I teach family law at CUNY Law School and the semester started a few weeks ago. Here I was on the first day back (hat hair and all): This week, I brought in a well-respected colleague as a guest to talk about how a contested divorce moves through the court system. He told the students about discovery demands and motion practice and preliminary conferences and a lot of time-consuming stuff. And then he mentioned his hourly rate, and there was an audible gasp … read more »
What is a QDRO?
What is a QDRO? A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO – pronounced Quad-roh) has to do with the division of a retirement account in a divorce. So let’s break this down: Retirement accounts (or at least the parts that grow during a marriage) are considered to be marital property, and will usually be divided between the spouses upon divorce. Qualified plans are qualified for special tax treatment. This applies to Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), pensions, 401(k) and 403(b) accounts, etc. … read more »
What’s in Your Wallet? (Do You Know?)
One of the things that I’ve noticed when I mediate is that one person in a couple is often much more financially literate than the other. What do I mean by this? That one person has a better sense of what things cost, what the family needs, and what their financial futures might be. Often one person pays the bills and the other person has only a vague idea of what the household budget is — just that the credit … 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 »
NY Spousal Maintenance
In the last post, A Few Notes About Spousal Maintenance, I wrote about new considerations that must be made because of recent changes to the federal tax law. Today, I’d like to circle back to explore the purpose and a little bit of the history of New York spousal maintenance laws. Spousal maintenance, or alimony, is a term for periodic and regular support payments from one ex-spouse to the other for a specified length of time. The concept of alimony … read more »
4 Steps for Dividing Marital Property
One of the most important steps in creating a divorce agreement is deciding how you will divide marital (or joint) property. This is called division of assets. Here are the basic steps: Identify all of the property either spouse owns. You must share detailed information with each other, including: Bank account numbers and balances as of a specific date. Be sure to include checking, savings, and brokerage accounts. Retirement accounts like pensions, annuities, stock options, deferred compensation, and bonuses. Do … read more »
Dividing the Marital Home
One of the things that needs to be decided in a divorce is how you’re going to divide up what you own together, and one of the biggest assets that couples usually own is their home. There are several choices as to what happens to the house (or condo or co-op): You can sell the house and divide the proceeds. You can continue to own the house together, even if one person stays there. You can buy out your spouse’s … read more »
$$ and Divorce
Just published an article in Family Affaires to help you think about your money during divorce. Money can be a big stressor in a marriage, and is often one of the greatest sources of anxiety during a divorce, whether you are mediating, litigating or doing a collaborative process. These tips can help you get a handle on them so you know what you are working with! Here’s to a productive and fruitful 2016!