Setauket Divorce Lawyer – Experienced Divorce Attorneys in Suffolk County
When you or a spouse have decided to file for divorce in Setauket, we know that the decision has not come easy. When confronting a divorce, it is essential that you are represented by proper counsel from the start so that you can make the first steps towards a new life with confidence. The Law Office of Louis L. Sternberg, is a respected and experienced divorce firm serving Setauket and Suffolk County residents for more than a decade. We offer legal counsel and representation for all phases of divorce litigation from commencement through post-judgment modifications and contempt.
At the Law Office of Louis L. Sternberg P.C., our Setauket divorce lawyers understand how difficult it can be to end a marriage and pursue divorce in Suffolk County. Regardless of the length of your marriage, the decision to end the marriage is not easy. Each family is unique and divorce is obviously very personal. What appears to be a simple case can grow complicated and frustrating when a spouse’s obstinance prolongs the divorce. You need a top Suffolk County divorce lawyer to protect your interests and to produce results.
When considering a divorce in Suffolk County or when you have been served with divorce papers, our Setauket divorce attorneys will guide you through the Suffolk County divorce process, beginning with a free consultation.
Suffolk County Divorce Law – What Are Grounds for Divorce in New York?
According to New York Domestic Relations Law § 170 – Action for Divorce, divorce can be pursued based on any of the following grounds:
(1) The cruel and inhuman treatment.
(2) The abandonment of the plaintiff by the defendant for a period of one or more years.
(3) The confinement of the defendant in prison for a period of three or more consecutive years after the marriage of plaintiff and defendant.
(5) Living apart pursuant to a decree or judgment of separation for a period of one or more years.
(6) Living separate and apart pursuant to a written agreement of separation.
(7) The relationship between husband and wife has broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months,
The Irretrievable Breakdown statute is commonly referred to as New York’s no fault divorce.
To commence the divorce, one of the parties (or their attorney) will file either 1) a Summons with Notice or 2) a Summons and Complaint with the County Clerk’s office. A typographical error on such paperwork can result in your case being dismissed so it is essential that all filings are entirely complete and accurate. When choosing an experienced Setauket divorce lawyer, Louis L. Sternberg PC, we draft and file all necessary paperwork. No matter whether you commence the divorce as Plaintiff or if your spouse serves you with papers, divorce is an exhausting process. Our Long Island family law team at Law Office of Louis L. Sternberg P.C. is here to help.
Details of Your Divorce in Suffolk County
In resolving a case, whether as an uncontested divorce or a contested divorce, the parties will need to address numerous issues including
- Child Custody and Visitation
- Child Support
- Spousal Maintenance and Alimony
- Property Distributions
- Counsel Fees
In New York, grounds or fault for divorce generally do not affect any custody, support, property distributions or counsel fees, except in cases of egregious fault. Our Suffolk County divorce lawyers are well versed and experienced in each of these fields and we are here to help you protect your future.
Setauket Family Law Attorney – Child Custody and Visitation
Any Family Court or divorce case involving a child under the age of 18 must address child custody and child support.
New York courts differentiate between two types of custody:
- Physical Custody: Refers to where the child lives on a day-to-day basis.
- Legal Custody: Refers to the right to make significant decisions regarding the child’s upbringing, including education, health care, and religion.
Both legal and physical custody can be joint (shared by both parents) or sole (given to one parent).
In New York, custody and visitation are both decided based on “the best interests of the children.” When determining what is in a child’s best interests, the court will consider a variety of factors. No single factor is determinative; instead, the court will weigh each factor based on the specific circumstances of the case.
Here are some of the factors that New York courts typically consider:
- Parental Fitness: The mental and physical well-being of each parent is a significant consideration. A parent’s history of drug abuse, alcoholism, or other behaviors might affect their ability to care for the child.
- Stability: The court will look at which parent can provide a more stable home environment, considering factors like work schedules, the presence of other family members, and the continuity in the child’s life.
- Primary Caregiver: If one parent has been the primary caregiver (the one mainly responsible for daily care, like feeding, bathing, taking to school), that could weigh in their favor.
- Home Environment: The safety and appropriateness of each parent’s home environment is crucial. A court might consider factors like the living conditions, neighborhood safety, and space for the child.
- Parental Cooperation: The court looks at each parent’s willingness to cooperate with the other, especially regarding decision-making and facilitating visitation. A parent who consistently denigrates the other in front of the child or interferes with visitation may be viewed less favorably.
- Child’s Preference: Depending on the child’s age and maturity, the court might consider their preference. However, this is just one factor, and the court won’t rely solely on a child’s preference.
- History of Domestic Violence: Any history of domestic violence or child abuse is a grave concern. If one parent has a history of violence or abuse, it could significantly influence the court’s decision.
- Ability to Provide: The court will also consider each parent’s ability to provide for the child’s emotional and intellectual development, including their ability to provide educational support.
- Sibling Relationships: Maintaining sibling relationships can be essential. If splitting custody might separate siblings, the court might take that into account.
Because child custody decisions can be complicated and emotional, it’s essential for parents to consult with an experienced family law attorney in New York if facing a custody dispute.
We proudly serve as Setauket Custody Lawyers. Contact us now for a free consultation and learn how our custody lawyer and divorce lawyers in Suffolk County can help. Reach us at 631-600-3295 or through our online intake form to reach us 24 hours a day.
Child Support Laws in Suffolk County, NY
Child support calculations in Suffolk County follow the same general guidelines as the rest of New York State under the Child Support Standards Act (CSSA). Under CSSA, certain formulas and principles are utilized to calculate each party’s presumptive and to allow each party to argue for deviations upward or downward. The process can be generally summarized as follows:
- Determine Combined Parental Income: Begin by calculating the combined gross income of both parents from all sources reported in the most recent federal income tax return. Deduct any necessary deductions, like New York City or Yonkers income taxes paid, Social Security and Medicare taxes, and others specified under the law.
- Apply the Appropriate Percentage: The combined income is then multiplied by the appropriate percentage, based on the number of children: One child: 17%; Two children: 25%; Three children: 29%; Four children: 31%; Five or more children: no less than 35%.
- Consider the Income Cap: The CSSA has an income cap (which is periodically adjusted) up to which the above percentages are strictly applied. For combined parental income above this cap, the court may choose to use the guidelines or consider other factors to determine the child support obligation on the amount exceeding the cap.
- Proportional Share: The combined child support obligation is then divided between the parents based on their proportionate share of the combined parental income. So, if one parent contributes 60% of the combined income, they would be responsible for 60% of the calculated child support amount.
- Additional Expenses: On top of the basic child support obligation, parents may also be responsible for a proportionate share of:Health care expenses including costs of premiums and costs not covered by insuranceChildcare costs if related to work or the custodial parent’s education
Education costs, especially if the child attends private school or has special educational needs
It’s important to note that the courts have some discretion, especially when considering combined incomes above the CSSA cap. Additionally, other factors might come into play depending on the unique circumstances of the family.
When navigating child support calculations and negotiations in Suffolk County or anywhere in New York, essential to have a free consultation with a Setauket divorce lawyer specializing in child support to ensure that all factors are correctly considered and that your needs are protected.
Setauket Spousal Maintenance Lawyer
In Suffolk County, as in the rest of New York State, spousal support (often referred to as “spousal maintenance” or “alimony”) is calculated based on guidelines provided by New York’s Domestic Relations Law. New York law sets forth several formulas to determine the presumptive post-divorce spousal maintenance amount and duration, but both the amount and duration of such support obligations are always subject to negotiation and judicial determination after trial.
When litigating spousal maintenance, the following must be considered:
- Determine the Guideline Amount:When there are no unemancipated children at issue, the presumptive amount of maintenance is the lesser of:20% of the Higher Earning Spouse’s income MINUS 25% of the Lesser Earning Spouse’s income40% of the combined income MINUS the Lesser Earning Spouse’s income
When there are unemancipated children, the presumptive amount of maintenance is the lesser of:30% of the Higher Earning Spouse’s income MINUS 25% of the Lesser Earning Spouse’s income
40% of the combined income MINUS the Lesser Earning Spouse’s income
- Spousal Support Cap issues. It is important to note that the income sums to be utilized for the maintenance calculations must reflect certain statutory additions and deductions including self-employment tax, certain local taxes and FICA tax. Additionally, New York “caps” the amount of income to be utilized for such formulas based on a statutory cap recalculated bi-annually. The income cap must be considered by the trial court but can be exceeded. Indeed, the courts enjoy broad discretion to consider income above $203,000.
- Duration of Maintenance: The duration of spousal maintenance is based on the length of the marriage:For marriages up to 15 years: Maintenance might be awarded for 15% to 30% of the length of the marriage.For marriages more than 15 years but less than 20 years: Maintenance might be awarded for 30% to 40% of the length of the marriage.
For marriages of 20 years or more: Maintenance might be awarded for 35% to 50% of the length of the marriage.
- Factors that Can Affect Amount and Duration: Courts will consider various factors when determining both the amount and duration of spousal support, including:Age and health of both parties.Present and future earning capacities of both parties.The need of one party to incur education or training expenses.The existence and duration of a pre-marital joint household or a pre-divorce separate household.Acts by one spouse against another that have inhibited the other spouse’s earning capacity or ability to obtain meaningful employment (including acts of domestic violence).The ability of the party seeking maintenance to become self-supporting.The contribution of the party seeking maintenance as a spouse, parent, wage earner, or homemaker to the career or career potential of the other party.The reduced or lost earning capacity of the party seeking maintenance as a result of having forgone or delayed education, training, employment, or career opportunities during the marriage.
Any other factor the court finds to be just and proper.
It’s essential for individuals seeking or challenging spousal support in Suffolk County or any other part of New York to consult with an experienced divorce attorney in New York. At the Law Office of Louis L. Sternberg, P.C., we provide guidance tailored to your individual situation, ensuring that the specifics of your case are appropriately addressed.
Setauket Divorce Lawyer – Dividing Debts and Assets
In a Setauket divorce, “marital property” including the property you and your spouse have acquired during the marriage will be divided. Additionally, any marital debt, including student loan debt, is subject to distribution as well. New York utilizes a system known as Equitable Distribution in an attempt to divide assets in a fair and just method. Importantly, as it is frequently said, “equitable does not mean equal” and the courts may grant either side a greater or lesser share of any marital asset.
- Income and Property: The income and property of each spouse at the time of the marriage and at the time of the commencement of the divorce action.
- Duration of Marriage: The length of the marriage.
- Age and Health: The age and health of both parties.
- Need for Future Support: The present and future earning capacity of both parties, which can consider elements like age, health, education, and work experience.
- Loss of Inheritance and Pension Rights: The loss of inheritance and pension rights upon dissolution of the marriage.
- Loss of Health Insurance Benefits: The loss of health insurance benefits upon dissolution of the marriage.
- Spousal Contribution: Any award of maintenance (spousal support) and the circumstances that led to it.
- Parental Responsibilities: The presence and circumstances of any children of the marriage, including their ages and needs.
- Waste of Assets: Whether one party has wastefully dissipated marital assets, which might be relevant if one spouse has squandered or hidden assets in anticipation of divorce.
- Transfers or Encumbrances: Any transfer or encumbrance made in contemplation of a matrimonial action without fair consideration.
- Direct and Indirect Contributions: The direct or indirect contributions made by a spouse as a homemaker, to the career potential of the other spouse, or to the education and earning potential of the other spouse.
- Value of the Business: The liquid or non-liquid character of all marital property, which could relate to how easily an asset can be sold or turned into cash. This often comes into play with business interests or professional practices.
- Tax Consequences: The probable tax consequences to each party.
- Existence of a Premarital Agreement: Whether there’s a valid written agreement between the parties concerning property distribution.
- Lost Career Opportunities: The lost opportunity of a party to receive an asset or income stream due to the marriage, which might come into play if one spouse gave up career opportunities to support the other’s career or to manage the household.
- Any other factor which the court shall expressly find to be just and proper, allowing the court some discretion to consider circumstances specific to the case.
Of course, the courts consider any number of factors and the above list is not exhaustive. Properly arguing and presenting evidence associated with each factor is a crucial aspect to litigating any New York divorce. The Setauket divorce attorneys at the Law Office of Louis L. Sternberg, Esq., have litigated countless equitable distribution cases in Suffolk County and throughout New York. Contact us for a free consultation for an equitable distribution case in Suffolk County. Let our experience and expertise protect your future.
Contact Our Skilled Divorce Lawyers in Setauket to Schedule a Consultation Today
At the Law Office of Louis L. Sternberg P.C., our respected divorce lawyers specialize in Family Law and matrimonial matters, including uncontested divorce and uncontested divorce. Every family is unique and every divorce is unique. With that in mind, starting at the first consultation, we discuss your individual concerns so we can tailor our strategy to you and your particular needs.
When confronting divorce, choosing a divorce lawyer in Setauket, NY, consider their experience, reputation and standing in the community, their expertise in divorce law, and their flexibility to accommodate your schedule. Contact us to learn how we can assist you in obtaining the outcome you deserve. Contact our expert divorce lawyer in Suffolk County at 631-600-3295 today.