Long Island Family Law Attorneys

Handling Complex Family Law Cases in Long Island, NY

Family law is arguably one of the most complex and emotionally charged areas of law. If you are dealing with any matter related to marriage, divorce and family law, or child custody, you need a divorce attorney by your side.

Handling issues on your own can cause emotional stress. These issues should never be handled without an experienced and compassionate family lawyer, especially if your case involves complex divorce issues like high-net asset division, out-of-state custody, or protection of a family owned business. Wisselman, Harounian & Associates is here to help you understand your legal rights during a divorce or other family-related legal dispute in Nassau County.

Since its founding 40 years ago, Wisselman, Harounian & Associates has stood at the forefront of family law because our lawyers zealously advocate for our clients and win cases by utilizing customized legal strategies. Collectively, our Long Island family law attorneys have more than 150 years of experience helping clients like you – let us use it to protect your family!

Contact us online or call 516-773-8300 today if you’re ready to get in touch with a divorce lawyer. We proudly serve all of Nassau County and the New York Metro area, including Great Neck, Queens, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.

Requirements for Divorce in New York

There are two basic types of divorce in New York: contested and uncontested. Generally speaking, uncontested divorce is less expensive and less time-consuming. In short, uncontested divorce applies to couples who mutually agree to divorce and share opinions on the terms of the divorce, such as alimony, child support, asset division, debt allocation, etc.

Residency Requirements – You must meet the residency requirements outlined in the New York Domestic Relations Law. In most cases, a couple meets this requirement because one or both parties in the divorce are a resident of New York and the couple married in the state. These same requirements apply to people who want to annul their marriage.

Grounds for Divorce – As of 2010, New York is a “no-fault divorce” state; however, you still need a reason for your divorce. This can include cruel treatment, abandonment, prison, adultery, separation, or an irretrievably broken relationship between the husband and wife, commonly called no-fault divorce. If one or more of these elements exists, you meet this requirement under Domestic Relations Law § 170.

No-Fault Divorce in New York

In October of 2010, New York became the last of the 50 states to enact legislation allowing for no-fault divorce. The Legislature did not repeal the existing grounds but instead added a no-fault ground for divorce. Prior to this change, divorce could only be granted based on one of the following six grounds for divorce in NY:

  • Adultery
  • Abandonment
  • Cruel and inhuman treatment, including domestic violence
  • Imprisonment for three or more years
  • Living apart for one year as per a separation agreement
  • Living apart for one year per a judgment of separation

What Does “No-Fault” Mean for Divorce?

In New York divorces today, spouses can now end their marriage without citing specific grounds or admitting to any instances of wrongdoing or having to wait for the one-year separation period. This is known as “no-fault divorce.”

New York No-Fault Divorce Requirements

In a no-fault divorce in NY, a spouse need only testify that the marriage has been “irretrievably broken.” New York Domestic Relations Law §170(7), the statute describing the new “no-fault” ground for divorce, now permits anyone to allege in their divorce complaint that”The relationship between husband and wife has broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months.” This new provision means that couples no longer have to endure court battles over who is to blame when a marriage doesn’t work. The option for no-fault divorces can potentially make it easier for couples to reach an amicable resolution without having to look for blame. To learn more about no-fault divorce, contact our firm today.

Is No-Fault Divorce Bad?

In most cases, no! No-fault divorce is the preferred option for most couples, since it is not based on painful grounds like adultery or abuse, but rather due to an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.

That being said, no-fault divorce can have its downsides. Most no-fault divorces are filed by one spouse who is unhappy, often leading to a contested divorce if the other spouse does not want the divorce. But in uncontested cases, no-fault divorce is often much simpler and is the “better” option.

“Irretrievable Breakdown” vs. “Irreconcilable Differences”

It may strike you immediately that the language conspicuously absent from our new statute—and the language you may have heard before—is “irreconcilable differences”. Instead, our statute uses the phrase “broken down irretrievably.” While there is no official definition of this vague language written by Albany legislators, the intent was likely to enable either party to allege that the marriage has been dead for a period of six or more months for whatever reason or, more importantly, for no reason.

Prior to no-fault divorce in NY, the law compelled people to exaggerate truths or tell untruths in order to get a divorce. Now, it is no longer necessary to air dirty laundry in Court to seek a divorce. Also, if someone wants a divorce and their spouse has not treated them badly, they don’t have to falsely allege otherwise. Divorce can simply be a choice by one or both spouses who desire to end their marriage, regardless of the reason why.

Changes to Spousal Maintenance Issues for No-Fault Divorce

In addition to the new no-fault divorce law were changes to resolving maintenance issues. Maintenance, also referred to as alimony or spousal maintenance, refers to payments made by one spouse to another in order to maintain the standard of living established during the marriage. Working with these recent changes, and the complex financial and/or child custody issues that can arise, requires the help of an experienced divorce attorney on Long Island.

Jewish Get & Divorce Considerations

In Jewish religious law, a Get is a divorce document. Without receiving this document, a husband and wife cannot effectively terminate their marriage. In short, the Get lifts the laws of adultery and returns certain legal rights held by the husband to the wife. Our Long Island divorce lawyers at Wisselman, Harounian & Associates have significant experience helping clients with religious divorce matters, including Jewish Gets.

Domestic Partnership in NY

Marriage isn’t for everyone, but the legal rights and benefits that come with it are undeniable. For those who are not interested in marriage, but still desire similar rights and benefits, New York State offers another option for formalizing your relationship — domestic partnership.

In the past, domestic partnerships were an alternative option for same-sex couples who could not legally marry in New York State. However, same-sex marriage was legalized in New York on June 24, 2011 and then by the U.S. federal government on June 26, 2015. Today, domestic partnerships are available to same-sex and heterosexual couples alike.

Keep in mind that domestic partnership is not the same as marriage. When comparing domestic partnership vs. marriage, you should weigh what each does and does not include before making a decision as to which is best for you and your partner.

Benefits of Domestic Partnerships:

  • Recognized in New York
  • Eligible for employer family benefits, including health insurance, life insurance, death benefits, and sick and family leave
  • Can avoid the marriage tax penalty

Downsides of Domestic Partnerships:

  • Not recognized by all 50 states, or on the federal level
  • Not considered “family” by law
  • Cannot petition for non-citizen family immigration
  • Will not automatically inherit partner’s assets upon their death
  • Not exempt from federal estate tax

Domestic partnerships and marriage have their own pros and cons. Speak with a family lawyer on Long Island if you need advice as to which option works in your and your partner’s best interests.

Working with an Adoption Attorney in Nassau County

Growing your family is a big commitment – and a big change. It can also be one of the most rewarding and joyful experiences of your life. At Wisselman, Harounian & Associates, we are committed to helping families successfully adopt. In New York, you can adopt through a government agency or a private adoption agency. Unless you have many years of experience handling adoption cases, you may lack the experience you need to anticipate common pitfalls.

That’s where we come in. Our Long Island family law attorneys can help you avoid common mistakes, protect your rights, and make sure all parties are compliant with New York adoption laws.

Wisselman, Harounian & Associates Puts Clients First. Here’s How.

As a family law firm in Great Neck, we know that no area of law is more personal than family and divorce law. Since 1976, we’ve provided informed, strategic, and caring legal guidance for each of our clients. Backed by an impressive number of cases and a passion for helping others, Wisselman, Harounian & Associates has been recognized by many legal publications and organizations. Because we care about your case, your first consultation is free of charge. Simply pick up the phone and call our office.

During your initial in-person case analysis with a Long Island family attorney, you can expect the lawyer to provide you with an overview of what to anticipate in the divorce or family law process ahead, any matters pertaining to minor children of the marriage, division of assets and liabilities, child support and spousal support, and the related attorneys’ fees and costs.

Backed by decades of experience, we recognize that every situation is unique, and we offer a free and confidential consultation to help you discuss a potential game plan that’s tailored to your specific needs and goals.

Call (516) 773-8300 or contact us online today for a consultation!