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New City NY Family Law Blog

Do same-sex couples need a prenuptial agreement?

As with many legal issues in family law, there tend to be misconceptions surrounding prenuptial agreements. One of the most prominent of misconceptions is that "prenups" are only needed by certain types of couples. In reality, agreeing to a prenup can be a sound, beneficial decision for almost every type of couple. In New York, where same-sex marriage has been legal for several years, a same-sex couple pondering marriage may also consider the pros of a prenuptial agreement.

One of the primary benefits of a prenuptial agreement is the protection of each party's rights in the event of divorce. Through the creation of a prenup each party can outline pre-marital property, as well as any property the couple has purchased together. Commonly contested subjects, such as the family home or car, can be addressed before the marriage even begins, thus giving each party peace of mind as they enter the marriage.

Who can adopt, and be adopted, in New York State?

Bringing children into a family is a joyous event, but in the case of adoption it may be a legally-complicated one as well. In New York State, various types of families may become adoptive parents, and various types of individuals may be adopted. A family law professional is often extremely valuable to assist in making sure any type of legal adoption runs smoothly.

Both minors as well as adults may be adopted in New York State. Unlike some other states, New York has relatively few limits on who is eligible to adopt a child or adult. Same-sex married couples, unmarried couples and domestic partners may adopt. If married couples of any orientation choose to adopt, though, both spouses must adopt the child. There are two exceptions to those rule, however: couples who have been separated via a decree from the court and those who have been separated for three years or longer.

Multiple hedge-fund moguls fight over divorce legal issues

New York State is no stranger to notable divorce cases, especially ones involving celebrities or the ultra-wealthy. Recently, several divorce cases across the country have been featured in local news due to their heated nature as well as the huge amounts of money at stake.

The case of Steve Cohen, a hedge fund billionaire who heads Point72 Asset Management, may be the most unique. Interestingly, Cohen has been divorced from his ex-wife for over two decades. However, his former spouse has continued to allege that the businessman cheated her out of several million in their divorce settlement. The allegations center on SAC Capital, which later became Point72 Asset Management. The company had been involved in an insider trading scandal and had to pay over $1.5 million in both civil and criminal fines. Cohen himself wasn't charged, though, and his former wife recently received approval from the court to have Cohen answer questions regarding illicit activity at SAC.

Prenuptial agreements can help high-asset couples

The concept of a marital contract is generally not a romantic one, but there are many practical considerations that couples encounter before entering a marriage. A prenuptial agreement is one such consideration that can be of immense benefit if there is the prospect of divorce later on. For any type of couple in New York State, drafting a prenup with the help of an attorney experienced in high asset divorce can be extremely helpful.

Two of the primary purposes of prenuptial agreements are to protect assets and protect rights. Even spouses who are just starting out in their careers can have assets to protect, such as cars or homes they've purchased with their partner or potential income from a lucrative professional field. Even seemingly minor issues, such as which spouse will keep the family pet upon a divorce, can erupt into major battles if not addressed early on. A family lawyer experienced in high asset divorce understands the importance of both partners' agreeing to the contents of the prenup, regardless of the exact clauses it may contain.

Does domestic violence impact New York child custody decisions?

There are many different factors a New York court will consider in a child custody case. These factors can include, but are not limited to, both parents' physical and mental health, each parents' work schedule and commitments, which parent has previously served as the child's main caretaker, the ability of each parent to encourage a relationship with the other parent and both parents' overall relationship with children. Additional factors include the child's age and relationship with any other siblings or family members.

While there are many more considerations a court might have, one other factor is the issue of domestic violence. While not an element in all child custody cases, domestic violence -- if it has occurred -- will be considered with regards to child custody. Courts decide child custody with regards to the best interests of the child, and a single incident of domestic violence can place an entire family in danger. Thus, courts will not overlook the issue of domestic violence, even if the act did not take place in the presence of the child.

Couple tears-up prenup on honeymoon; judge says still valid

When important legal documents are made in New York, it is very important to have multiple copies of the paperwork. However, it is also crucial to be open and honest about the status of legal documents, especially if one of those documents is a valid marital contract. In the case of a recent prenuptial agreement dispute out of Brooklyn, a man and his wife are in disagreement regarding the validity of a prenup they signed over a decade ago.

The case revolves around a supposed incident which took place on the couple's honeymoon. According to the 44-year-old husband, he and his 37-year-old wife decided to enter into a prenuptial agreement (prenup) prior to their marriage. Nonetheless, the pair apparently experienced a whirlwind courtship and were engaged in just a few weeks.

NY Orders of protection: Civil versus criminal court

Family law in New York encompasses countless legal topics, with some being easier to discuss than others. One of the most understandably difficult subjects of family law is domestic violence. Incidents or patterns of violence or abuse within families can bring up many different legal questions. Where can a person go to get immediate help? Will criminal charges have to be filed? How does the state define domestic violence? Sometimes, these and other questions relate to the family courts and their ability to provide orders of protection.

One of the most important family legal issues relating to domestic violence is the order of protection. A family court order of protection is issued through the civil, rather than the criminal, court system. Orders of protection can also be issued through the criminal justice system, but these can only come about if the abuser has actually been charged with a crime. In addition, criminal court orders of protection can be issued even if there is no established relationship between the defendant and the complaining witness. A family court order of protection, on the other hand, must involve some sort of intimate relationship between the person requesting the order and the person against whom it is issued.

Family lawyers clear up confusion for same-sex couples

One of the drawbacks of the information age is that it often seems as if there is simply too much information floating around. For instance, with legal issues, many people initially try to research their legal problems by themselves before realizing the information that they find is confusing, outdated or just overwhelming. By visiting with a qualified family lawyer, many New York state residents gain peace of mind, along with relevant and accurate legal information.

In particular, a same-sex couple is likely to benefit from enlisting an attorney instead of trying to tackle legal issues on their own. Ever since New York passed the Marriage Equality Act in 2011, same-sex partners have benefitted from their newly-recognized rights. Still, with the state's official recognition of these important rights comes new legal issues that same-sex couples may never have had to face before.

Lavish pre-marriage spending may correlate with divorce

In many New York divorce cases, there are countless assets that must be divided between the divorcing couple. Especially in a high-asset divorce, one asset that may not be immediately thought of, but which could later be the source of contention, is the wedding ring itself. According to a recent study issued from professors at Emory University, pricey wedding rings and extravagant weddings may be harbingers of a breakup later on.

After surveying over 3,000 individuals, the professors observed that heavier wedding spending tended to correlate with shorter marriages. In particular, more expensive engagement rings also tended to correspond with less-lengthy marriages. According to the data, couples who shelled-out more than $20,000 for their weddings -- not including the cost of the ring -- were over 45 percent more likely than average to get a divorce later on. Those who spent less than $20,000 but more than $10,000 were 29 percent more likely than average to divorce.

Do grandparents have visitation rights in New York?

As anyone who has ever been involved in a family law dispute is likely to know, a family conflict can involve much more than just parents and their children. Especially with today's diverse families in New York, family law encompasses many issues related to the extended family of couples and their children. One topic that has become increasingly important is the issue of grandparents' rights. Many grandparents want to know: Do I have visitation rights to spend time with my own grandchild?

There are many different reasons why a grandparent might request visitation rights. Perhaps their child got divorced and their former spouse no longer voluntarily allows the grandparents to visit. Or, perhaps the whole family is involved in a dispute over custody or other family legal issues, and the grandparents have been pushed aside and haven't been able to spend time with their grandchildren.

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