How to Choose the Right Divorce Lawyer in Queens, Nassau, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Westchester & Suffolk, NY?
A Guide to Finding the Right Divorce Lawyer
What Makes a Good Divorce Lawyer?
Selecting the right attorney can make all the difference in your divorce case. It is essential to select a divorce lawyer that has substantial experience with divorce cases in Queens. This will allow familiarity with the particular tendencies of each Judge. Having an idea of how the Judge tends to rule on issues provides a tremendous advantage – it allows your attorney to craft arguments that the Judge typically finds reasonable. In addition, you want a divorce lawyer that has experience with a variety of issues, such as cases involving real estate, businesses, off-the-book income, pensions, a spouse hiding assets or income, custody issues, child support issues, visitation issues, and other issues, such as Restraining Orders. Your spouse (and your spouse’s attorney) will have a much harder time pulling a fast one on an experienced attorney.
You also want an attorney with the proper disposition — not overly aggressive, but not a push over. An attorney that is “too much” can turn off a Judge and hurt your case. Most Judges want disputes resolved in a reasonable manner, not attorneys that escalate every situation. You want someone who will fight for your interest – and do their best to get you a fair and just result. Trial experience is also a must. In order to be successful at trial, you need a lawyer that understands how to put on a case. This involves the arguments your attorney makes at trial, an understanding of how to present evidence and a sound understanding of technical legal rules, such as the rules of evidence and how to properly ask witnesses questions and make objections. This takes years of experience to develop – don’t trust your case with an attorney that is not well experienced in divorce cases.
You also want an attorney you can get along with. You will be working closely with your attorney throughout your case, you want someone that you can communicate with well and someone that speaks with you regularly, answers your questions and keeps you updated. Many clients become frustrated by attorneys they can’t get ahold of. Queens Divorce Layers & Family Lawyers make it a priority to communicate with clients, we will answer your questions and make sure you are prepared for court – our lawyers have substantial experience with a wide variety of Divorce and Family Law cases – you can rely on our counsel and preparation to give you the best chance of success in your divorce or family law case.
Hiring a lawyer is like a marriage in and of itself, so be sure and pick the right one!
What is Divorce Court Like in Queens, Nassau, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Westchester & Suffolk, NY?
Divorce court is an experience most will not forget. You will appear before a judge with your lawyer on one side of a table. Your spouse and his/her lawyer will be at a table next to you. The judge will be facing you, seated up high on the bench. At court conferences the Judge will want to know the status of your case, and specifically what issues are preventing the parties from resolving the case. If you or your spouse is making unreasonable demands, the Judge will hear about it, and most likely tell you how the issue will be resolved at trial. The Judge tries to get the parties to resolve the case without the need to go to trial. Common issues are the amount of maintenance (alimony) payments, distribution of property, child custody, and child support. Some attorneys disregard the Judge’s statements at conferences and continue with unreasonable demands. These attorneys typically get a rude awakening at trial when the Judge rejects their position and gives them a worse deal than they would have gotten previously – sometimes to punish them for wasting the court’s time.
You need a lawyer that can take hints from the Judge and knows how things are likely to play out if your case goes to trial. Of course, sometimes the Judge gets it wrong – and you can challenge the Judge’s decision on appeal. Make sure your attorney can handle an appeal if need be – and ask to see if your attorney has won at least one large appeal. An attorney that cannot stand up to a Judge on appeal will fold under pressure, and put you in a bad settlement position.
Queens Divorce & Family Lawyers are appellate lawyers who are capable of filing an appeal should the Judge make an improper decision in your case.
What is the Divorce Process Like in Queens, Nassau, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Westchester & Suffolk, NY?
What is a Contested Divorce Case - Queens, Nassau, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Westchester & Suffolk, NY?
A contested divorce is a divorce when the parties do not agree to how the case will be resolved. For example, the spouses may dispute issues of child custody or how valuable assets will be divided. A contested divorce case will start with either the filing of a Summons & Complaint or a Summons with Notice. You attorney will hire a process server to personally serve these papers on your spouse. Once served, your spouse will need to file an Answer to your Complaint. Often they will serve an Answer With a Counterclaim. You will need to file a Reply to their Counterclaim.
In some instances a motion for upfront relief called a Pendente-Lite motion will be made requesting temporary maintenance, child support, spousal support (called maintenance), money to pay your attorney’s fees, and other relief. This will provide you with funds until the divorce is finalized.
After the pleading stage (the filing of the Complaint and Answer), a Preliminary Conference will be scheduled in court, where the basic issues of your case will be discussed, such as the need to appraise a home, the existence of a pension or retirement account, businesses owned by the parties, the existence of stocks or bonds that will need to be sold, and other issues that will need to be resolved to conclude the divorce case. Both parties provide a Statement of Net Worth that discloses their income, assets and liabilities. The parties typically exchange discovery demands where bank statements are sought, tax records, financial documents, and other documents showing the spouses assets and liabilities. Once discovery is complete the parties typically try to settle the case with a Settlement Agreement. There often be negotiations between the lawyers to come to an agreement. If the case cannot be settled a trial will be scheduled. At trial there is no jury. The Judge decides any unresolved issues at trial.
The Uncontested Divorce Case - Queens and Nassau, NY
An uncontested divorce occurs when the spouses agree on all issues and there are no disputes for the Judge to resolve. Your attorney will draft an uncontested divorce package that provides all papers to the court and the Judge simply needs to review the paperwork submitted and sign the Judgment of Divorce. An uncontested divorce is much faster than a contested divorce and is less costly because it avoids motion practice, numerous court appearances, extensive discovery and trial.
In 2022 New York began offering joint divorces. These are similar to uncontested divorce, but they allow one attorney to represent both parties – thus saving even more costs. Joint divorces are the fastest divorce in Queens, they can be completed and signed off by the Judge in as little as 5 months.
What are Typical Issues in a Divorce Case in Queens, Nassau, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Westchester & Suffolk?
Equitable distribution concerns the distribution of marital property between the spouses. Marital property is property acquired during the marriage, such as real estate, businesses, stocks and bonds, artwork, cars, boats, savings, cash, and other assets. These assets will need to be sold and the proceed divided or one spouse can buy out the other spouse.
Personal Property is Not Subject to Equitable Distribution
Personal property will not be divide between the spouses. Personal property consists of property acquired prior to the marriage, gifts, inheritances, compensation from personal injury lawsuits, and other property. For example, a boat that was inherited from your grandfather is considered personal property and will not have to be sold or divided – you will keep this property in the divorce.
Appraisal of Marital Assets
An appraiser will often need to be retained to appraise certain assets, such as real estate, businesses, vehicles, and boats.
The assets can be sold and the proceeds divided by the spouses, or one spouse can choose to buy out the other spouse’s share in the asset. This is typically the case for the marital residence, especially if there are young children living in the home and a move would disrupt their schooling or social life.
A calculation of pension contributions during the marriage will also need to be performed to determine your spouse’s equitable share in your pension. Pension and retirement accounts are generally distributed via a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) – which is a court order requiring a portion of a spouse’s pension or retirement plan to be assigned or paid to the other spouse.
Keep in mind that your spouse will be entitle to a portion of your pension and retirement plan until you file for divorce. Once you file the divorce case your spouse will no longer be entitled to these contributions. Therefore, the sooner you file for divorce, you will keep a greater portion of your retirement.
Apportionment of Marital Property
Marital property will be distributed by a Settlement Agreement, if the parties can agree or by the court.
When the spouses can agree on asset distribution, your divorce attorney will draft a settlement agreements that dictates how the property will be divided between the spouses. This can save considerable time and expense, and avoid the need of going to trial, where a judge will determine how the marital property will be distributed.
Settlement Agreements - resolving your case before trial.
A Settlement Agreement can save significant amounts of time and money because it avoids the need for motion practice, lengthy court hearings and trial.
Settlement Agreements can resolve all or most of the issues in your divorce case, such as issues of child 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.
It is important to have a lawyer that is both a skilled negotiator and an experienced trial attorney. In the event settlement negotiations break down, it is crucial that your spouse’s attorney knows that your attorney can mount a strong case in court. This will put pressure on your spouse’s attorney to settle.
What is a Divorce Trial Like - Queens, Nassau, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Westchester & Suffolk?
Not all cases can be resolved through a Settlement Agreement. In some instances, a spouse will make an unreasonable settlement demand that is not just or equitable to you. In these cases trial may be your best option to obtain a fair resolution in your divorce case.
At trial, you attorney will present witnesses and evidence to demonstrate to the trial Judge that your desired outcome should be granted. The Judge will decide the case based on the preponderance of the evidence, in a divorce case this is the party that presents the most convincing case.
In most instances you will 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 and the child has asked to be presented in court.
In most cases, the Judge listens closely to the child’s attorney – if the child would like to live with a certain parent – this carries substantial weight in court.
Make sure your divorce attorney is trial tested. You will be surprised how many "senior attorneys" don't know how to put on a case at trial. The result can be disastrous!
Solomos & Storms, PLLC - Queens, Nassau, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Westchester & Suffolk - Divorce Lawyers & Family Lawyers
Solomos & Storms, PLLC are battle tested Divorce Lawyers and Family Court Lawyers with experience in Queens, Nassau, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Suffolk and Westchester. We have substantial experience with a wide variety of divorce and family court cases. We are a veteran owned law firm – one of the founding partners, Derrick Storms, Esq., served in the United States Marine Corps in the Iraq War as a Reconnaissance Marine. We offer zealous advocacy, attention to detail, and client satisfaction that few firms can match. Our mission is to resolve cases as quickly and efficiently as possible. Call us for a free consultation at (718) 278-5900.
Where we serve clients?
We serve clients in Queens, Nassau, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Suffolk and Westchester.
Areas in Queens include: Astoria, Long Island City, Ditmars, Woodside, Flushing, Bayside, Rego Park, Jackson Heights, Corona, Jamaica, Elmhurst, Kew Gardens, Whitestone, College Point, Bay Terrace, Great Neck, Kings Point, Port Washington, and all areas of Queens.
Areas in Nassau include: Freeport, Merrick, Baldwin, Oceanside, Roosevelt, Hempstead, and all areas of Nassau.
Areas in Brooklyn include: Brooklyn Heights, Park Slope, Carrol Garden, Cobble Hill, DUMBO, Bay Ridge, Williamsburg, Fort Green, Gowanus, Brighton Beach, and all areas in Brooklyn.
Areas in Manhattan include: Upper East Side, Upper West Side, Midtown, Tribeca, Lower East Side, Financial District, and all areas in Manhattan.
Areas in Suffolk include: Babylon, Brookhaven, East Hampton, Huntington, Islip, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Smithtown, Southampton and Southold, and all areas in Suffolk.
Areas in Westchester include: Lower Westchester Pelham, New Rochelle, Yonkers, Eastchester, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Scarsdale, Ardsley, White Plains, Rye, Harrison, Sleepy Hollow, Pleasantville, and all areas of Westchester.