Simple Divorce - Long Island, NY
If you are facing the possibility of divorce, even an amicable simple divorce, it is important to understand your rights, your obligations, and most importantly your options.
For over twenty years, the attorneys at The Pickney Law Firm have helped guide their clients through the divorce process, and will utilize their experience, knowledge, and skill to quickly and efficiently resolve issues and, wherever possible, avoid the cost of unnecessary litigation.
In a simple divorce, The Pickney Law Firm will work with you to develop the aspects of your divorce in which you and your spouse are in agreement, help you to identify and assess other areas you may not have considered, and craft a settlement which fits your individualized needs and circumstances.
One common approach to divorce is to negotiate a settlement without having to appear in court – this is known as a Separation Agreement.
If both parties are able to participate in open and honest negotiations, this can be a highly effective approach to resolving matrimonial issues with minimal legal fees.
Parties who have jointly signed a Separation Agreement can easily submit an Uncontested Divorce to become legally divorced if they so choose.
An alternative option is to commence a contested divorce proceeding in which both parties would be required to appear in court for one or more court conferences. Over the course of a contested divorce proceeding, parties are required to exchange financial documents, conduct depositions, and ultimately appear at trial.
However, very few contested divorce cases reach trial, and a majority of cases are resolved by written settlement – this is known as a Stipulation of Settlement. In a contested divorce, following the execution of a Stipulation of Settlement the parties proceed immediately with an Uncontested Divorce.
Your Simple Divorce Will Address:
- Custody of children and parental access schedules.
- Child Support.
- Maintenance (spousal support), where applicable.
- Equitable distribution of marital assets, including but not limited to real property (marital residence), retirement accounts, bank accounts, and vehicles.
- Allocation of marital debts, including credit card debt.
The Pickney Law Firm’s retainer fee for representation in a Simple Divorce starts at $2,500.00. If both parties cooperate and actively participate in the divorce process, a settlement can be achieved in a matter of weeks.
The refusal by one or both parties to produce necessary financial statements and negotiate in good faith will affect the amount of legal fees and time it requires to complete a divorce.
Custody: In the State of New York, custody is divided into two types: Legal Custody and Physical (“Residential”) Custody:
- Legal Custody: Pertains to the right to make major decisions on behalf of a child. Common examples of a major decision would be those involving medical treatment, religious education, and academic issues.
- Physical Custody (“Residential Custody”): Pertains to which parent the child will primarily reside with. This parent will be entitled to receive child support from the non-custodial parent, and the child will attend school in this parent’s school district.
Parenting Time (“Visitation”): A non-custodial parent is entitled to Parenting Time with his or her child.
- Parenting Time involves weekly visits, holiday visits, and extended time during school breaks and summer vacation. Parties are free to negotiate schedules which best fit their lives and the needs of their children, however a common approach is to alternate weekends, provide for one or more mid-week visit, alternate holidays and school breaks, and provide for one or two weeks of extended time during summer vacation.
Child Support: In the State of New York, a custodial parent is entitled to receive support on behalf of a child until that child turns 21 years old.
Child support is calculated under the Child Support Standards Act (“CSSA”), and is primarily based on a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income:
- 1 Child – 17% of the non-custodial parent’s income
- 2 Children – 25% of the non-custodial parent’s income
- 3 Children – 29% of the non-custodial parent’s income
- 4 Children – 31% of the non-custodial parent’s income
- 5+ Children – No Less Than 35% of the non-custodial parent’s income
Maintenance (“Spousal Support” or “Alimony”): When there is a disparity in the income of two parties, the higher earning party is often required to pay maintenance to the lower earing party.
The amount of maintenance is calculated pursuant to a formula which takes into account each party’s income and whether either party will be required to pay child support. The duration of maintenance is based on the length of the marriage. Unlike child support, maintenance is tax deductible to the payor, and taxable to the recipient.
Equitable Distribution: New York is an “equitable distribution” state, meaning that marital property is divided equitably, and not automatically evenly (i.e. 50% to each spouse).
As a general rule, marital property is any asset acquired by either party during the marriage, regardless of which party actually purchased the asset, or whose name the asset is held in. Martial debts are also equitably distributed in a divorce, with similar rules applying in determining what constitutes a marital debt.
Assets held by either party from prior to the marriage, or which are inherited during the marriage, are frequently that party’s separate property and not subject to equitable distribution.