financial website, Forbes.com, published a year-end "End-of-the-Year Divorce Checklist for Women."
The bulk of the items on the divorce checklist are matters of basic
commonsense, and are equally applicable to both men and women who are facing
the prospect of divorce. During the
next week, I will be addressing each item contained on the Forbes list, with
insights based on my experience as a divorce lawyer who has been in the
trenches of New York courts for 18 years. This article is the first installment
of my New York divorce checklist series.
The information and advice contained in these articles involves an overriding
mandate: you must begin the process of basing your actions on strategy, rather
than uncontrolled emotion, before you start your divorce case.
divorce lawyer for 18 years, I have helped several thousand clients make the
difficult transition from being emotional overwhelmed to proactive, strategic
action. Divorce involves essential legal
and financial rights that will affect you for the rest of your life. You cannot
afford to wallow in anger, shame, resentment or despair. You must act proactively and
strategically. An important role of any
divorce lawyer involves helping his or her client make this difficult - yet
essential - transition. Acting and
thinking in a proactive and strategic manner will lead to unexpected
benefits. Beyond helping you with your
case, this new paradigm of thought will actually help you in dealing with the
emotional effects of your failed relationship, and the psychological challenge
of re-defining yourself.
Item No. 1 on the "To-List" of Anyone
Contemplating Divorce: Gather Financial Records,
and be Prepared.
item on the Forbes "divorce checklist" is to begin the process of gathering and
reviewing financial records. Compiling
and preserving financial records is a matter of utmost importance. If divorce is even a remote possibility, it
is essential for you to thoroughly familiarize yourself with all financial
records, including bank records, credit card accounts, retirement accounts, and
investment accounts. It is equally
essential for you to photocopy all of the records relating to such matters.
Regrettably, after a divorce case is commenced, it may be too late. Your spouse may selectively withhold certain
items (such as information about his or her retirement benefits). Although nearly all jurisdictions require
full disclosure by both parties of their respective (and joint) financial
records and information in connection with divorce, many spouses attempt to
evade their disclosure obligations, or only selectively disclosure partial
information so as to distort the actual value of assets in their name.
York, all contested divorce actions begin with full financial disclosure by
each side, in the form of a Statement of Net Worth. According to New York's Domestic Relations
Law, a Statement of Net Worth is supposed to be an exhaustive and comprehensive
statement of all assets, liabilities, income, and other financial data, of both
parties. In practice, many spouses try
to withhold information. New York's
matrimonial judges are overburdened, and do not always demand full compliance
with financial disclosure mandates of NY's Domestic Relations Law. The result is that divorce proceedings in New
York sometimes feel like the "Wild West".
Accordingly, you must protect yourself, and not assume that a judge will
compel your spouse to comply with his or her obligations under the law. Beyond preserving financial records, you must
retain a New York divorce lawyer who is experienced and will fight hard for
you in the trenches of the courtroom.
concluded a case in which my client had virtually no information about her
husband's retirement assets (401k) and income.
Despite the fact that this case involved a long-term marriage, my client
spent years in the dark. Unfortunately,
despite multiple court orders requiring him to provide financial disclosure,
the husband remained noncompliant and secretive.
result, my client and I had to undertake time-consuming discovery and legal
proceedings to uncover the truth about the husband's financial conditions. Among other things, we issued subpoenas to
the husband's employer and banking institutions in which the husband maintained
accounts. We arranged for asset
searches, and undertook an exhaustive deposition (oral questioning under oath)
of the husband. As a result, we were
able to uncover certain assets that the husband had tried to conceal. Did we get the whole truth? We will never really know.
seems to bring out the worst in human nature.
Not surprisingly, many marriages fall apart because one or both parties
has unresolved psychological issues.
These same issues are sometimes manifested - during the divorce
proceedings - by vindictiveness, bitterness, and rage. In the worst case scenario, a spouse resorts
to physical violence. If you are
concerned that your spouse (or former spouse) presents a physical danger to
yourself or your children, a Family Court Order of Protection may be
required. An experienced New York
divorce lawyer should be fully familiar with the legal standards and procedural
mechanisms for obtaining an order of protection under New York's Family Court
Act. Sadly, dealing with the threat of
domestic violence is part of a divorce attorney's job.
of how well you think you know your spouse, do not assume that he or she will
be cooperative or forthcoming. Prepare
for the worst. Gather all documents
relating to the assets, debts, income, retirement assets, and any other aspect
of the financial affairs, from the beginning of your marital relationship to
the present. Copy those documents, and
place them in a secure place (for example, the office of your divorce attorney,
or some other place to which your spouse does not have access). If
you are facing divorce, you should consult with an experienced New York divorce
lawyer at the earliest possible stage.
New York divorce lawyer Marc Rapaport has 18 years of experience, and
handles all NY family law and matrimonial matters. Call us today for an appointment: (212)
DID YOU KNOW?
- New York was the last state in the United States
to enact no-fault divorce.
- New York is the only state in the United States that treats
advanced educational degrees that were acquired during the marriage as
"marital property" that is subject to equitable distribution.
NY's Domestic Relations Law, if a child goes to college full time, the
non-custodial parent's child support obligations generally continue until
the child reaches the age of 21 years.
- In October 2010, New York
enacted a temporary spousal support formula, that is presumptive in all New York divorce
cases, and is intended to ensure that the dependent spouse has the
resources to continue enjoying the standard of living that the parties had
during their marriage. Temporary maintenance may be entered at the
beginning of a divorce case, as a part of
what is known as a pendente
OUT MORE ABOUT YOUR RIGHTS IN A NEW
YORK DIVORCE. CALL NY DIVORCE ATTORNEY MARC RAPAPORT
TODAY. PHONE: (212) 382-1600.
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Rapaport Law Firm, 2011.