Attorneys for Visitation & Child Custody Spousal Maintenance, child support, child custody, and visitation in New York

 

Family Law is focused on family relationships such as divorce, child custody and related legal issues.

Maintenancechild supportchild custody and visitation are essential elements of divorce.  Below you will find a brief discussion of each. 

Contact one of the experienced matrimonial lawyers of Thomas W. Russo, P.C. if you have any questions regarding what you read below.

Spousal Maintenance

Formerly referred to as alimony, a court can grant spousal maintenance or spousal support in New York.  In deciding the amount and

duration of the award, the court may consider many factors including the following:

  • The length of the marriage

  • Age and health of the parties

  • The present and future earning capacity of the parties

  • Vocational skills, employ-ability of the parties, and ability to become self-supporting

  • Income, assets and liabilities of the parties

  • Contributions and services to family of the party seeking maintenance

  • The opportunity of the parties to acquire future income and assets

While a divorce is pending, the court can order temporary maintenance.

Child Custody and Visitation

The best interest of the child standard is used in New York when making custody decisions where the parents are unable to come to

an agreement. In custody disputes, the court will consider factors such as:

  • The availability of parents to the child

  • The physical and emotional health of the parents

  • Evidence of child abuse or neglect

  • A parent’s willingness to encourage the child’s relationship with the other parent

  • The preferences of the child, if the child is mature enough to make his or her wishes known

  • The primary caretaker of the children

  • The home environment of both parents

Child Support

Thomas W. Russo, P.C. can help you navigate the complex legal process involved with child support.

In New York, child support is based on the combined income of the parents and number of children each parent is responsible for supporting.  There are statutory guidelines to follow.  There is a statutory formula set forth in the Domestic Relations Law.  If there is a substantial change in financial circumstances, a New York child support order may be modified.

Family Court

Legal issues pertaining to children and families are heard and determined in family court. This includes matters involving child support, child custody, visitation, spousal maintenance, adoptions, guardianship, child abuse, domestic violence and more. However, divorce proceedings, separations and annulments are handled by the Supreme Court. Westchester Family Court operates at three courthouse locations in the county. You can find the addresses here at NYcourts.gov .

Contact the divorce lawyers of Thomas W. Russo today to discuss your New York family law issues

 

Mediation is a type of alternative dispute resolution. It allows you and your spouse to make your own decisions about your future. A divorce lawyer sits down with you in a comfortable setting and assists you and your spouse in arriving at an amicable resolution of your case without court intervention.  The process is less formal than traditional divorce proceedings and is often less expensive. Mediation is ideal for couples who are on friendly terms and would like to end their marriage expeditiously. Unlike divorce, mediation is less about strategies and positions and more about cooperation and addressing the needs of each spouse.

Your first meeting with your lawyer

At your first meeting with your divorce attorney, you should discuss the option of divorce mediation to see if it might be right for your situation. Additionally, you should prepare a list of questions to ask you lawyer.

Your list may include the following questions:

  • What are your rates?

  • Do I have grounds for divorce?

  • Do I have a strong case?

  • What are the issues of concern in my case?

The divorce mediation process is unique.  The mediator does not represent either spouse, but rather provides a summary of the domestic relations law, and works as a facilitator to resolve all outstanding issues between you and your spouse.  You should not be afraid to ask as many questions as possible to gain an understanding of mediation. The law firm of Thomas W. Russo, P.C. and Associates has a deep understanding of mediation law and can provide you with sound legal advice.

You can rely on us

Thomas W. Russo, P.C. and Associates is eager to help you navigate confidently through all aspects of mediation law. We look forward to providing you with the experience and skill you deserve.

 

Divorce law can be taxing, confusing, and time-consuming. Your divorce might stem from lack of communication, mental health issues, drug or alcohol abuse, or some other circumstances. Whatever the case, you need support during this difficult time. An experienced divorce attorney serves as a lifeline throughout court proceedings. At Thomas W. Russo, P.C and Associates, we offer legal guidance and support when you need it most.

Choose Our Committed Team of Divorce Lawyers

We established our firm in 1990. As a proud member of the Bronx County legal community, we are actively involved in some of the area’s most recognizable legal associations. In an effort to improve the practice of New York law, our lawyers are members of the following groups:

  • NYS Bar Association

  • Westchester County Bar Association

  • Northern Westchester County Bar Association

Take advantage of our experience and industry knowledge. We will happily consult with you on your case.

Litigation is Not Your Only Option

Litigation – that is, the process of taking legal action through the court system – is not your only option. A litigated matter can be more expensive than your case requires. Other options include collaborative law and mediation and our firm handles both.

Bring your case to us and we will inform you of the litigation alternatives. Together we can determine whether any of these options are a preferable route:

 

Schedule a Consultation to Discuss Your Case

If you are feeling overwhelmed or confused about your legal options, give our office a call. Our attorneys are available to help you navigate the complicated aspects of settlement options and litigation, if necessary, in the area of divorce and family law.

High Conflict Divorce

Thomas W. Russo, P.C. can ease the burden of dealing with a high conflict divorce. While almost all divorces are emotionally devastating, a high conflict divorce often breeds hostility between spouses, long custody battles, restraining orders, the secretion of assets, and accusations of abuse. If you are going through a high conflict divorce, it is in your best interests to contact a an experienced divorce law firm immediately.

Couples usually argue about the following in a high conflict divorce:

  • Money

  • Infidelity

  • Parenting

  • Power

High conflict divorces often have detrimental effects on children. Researchers have proved that it is the conflict and fighting that harms children and not the divorce.

Contested Divorce

Every divorce is different. A contested divorce occurs if you and your spouse are unable to agree on certain issues such as child custody, child support, spousal support, and division of property and assets. As a result, the litigation process may take longer and will require the court to rule on the issues that you were unable to resolve with your spouse. At a final hearing, the judge hears evidence from you and your spouse and makes a decision. A divorce lawyer can help you work through the process of a contested divorce.

Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce is less expensive and less time consuming than a contested divorce. If you and your spouse are civil towards one another, this may be the option for you. In an uncontested divorce, a couple can easily resolve their issues including, but not limited to, child custody, spousal support, and the division of marital assets which are incorporated into a written agreement without the need for court intervention.

FAQs on Divorce

(Frequently Asked Questions)

(Q)  How long will my divorce take?

Answer:  The duration of a divorce action or the period of time between retaining an attorney and actually being divorced depends on several variables.  A case will take more time to resolve depending upon the number of issues in a case, and the nature and complexities of each issue.  If custody or the amount and duration of spousal and/or child support are issues, it can prolong the litigation or resolution process if the parties cannot reach a fair resolution in an expedited manner. The extent of the assets and determining marital vs. separate property can also make resolution more tedious.  Another factor in the length of the process is the cooperation and reasonableness of the parties.  If the parties and counsel are reasonable in reaching a fair resolution of each outstanding issue this can assist a great deal in the total amount of time it requires to settle or resolve the case globally.

(Q)  How much will my divorce cost?

Answer:  The cost relies heavily on the number of issues to be resolved, the complexity of the issues and the ability of the parties, the attorneys, and in some cases, the Court, can work cooperatively to arrive at a fair and reasonable settlement of all outstanding issues.  Most attorneys charge on an hourly basis with an advance initial retainer fee due at the time the firm is retained.  All tasks performed by an attorney are recorded and billed to the client on an hourly basis usually in increments of six (6) minutes.

(Q)  Will I be required to go to Court?

Answer:  Every matter is unique.  However, there are certainly many cases that are resolved out of Court.  Parties and their counsel are free to negotiate the terms of a Separation Agreement or Stipulation resolving all outstanding issues arising out of a marriage.  In those cases, the uncontested divorce documents may be submitted to the Court for signature without the parties ever having to appear in Court.

(Q)  Does going to Court mean there will be a trial and a Judge will decide my case?

Answer:  Most matrimonial actions settle with or without the assistance of the Court prior to trial.  Only a small number of matrimonial cases are tried to completion.  However, if parties and their counsel are unable to reach a resolution outside of Court, most attorneys will recommend filing a Request for Judicial Intervention (an “RJI), which assigns your case to a Judge and triggers a Preliminary Conference.  There may be several court appearances before either a Court Referee or a Judge. These appearances are conferences, and not a trial.  During these conferences, the Court may assist the parties in reaching a resolution on all or some of the issues prior to trial.

GUIDELINES FOR PARENTS DURING SEPARATION OR DIVORCE

The following suggestions are made to help you and your children throughout the

Collaborative process and beyond:

1. Think first of your children’s present and future emotional and mental well-being before

acting. This may be difficult because of your own feelings, needs and emotions – but try, try, try.

2. Maintain your own composure and good emotional balance as much as possible in talking to

yourself, verbally and in your thoughts. Remember, it is not the end of the world. Laugh when

you can and try to keep a sense of humor. What your children see in your attitude is in some

measure reflected in their own attitudes and emotions.

3. Allow yourself and your children time for readjustment. Convalescence from an emotional

operation, such as dissolution of a marriage, is essential.

4. Remember the best parts of your marriage. Share them with your children and use them

constructively.

5. Assure your children that they are not to blame for the break up and that they are not being

rejected or abandoned. Children, especially young children, often mistakenly feel they have done

something wrong and believe that the problems in the family are the result of their own

misdeeds. Small children may feel that some action or secret wish of theirs has caused the

trouble between their parents. Explain to them that there are other children whose parents have

been divorced and that they are not going to lose their mom or dad.

6. Continuing anger or bitterness toward your spouse can injure your children far more than the

dissolution itself. The feelings you show often are more important than the words you use.

7. Refrain from voicing criticism of the other parent. It may be difficult, but it is absolutely

necessary. In order for a child to enjoy a healthy development, it is important for her or him to

respect both parents.

8. Do not force or encourage your children to take sides. Doing this will encourage frustration,

guilt and resentment in your children.

9. Dissolution of a marriage often leads to financial pressures on both parents. When there is a

financial crisis, a parent’s first impulse may be to keep the children from realizing it. Often,

parents would rather make sacrifices themselves than ask their children to do so. The

atmosphere is healthier when there is frankness and when children are expected to help.

10. Marriage breakdown is always hard on the children. They may not always show their

distress or realize at first what this will mean to them. Parents should be direct and simple in

telling children what is happening and why, and should communicate in a way that their child

can understand and digest. This will vary with the circumstances and with each child’s age and

comprehension. The worst course is to try to hush things up and make a child feel he or she must

not talk or even think about what he or she sees is going on. Unpleasant happenings need

explanation. Explanations should be brief, prompt, direct and honest.

11. The guilt you may feel about the marriage breakdown may interfere in your disciplining your

children. Children need consistent control, guidance and boundaries. They also need and want

to know quite clearly what is expected of them. Parents must be ready to say “No” when

necessary.

12. Do not overlook the fact that you are only human and admit it. You will not be able to make

a 100% score on being the perfect parent (no one ever does in good times or bad times). When in

your attempts, you make a mistake – acknowledge it and resolve to attempt to improve day by

day.

13. Understand the importance of shielding the children from the negative impact of parental

conflict. If either parent becomes uncomfortable during a parenting discussion – whether face to

face or over the telephone – rather than permit the discussion to escalate into an argument, make

an agreement with your spouse that whichever of you is uncomfortable will state her or his

discomfort and have permission to end the discussion without further explanation. Both parents

should understand this may include hanging up the phone if it is a telephone discussion – or

walking away if it is a face to face discussion. The parent terminating the discussion should

recontact the other parent within 48 hours to continue the discussion.

14. Read and reread these basic guidelines. Add to them by writing down your own constructive

positive approaches to the handling of your new way of living. Discuss, when practicable, your

thoughts and feelings with other people you trust and with whom you feel comfortable and

benefit by sharing their positive attitudes.