Is My Lawyer Slowing Down My Divorce?

“I’m in litigation and I think my lawyer is slowing down my divorce.  Is he (or she) drawing this process out to make more money off of me?”  I’ve heard this countless times—usually from clients who are unhappy with their process, the size of their bill, or both.  It’s likely that your litigator is slowing down your divorce—but not necessarily in money-grubbing way you think.  In my experience, most lawyers try to work efficiently.  Hours grow because of the nature of the litigation process itself—which is one reason why it’s so important for couples to consider their options before retaining counsel. 

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It's Not Too Late to Mediate

Many people have told me lately that they regret hiring a lawyer to litigate their divorce.  They say they’re tired of the acrimony that comes with litigation.  They tell me they’re unhappy with the war-like tactics, confused that they’ve been instructed not to communicate with their soon-to-be-ex and worried that they’ve lost control over the process and outcome.  But the worst part is that many of them don’t know that they still have options!  No divorcing couple is, or should be, tied to a process that isn’t working for them.  It’s never too late to mediate.

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A Key Step Forward for Parental Rights in Modern Families

New York courts are continuing to prove that they are dedicated to protecting the rights of the LGBT community.  In an important recent case, the Appellate Division applied the “presumption of legitimacy”—the concept that a child born during a marriage is the legitimate child of the couple—to married same-sex partners.  Applying the presumption of legitimacy—which comes along with key parental rights and protections—was especially enlightened in the circumstances of this case, where the child was not a DNA match to both parents.  For many LGBT families, the decision reflects a critical step forward in establishing the non-biological parent’s rights.

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Pet Custody and Divorce Mediation

Like so many New Yorkers, married couples are often deeply devoted to their pets.  One recent study even found that “most pet owners would not trade their pets for even $1 million in cash”.  Couples facing divorce often find themselves spending considerable sums asking courts to decide who will take custody of a pet.  But there is no guarantee that, in doing so, the court will take into account the deep emotional connection most of us feel to our pets.

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Church, State and Religious Divorce

Divorcing couples in New York often need a religious divorce—in addition to a traditional divorce—to truly move forward with their lives.  This is particularly true in the Jewish orthodox community, where divorcing parties need what is known as a “Get” in order to date, remarry or have children in a subsequent relationship.  Religious issues like these raise challenging issues for courts—and show how important it is for couples to plan in advance to allow courts to assist with issues relating to religious divorce.

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In Divorce, Equitable Doesn’t Mean Equal

I just read a decision that caught my eye and hasn’t let go—for both good and bad reasons.  This case, D.C. v. P.C., demonstrates one of the legal principles my clients often find surprising—that, when it comes to dividing assets in a divorce, doing so “equitably” doesn’t always mean “equally”—and shows how important it can be to work with divorce professionals who can help families avoid unpredictable outcomes in court.

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Modern Family? No Problem, Say the New York Courts

If the twenty-first century has made anything clear, it’s that no two families are alike.  Couples are creating multiracial families by adopting from different countries.  Same-sex spouses are rearing biological children as a result of innovative procedures like artificial insemination and surrogacy.  Couples are choosing to raise children in committed partnerships rather than marriages.  Today, the family unit ranges from single-parent households to families with three or more parents.  With the constantly evolving social landscape, courts are breaking from custom and proving to be more accepting of “unconventional” families. 

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