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Legal Document Review Services, Long Island, NY

An Experienced Attorney Should Review Any Legal Documents to Protect Your Rights
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Divorce Lawyer, Long Island, NY

Do You Need a Lawyer to Review Your Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support & Alimony Documents?

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Legal documents in a divorce are extremely important and dictate the terms of your separation. They also dictate how child custody, child support, alimony, and other divorce issues will be handled. No matter how much you may trust the other side, if someone puts legal papers in front of you to sign, it’s critical to ensure these documents protect your rights and the best interest of your family before signing on the dotted line. Even if you believe everyone has your best interests at heart, what may appear to be an inconsequential issue or an oversight now, could have lasting negative effects on your life and well-being for years to come. Only a family law attorney with years of experience will know what to look for to ensure your best interests are really protected now and in the future.

At Hornberger, Verbitsky, P.C., we have reviewed thousands of family law documents and found many issues that would have cost our clients many thousands of dollars and the peace of mind that enabled them to live their best life going forward. We encourage you to get experienced legal counsel before signing any document to ensure you are protected and can be confident in the legal agreements you sign.

Here are just a few of the kinds of documents you should have reviewed by experienced family law attorneys before signing.

Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

While often difficult to address with the person you are planning to spend the rest of your life with or with whom you have already spent several years of wedded bliss with, Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are  important documents to consider either before your marriage or even years into it. While often considered “unromantic”, especially in years past when couples married younger and with fewer assets, many couples are finding pre- and post-nuptial agreements essential, especially if they are marrying later in life when they have already acquired significant assets on their own.

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are designed to protect you and your right to property that you own or rightfully belongs to you. These documents, often called “prenups” or “postnups”, are legally binding documents signed by you and your soon to be or current spouse prior to or during your marriage. These agreements generally outline the assets, property, and debts of each individual. They further define what each person will receive should the marriage end in divorce.

Without a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to set the details for property distribution in the event of divorce, you will leave it up to New York state law to determine who gets what under the rules of Equitable Distribution.

While you don’t enter a marriage without a level of trust in your partner, you should be aware that many  proposed prenuptial or postnuptial agreements are heavily skewed in the other party’s favor. To ensure this is not applicable in your case it’s crucial to have your agreement reviewed by a seasoned family lawyer prior to signing. Once the agreement is signed, it’s difficult to challenge or modify the agreement.

Divorce Settlement Agreements

Divorce settlement agreements dictate the terms of your entire divorce, including child custody, property division, alimony, child support, and more.

It’s extremely important to ensure that your divorce settlement agreement doesn’t contain hidden language that can create problems for you later on down the road or language that heavily favors your ex-spouse. It’s also critical to ensure that all important issues are addressed to ensure something doesn’t come back to bite you in the future.

Child Custody Agreements

For couples with children, child custody is perhaps one of the most sensitive issues in a divorce. Often, both parents think they each know what is best for their children, even if those ideas are entirely juxtaposed. Child Custody is often one of the most contentious aspects of their divorce negotiations. Of course, it is emotionally heart-wrenching for most parents to envision living apart from their child or children for even a minute. Often, the emotion of the moment causes otherwise loving parents to take drastic measures that are often not in the best interests of the child.

Of course you and your spouse are entitled to make any child custody arrangements that work for you, your spouse and your children. While the most common are Joint Legal Custody and Joint Residential Custody, there are a number of other types of custody, including  Sole Legal Custody, Sole Physical Custody, and Joint Physical Custody.

If you work with a divorce lawyer or a divorce mediator or are able to reach an agreement regarding child custody with your ex-spouse on your own, you should have the paperwork reviewed to ensure that the best interests of your children are protected and that you have the legal and physical access you want with your children. You need to ensure that any child custody agreement you sign is reviewed by an attorney with years of experience in child custody matters to ensure that both your interests and the best interests of the child are served.

Property Division Agreements

Property division is often one of the more challenging aspects of getting a Long Island divorce. When the couple owns a home or business together, this issue becomes even more important.

Next to Child Custody and Support (discussed below), dividing your and your spouse’s property can become one of the most contentious parts of any divorce. Deciding who gets what can be difficult and often emotions play a large part in the contentiousness of property division. All too often one spouse wants to make the other “pay” and leave them with nothing or as little as possible. This is unrealistic and often causes divorces to drag on and become more expensive as the legal fees add up when spouses cannot resolve their disputes.

New York utilizes Equitable Distribution laws to ensure that property is divided equitably in a divorce. Often, it is difficult for divorcing spouses to comprehend that “equitable” does not mean “equal”. For example, if a couple has a joint savings account with $10,000 in it, the court will not automatically award $5,000 to each spouse. Other assets of value must be brought to bear on the decision. In an oversimplification for an example, assume the couple only has one car, the value of that car may be deducted from the savings account proceeds of the spouse who gets to keep it. Add in all the other assets, and debts of the couple and you can see how this can get very complicated very quickly.

Another complicating factor is the difference between Marital Property and Separate Property. Marital Property is subject to Equitable Distribution, while Separate Property is not.  Generally speaking, marital property is that property, including earned income, the marital home, and any other assets acquired by either spouse during the term of the marriage. The major exception would be gifts received by one spouse. These would be considered separate property. Separate property is generally considered any personal property acquired by one spouse prior to the marriage. This can include major assets like a house if it was purchased by one spouse prior to the marriage, as well as an inheritance or a personal injury settlement. Debts, both Shared and Separate, also fall into the Equitable Distribution formula as well.

Once you and your ex-spouse determine how your joint property should be allocated between you two, you should have an experienced lawyer look at the agreement to make sure you are getting everything that rightfully belongs to you.

Before signing any property division agreement, you should be sure to have an experienced divorce attorney review your agreement. The property you leave the marriage with is the property you will have to start your new life without your spouse.

Alimony/Spousal Support Agreements

Spousal Support, otherwise known as Alimony or Spousal Maintenance, is commonly awarded to a lower-earning spouse from the income from the higher earning spouse to help ease the transition to fully supporting themselves. This is often the case when one spouse has been the primary caretaker of the household and has not been earning any or enough income to support themselves during the term of the marriage. Spousal support is normally not permanent and has a defined time period until it expires.

If you are the higher earning spouse, you want to ensure that you are not paying too much spousal support or for too long, while if you are the lower earning spouse, you want to ensure that you receive enough support and for a long enough period of time to re-enter the workforce and support yourself and perhaps your children as you enter this new phase of your life. An experienced attorney can help both of you determine what that amount and time period should be.

Child Support Agreements

In New York, as in most other states, each parent has an obligation to support their children until they reach an age where they can support themselves. The parent with whom the child primarily resides is known as the custodial parent. The parent with whom the child does not primarily reside is known as the non-custodial parent. Child Support is financial assistance generally paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent to support the child. This is the case even when a child spends equal time with both parents. In these cases, the higher-earning parent pays child support to the lower earning parent to help care for the child.

On Long Island, the Child Support Standards Act (CSSA) sets minimum standards for child support. The CSSA uses the income and expenses of each parent, as well as the number of children, in order to calculate each parent’s share of support for their children.

If you expect to pay or receive child support you want to ensure that any child support agreement you sign is fair and equitable to support your child, but does not obligate you to pay more than you should or can afford. An experienced child support lawyer can help protect your interests.

It’s extremely important to ensure that your divorce settlement agreement doesn’t contain hidden language that can create problems for you later on down the road or language that heavily favors your ex-spouse. It’s also critical to ensure that all important issues are addressed to ensure something doesn’t come back to bite you in the future.

Child Support, Alimony, and Other Modification Agreements

If you are paying or receiving child support, spousal support or alimony after your Long Island divorce, and you need to have the amount modified due to life circumstances, it’s important to have a lawyer review the agreement before you sign it.

Modification requests can sometimes be challenging because you have to prove that your circumstances or the circumstances of your ex-spouse have changed enough to warrant a modification of child support or alimony owed.

Petitions to Amend a Divorce Decree

In some cases, a finalized divorce decree will need to be amended or modified. Whether you or your ex-spouse are the one initiating the petition to amend the divorce decree, you should carefully consider having an attorney review the agreement or represent you in the action.

Work with an experienced attorney who can assist you in determining what amendments may or may not be in your best interests and whether you should proceed with the amendment petition as is. If your lawyer believes that you may benefit more from a different arrangement, they can help you submit a counter-petition.

Other Family Law Agreements

The above-listed issues are just some of the most common family legal matters that involve a signed agreement between two parties. Nearly any agreement made with your spouse, ex-spouse or the other parent of your children can be legalized through the utilization of appropriate channels.

It may be tempting to try to cut legal costs by reviewing and signing agreements that don’t seem too significant, however, this can result in significant challenges later on down the road.

Contact Long Island Family Law Firm Hornberger & Verbitsky, P.C. to Learn More

At Hornberger, Verbitsky, P.C., we offer comprehensive document review services. Make sure that any family law legal agreement you sign has been reviewed by an experienced divorce lawyer before offering your signature.

Your family’s well-being and future are on the line anytime you’re dealing with a family legal issue. Never sign any documents without first having had them reviewed by a trustworthy law professional.

Contact Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C., at 631-923-1910 or fill out the short form on this page to book an appointment for your free initial consultation.

Divorce Lawyer Long Island New York
Melissa Rappa
Melissa Rappa
18:09 08 Feb 24
At one of the hardest and most stressful times of my life, it was so comforting to have a team at Hornberger and Verbitsky who ALWAYS responded in record speed to my questions, phone calls, emails or texts and who I felt really cared about helping me through this difficult time. It was a long few years and I am grateful to all of you. Thank you so much Rob, AnneMarie, Christine, Patty, Joan and Lawrence. Your guidance, professionalism and expertise is appreciated beyond measure.
Paul Carmichael
Paul Carmichael
16:21 11 Dec 23
I would give 6 stars if I could. I can't say enough good things about Robert and his firm. We were in a situation for over 2 years and I could have never made it through without Robert's experience and knowledge. He guided me through tough times when needed and his expertise could "read" the situation and make the next best move for me. He was tough when he needed to be tough (thankfully) and at the same time guided me through the process to make me feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. I would not want to go through this process without Robert and his team having my back. he helped move the case along and not waste any time or money. One last time, I 100% endorse Robert and his expertise.
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