is taken extremely seriously by courts because it jeopardizes the parent-child relationship.  Alienation can lead to court’s modifying custody and visitation decisions, and taking other drastic actions to punish a parent who engages in improper conduct.

Courts encourage liberal phone use between parents and children.  In the event your children reports monitoring of phone calls, turning off the phone, bad mouthing, or other improper conduct—inform your attorney so that action can be taken, including the filing of a motion to modify visitation and/or custody orders.

Visitation Orders

The holidays can be another area where parents attempt to “weaponize” their children. Disputes often arise as to who spends Christmas with the children, New Year’s, and other special days.  To avoid these disputes, we incorporate detailed visitation schedules into our settlement agreements, to include specific days, drop-off and pick-up times, and other provisions that clarify where the children spend the holidays.  This clarity can avoid disputes in the majority of cases.

Violation of Visitation Orders

Despite clear instructions, some parents choose to intentionally violate the rules by refusing to return children as scheduled, sometimes in an effort to destroy a planned vacation. We have several options to address these instances, such as filing a writ of habeas corpus motion to have the children immediately returned, as well as filing a motion for contempt of court that may be punishable by fines and imprisonment.

Contempt Proceedings

An opportunity to be heard and a hearing will generally be performed prior to punishment for contempt of court.  Often the first contempt motion will cure violation of court orders.  Repeat offenders are far more likely to face severe punishment from the court, such as fines and jail time.

Punishment for Contempt of Court

Despite clear explanations and warnings from the court, there are instances where drastic measures must be taken to address recalcitrant conduct.  Some parents willfully and contumaciously refuse to abide by court orders.  The attorneys at Solomos & Storms, PLLC are equipped to quickly handle these situations, so that your holiday plans are not ruined by an antagonistic parent.

Distribution of Marital Property

Appraisals

A fundamental component of a divorce case concerns the distribution of marital property, known as equitable distribution. Marital property is property that was acquired during the marriage, and is not considered separate property–and must be apportioned between the spouses.

Marital property often includes real estate, businesses, vehicles, boats, bank accounts, cash, and other assets.
An appraiser will often need to be retained to appraise certain assets, such as real estate, businesses, vehicles, and boats.

 

Apportionment of Marital Assets

Marital assets can be sold and the proceeds divided, or one spouse may choose to buy out the other spouse’s share in the asset. Quit often this is the case for the marital residence, especially if children reside in the marital home and a move would disrupt their schooling or social life.
We often draft settlement agreements when the parties can agree on how the marital property is to be divided.  This saves considerable expense, and avoids the need of going to trial, where a judge would determine how the marital assets will be divided.

Personal Assets

Certain items are deemed personal property, such as awards from personal injury lawsuits, property acquired prior to the marriage, inheritances, gifts, and certain other property.  For example a car that was given to you by a parent as a gift is personal property, and will not be apportioned to your spouse. 

 

 

Settlement Agreements

We understand the immense financial and emotional burden that divorce litigation can cause. To alleviate this, we do our best to amicably resolve disputes as quickly and efficiently as possible. In the majority of our cases, we are able to negotiate a settlement agreement that is acceptable to both parties, encompassing issues of visitation, child custody, maintenance, property distribution, distribution of retirement and pension accounts, payment of credit card debt (and other debts), and other issues required to resolve the case.

Mediation

In divorce cases the bulk of mediation is getting the parties to agree to the terms of a Settlement Agreement.  While drafting the settlement agreement we work with you to ensure that your goals are met and you are satisfied with the result. Thereafter, we negotiate with opposing counsel in an effort to come to a resolution.

In addition to saving money, settlement agreements have the tremendous advantage of certainty. At trial you do not know how the judge will rule, and in particular how the judge will distribute assets, award custody and visitation, and handle other issues.

Avoiding the Stress of Litigation

Often the parties prefer to control their fate through settlement negotiations and avoid the stress, expense and uncertainty of trial—particularly if a good offer is on the table.

If the case is resolved through settlement, the parties can move on with their lives.

Trial

Not all cases can be resolved through settlement. In some instances, a spouse will make an unreasonable settlement demand that is not just or equitable.  In these cases trial may be your best option to obtain a fair resolution.

At trial, we present witnesses and evidence to demonstrate to the court that our desired outcome should be granted.

You will likely be called to testify at trial. If you have children, your children’s appointed lawyer will present evidence at trial on behalf of your children, such as, the child’s requested living arrangement and other issues that your child has communicated to his or her appointed attorney.

The Judge Decides Your Fate at Trial

At trial , the Judge has the power to decide all issues in your case, including, child custody and visitation, child support, maintenance, distribution of marital property, distribution of retirement and pension accounts, allocation of debt, and all other aspects of your case.  This is something to keep in mind throughout the divorce proceeding–you do not want to rub the Judge the wrong way–as the Judge decides your fate at trial

Trial can be stressful, but in some instances it is unavoidable if your spouse insists on an unreasonable settlement demand. You should always be prepared to go to trial in the event settlement negotiations fall apart, which can be the case with an unreasonable spouse

We Look Forward To Working With You

We strive to provide the highest level of legal service to our clients, and go above and beyond the call of duty. Solomos & Storms, PLLC is a veteran owned business.  One of the founding partners of the firm, Derrick Storms, Esq., is a former United States Marine, who served during the Iraq War. Our goal is to provide the best possible legal service to you, as quickly and efficiently as possible. Thank you for considering our firm for your Brooklyn Divorce and Family Law case.

Call us today for a FREE Consultation. We are here to help.

Frequently Asked Questions

An uncontested divorce in Brooklyn, NY can start anywhere from $1,500 and up, depending on the complexity of the case, such as the existence of marital assets or children.  This does not include court costs.

A contested divorce can start off with a retainer of $3,750 and up.  An average divorce, without major assets and no children can cost around $6,500, depending on which divorce attorney you hire.


*Pleaser keep in mind that these costs are all speculative and may vary, depending on the circumstances.  In certain instances, such as where unreasonable demands are made by your spouse, a case cannot be settled and a lengthy trial may be required that cost more.


A separation agreement will cost somewhere in the vicinity of $2500, depending on the complexity of issues, not including filing fees and court costs. A small estate with a pre-nuptial agreement would probably cost about $3,000.

A Family Court Petition can start at $3500.  For complex custody cases a $6,500 retainer may be required.  Talk to the lawyers at Solomos & Storms, PLLC to get a better idea how much your particular case will cost.

A divorce is the judicial dissolution of a marriage- it requires a court order from a judge in order to be finalized. 

A separation agreement is a contractual dissolution does not need to be signed off on by the court. It is not a divorce, but it is a legal step which often leads to a divorce.

A contested divorce is when both parties disagree on matters concerning the marriage such as the division of assets and child custody matters.

A contested divorce is fought out in court, often leading to increased legal fees and longer resolution times.  

No, a divorce trial is held in front of a judge. This is referred to as a bench trial, where the judge, not a jury, decides on the outcomes of various aspects of the divorce.

People often wonder who pays child support when you get divorced. A lot of people assume that the father automatically pays child support. This is not so. A mother may be required to pay child support, depending on certain circumstances.  Review our child support section for more details and call Solomos & Storms, PLLC to learn more.

The NY State Legislature has enacted a formula which judges use as a guideline to calculate which parent pays how much child support. A Family Court Judge may also use their own discretion to decide the amount and which parent pays — though in many instances the statutory guidelines are followed by the Court.  Contact Solomos & Storms, PLLC to learn more.

Some of the factors the court may use to determine who pays child support and the amount of child support are which parent has custody of the child, which parent makes more money, and living expenses, to name a few.  In the end, the court will decide the financial responsibilities of each parent when it comes to paying child support in Nassau.

Yes, the court can order who is sometimes referred to as “the moneyed spouse” to pay the other spouse’s legal fees. This might happen in the case of a doctor’s husband or wife who is not employed. The doctor may be ordered to pay for their spouse’s lawyer!  In a high asset divorce, you need the best Brooklyn divorce lawyers that money can buy: Solomos & Storms, PLLC.

Yes, NY State Laws govern the counties.  However, certain counties have shorter case backlogs and processing times.  Contact Solomos & Storms, PLLC to learn more.

If you are getting divorced in Brooklyn, NY, you will be required to appear in Brooklyn Supreme Court at some point. 

The Brooklyn Supreme Court is located at 360 Adams Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

Phone number for Brooklyn Supreme Court is (718) 675-7699.

 

360 Adams Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201 to 102 Woodcleft Avenue, Freeport, NY 11520

 

 
 

No, there are times your lawyer can go to court without you. It is best if you attend as many court dates as possible to keep abreast of the goings on in your case, and to assist in it as well. No one knows your circumstances better than you do – you have lived through them.  You divorce lawyer welcomes your insights and input into the case.  

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