American law is created in two ways — by statute and by case law. Statutes are proposed and drafted by legislators for that jurisdiction, and other government rules and regulations are drafted by the agencies that are charged with running them. Most laws about family relationships are state laws. The statutes that relate to divorce, separation and children are mostly found in the New York State Domestic Relations Law (DRL) and in the Family Court Act (FCA). These are texts … read more »
Making a Better Child Support Agreement
A few months ago, I wrote a few notes about spousal maintenance. Today, I’d like to write a few notes about child support that I think are important to keep in mind. I gave a basic overview of child support last year, but I thought I would take the time to write about it again, since this is such an important part of any separation agreement. (You’re learning along with my students!) The Child Support Formula In an effort to … read more »
What’s Fair Is Fair… Or Is It?
“I only want what is equitable. That is my operating principle,” Raymond explained as he sat across from me the first time we met. His wife, Lenore, looked intensely at him. “But what you consider to be equitable is not fair to me,” she said quietly. ‘What was going on here?’ I wondered. I’d only met them for a few minutes, but I could see already that they might have some fundamental differences of opinion — in fact, they might … read more »
Divorce Made Simple
From a practical standpoint, the actual divorce process is pretty simple. What Topics Need to be Addressed? There are four or five main areas to be decided in a divorce mediation (some of which may not apply to your particular situation): 1. How will you divide up what you own together? The first step here is to identify what is separate property and what is marital. Separate property typically includes property you owned before the marriage and property you inherit. … read more »
How Much Will I Owe in Child Support?
One question that often arises in divorce is how child support is determined. We have a great, free child support calculator on our website (if I do say so, myself!) for New York that lawyers and court personnel all over the state use. The formula is a bit complicated, so I wanted to take the time to review it step by step. Both parents are responsible for supporting their children. The New York Child Support Standards Act (“CSSA”)* provides a … read more »
Can a child have 3 parents?
We all know that a child can only have 2 biological parents – a man and a woman. But we also know that biology is only a small part of the story. Every child is connected to more adults – as they say, “it takes a village to raise a child.” Many children are actually being raised by more than 2 parents — step parents, grandparents, friends and partners can play an important role in the financial and emotional … read more »
NYS Same Sex Marriage – It’s Complicated!
Today I led a workshop for the Family & Divorce Mediation Council (of Greater NY) with fellow Board members Teresa Calabrese, Katie Cole and Mark Josephson on what the new law permitting same-sex marriage means in NY. On one hand, it is a huge victory and an important step in creating civil rights for LGBT couples. On the other hand, it is a legal tangle. As of this writing, only 6 states (plus DC) issue marriage licenses to same sex … read more »
Do Children have a Right to Inherit?
I recently got an inquiry from someone who wanted to write a will leaving everything to one of her children, but not the other. They were both under 18. Was this legal? she asked. Her younger child was being raised by his father and step-mother, and they were well off. She hadn’t seen him in years, and had no relationship with him, although she was paying child support, which was taken out of her check bi-weekly. She greatly resented having … read more »