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When you’re heading into a Long Island, NY divorce, it’s natural to feel apprehensive and unsure of what’s going to happen and what your next steps should be. You’re in unfamiliar territory, which can be made harder if your spouse is being difficult or is unwilling to compromise.
You may be worried that you won’t get a fair divorce settlement and you’ll be left with little to nothing with which to start your new life. You may feel you’re going to lose it all; everything you’ve worked so hard to achieve in your adult life. It can be terrifying. Here’s what to know and how Hornberger Verbitsky P.C. can help allay those fears and protect your rights and assets.
What to Know Going Into a Divorce Settlement in NY
Before you begin settlement negotiations, it’s best if you can establish some basic rules of behavior during the negotiations. For example, you can establish that neither party belittles or uses derogatory language toward the other, or that voices will not be raised beyond normal speaking level. Set whatever guidelines you feel you need to feel comfortable discussing family legal matters, but also be aware that your ex-spouse can also establish their own rules going in.
Decide ahead of time what is most important to you. For example, if you have children, you may be unwilling to compromise on custody arrangements. However, you may be willing to accept less spousal support in exchange for something more valuable. Keep the things that are most important to you off the negotiation table if possible, but don’t be unwilling to compromise on anything — that tactic is rarely effective at producing a favorable divorce settlement.
There are many issues that will need to be resolved in your divorce settlement. The more assets and children you have, the more issues there are to get through. Here are some of the most important:
If you and your spouse have likely accumulated assets or debts during your marriage, you’ll need to determine how you want to split them up now that you are separating your lives. The first step is to have the value of your assets assessed so you can come to the table with accurate figures. This includes real estate, vehicles, furniture, jewelry, and other high-value personal possessions. If you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place, this helps guide the process.
Retirement benefits are generally considered marital property if they were accumulated during the marriage. Regardless of which spouse contributed, 401(k)s, IRAs, pensions, and other benefits are considered the property of both spouses. This includes any money that either person’s employer contributed.
Usually, couples who are negotiating a divorce agreement will split retirement benefits down the middle. However, you may be able to trade your portion of benefits for something else of value that you want more, such as their portion of the marital home. Almost everything is negotiable.
Businesses owned by either or both spouses are generally considered marital property unless the business was established prior to the marriage. In the latter case, the business itself wouldn’t be considered joint property but any revenue that was generated during the marriage would.
It’s important to take into account each spouse’s contributions to the company, including the efforts of the spouse staying at home or caring for children so the other can run the business. It’s helpful to have your business valued by a professional to determine how much the asset is worth and how much of it rightfully belongs to you.
Liquid assets are essentially the money you have in your checking and savings accounts, as well as any cash that you keep on hand. You may also want to include any financial instruments like CDs or bonds that can be easily transferable to cash. This is typically the last asset to be divided since both spouses may be dipping into these resources to cover basic expenses throughout the divorce.
How you should divide your liquid assets depends on several factors, like:
- How much each spouse contributed to those accounts
- How much each spouse earns or is expected to earn
- The financial obligations of each spouse and the debts they owe
- Whether or not one or both spouses will have to obtain new housing
- If you have kids, which parent will have primary custody
- Whether one spouse is receiving alimony from the other
If you and your spouse share children together, child custody and visitation is one of the most important issues you’ll need to resolve in your divorce settlement. It’s up to you and your spouse to create terms that are in the best interests of your kids. A few things to consider include:
- Where and with whom your child has been living up until now
- Which parent has primarily been responsible for the child’s schooling, healthcare, etc.
- Where the child goes to school and which parent lives the closest
- Where the child wants to live, if they are old enough to decide
Finally, you’ll need to discuss any child support or alimony that will be paid from one spouse to the other. Typically, the parent who has primary custody of the couple’s children will receive child support and the parent who spends the least time physically with the kids will be responsible for paying it.
How much will be paid depends on the payer’s income and the needs of your child. There’s not much to negotiate in that regard, since the amount of child support is calculated and billed by the state. However, it’s possible to adjust higher child support payments in return for something else.
Alimony may be paid from the higher earning spouse to the lesser earning one for a temporary period after the divorce to acknowledge the financial sacrifices made by them during the marriage. Some of the major considerations to make when negotiating alimony are how much each spouse earns, what each spouse sacrificed of their time and money during the marriage, and the standard of living to which you both became accustomed.
If you cannot reach an agreement regarding a fair divorce settlement with your ex-spouse outside of court, it may be necessary to move forward with divorce litigation. For example, if you’ve compromised on every point you can and your spouse still won’t budge, it may be best to go ahead and take the case to court. Let your ex know up front this is something you’re willing to do to discourage them from being adversarial for the sake of it.
Divorce is a challenging no matter which way you look at it. Dealing with the emotional aftermath and starting life over is difficult enough without being left with an unfair divorce settlement. Our Long Island, NY divorce law firm is dedicated to helping clients obtain a fair and favorable settlement from their divorce, no matter how simple or complicated the divorce is.
You can trust that our experienced divorce attorneys will handle your case with zeal, and if litigation is necessary, we’re prepared to aggressively advocate for you. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary divorce consultation to learn more at 631-923-1910 or fill in the short form on this page and we’ll get right back to you.
I know what most people say about lawyers because I am one of those people lol…. But my experience with the law firm Robert E Hornberger Esq., P.C. and in particular Christine Verbitsky was nothing short of wonderful. They took care of me every step of the way and always had my best interests first. They worked diligently and professionally to get me the best possible deal and making sure I didn’t settle for anything less. If anyone is looking to have their opinion about lawyers changed or to be treated as you should when you need a lawyer , look no further then this law firm…. Thank you so MUCH Christine and Rob..
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