& FAMILY LAW
Compassionate Counsel &
Personalized Attention for your New York Divorce and Family Law Matters
Going through a divorce can be one of the most stressful and emotionally draining situations a person faces in their lifetime. The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins can help. The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins is dedicated to providing clients with understanding, compassion, and personal attention to help take the burden off their shoulders during this difficult time. With office locations in Manhattan & Melville, Long Island, The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins is available to represent clients throughout NYC, Long Island and Westchester.
How The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins Can Help
The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins understands that every divorce is different. Jessica will take the time to get to know you and the circumstances of your situation to develop a strategy and plan specifically tailored to your needs. When you work with The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins you will have an assertive, dedicated, and communicative attorney and a strategic and creative problem solver on your side. The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins offers affordable rates and high quality representation so that you can focus on moving forward.
What to Expect
As with any other type of matter, divorces can range from simple to complex depending upon finances, property, custody disputes, and other factors. In New York State, divorce proceedings are brought in Supreme Court and may be based on no-fault, or fault grounds. A divorce may be uncontested if the parties can agree on all major issues, or contested. Some issues commonly faced during a divorce in New York include child support and custody, spousal maintenance (alimony), pet custody, equitable distribution of property, and what happens to the marital residence. The parties may enter into a settlement if all major issues can be resolved. Otherwise, a case can proceed to trial. A divorce will be finalized once the court issues a final judgment.
Every divorce is different and there are many different options that may be available to you such as negotiation or mediation instead of litigation. If you are facing divorce, it is best to consult with an attorney to discuss what your legal options are. Contact the Law Office of Jessica M. Semins at (646) 397-6844 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.
Grounds for Divorce
In New York State, it is no longer necessary to prove fault in a divorce, as of a 2010 change to the Domestic Relations Law. The no-fault divorce provision allows a party to file for divorce by asserting an irretrievable breakdown in the spousal relationship for a period of at least six months. However, in addition to irretrievable breakdown, a party may assert fault under the following grounds:
Cruel and inhuman treatment
Abandonment for a period of one or more years
Defendant’s confinement to prison for a period of three or more consecutive years since the marriage
Separation for a period of a year or more pursuant to a Judgment of Separation, or a Separation Agreement.
Regardless of the grounds, a divorce may be uncontested, if the couple agrees upon and resolves all major issues concerning property division, child support and visitation and spousal maintenance. A divorce is contested if the defendant spouse does not wish to get divorced, the parties cannot agree on the grounds for the divorce, or there is a disagreement as to major issues in the case concerning children, property, and finances. The issues in all cases must be resolved by settlement or trial before a final judgment is issued, and the divorce is finalized.
New York is an equitable distribution state. This means that marital property is divided equitably, not equally. Property subject to equitable distribution includes property acquired during the course of the marriage. While it does not include individual property that a spouse owned before the marriage, an increase in value of the property as a result of the other spouse’s contribution would be subject to equitable distribution. A complete list of the criteria which a court would consider in distributing marital property is contained within New York Domestic Relations Law 236B. Some of the criteria the court may consider when distributing property include but are not limited to:
income and property of the spouses
duration of the marriage
age and health of the spouses
needs of the custodial parent to occupy the marital home
loss of pension, inheritance, or health benefits of a spouse upon dissolution
future financial circumstances of the parties
whether either spouse wastefully dissipated assets
liquid/non-liquid character of all marital property
contributions of a spouse to the career enhancement of the other during the marriage
probable future financial circumstances of the parties
Separate property is not subject to equitable distribution and includes property that was obtained by each spouse prior to the marriage (with exceptions, such as contributions towards increase in value). In addition, there is certain property acquired by a spouse during a marriage which is not subject to equitable distribution including an inheritance or compensation for pain and suffering in a personal injury action. The parties may also execute a prenuptial agreement prior to the marriage which would specifically delineate separate versus marital property.
Spousal Maintenance (Alimony)
Commonly known as “alimony,” spousal maintenance is monetary payment made to the financially dependent spouse and is ordered in the final judgment of divorce. Additionally, a temporary support of maintenance (pendente lite) can be ordered to be paid during the duration of the divorce proceedings. The court will consider factors concerning the parties’ financial and living situation in making its determination of an award. As a maintenance award is dependent upon the situation of each case and can be very complex, it is best to consult with an attorney regarding your specific circumstances.
Under the Child Support Standards Act, a custodial parent is entitled to receive child support from the non-custodial parent, which can include monetary payment, health insurance, child care payments, and other reasonable healthcare costs. The amount of child support paid is based on a statutory formula which considers the combined income of both parents, and is determined in Family Court.
Nothing can be more emotionally draining than going through a custody battle for your children. The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins can help protect your child custody rights whether they are raised in Supreme Court in connection with a divorce proceeding, or in Family Court.
Child custody decisions in New York are governed by “the best interests of the child” standard. A court will consider a number of factors regarding the totality of the circumstances in weighing a custody determination. The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins understands that every situation and family is unique and works closely with her clients concerning their custody matters for the best possible outcome.
There are different types of custody situations and, if appropriate, sometimes an agreement can be reached between the parties to avoid lengthy and emotionally charged litigation. Legal custody refers to which parent will be the major decision maker for the child for matters concerning education, medical care, and religious instruction. A parent may have sole legal custody, meaning they are the only parent who makes these major decisions on behalf of the child, or it can be shared between the parents.
Physical custody refers to where the child will live, and who their primary caretaker will be. It is also possible that physical custody may be shared, meaning that the child will spend half their time with each parent. A parent may also have sole physical custody, meaning that they are the only parent the child will live with.
If you are facing a child custody issue, or would like to modify an existing custody order if it is no longer working due to a substantial change in circumstances, The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins can help. Call to schedule a consultation today (646) 397-6844.
Pet owners think of their pets as their family members and cannot imagine living without them. Going through a divorce is a stressful time in and of itself, and the question of who gets the family dog or cat in the event of divorce can be a particularly emotional issue. Courts in New York have in recent years steered away from a strict property analysis when it comes to pet custody and may consider the “best for all concerned” standard. Some of the factors that may be considered in determining pet custody include how the pet was acquired; who spends more time with the pet; and who bears the most responsibility for the pet’s needs.
If you and your partner are separating or divorcing and are unable to reach an agreement, The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins can help with your New York pet custody dispute. Call (646) 397-6844 for a consultation.
Not all couples choose to get legally married. In many situations, a couple living together share the same responsibilities that they would in a legal marriage. A cohabitation agreement is a legal document which allows for an unmarried couple who is living together to protect their rights and property. The agreement could include provisions that would specifically delineate the division of property in the event that the union does not work out. In addition to clarifying the distribution of assets and property accumulated by the couple, a cohabitation agreement could include child support arrangements and pet custody, as well as address estate planning. A cohabitation agreement may also include provisions as to real property, bank accounts, and expenses.
The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins is available to represent clients to draft cohabitation agreements that can help protect a couple’s rights as well as individual interests. Contact The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins for a consultation today (646) 397-6844.
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
Sometimes couples wish to specifically delineate what is marital property and what is separate property in the event that a dispute or divorce could later arise. This can be accomplished by drafting a prenuptial agreement prior to the marriage, or a postnuptial agreement if the couple is already married. Prenups and Postnups are not only for the wealthy, but can help protect the individual interests and property of persons of all income levels. A properly drafted prenup or postnup can also address issues of pet custody to avoid any lengthy and costly disputes in the event of separation or divorce. Commonly referred to as “petnups,” such a provision is extremely important for any pet owner. The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins can draft a separate petnup for you, or include it as a provision in a prenup or postnup.
The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins will get to know your specific situation and legal needs to draft an effective agreement in the event that a divorce could be on the horizon. Call The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins today to schedule a consultation (646) 397-6844.
Attorney advertising. The information contained herein is not meant to be construed as legal advice nor form an attorney-client relationship. As the facts and circumstances of each case vary widely, it is best to consult with an attorney to discuss the specifics of your case.