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The outcome of a divorce can have a tremendous impact on all areas of your life. It determines how your assets will be divided, how much support will be paid, and if you have children, who they will live with and how often you get to see them. With so much on the line, you need an experienced divorce attorney who knows how to protect your interests and can help you build a bright, stable future.

At the Law Offices of Joseph Soffer, that is our top priority. You can rest assured that we have the experience and skills to secure the best possible results in your case.

Whenever possible, working toward an uncontested divorce is a worthy goal, but even when disputes are not litigated, professional legal representation is crucial. With us, you have a strong negotiator on your side who will make sure that your vital interests and those of your children are protected, and that the divorce agreement satisfies New York law.

If you cannot reach consensus with your spouse, we will be a determined advocate on your behalf. Even in a contested divorce, we will still try to move the process in an amicable, professional manner.

Grounds for Divorce

In order to end a marriage in New York, a spouse must present a claim for divorce to the court with a reason for ending the marriage. These reasons are known as “grounds for divorce,” and prior to 2010, claimants had to prove that one of the following five grounds existed that justified ending the marriage:

  • Abandonment for more than one year
  • Adultery
  • Legally separated for more than one year

  • Cruel and inhuman treatment
  • Imprisonment for more than three consecutive years

In 2010, New York added a new ground for divorce that effectively permits no-fault divorce in the Empire State. No-fault divorces only require a spouse to claim that his or her marriage has “broken down irretrievably for a period of least six months” in order to establish a ground for divorce.

Before a no-fault divorce can be granted, all other divorce-related issues must be resolved. Problems often arise concerning property division, child custody and support issues, visitation, and spousal support. We have extensive experience handling these issues for our clients and work tirelessly to protect their interests.

Although many couples choose to utilize the new no-fault laws, the traditional grounds for divorce listed above remain in effect and can be used to end a marriage. These fault-based grounds are often used in contested divorces where parties are battling over custody and property distribution. No matter what the basis of the divorce is, we can help guide you through the process and resolve your issues as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Property Division

One of the most contested aspects of divorce is the division of assets, property, and debts acquired before and during the marriage. When your financial future is hanging in the balance, you need an experienced family law attorney who knows how to protect your interests throughout the divorce process.

We know what it takes to protect your assets during a divorce. Let us put our knowledge and skills to work for you today.

If you and your spouse cannot agree on how to divide your marital property, the law recognizes a process called equitable distribution, which determines how your assets will be divided and how your debts will be apportioned. Equitable does not always mean equal. There are a number of legal factors that go into such a determination. Having the right experienced property division lawyer on your side can help save you a considerable amount of money in the divorce process.

In New York, all property acquired during a marriage is subject to equitable distribution upon divorce. There are, of course, exceptions and nuances to all the rules. Sometimes property becomes commingled and is difficult to classify. Sometimes it is difficult to determine when a certain property right came into existence in the first place.

During equitable distribution proceedings, spouses must prove that their property is, in fact, separate and not subject to division in the divorce. Let our experience in this area work for you to ensure that you keep as much of your hard-earned property or that you receive as much of your fair share of the marital property as possible.

Spousal Support

One of the most important issues in a divorce or separation is spousal maintenance. Also known as alimony, spousal support may be required to allow the recipient spouse some degree of financial independence.

Spousal maintenance is the amount of money paid from one spouse to another in the wake of a divorce or separation. Depending on the circumstances, spousal maintenance can be awarded for a limited amount of time or can be awarded indefinitely.

Even while a divorce is pending, spouses often struggle to pay their bills or maintain their standard of living. New York has recognized this problem and recently passed laws that allow courts to issue temporary spousal maintenance while the divorce is pending.

Temporary support is awarded according to a fixed formula, based on the higher-earning spouse's income in relation to the lower-earning spouse's income. These new laws also allow lower-income spouses to be entitled to payment for attorneys’ fees during the divorce process.

In New York, spouses often pay or receive durational maintenance after a divorce or separation. This form of maintenance is intended to help the ex-spouse get on their feet and achieve financial independence. This is often awarded when the marriage is of a short duration, and the couple had no children.

However, there are certain cases where an ex-spouse may be dependent on their former husband or wife to provide them with support for a number of years. Courts are required to weigh a number of factors when determining whether a spouse is entitled to receive long-term or even permanent spousal maintenance.

We have had considerable success helping clients protect their assets and receive the support that they needed. Let us put our knowledge and skills to work for you today.

Child Custody

Although a divorce ends the relationship between husband and wife, it should not end the relationship between parents and their children. Child custody disputes are often the most hotly contested issues in a divorce. Whereas parents may be willing to compromise on alimony and property division, most refuse to compromise when it comes to their children.

If you are involved in a custody dispute, it is important to have an experienced family law attorney on your side. We help parents with child custody, relocation, and visitation issues. We understand how much pain, anger, and frustration these matters can cause, and we are dedicated to providing you with the legal support and representation you need to resolve these issues.

Our seasoned family law attorney has more than 30 years’ worth of experience, knowledge, and skills to protect your rights as a parent and the best interests of your child. When handling your case, we design strategies which consider these factors to persuade the courts to find in your favor.

We also have extensive experience helping parents secure temporary custody of their children during divorce proceedings and enforcing visitation rights after custody arrangements have been established. Let us put our experience and skills to work for you today.

Child Support

After going through a divorce, one parent is likely to end up with primary custody of a child or children. In normal circumstances, the non-custodial parent will be responsible for paying child support to help pay for the needs and education of the child, and the custodial parent is usually not required to account for the child support he or she receives.

The basic child support obligation in New York State is calculated by multiplying combined gross parental income, deducting FICA and local city taxes (if any) by the child support percentages listed below:

  • For one child: 17% of the combined parental income
  • For two children: 25% of the combined parental income
  • For three children: 29% of the combined parental income
  • For four children: 31% of the combined parental income
  • For five or more children: No less than 35% of the combined parental income

The final amount arrived at is then multiplied by the pro rata percentage of income to determine how much is paid from the non-residential parent to the residential one. In some additional cases, a judge may order the non-custodial parent to also pay a share of the child or children's health care expenses, child care expenses, or education expenses, above and beyond basic child support.

When a non-custodial parent does not meet their legal child support obligations, wage garnishments, property liens, and even an income execution may be instituted through a court order or judgment. When a child reached the age of 21 or is legally emancipated at an earlier age, child support ends.

Same-Sex Divorce

In June 2011, New York became the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage. Along with legalizing marriage, it also opened the door for gay and lesbian couples to get divorced. To get a divorce, these same-sex couples must be married for at least six months.

We realize that there may be some who will wish to dissolve their marriage in the future. If you are considering getting a divorce, we can help you protect your interests and end your marriage in an amicable, professional manner.

Before same-sex marriage became legalized, many gay and lesbian couples had been in civil unions or long-term relationships. During this time, each partner accumulated assets that might be considered separate property in New York and not subject to division in a divorce. For same-sex couples seeking a divorce, protecting these assets can become a critical issue.

If necessary, we will consult with forensic accountants, tax specialists, business appraisers, and real estate professionals to evaluate your financial situation. If you earn a considerably higher income than your spouse, we work to ensure that marital property is divided in a fair and equitable manner.

If you believe that you may require financial support during or after divorce proceedings, we can help you receive a share of the marital estate that reflects your contributions to the household. Whichever side of the equation you are on, we have the experience and skills to ensure your financial interests are well represented.

High Net Worth Divorce

People who have amassed a high net worth are often fearful about getting divorced. The possibility of losing half of their hard-earned assets to their spouse is enough to keep some in loveless or unhappy marriages.

Thus, we help clients protect their interests and prepare them for a stable financial future. We have extensive experience handling the issues that arise in high net worth divorces. You can rest assured that we have the knowledge, skills, and experience to protect your assets and pursue your fair share of the marital estate.

In high-asset divorce cases, powerful strategies are absolutely necessary to stay ahead of the competition and ensure your success. The first move is to assess the situation and design a course of action, which may include hiring experts in forensic accounting, tax specialists, business appraisers, and real estate professionals to evaluate your financial situation and the impact that property division and support obligations can have on your bottom line or even your taxes.

The next move involves identification and protection of separate property. Separate property is any property owned by a spouse before marriage as well as gifts (from others), personal injury settlements, and inheritances received during the marriage.

We then work with the experts to calculate the value of marital property subject to distribution, including stock options, IRAs, 401(k) accounts, pensions, real estate, family businesses, collectibles, professional licenses or degrees, and professional practices. We rely on more than 30 years of experience to provide powerful representation for our clients throughout the divorce process.

Pre-Nuptial Agreements

Entering into a pre-nuptial agreement has become common practice for New York couples who are about to get married. With divorce rates on the rise and people getting married later in life, pre-nuptial agreements can provide you with peace of mind that your interests and assets will be protected in the event of a divorce or the death of a spouse.

We know that pre-nuptial agreements have a somewhat negative stigma attached to them, and people may feel uncomfortable about entering into a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement with their spouse. Here, we provide our clients with insightful advice about pre-nuptial agreements and explain the benefits that they can offer. Let us focus on handling the legal details while you and your spouse begin your marital journey together.

There are several reasons why someone would consider entering into a pre-nuptial agreement.

  • You have loved ones who need to be protected.
  • You have assets such as a home, stock or retirement funds that you earned before marriage.
  • You own all or part of a business.
  • You hold or are pursuing a professional degree or license.
  • You are considerably wealthier than your spouse.

If you are considering entering a pre-nuptial agreement, talk to us about the issues before you talk with your fiancé(e). By addressing these concerns before marriage, you can both strengthen your relationship and plan your financial future. A pre-nuptial agreement can help memorialize the trust and honesty you have with your partner and protect yourself in the event that life does not go as planned.

Orders of Protection

Domestic violence is a serious problem that affects families throughout New York and across the nation. It comes in many forms, from constant harassment to threats of violence to child abuse. Domestic violence issues in the home often lead to spouses filing for divorce or separation, but sometimes even these measures are not enough to protect victims from their attackers.

Our law firm is dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence and those accused of committing domestic violence throughout the New York metropolitan area. Orders of Protection are often critical in preventing victims from suffering further abuse, harassment, or violence. We have extensive experience representing both victims of domestic violence and those charged with domestic violence in civil and criminal courts.

Orders of Protection can be issued in the Supreme Court, criminal court or family court. This generally lasts for two years but can be extended for up to five years if “aggravating circumstances” exist or if the order is violated. Generally, Orders of Protection are divided into two categories — “stay away” orders and “refrain from” orders.

“Stay away” orders prohibit the accused from coming within a specified distance of the victim and any children that they share. These orders also prevent the accused from coming near a victim’s workplace, place of residence, or any other frequently visited locale. “Refrain from” orders prohibit the accused from contacting, assaulting, menacing, or harassing victims in any way.

Orders of Protection may include both “stay away” and “refrain from” provisions, as well as additional terms concerning supervised visitation, temporary child support, suspension of firearm licenses, and forced exclusion from a shared residence.

If you have been issued an Order of Protection, it is critical to understand how serious this matter is. If you violate the terms of your order, the consequences can be much harsher than the penalties for the underlying offense and can rise to criminal conduct.

If an Order of Protection has been entered against you, complying with its terms is always in your best interests. Violating an Order of Protection could result in serious penalties, and learning your rights and responsibilities under this order can prevent you from serving time behind bars.

Let Us Help You

When your family is going through an emotional and challenging stage, it is best to turn to the experts who can walk you through the legal process. Below is a list of other matters we can assist you with:

  • Family Court

  • Separation

  • Post-Nuptial Agreements

  • Post-Divorce Modifications

With over 30 years of collective experience in successfully representing our clients, we have the legal know-how and dedication to handle all types of divorce and family issues. We care deeply about our clients and seek to fully represent their rights and best interests. Contact the Law Offices of Joseph Soffer in New York City or Garden City today for assistance with your matrimonial or family issue.

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