Family Law

My new husband would like to adopt my child. Is this possible under New York Adoption Laws?(NY)

Yes - if he qualifies under New York Adoption Laws as an adoptive parent and the biological father's parental rights have been waived or terminated then adoption is possible. This process is known within the law community in New York, and other states, under the term - step parent adoption.
(Courtesy of Association of the Bar of the City of New York)

Is it a long waiting list to adopt a newborn in New York? (NY)

No - a search conducted with experienced adoption consultants need not be a lengthy process. Under New York Adoption Laws a lot will depend on a prospective adopter's profile and preferences.
(Courtesy of Association of the Bar of the City of New York)

Is it possible to become pregnant and give birth at age 45? (NY)

Yes, it is possible. It may require working with an egg donor. This might entail becoming a party to an egg donation agreement, depending on the viability of your own eggs.
(Courtesy of Association of the Bar of the City of New York)

I have been married to my husband for 25 years. He works for the police department. We have two teenage children. I am a homemaker. We bought a house three years ago. My husband owns a stamp collection. What rights do I have to his assets? (NY)

New York matrimonial law grants the wife marital interests in all marital assets, including pension, 401K Plan, savings and checking accounts, stamp collection, etc. from the date of marriage to the date of the Summons for Divorce. Generally, if there are no custody issues, the husband will have to pay child support for the children until they are age 21 years old. Family law dictates child support payments to equal 25% of the gross salary, minus FICA, City Tax and Medicare. The husband may be ordered to pay maintenance sometimes called alimony to the wife until she regains a place in the work force. The cost of reeducation, in case of a long absence from employment, may also be ordered to be provided by the husband under New York matrimonial law. The parties will share equally in the net proceeds of the house. The wife may claim exclusive occupancy of the marital home for the family until the youngest child reaches 18 years old or even 21 years old, at which time the house will be sold. Matrimonial law stipulates that certain issues are required to be met, such as house maintenance for up to 6 to 8 years. This includes mortgage, gas, electricity, repairs, and other utility expense. Another issue is when the husband is made to leave the marital home. If there's no abuse by the husband and no Order of Protection, then both parties will live under the same roof until the parties come to an agreement or an Order of Protection is issued or the case goes before a judge to decide.
(Courtesy of Association of the Bar of the City of New York)

My girlfriend recently left me, took our children with her, and keeps telling me that she is moving to California. I am afraid that I will never see my children again. Is there anything I can do? (NY)

The first step under the circumstances would be to decide whether custody or visitation with the children will be sought. Family law in New York grants both parents of a child, regardless of whether they are married, an equal right to seek custody and any non-custodial parent must be afforded minimum visitation with their child. Regardless of which avenue is sought, custody and/or visitation rights must be delineated in a formal court order. This requires filing for custody or visitation rights at the Family Court in the county of residence. In cases where the other parent will be leaving the jurisdiction of the court, an order preventing relocation must be obtained at the Family Court. New York family law will not grant a parent permission to move to another state where such a move would interfere with another's parent right to visit with their child unless special circumstances apply.
(Courtesy of Association of the Bar of the City of New York)

My wife and I have decided to call it quits after five years of marriage. There are no children. We are both employed as teachers and have very few assets aside from our pensions. We reside in a co-op in Queens which I purchased before we were married. Do we each have to hire a lawyer and involve ourselves in an expensive divorce proceeding? (NY)

The answer depends on whether there are any disputes about the allocation of marital property. If the value of the pensions you accumulated during the marriage is roughly equal and if the value of the coop rose only due to market forces, and if there is agreement on the distribution of personal property, one party may commence what is referred in New York matrimonial law as an "uncontested divorce". Using available forms and directions, it is possible to obtain a divorce without using lawyers at all. Or, one party could retain an attorney for a modest fee who would perform all the paperwork and court filing. If the spouse agrees to the arrangement by signing a consent form, the financial repercussions of the divorce would be minimal.
(Courtesy of Association of the Bar of the City of New York)

I am divorced and have legal custody of our two children aged 7 and 10. Our divorce decree gives my husband visitation every other weekend but he never visits more than once every two or three months and never lets me know when he is going to visit. I think this is bad for the children and I would like to stop his visitation. Can I simply deny him any visitation until he changes his ways? (NY)

New York matrimonial law does not allow amending a court visitation order without returning to court to request a modification of the existing order. It is possible to attain a modification curtailing visitation rights or making visits contingent upon granting reasonable notice to the visited party of an impending visit but until such a modification is achieved the court ordering visitation must be respected by making the children available for the court ordered visitation.
(Courtesy of Association of the Bar of the City of New York)

My wife and I have one child, aged 10. We are in the process of getting a divorce and my wife is seeking an enormous child support award. I have known for years that our child was not mine because my wife told me but I treated her as my own. Can I avoid child support? (NY)

The child must be supported even if a paternity test proves no relation to the child. New York family law has a doctrine called "equitable estoppel" which means that if a person acted in the manner of a parent for a substantial period of time, the courts will not permit an argument to be made contending the opposite because it would not be fair to the child to deny that which had previously been confirmed by word and action.
(Courtesy of Association of the Bar of the City of New York)

I have worked for New York City for many years and now I am getting a divorce. Does my wife have a right to my pension? (NY)

New York matrimonial law entitles a spouse to a portion of the pension which was earned between the date of marriage and the date an action for divorce commenced which was successful. The spouse may either get a share of the present value of the pension, in a lump sum, or, after the pension holder retires, the spouse may get a portion of the monthly payments. The matrimonial court determines the agreement or it may be agreed by the parties. Although a spouse often gets 50% of the marital portion of the pension, a court need not grant 50% but may determine a lesser share, provided a reasonable situation for granting a less share exists. Matrimonial law stipulates if a spouse is granted a portion of the present value of a pension, then the pension has to be valued by an expert. This process normally costs about $500 in New York. Once the value is determined, then the pensioner would give the spouse his or her share of the present value by granting a money equivalent, or it may be decided to offset the value of the spouse's share against other property that may be granted to the pensioner. For example, if the present value of the pension is worth $100,000 and the spouse is entitled to $50,000, and there is a jointly owned house worth $100,000, the spouse's claim to the pension may be satisfied granting the spouse ownership of the house.
(Courtesy of Association of the Bar of the City of New York)

Is my husband entitled to a share of all property I acquired during the marriage? (NY)

Several types of personal assets are protected under New York matrimonial law. These include inheritance, compensation received from an accident, and gifts received from someone other than the spouse. These may be further explained by a New York attorney specializing in matrimonial law.
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