New York Family law deals with some family issues including marriage (prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements), adoption, stalking, protective orders, and divorce. Divorce is a complicated process that includes spousal support, child support, and division of property. A family lawyer is well-versed in all legal matters in this area and can provide consultation as well as legal representation.
Important Legal Terms in Family Law
· Prenuptial and Post-nuptial Agreements
These agreements are signed by spouses and dictate the terms of separation of property in the event of a divorce or death of one spouse. These agreements can either be signed before or after the couple gets married.
· Alimony, also known as spousal maintenance
It is the financial support given to one spouse by another in the event of a divorce. Usually, the spouse who earns more provides alimony support to the other spouse.
It refers to the origin of an individual or who their father is. In cases where the paternity of a child is in question, the court can demand a paternity test to be carried out to determine the child support as well as the maintenance.
· Emancipation is the process through which an individual who is not yet an adult assumes responsibility for themselves and is no longer taken care of by their parents or guardians.
· Marital property refers to property that was acquired during a marriage and is usually considered to be the property of both spouses unless there was a prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement in place at the time of filing for divorce.
Instances When You Need a Family Lawyer
A family lawyer is needed in various instances. One of the main situations is divorce. Whether you have figured out the critical details in a divorce such as child custody and alimony or not, you still need a lawyer. A family lawyer will help you work out the details of child custody arrangements, maintenance, and division of marital property. There are various child custody arrangements in New York from physical custody, legal custody, and joint custody.
Spousal maintenance is another area of divorce that a lawyer will help you figure out. According to New York law, if one spouse needs financial assistance for their support and that of their children, then they will be granted temporary maintenance until the divorce is finalized. Factors that affect spousal maintenance include the age and health of the spouses, the duration of the marriage, the financial stability of the couple, and how marital assets have been divided among others.
If you are getting married, you can have a family lawyer help you draft a prenuptial agreement. After marriage, a lawyer can help you with your post-nuptial agreement. For these two arrangements, it is better to have separate lawyers to make the agreement more enforceable in court when the need arises.
If you want to adopt a child, then a family lawyer will help you through the application process. You can alternatively choose to go through an adoption agency, all aided by the help of a lawyer.
Protective orders also called restraining orders fall under family law, and so a family lawyer can help defend you against a restraining order or help you file one.
If you have been charged with stalking or have a stalker, then a family lawyer will help you either file charges or build up a defense against stalking charges.
Lastly, anyone seeking to annul a marriage will require a family lawyer to help them through the process.
Although family law is one large arm, you may need representation by different lawyers who have specialized in the various areas mentioned above.
Is a divorce settlement enforceable if a spouse dies?
If your spouse dies, and you are legally divorced – then you are not entitled to any additional assets, above and beyond what was promised to you in the divorce proceedings. If the spouse dies, after a divorce settlement, his or her estate will be distributed according to your state’s laws. The estate is typically divided between the spouse and kids. In this case, since you aren’t his/her spouse – the estate will be divided between the children.
How to enforce it
Typically, the way to enforce a divorce settlement, is to hire an attorney who can reach out to the estate of your spouse – in order to get the funds from the settlement you were entitled to. Assuming the funds exist, in the estate, you can get them as a result of your divorce settlement. Just because your spouse died, doesn’t mean you aren’t entitled to anything. You can still get what you are owed – it’ll just be from his/her estate. At the end of the day, it might take a bit longer to get it – but you’ll get it.
What if my state doesn’t allow a legal separation?
Legal separation, much like all divorce laws – is on a state by state basis. Each state has different laws. If you fulfill the residency requirement of your state, then you are obligated to file the divorce in that state – and thus, you’re governed by the rules in that state as well.
Legal separation is a legal agreement that allows husband/wife to live separately, and formalize the separation of things like spousal support, child custody, visitation rights, etc. It’s not equivalent to a divorce, and recognizes the fact that the couple could reunite later. It doesn’t terminate the marriage, or allow the parties to remarry.
If your state doesn’t allow legal separation, then you need to make some hard choices.
Can my marriage be annulled if he wasn’t using his real name?
In New York, marriages can only be annulled under the following circumstances.
If he wasn’t using his real name, that cannot be grounds for an annulment, while it certainly could be a ground for divorce. When a marriage is voided, the marriage license is nullified – as if it were never granted. As a result, legally – there is no actual marriage. If you have children as a result of the void marriage, it might be important to get a formal declaration of nullity – in order to ensure your children get all the rights, and privileges, they are entitled to as a result of inheritance + child support.
If your spouse was a bigamist, that would render your marriage void. However, if you were married to the person for a while – that may still entitle you to alimony. Therefore, you will need a formal declaration of nullity by the court in order to get the alimony.
Bottom line though – simply lying about his/her name is not enough to get an annulment.
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