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Providing the Capital Region and Upstate New York With Exceptional Legal Services in Matrimonial Matters Since 2005
Facing up to the reality of a failed marriage is a very difficult task. It is emotionally taxing and it often affects the ones closest to you as well. On top of that, the legal process is complicated. For those who are not cautious or uneducated, dangers and traps are all around. It is a monumental task to have to deal with the pain and hurt of a marriage that is ending, negotiate the legal process to dissolve the bonds of that marriage while at the same time craft plans for your post-divorce future life. Unfortunately, if you or your spouse is contemplating a divorce you will have to deal with these challenges simultaneously.
When a marriage ends, divorce is the legal process that terminates your marital relationship, allocates parenting time, splits your assets, and awards support payments (when appropriate). However, you must follow strict legal procedures and meet specific criteria before a judge will sign a divorce decree.
New York law lets you either file for a fault or no-fault divorce. While no-fault divorces are most common, you may be eligible for a fault divorce if your spouse abandoned you, abused you, was unfaithful, or is facing a lengthy jail sentence. Fault divorce will not impact your child support or alimony payments, but your spouse’s behavior may impact property distribution and child custody.
To file for divorce, your Albany NY divorce lawyer will need to draft a series of documents, file them with the court, and serve them upon your spouse. Once this process is completed properly, the real work begins.
In a divorce, the couple’s marital assets must be divided between the partners. Marital assets are all assets that were obtained during the marriage other than those received as a gift or through inheritance to one partner. Assets that either partner had before entering the marriage are singly-held assets. A married couple’s pool of assets may include some or all of the following:
- A home and other real estate properties;
- Personal items like vehicles, art, jewelry, and furniture;
- Savings and checking accounts;
- Investment portfolios;
- Interest in a business or professional practice; and
- Retirement accounts.
In New York, assets are divided according to the rule of equitable distribution. This means that you and your spouse must divide your marital assets fairly, but this does not necessarily mean a 50/50 split. Instead, the court considers each partner’s personal and financial needs when dividing a couple’s property, rather than making a blanket distribution by cutting the asset pool in half. It may consider the tax obligation of each asset as well as each partner’s circumstances following the divorce regarding child custody and earning capacity.
The Colwell Law Group, LLC assists clients with the difficult process of identifying marital property, negotiating a fair distribution, and when necessary, presenting their claims to a judge. We understand that your financial stability is essential to your new life, and we aggressively and thoughtfully fight for our clients’ best interests.
Determining Your Child Custody and Child Support Orders
For the majority of divorcing parents, their children are a top priority. You likely want to maintain a meaningful relationship with your child and ensure their health and welfare. However, child custody and support issues can quickly become contentious, emotional, and vindictive.
If you are a parent, a child custody order will be part of your divorce settlement. A child support order will also likely be part of the settlement. This is money paid from one parent to the other to help with the expenses of raising a child.
There are two types of child custody: physical and legal. Physical custody refers to the house where the child resides. Legal custody is the right to make decisions on the child’s behalf, such as those relating to the child’s religious upbringing or medical care. The court may order you to have joint or sole custody in either or both categories. When a child spends more than 50 percent of his or her time with one parent, the other parent may have visitation with the child.
We assist our clients with a variety of child support and child custody issues, including the following:
- Assessing your child’s best interests and crafting child custody recommendations
- Negotiating parenting plans and visitation for both custodial and non-custodial parents
- Calculating appropriate child support payments
We also assist our clients with the modification and termination of child support and child custody orders after a divorce.
Spousal Maintenance After Your Divorce
Spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, is money paid to one’s former spouse to prevent him or her from suffering financially after the divorce. One goal of spousal maintenance is to continue to provide the receiving spouse with the standard of living he or she enjoyed during the marriage, but this is often a secondary goal. In most modern spousal maintenance arrangements, maintenance is paid for a limited amount of time, giving the receiving spouse time to complete an education or vocational program that will allow him or her to enter the workforce.
While not every spouse is entitled to alimony or spousal maintenance, it can help you transition to a new, post-divorce life. Importantly, alimony laws are gender neutral, and both husbands and wives may be eligible for support payments.
The court considers various factors about a couple’s marriage and each partner as an individual when determining an appropriate spousal maintenance amount. These factors include the following:
- The length of the marriage;
- The parent with whom the children reside;
- Each partner’s age and health status;
- Whether the partner seeking maintenance reduced his or her earning capacity by foregoing or delaying education or certain career opportunities for the benefit of the home and children;
- The tax obligation spousal maintenance will have for each party;
- How the couple’s assets were divided; and
- Any other factor the court deems to be relevant.
Not every couple decides to divorce. Unlike some states, New York allows couples to legally separate — letting them divide up their marital property, child custody, and other issues, while remaining legally married. Sometimes, couples legally separate before filing for divorce. Other times, they prefer separation for religious or other reasons. You cannot remarry while legally separated.
If you intend on legally separating from your spouse, you should negotiate a separation agreement that outlines how you will split your financial assets and real property, share parenting responsibilities, and handle other issues. A divorce lawyer can help you craft an agreement that is fair and protects your personal interests. For more information about our approach to legal separation, contact us today.
Why Choose a Divorce Lawyer at The Colwell Legal Group, LLC?
At The Colwell Law Group, LLC, we strive to provide skilled, client-centered representation in divorce and family law matters. Beginning with the initial consultation and throughout the case, we look to accomplish the following:
- Listen closely to determine your needs and goals
- Craft an appropriate legal strategy to achieve your goals
- Maintain an open line of communication with you and provide updates on progress and problems throughout the case
- Work as a team both in Court and out of Court to achieve your stated goals
Divorce is something that stays with both parties long after they finalize the initial agreement. Therefore, we also provide the following post-judgement services in divorce matters:
- modification of spousal support
- modification of custody or child support
- Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO)
- sale of marital residence
In order to realize the post-divorce life you deserve, you need a skilled divorce attorney in your corner. Contact us today to request your consultation.
Request a Consultation With an Albany NY Divorce Lawyer
When you meet with an Albany NY divorce lawyer at The Colwell Law Group, LLC, we’ll give you practical advice, inform you of your rights and options, and provide emotional support during this challenging time. We also pride ourselves on our skillful advocacy, sophisticated trial presentations, and aggressive tactics. We fight for our clients. For a confidential consultation, contact our office today.
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