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Oneida County Law Blog

Why might a court to deviate from the state's support guidelines?

New York has established a set of guidelines that courts use in order to decide how much child support kids should receive when their parents separate or go through a divorce. However, as with all legal matters, it is impossible to fit all support cases into the parameters suggested by the guidelines. Certain factors may allow courts to deviate from the guidelines and to create more tailored child support plans for families.

For example, one factor that may allow a judge to deviate from the New York child support guidelines is the financial limitations of a parent. If a parent simply cannot pay the amount of money that the guidelines stipulate based on the number of children that they have, then they may have their obligation set at a lower amount.

Gray divorce requires careful consideration

Couples who have spent decades married might think that they are going to remain married until they pass away. While this is sometimes true, there is always the possibility that the spouses will drift apart and end up going through a divorce. This is a challenging situation that must be addressed promptly and carefully.

It surprises many people to think that those age 50 or older file for divorce. Later-in-life divorces been increasing to the point that they are known as "gray divorces." Here are some points to know about ending a marriage as an older person:

You may be entitled to alimony during your divorce

There has been a major shift in the make-up of household earnings over the last few generations. While men primarily used to dominate the role of earning the income on which their families lived, today in most families women actively share in the important task of providing financial stability to those that they love. Due to this and other changes, the face of alimony has also gone through a shift.

For example, readers of this New York family law blog may not know that women are paying alimony to their former husbands in record numbers. Also, they may not know that not every divorce results in an award of alimony. In some cases, the partners may both have strong incomes and the abilities to provide for themselves once they are returned to single lives, and thus requiring alimony payments won't be deemed necessary.

What restrictions will you face in a divorce?

Once the decision to get divorced is made, most people want the actual process to be over quickly. Unfortunately, that’s not how the system works. The process takes time, and the divorcing couple has a number of restrictions placed on them.

New York is one of the states where these restrictions are placed on the couple immediately after they file the petition. The restrictions pertain to travel, finances and insurance plans. In fact, perhaps the most surprising restriction pertains to insurance — spouses cannot be kicked off health insurance programs until the divorce is finalized. They must also stay on car insurance policies and life insurance policies. This means one party could end up paying for the other party’s insurance for a number of months.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie ordered to change custody plans

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are two of the biggest stars in Hollywood, but their celebrity status has done nothing to protect them from an all too common issue that plagues many New York divorced couples: balancing their children's time between their households. After Jolie and Pitt split, Jolie maintained custody of the pair's six minor children, but recently a judge ruled that Pitt must be allowed greater access to and more time with the five youngest of their kids.

For the summer, the court ordered Pitt to spend more time with the children while Jolie worked overseas. His custodial time with the kids is to be monitored by psychologists and Jolie is not to be present during such periods of custody. The judge also ordered Jolie to provide Pitt with their children's phone numbers so that he may contact them without their mother's interference.

Who does the family pet go to in a divorce?

New York residents love their family pets. Many consider the pet an essential part of the family. But, when it comes to a divorce, the family pet is considered property and this ends up being a big bone of contention in many separations.

Houses can be sold, property and assets divided, but what about pets? Legally speaking, the dog is considered family property. Although a pet may be considered priceless and irreplaceable by family members, for the court they are considered assets that must be divided. When couples end the marriage on good terms, they come up with a custody and visitation schedule for the dog-along with the other aspects of the divorce agreement-before the matter reaches the court. But, when things are not ending amicably, the pet's ownership may be hotly contested.

Parenting provisions will help you be a successful co-parent

Parenting provisions are specific snippets of language that you put in a child custody or parenting plan to ensure that you and your ex are on the same page when it comes to rearing your child. These provisions lay the foundation of your future co-parenting relationship. They provide both structure and flexibility for smooth communication, enable parents to handle specific details and outline your obligations as a parent.

As you can imagine, there are a lot of things you can cover in your parenting provisions. Ultimately, you'll want to strike the balance of being clear enough to prevent arguments and loose enough to allow your plan to grow with you and your children over time.

The role of a Guardian ad Litem in child custody cases

When parents are divorcing in New York and are unable to make a decision regarding child custody, the decision is often left up to the judge in the case. During child custody proceedings, both parents have an opportunity to present their arguments in favor of and against a certain child custody arrangement. But, who is there speaking in the child's best interest? A guardian ad litem can be that spokesperson.

When someone in a lawsuit cannot represent their own interests adequately, they may be appointed a spokesperson known as a guardian ad litem by the court. The "GAL"'s sole interest is putting forth information that would lead to a better decision about the child's best interests. In New York, an attorney is assigned as a guardian ad litem, either by the parents or through the court.

Controlling emotions when dealing with an ex-spouse

With most schools in New York out or almost out, divorced parents may suddenly find themselves away from their children for extended periods of time, depending on their child custody arrangement. Many parents split summer break, while others alternate physical custody every other week. Whatever the arrangement may be, a divorced parent may find himself or herself spending more time with their ex-spouse and this could cause friction. A couple of tips on how to manage the summer could be helpful in this situation.

One of the most important steps to take is to plan ahead. No one likes a constantly changing schedule and this is one of the most common reasons for child custody disputes. Have a schedule in place by February and then plan to stick to it. When in the planning stages, if children are old enough, let them have a say in their schedule. Things feel out of control for children after a divorce and shuttling between two houses may work for the parents, but doesn't necessarily work for the kids. It can be hard on everyone if kids feel their wishes are not being respected if they want to spend a certain week at their primary residence with their friends. This is why involving them at the planning stages can be helpful-it will help them feel more in control and lead to less chaos in the long-run.

Why is standard of living important in a divorce?

The division of one house into two in a divorce means that income, assets and debts will be divided in a certain manner between the divorcing couple. Usually, one spouse, the one who was earning more money during the marriage, financially supports the other spouse for some time after the divorce is finalized. One of the purposes of this is to ensure that the receiving spouse can continue to enjoy the same standard of living to which they have become accustomed. But, what does this phrase mean and is this even possible?

This basically means that the court is supposed to consider the paying spouse's income to determine if he or she earns enough to afford the same standard of living. Usually, this is not possible, as the same income now has to support two households at the same economic level as before the marriage had ended. Regardless of the income, the court should still be looking at the standard of living and making an alimony decision based on that.

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