Faith Miller Managing Partner at Miller Zeiderman LLP, authors the latest article for her blog. Read the full article below.
When do I need a Family Law attorney?
Divorce Law and Family Law are broad practice areas, and affect non-married couples and individuals, too. While there is some overlap, the courts strictly separate matters into the two buckets. In New York State, the Supreme Court handles matters of divorce and related to divorce. The Family Court handles all other Family Law matters that do not involve divorce.
An experienced Divorce and Family Law attorney understands New York law and how it impacts every aspect of the matter you face. It’s my job to take you through the process every step of the way and help you to achieve the best outcome for you.
Besides going to court, I negotiate and draft important legal documents such as court petitions and settlement agreements. I bring years of experience and strong litigation strategy to every aspect of Divorce and Family Law – and, likewise, to the negotiation table and the courtroom.
What are some differences between divorce law and family law?
As an attorney specializing in both Divorce and Family Law in New York, I wanted to offer a primer to clear up confusion on some differences between these two aspects of law. Here is an overview:
Divorce Law involves a married couple divorcing. In New York State, the Supreme Court handles divorces and related matters as:
· Child Custody – visitation, decision-making, custody. What’s in the “best interests” of your children?
· Child Support – an ongoing, scheduled financial payment made by one parent to the custodial parent for the financial benefit of the child. These payments can be agreed to or ordered by the Court both during and after a divorce.
· Spousal Support – an ongoing, scheduled financial payment made by a former spouse as a legal requirement of separation or divorce. These payments can be agreed to or ordered by the Court both during and after a divorce.
· Joint Marital Property Distribution – determining your and your spouse’s assets & debts, and whether they were acquired jointly or are one party’s separate property.
· Separate Property – you may be entitled to receive a separate property credit for funds and assets you had before the marriage. For example: money you inherited; funds you had prior to the marriage and still have and/or contributed to your home; and other assets you owned before the marriage.
· Order of Protection – if there is child or spousal abuse, this document is issued by a court and signed by a judge to help protect you from harassment or abuse.
· Mental Health and Addiction Issues – one person’s alcohol or drug dependency, or mental instability that causes mental anguish or endangers the physical or mental well being of the spouse.
· Prenuptial Agreement. Two parties make this agreement before marrying. They give up future rights to each other’s property in the event of a divorce or death.
· Postnuptial Agreement. Two parties make this agreement after marrying to define their rights to each other’s property in the event of a divorce or death.
Family Law involves matters affecting non-married couples and individuals as well as married couples. The Family Court, not the Supreme Court, handles these matters including:
· Custody Issues – In cases where a couple has a child together, but the parents are not married and were never married, there may be issues relating to custody and sharing access with your children. If one parent is refusing to allow the other to spend time with the child, I can petition the Family Court on your behalf and fight for your rights as a parent.
· Child Support – This is an ongoing, scheduled financial payment made by one parent to the custodial parent for the financial benefit of the child. You may be trying to collect on child support arrears (overdue child support owed to the custodial parent) or you may be entitled to an “upward modification” that increases the child support obligation. As an attorney specializing in Family Law, I can help you make your case, and frequently have recovered substantial amounts of child support for my non-married clients.
· Order of Protection This is a restraining order the Court can grant to protect you or your children if there is domestic violence (verbal or physical abuse), harassment, addiction or a mental health issue, in either a marital or non-marital relationship. In the case of marriage, if you wind up divorcing your spouse, I may consolidate the Order of Protection with the divorce.
· Adoption – consensual adoptions, stepparent adoptions, international adoptions, foster care adoptions
· Guardianship – the legal authority to make decisions for another person
· Paternity — establishing a legal father-child relationship
· Child Neglect Proceedings – determining whether a child’s parent or guardian is abusive or neglectful; the court may temporarily or permanently remove the child from the parent’s home.
· Fostering children – a temporary arrangement where an adult cares for a child because the birthparent is unable to care for the child
· Emancipation. In this court process, a minor is released from the control and support of a parent(s). This child, under 18 years of age, becomes self-supporting, assumes adult responsibility/decision-making, and is no longer under the care of his or her parents.