New York City Divorce Lawyers
Serving Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island
When couples go through a divorce it can be a difficult time on a personal level. It can be a complicated time on the legal level. And it will most certainly be a consequential time in terms of shaping how the soon-to-be ex-spouses live out the years ahead. It’s important to work with an experienced New York City divorce lawyer who understands the issues involved and how to fight for their client’s best interests.
Maryam Jahedi Law Firm P.C. has spent over a decade serving people across the five boroughs of New York City. Our diverse client base includes those who speak Farsi and Russian. Reach out to our NYC office today at (646) 798-7118 or contact us online to set up a consultation.
Contested Divorce vs. Uncontested Divorce in New York
The final terms of a divorce settlement can be settled between the spouses and their lawyers. When the spouses are able to reach an agreement, it’s called an uncontested divorce. The settlement is still subject to review by a family court judge, who must ensure that its terms don’t violate any laws or are blatantly unfair. But judges grant wide discretion to an agreement negotiated between the couples themselves.
When the spouses do not agree, we have a contested divorce, which means litigation is necessary to resolve the disputed issues.
Which is best? The best path to a settlement is the one that creates a fair agreement. But all else being equal, it is certainly preferable to have an uncontested divorce.
The benefits of a negotiated outcome include the following:
- The process is faster. While there are no guarantees as to how long an uncontested divorce will take to finalize, it’s certainly going to move quicker than litigation.
- The quicker process makes it much more likely that the overall costs to the client will be less.
- An uncontested divorce means the terms of a settlement–and everything said during the negotiations remains private. Once a dispute goes to court everything goes on the public record. The value of assets and who gets them is public. Anything negative said about the other spouse becomes public. While spouses may be upset with each other in a divorce, they may not want others–particularly any children involved–to hear the negative things that come up.
- When couples do have children, they are going to have to maintain a professional relationship in the years ahead, for the sake of raising the kids. The simple act of working together to create an agreement can set a good tone for the co-parenting efforts that are to come.
- The spouses retain control of the outcome. The reality of any negotiation is that no one gets everything they want. But in a contested divorce, the judge gets the final say. In negotiations, the couple does.
Everything the spouses own together must be divided according to New York’s equitable distribution laws. The term “equitable distribution” is important to understand. Distribution does not have to be a 50/50 split under New York law. While that outcome is certainly possible and some judges may even use it as a starting point, the only requirement is that the property split be equitable–that is, it must be fair for the specific circumstances in each case.
What’s equitable is, at least to some degree, in the eye of the beholder. In this case, the beholder is a New York family court judge. That makes the role of a New York City divorce lawyer even more important. Spouses need to be sure that a judge hears all the relevant factors that go into making up an equitable statement.
Factors like these:
- How long did the marriage last?
- What is each spouse’s age and health?
- Does either spouse have the responsibility of caring for aged parents?
- Will either spouse lose access to pensions or inheritances due to the divorce?
- Is spousal support (alimony) going to be paid from one spouse to the other?
- Did either spouse use assets in a way that were obviously wasteful?
- Is an asset (i.e., a business) something that is impractical to split between the spouses?
These are just a handful of criteria a judge can consider, and New York law further authorizes judges to deliberate on any other factor they deem “a just and proper consideration”. But a judge can only consider the factors they actually know about. It’s the job of the lawyer to get those issues before the court.
Every detail matters in deciding how property is divided in a New York divorce. The lawyers at Maryam Jahedi Law Firm P.C. are ready to fight for your best interests right down to those details. Call our New York City office today at (646) 798-7118 or contact us online to set up a consultation.
Marital Property or Separate Property?
Another important part of property division is understanding what is marital property and what is separate property. All the criteria discussed above presume the court is dealing with marital property–that which belongs to both spouses. But what if the property belongs exclusively to just one spouse? In that case, it stays with that spouse in its entirety and is not a factor in determining how the rest of the property is distributed.
To determine if an asset is considered separate property, the court will look at the following:
- When the spouse came into ownership of the asset. If a spouse owned something prior to marriage–be it anything from a savings account to a house to furniture–it might be considered separate property. Please note, however, that if any separate property was improved or developed in any way after the marriage, the property may–at least in part, belong to both spouses.
- Inheritances are also considered separate property. An important caveat here is that if a cash inheritance was put into a joint savings account or jointly held investment portfolio, that commingling means a judge will likely deem it marital property. But inherited property, standing on its own, is separate property.
- Something the courts will not consider marital property is anything purchased during the marriage. Even if one spouse was the one who wanted the property, used it exclusively, and even if the property was acquired over the protests of the other spouse. Under the law, the judge in a contested divorce will look only at the fact the property was acquired after the marriage date. It is therefore marital property
There’s a lot to work out in a divorce settlement, from property division to spousal support to child custody and visitation. An experienced New York City divorce attorney can guide their client through the process.
Maryam Jahedi Law Firm P.C. has been serving the people of New York for over a decade. We work with clients across the five boroughs. Our partners speak Farsi and Russian and can serve a diverse client base. Call our office today at (646) 798-7118 or contact us online to set up a consultation.