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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.

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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.

 

 

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Darlene Iglio
Darlene Iglio
15:27 30 Jul 22
Robert has been my attorney for 14+ years. Through the years he has taken every call, and responded to every email, even when we were not dealing with an active court matter. Most recently, he, and his amazing team, did everything to see me through a lengthy and draining child support modification. His experience with Divorce, and Family Court, matters makes him extremely knowledgeable; therefore, if he doesn’t feel you can benefit from an action, he will advise you as much. He is not in this business to charge you fees just for the sake of making money. He will listen to you, take your feelings into consideration, and then take the time to explain how the Law works. The Courts do not care about your feelings but he, and his entire firm, genuinely do care about you AND work to obtain the best possible outcome! All the while, truly understanding these matters are very difficult to go through emotionally AND the financial impact they have on you. I highly recommend Robert and his firm… you will not be disappointed.
86 Godhand
86 Godhand
00:41 30 Jul 22
Mr Hornberger is an absolute amazing lawyer. He helped me on every level weather it be answering emails extremely fast, always called me back right aways and never acted frustrated towards me and my thousand questions. Mr Hornberger is extremely personable, caring and smart. I would highly highly recommend him to anyone especially someone like me who has no idea what court is going to be like. Again a great person and an even better lawyer

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Darlene Iglio
Darlene Iglio
15:27 30 Jul 22
Robert has been my attorney for 14+ years. Through the years he has taken every call, and responded to every email,... even when we were not dealing with an active court matter. Most recently, he, and his amazing team, did everything to see me through a lengthy and draining child support modification. His experience with Divorce, and Family Court, matters makes him extremely knowledgeable; therefore, if he doesn’t feel you can benefit from an action, he will advise you as much. He is not in this business to charge you fees just for the sake of making money. He will listen to you, take your feelings into consideration, and then take the time to explain how the Law works. The Courts do not care about your feelings but he, and his entire firm, genuinely do care about you AND work to obtain the best possible outcome! All the while, truly understanding these matters are very difficult to go through emotionally AND the financial impact they have on you. I highly recommend Robert and his firm… you will not be disappointed.read more
86 Godhand
86 Godhand
00:41 30 Jul 22
Mr Hornberger is an absolute amazing lawyer. He helped me on every level weather it be answering emails extremely fast,... always called me back right aways and never acted frustrated towards me and my thousand questions. Mr Hornberger is extremely personable, caring and smart. I would highly highly recommend him to anyone especially someone like me who has no idea what court is going to be like. Again a great person and an even better lawyerread more
Jenny Allen
Jenny Allen
13:26 18 Jun 22
Mr. Hornberger was so helpful to me in a recent consultation. He gave me his time generously, listened patiently,... offered clear counsel, and said I didn't actually need further legal services in a particular matter, which I really appreciated.read more
Elizabeth Martin
Elizabeth Martin
21:06 25 Jan 22
The team at Hornberger Verbitsky made me feel at ease after I retained them after a 3 year contested divorce process. I... like their approach with how they educate you on ways to get the best outcome in your divorce. Mr. Hornberger made me feel heard and was compassionate to my case while also being aggressive in the courtroom to help me get the most positive outcome. He prevented my case from having to go to trial and he closed the deal in my long drawn out emotional divorce. I was happy that I retained him and would recommend him to anyone that is going through a high conflict divorce.read more
rrezarta lekaj
rrezarta lekaj
20:47 24 Nov 21
Christine is truly the best there is. She is beyond professional, personable, genuine, extremely trusting, and has made... such a stressful and emotional time for my family and I easier to get through. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for your guidance, your support, and being there every step of the way. I would highly recommend Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. to anyone that is in need for legal advice - you will be in the best hands.read more
Janine Martello D'onofrio
Janine Martello D'onofrio
21:00 02 Oct 21
Rob and Christine are the very best out there!I can not say enough about them. They both have helped me so much in... different matters throughout the last several years . They have gone over and beyond!I highly recommend this law firm !read more
Tara Tocci
Tara Tocci
20:59 17 Sep 21
I called to make an appointment for a consultation to discuss a mediated divorce, the office was fantastic with getting... me a prompt appointment. When going in all my questions were asked and I left feeling comfortable in my decision to move forward in using the Hornberger/Verbitsky office. Despite a pandemic going on the office still worked diligently to get my papers filed and my divorce complete in a timely manner. Highly recommend!read more
cristina romero
cristina romero
20:17 17 Sep 21
Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C were phenomenal in every way. Robert was very genuine, patient and professional. Walking in,... I had no idea what to expect but he went above and beyond to explain the entire process thoroughly. He guided and informed me of my rights. Patty was amazing, she answered every question I had no matter how many times I called, she was very understanding. I highly recommend Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. Even if its just for questions on how to navigate this process.read more
Kerri
Kerri
16:57 17 Sep 21
Rob and his team are by far one of the greatest! Patty is amazing and will make sure all of your questions are... addressed and responded to. Rob and his team made a very tough time in my life as simple as possible. Rob is extremely knowledgeable and very empathetic. Patty was a pleasure to work with and I would recommend this firm to anyone that needs a great divorce attorney. Thank you for all of your help!read more
Angela Thearle
Angela Thearle
00:21 07 Aug 21
Hornberger law was the best choice I made when I needed to go to family court with my ex for custody of my children.... They were there at any time when I neeeded them. Going through a custody battle can be a huge emotional rollercoaster and very painful. They helped me through it and made it less painful and heartbreaking. And I got the outcome plus more than I expectedread more
Tammy Granville
Tammy Granville
11:49 04 Jul 21
Everyone was very professional. Never had to call to get an update on my case. Someone always updated me on a regular... basis.read more
LilMissPerfct Dessie
LilMissPerfct Dessie
06:46 11 Feb 21
I am a graduate of Norland English nanny college. I thank God every day that Mr. Robert Hornberger protected my clients... in the legal ways i could not. Children are a blessing not a blender to be fought over during some silly spat!read more
Anastasia R
Anastasia R
22:45 17 Dec 20
I went to see Rob for a modification for my child custody agreement to relocate, I can honestly say that working with... Rob and Christine has been the best experience. I cannot recommend them enough I only wish I had seen them sooner. They are prompt with communication, and they are honest which I appreciate so much. They do not give you fake promises and they do their best to fight for what you want which they do amazingly well! You can tell they are passionate about what they do and care about their clients. A very important aspect of lawyer client relationship for me is an open line of communication, the anxiety of the unknown always gets the best of us. The fact they were always available whether it be phone call or email to answer any question was extremely comforting and exactly what I needed. I am not well versed with laws and regulation so knowing I had Rob and his partners there when I was unsure or conflicted was extremely needed and greatly appreciated.When it comes to family court it's never easy but having Rob and his partner by my side I felt extremely comfortable and he helped me have realistic expectations. Please TRUST HIM!! If you're looking for a lawyer (at least for my end from child custody/Family Court) don't look any further you will not be disappointed. I hope to never have to use them again but in the event I have to, they are going to be my forever first call.read more
A Google User
A Google User
15:42 16 Sep 20
I hired Robert to handle a child custody and child support matter. He was prompt and professional and was able to... achieve a result that 3 prior attorneys could not. He and his staff made a stressful situation easy. I highly recommend his office.read more
Ann Masten
Ann Masten
17:48 12 May 20
I am a paralegal in an unrelated field of law. I phoned Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. today intending to refer a client... to their office. Instead (and despite that we are the midst of the present crisis), Mr. Hornberger himself graciously accommodated my questions over the telephone, and was generous with his time and adroit in his response, saving our client a small fortune in unnecessary legal fees. I have not had any similar experience, in which counsel was so generous with his expertise, in 22+ years of interacting with prominent, local attorneys, and the client is overjoyed. Based on this experience, I would now whole -heartedly recommend this firm as trusted professionals to any client requiring a firm expert in family law and related legal issues.read more
Everett Roberts
Everett Roberts
14:30 18 Mar 20
Going through a divorce was very challenging and emotional. Searching for an attorney can be challenging as well when... you consider everything that is at stake. The choice I made to work with Rob Hornberger was surely the best choice available. His professionalism, expertise, and understanding made him and the entire team perfectly suited to achieve the outcomes I desired. Rob was always available to answer my questions and give me advice and legal considerations that affected my situation. The support I received from his staff was exemplary as well. The staff was courteous, kind, and also very professional. Thank you so much Rob and team for a worry free experience.read more
Annemarie Cusumano
Annemarie Cusumano
21:41 17 Mar 20
Being in family court especially when your children are on the line is extremely emotional and stressful but working... with Robert and Christine put me at ease and made the process as pleasant as a situation like that can be. I have a now 3 year old daughter (who is the most important person in my life) and I've been working with them for over two years since my daughter was 7 months old, the case has been up and down and through it all Rob and Christine have never given up. My original case was due to a neglect charge. Cps is not easy to work with, but Rob and Christine were vigilant and I ended up getting my daughter back within 8 months and did not have to plead guilty to the neglect. Currently I am in family court to figure out a custody agreement. They are professional, empathetic, and patient. They have always explained everything thoroughly, informed me of all my options and advised me of what my best option would be. They always respond quickly when I contact them with questions or concerns and most importantly they fight for me in court and don't give up even when things get rough. Before hiring Rob and Christine I met with other attorneys who did not make me feel confident or comfortable at all about my case, so I am very grateful to have found Rob and Christine and to be represented by such great attorneys. I highly recommend them for any family court matters and will definitely continue to use them in the future if needed.read more
Randi Gottlieb
Randi Gottlieb
18:47 03 Mar 20
Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. - Mr. Robert Hornberger and his staff are beyond professional, they quickly gave me my... consultation appointment, and helped me with an after-Divorce issue. Mr. Hornberger was empathetic and explained to me what I should expect. Mr. Hornberger was extremely professional and advised me of my options, he helped me proceed with accurate and smart decisions. I wish I had Mr. Hornberger and his highly recommended staff when I was getting divorced. I would highly recommend Robert and his staff to anyone who is getting a divorce or in need of help with situations after the divorce!read more
Rob Spielmann
Rob Spielmann
22:15 27 Feb 20
They made our process so easy. They were there to answer and help with any questions that came up. Very friendly
Ashley Hubner
Ashley Hubner
20:30 14 Feb 20
Navigating my divorce was a challenging experience to say the least, but I was supported and guided every step of the... way by my attorney, Robert. With the daunting task of hiring a divorce lawyer, I knew I would need someone with the right combination of knowledge, compassion and integrity. Robert has a strong background in family law, sincere character and direct communication to be superior to the others. He and his staff were professional and caring. I always felt I was in good hands. I highly recommend the Law Offices Hornberger and Verbitsky for the legal expertise, compassion and understanding of the many complex facets associated with divorce.read more
Thomas Livingston
Thomas Livingston
21:31 26 Jan 20
Robert and Christine are the epitome of professionalism. They helped us with the purchase of our new home. They were... efficient, dedicated, and focused on making our closing as seamless as possible.read more
Sheila Vasata
Sheila Vasata
23:35 14 Jan 20
Robert Hornberger has been a friend of mine and my family for years. He has helped us all in ways that are too... numerable to mention. I went through a divorce that I don’t think I could’ve done if I didn’t have Robert by my side. He is vivacious, motivated, knowledgeable, and has an extreme desire to succeed and excel...and he does! He goes over and above for all of his clientele. I would recommend his law firm to anybody who is looking for a Great Lawyer with integrity!read more
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