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What Should You Expect from your New York City Divorce Lawyer?
October 9, 2020
What should you expect from your divorce lawyer?
Divorce lawyers are professionals that provide advice, counsel and strategy and performance on your divorce or child custody case so of course they are invaluable partners when you are going through a divorce in New York. Although you might expect to need them to appear with you in court, their function is more deliberate than that. Day to-day decisions can impact the result of your divorce so you want an assessable attorney that you can trust to make themselves available to you in a time of urgency or during difficult periods where your spouse is doing something you might think is unlawful. For instance, if you are moving out of the marital residence you would want to speak to the attorney before you do that because it has legal consequences. It also has practical consequences such as how do you remove your personal belongings, how do you enter the house again without risking your security, etc, not to mention the custodial concerns you might have, and these are just a few of the concerns that arise when you separate from your spouse. The most serious issue is obviously your children. If there are children of the marriage and you are seriously considering filing a New York divorce case, your custody issues will be decided in that context.￼ If you’re not married you can file a custody petition and Family Court. However, if you are contemplating divorce in New York, you do not want to make any mistakes and an experienced divorce lawyer will guide you through the most difficult time in your life.
Some divorce attorneys are more approachable than others. As you interview lawyers ask whether the attorney will be representing you in court or whether the attorney will be sending a younger associate.
Also, do not be afraid to ask your Manhattan divorce lawyer how much trial experience they have and how many cases they have filed through to an appellate decision.
You want to hire a divorce attorney who will be responsive to your needs because these day-to-day decisions seriously impact your case moving forward. Divorce cases tend to take a long time and many highly conflictual litigants will find themselves waiting over a year before they start seeing a resolution of their matter and if the matter is rather complex, the case can go on for years, depending on what county in New York your case is pending, whether child custody is an issue, the case load of your judge, and other unanticipated contingencies that may arise.
Because the case can linger on for a while, you want an attorney who can advise you of your rights moving forward. These rights are often referred to as pendente lite rights. You can secure temporary relief through the filing of a motion or through stipulations between the attorneys. While equitable distribution is never done temporarily, issues involving day-to-day problems, such as custodial scheduling and spousal support and child support can be dealt with on a temporary basis until the case goes to a trial or settles.
With respect to equitable distribution, the court will attempt to distribute the property in a fair and equitable manner however equitable does not mean equal. That is why when you separate from your spouse it is important that you speak to an attorney before you lock out your spouse, which is illegal. And if you are the living spouse, it is important to speak to an attorney so that you may safely remove your clothing and personal belongings out of the house.
Why? The reason is simple.
Since the Supreme Court will not get involved in matters of equitable distribution, until trial, you will rely on your attorney to counsel you as to what items you can take, what items you should photograph, and what items you should leave. The supreme court justices that preside over your divorce case cannot order equitable distribution of your assets before trial or settlement.
Therefore, you would want to seek legal advice from your attorney as to what you can take, and how best to secure your clothing, personal affects, jewelry, laptop, hard drives, and other paper files.
If you do not seek the advice of a New York divorce attorney prior to leaving the home, you might have already made many tactical errors in your face.
In some instances,￼ you might find yourself waiting for your personal belongings till the attorneys can figure out a way to box up your materials or until your attorney requests a court order.
￼Another question that arises during the start of a divorce case is who gets temporary custody of the children, who gets the car and who gets to stay in the marital residence. For all of these reasons, and more, you want to consult with a New York divorce attorney to plane your exit strategy, one who is well experienced in these matters and one who can guide you in these matters because the best ultimate results can only be obtained by strategic planning and counsel.
If you are planning to divorce find an attorney who is approachable. Find an attorney who will get back to you within a reasonable amount of time with answers to any questions that you might have. However, a divorce attorney’s role is not be there for you to listen to your personal problems, as it is not their professional responsibility. However, a good attorney will tell you to seek a therapist especially since the therapist will charge you less money per hour than an attorney.
Of course, experience is an important component to retaining counsel. You don’t want a divorce attorney who has never tried a case, it is preferable that you have an attorney with a good reputation and you would also like one who is familiar with the appellate division rules in case you need to appeal an improper ruling. Most cases involving divorce settle before trial. However, if your attorney is well known to be a trial attorney, this fact in and of itself will help your case settle quickly.
Decisions regarding equitable distribution are complex. Some of the things the court will look at would include but are not limited to the length of the marriage, whether or not there were children, what financial arrangements need to be made for the children, whether or not each party has a pension, a retirement life insurance or inheritances, the age of the parties, the needs of the parties, the earning abilities of the parties and the health of the parties. Another consideration is that if you have a business, or have some property earned prior to the marriage it is important that you do not co/mingle, which means do not deposit this money in the joint bank account of the parties or add your spouse to the title of the deed.
You can also expect that your Manhattan divorce lawyer will know what tools are necessary to implement for you to secure your equitable interest in your spouse’s business, assets, and pensions. Obtaining or securing the correct paperwork before you decide to divorce is critical and you should rely upon good counsel to lead in in the right direction with respect to the gathering of these documents. This advice, alone, will end up saving you time and money when it comes to the financial discovery stage of your case.
Again, the role of the divorce attorney in a contested divorce is to get you through one of the most horrible times in your life using the professional tools made available to him or her through the law. They are not miracle workers and they are not your friends, but they can engage you in the process and in a rewarding manner. With all the complexities involved in the court system you want to have an attorney that you can get along with because this attorney will be your advocate as well as your advisor in decisions impacting your divorce or custody case.
No attorney can tell you what you can expect out of your divorce and be wary of anyone that can guarantee you results because litigation has hazards and no one can really say for sure how your divorce will turn out because there are so many factors the court can consider in dividing up property, deciding custody and providing support. Also, the divorce courts in New York have an enormous amount of discretion to do what they need to do to come up with a fair result for all parties. But how you behave and what choices you make during the pendency of your divorce case will affect the way the Court perceives your case so you need good counsel, should you decide to retain an attorney.
For more information go to my website at www.nycdivorcelawyer.net or give us a call at 212-786-0901 and we would be happy to give you a free 15-minute consultation. Thank you.
Lisa Beth Older, your Manhattan Divorce Lawyer