DIVORCE SETTLEMENTS & LITIGATION
Most divorces in New York are granted on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown of the marital relationship, but the court cannot finalize the case until all financial issues are resolved. Depending on the specific case, these issues may include the division of marital assets and debts (also known as “equitable distribution”) and spousal support (also known as “maintenance” or “alimony”) where it is requested. Where minor children are involved, separating spouses must also consider how they will support and raise their children.
To minimize unnecessary conflict, agreements are encouraged when possible.
Determinations regarding the financial support of children (also known as “child support”) are generally made using a formula that considers the number of children and the parents’ incomes, among other factors. To estimate child support obligations, you can view the Child Support Standards Act guidelines currently in effect in New York by clicking here.
Parents are also typically required to share pro rata the cost of the child’s health and child care expenses (the latter may be relevant where young children are involved).
In exceptional cases, courts may also direct the payment of private school, special education, and college expenses. These determinations are generally addressed on a case-by-case basis and depend on the parents’ respective financial circumstances and the child’s needs, among other factors.
To minimize conflict, parents are always welcome – and encouraged – to come to their own agreements regarding all matters involving the support of their children.
Determinations regarding how parents will go about making major decisions for their children (also known as “child custody”) are less formulaic. In some cases, differences between parents can be a source of great conflict. Such “custody battles” are generally discouraged as parents are considered better suited than a court to determine how their children are raised.
Where parents are unable to reach an agreement, the decision is left to a Judge whose primary concern is the best interests of the child. In such cases courts have the authority to appoint an attorney to represent the child. Judges may also bring in neutral third party experts to assist them in making decisions. Where Court intervention is the only option, it is helpful to present the Judge with clear and bona fide concerns, sensible arguments, and practical solutions.