Divorce Lawyer in Garden City, New York

Most people have heard about—or experienced—a truly challenging divorce and wonder whether there truly is such a thing as a friendly divorce. A Huffington Post article refutes the existence of the amicable divorce, stating, “In amicable divorce, someone is either compromising too much, or they’re hiding their animosity…” While this could be true, there are things couples can do to make the transition from married to single less traumatic for all involved. First, handling the initiation of the divorce with sensitivity can smooth the way for a less contentious divorce. No one wants to be blindsided by being served with divorce papers when they were unaware the marriage was at this point, and no one wants to be served with divorce papers at work, or in front of friends or family members.

Unless domestic violence is an issue in the marriage, spouses should avoid “triggers” that will set the tone for the entire divorce—like changing the locks on the marital home. It is especially important that if you have children, you make a commitment early on as to how to tell the children about the divorce and to never use them as bargaining tools during the divorce. Finally, having a highly experienced New York family law attorney by your side from start to finish will absolutely make the entire process less daunting, less contentious, less stressful, less…everything.

Attorney Katherine Ryan understands the emotions involved in a divorce—even a relatively friendly divorce.  The dedicated matrimonial attorneys at The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C., can work with couples throughout the divorce process to minimize the emotional strain as well as the costs associated with divorce, handling both complex, contested divorces as well as simpler, uncontested divorces.

Residency Requirements for a New York Divorce

Before filing for divorce in the state of New York, you must meet the residency requirements. There are several ways to meet New York’s residency requirements, including:

  • One or both spouses have lived continuously in the state for at least two years prior to filing for divorce;
  • One or both spouses have lived continuously in the state for at least one year and 1) the grounds for the divorce occurred in New York, 2) the spouses were married in New York, or 3) the spouses lived in New York as a married couple, or
  • Both spouses were residents of New York State on the day the divorce is started, and the grounds for the divorce occurred in New York State.

Grounds for Divorce in New York

There are seven legally acceptable grounds for a divorce in the state of New York; one of these is known as a “no-fault” divorce, where the couple claims there has been an irretrievable breakdown in the relationship for a period of at least six months. To claim a no-fault divorce, all economic issues, including debt, custody, and support of the children, and how the marital assets will be divided must have been settled between the couple. Other grounds for a divorce in New York include:

  • Cruel and inhumane treatment, which must include specific acts of cruelty that occurred over the past five years.
  • Imprisonment of one spouse for at least three or more consecutive years—The spouse must have been imprisoned after the marriage began, however, the Plaintiff can use this ground for divorce while the spouse is in prison, or up to five years after the spouse was released from prison.
  • Abandonment by one spouse for at least a year or more—There are two forms of abandonment; the first is when the spouse physically leaves the home with no intention of returning, and the second is one spouse refuses to have sexual relations with the other.
  • Divorce following a legal separation agreement—The spouses must have signed and filed a valid separation agreement and lived apart for one year.
  • Adultery—The Plaintiff must show that the spouse committed adultery during the marriage.
  • Divorce after a judgment of separation—The Supreme Court must draw up a judgment of separation, and the couple must have lived apart for one year.

Asset Division in a New York Divorce

The state of New York is an equitable distribution state—as opposed to a community property state in which assets are divided exactly 50/50. That being said, New York adopted the Uniform Disposition of Community Property Rights at Death Act which preserves the community property ownership rights of each spouse if they move from a community property state (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin) to an equitable distribution state, such as New York. After determining which assets are separate or non-marital and which assets are marital assets, the marital assets will be divided.

Under the rule of equitable distribution, marital assets are divided fairly, rather than exactly equally. The goal of equitable distribution is to make sure the division of assets is fair with respect to the contributions to the marriage of each spouse, as well as the needs of each spouse after the divorce. The judge will consider the following when dividing marital property:

  • How long the marriage lasted;
  • The income of each spouse during and after the marriage;
  • The property owned by each spouse during and after the marriage;
  • The retirement plans, stocks, bonds, investments and business interests of each spouse;
  • The contributions of each spouse to the marriage;
  • The age and health of each spouse;
  • Which spouse will be awarded primary custody of the child or children;
  • Whether one spouse will receive spousal maintenance;
  • The dissipation of assets by either spouse;
  • The future earning potential of each spouse, and
  • The liquidity of the marital property—while cash can easily be divided, real estate can only be divided after a sale.

The court will not consider adultery, domestic violence, or involvement in criminal activities when determining asset division unless those activities materially affected the finances of the couple. As an example, if one spouse had a gambling problem and spent considerable marital assets on the addiction, then a judge would take this into consideration when dividing the marital assets.

Spousal Maintenance in a New York Divorce

Spousal maintenance is either set for a specific length of time or permanently. Since 2015, the Courts have largely relied on the spousal maintenance calculator, which can be found here: spousal maintenance calculator. The court will also focus on the standard of living maintained while the spouses were married, and, in addition to the factors considered during asset division (above), the court will also consider:

  • Whether one spouse needs to have additional training or education in order to achieve financial independence;
  • Any acts by one spouse against the other that inhibit the other’s earning capacity or ability to find employment, such as acts of domestic violence;
  • The ability of the spouse seeking spousal maintenance to become self-supporting, as well as the length of time and the training required;
  • Whether the spouse seeking spousal maintenance has had his or her lifetime earning capacity diminished as a result of delaying or foregoing employment, training, education, or career opportunities while helping the other spouse in his or her education or career opportunities;
  • Whether the earning capacity of the spouse seeking maintenance is inhibited by ongoing care of minor children, an adult child with a disability, or elderly parents or in-laws;
  • The tax consequences to each spouse, and
  • The loss, availability, and cost of health insurance.

How the Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C., Can Help You Through Your Divorce

During the divorce proceedings, an attorney from The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C., will assess all the couple’s assets and debt, with the goal of obtaining the largest possible distribution of marital assets for their clients. Attorney Katherine Ryan will work closely with divorce clients to guarantee proper financial support through maintenance, and if children are involved, she will fight for custody of the children, child support payments, or help in developing a parenting plan. Katherine Ryan represents clients in Garden City, Stewart Manor, New Hyde Park, Mineola, Huntington, Melville, Woodbury, Commack, Smithtown, Syosset, Jericho, Roslyn, and Manhasset. Contact The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C., today for a consultation regarding your family law issue.