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Areas of Family Law
The Koplen Law Firm can help you in the following areas of Family Law Practice:
Divorce, of course, is the major category into which so many other aspects of Family Law relate. Once divorce is commenced, the major challenges of unwinding a marriage come to the fore. If there are children, child custody is often a huge battleground between separating spouses. Child custody issues lead to child support and visitation issues, often the source of acrimony. At the Koplen Law Firm, we firmly believe that these matters are better settled than litigated between bitter spouses. If you and your ex can reach an agreement, you will spare yourself, and even more importantly, your children, the discomfort and emotional turmoil that so often attends child custody and support litigation. Of course, if you and your spouse cannot reach a mutually agreeable arrangement, the matter is placed before the Court for a judge or referee to decide. In the event that this comes to a hearing or trial, the Koplen Law Firm will vigorously represent your interests.
Often one spouse is the major wage earner, with the other spouse the homemaker. In such an arrangement, in a long term marriage, the Courts will award Spousal Support, sometimes called “alimony” in other states, to the financially disadvantaged spouse. The attorneys at the Koplen Law Firm know the law of Spousal Support and know how to convince a Court to award the maximum Spousal Support to which you are entitled under New York Family Law statutes. A Court will award both Temporary Spousal Support to be paid during the pendency of the divorce, and then a Permanent Order for Spousal Support to be paid after the divorce is finalized.
The laws in New York are quite clear; the non-custodial parent must pay child support to the custodial parent. Child Support is calculated according to a statutory formula and other criteria, based on the parents’ respective incomes. Child Support is often a very contentious part of a divorce involving children. The Courts are very strict and it is not uncommon for a Court to sentence a delinquent non-custodial parent to jail for failure to pay child support. Loss of driving privileges and other penalties are other risks faced by parents who fail to meet their child support obligations. Sometimes, paternity issues arise as a defense to child support claims. The Court will administer a simple DNA test to establish paternity or the lack thereof. In extreme cases, it may be necessary to petition the Court for termination of the parental rights of one parent. This is especially true in tragic cases involving child abuse and neglect.
Child Custody, when it is contested, is often the most bitter part of a divorce. Each parent believes that he or she is the better parent. This often leads to acrimonious litigation. Trials to resolve Child Custody often resemble contests in character assassination, with each parent decrying the poor qualities of the other. The Court will appoint a separate attorney for the child in this event, but unfortunately, the quality of legal representation for children is often lacking, with attorneys chosen from a pool of lawyers who are paid by the government and often side with one parent over the other rather than look out for the interests of the children. However, the judges who try Child Custody matters know how much weight to give to different types of evidence and to the opinions of court-appointed lawyers.
Division of Marital Assets and Liabilities
This is a tricky part of a contested divorce. Each spouse is required by New York law to provide financial disclosure information to the other spouse. Neither spouse is entitled to disburse marital assets during the pendency of the divorce. It is not uncommon for each spouse to have wildly differing opinions about the financial state of the marriage with litigating spouses claiming that the other is hiding assets, or that they were in fact poverty stricken, even while owning a home, business, or fancy automobile. The attorneys at the Koplen Law Firm are very savvy at uncovering and proving to the Court the true financial nature of a marriage and will vigorously defend their clients’ best interests.
Protection from Abuse
At one time, the law required one spouse to leave the marital abode during a divorce proceeding. This is no longer the case and it is not uncommon for divorcing spouses to continue to live in the same house. This understandably can lead to tension and worse with one spouse insulting or assaulting the other. In these kinds of cases, it is necessary for the Court to issue Orders of Protection, which in theory protect one spouse from abuse at the hands of the other spouse. Of course, an Order of Protection is just a piece of paper affording legal remedies, and it does not guaranty that a spouse will not cause harm to the other. The attorneys at the Koplen Law Firm will vigorously protect the rights of abused spouses.