Brooklyn Law Office Blawg

Observations of a Brooklyn lawyer in the digital age

Brooklyn Law Office Blawg, New York City

Legal Separation — Contract or Decree

August 6th, 2013 · No Comments

Here is a video I made for About.com regarding legal separations. This video discusses legal separations under New York law. It also applies to separation agreements which can lead to a divorce. Legal separation decrees does not deal with the division of marital property, also known as equitable distribution, whereas legal separation agreements can deal with party property division.

→ No CommentsTags: Alternate Dispute Resolution · Divorce

Marital and Separate Property

October 24th, 2012 · No Comments

This video made for About.com explains some of the legal concepts of marital property and separate property:

→ No CommentsTags: Divorce · Estates and Probate · Family law

Divorce: some of the issues

October 8th, 2012 · No Comments

Here is an introductory video about divorce law issues made for About.com earlier this year:

→ No CommentsTags: Alternate Dispute Resolution · Divorce · Family law

New York adopts true no fault divorce law

August 15th, 2010 · No Comments

On August 15, 2010 Governor Paterson announced that he had signed several bills significantly reforming New York State’s Domestic Relations Law. The first bill, A.9753A/S.3890 creates a “non-consensual” “no-fault” grounds for divorce. New York has long had “no fault” by consent, where both spouses agree by contract to get divorced and must wait a year after the contract is executed to apply for a divorce under D.R.L. sec. 170(6) commonly called a conversion divorce. This new law adds a subsection to D.R.L. Sec. 170(7) which states, (in part) that the Supreme Court can grant a divorce when: “The relationship between husband and wife has broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months, provided that one party has so stated under oath.” The law goes into effect 60 days after the date the governor signed it (October 12, 2010) and only applies to those actions for divorce started on that day or later. The new law also states that no divorce will be granted under the new grounds “unless and until” the economic issues of equitable distribution of marital property, payment or waiver of spousal support, child support, counsel, expert fees and expenses and custody and visitation of children has been resolved between the parties or determined by the Court and incorporated into the judgment of divorce.

The other laws signed by the Governor amend the divorce law to strengthen a party’s ability to seek an award interim spousal support and attorney fees at the beginning of an action, rather than the end.  One law (A.10984/S.8390 and A11576/S.8391) creates a presumption that that will revise the process for setting awards of temporary maintenance while a divorce is pending, by creating a formula and list of factors that presumptively governs such awards, a scheme similar to the Child Support Standards Act. This change should result in a speedy resolution of the maintenance issue once litigation has begun and prevent a less well-off party in to divorce proceedings from falling into poverty during litigation because they lack the resources to obtain a temporary maintenance order. For situations where one spouse makes $500,000 or less (subject to annual COLA adjustments) the formula is basically the lower of two amounts, (A) thirty percent of the payor minus twenty percent of the potential payee spouse or (B) forty percent of the sum of both spouses income minus the payee spouse’s income. If A-B is zero or less, interim maintenance shall be zero. The court may deviate from this formula and, as in the Child Support Standards Act, the “self support reserve” is the lower level cutoff factor for the payor’s resultant net income after maintenance is deducted.

The final law (A7569-A/S4532-A) creates a presumption that the spouse with less money in a divorce case is entitled to payment of attorneys’ fees at the beginning of litigation. Under current law, a party that cannot afford to secure representation in a divorce proceeding is often forced to make an application for fees at the end of the process, which can force a poor individual to proceed without a lawyer, or to not fight for their rights due to lack of means or legal support as many lawyers are not willing to wait to receive their legal fees after years of litigation.

→ No CommentsTags: Divorce · Family law

haitians targets in advance fee fraud visa scheme

February 11th, 2010 · 2 Comments

The United States Embassy in Port au Prince, Haiti is warning that there is a new advance fee fraud scheme targeting Haitians and Haitian Americans. Haitians, and Americans who are sponsoring their Haitian relatives, are being asked to pay fees up front in exchange for a guarantee that they can bring up to five of their relatives to the United States under a special program. Sometimes these scammers operate by telephone, email or by having criminals hand out flyers in neighborhoods where Haitian Americans live requesting that money be wired to Western Union account or similar service in exchange for an “authorization code” that they can use to fly to Haiti and sponsor five of their relatives to come to the United States.

As it states on the Department of State website: “Anyone who receives a phone, letter or email request asking for such an advance payment should consider the request to be fraudulent. Do NOT transfer any monies to an unknown person! Several Haitians and Haitian-Americans have already lost thousands of dollars because of these dishonest acts. If you have been contacted about one of these advance payments or know of someone who has, please contact the Consulate at 222-0200, x8684 or via email to PAPrso@state.gov or PAPfraud@state.gov.”

No U.S. Consular Official or U.S.C.I.S. Official will ever legitimately ask you for money outside of their official function except fees that are to be paid to an official cashier. All fees are collected either by check or money order through the mail to a U.S.C.I.S. Service Center or by cash at a Local Office. Cash is only collected at a Cashier’s Office within a U.S.C.I.S. or State Department government facility (some take credit cards such as the Cashier at 26 Federal Plaza) or by cash at a U.S. Embassy Consular Section Cashier that is clearly marked. One should never give cash to anyone in or outside a U.S. Embassy or Consulate who says they are a US government employee or consular staff.

Generally these types of scams are called “advance fee scams” where you are promised to receive something you need or want (money is usually the reward, though I have been involved in cases where the desired object is a visa or even citizenship in some country). You are asked to pay some money “up front” to cover costs, legal fees, etc. but what usually happens is that after you pay the fees you discover that the addresses, phone numbers or other information given to you are incorrect and that anything you are given, such as visas or bank checks are fraudulent and worthless. If you wire the money through one of these services, generally speaking the service cannot get your money back.  This is also true if you wire money to a bank account, unless you can hire a lawyer in a jurisdiction where the account is located and your lawyer can convince a judge to freeze the account (something I have done in the past) before it is withdrawn or transferred out of that bank, you money will be lost forever. This is a common scam over the internet these days. Please be careful before giving or sending money to anyone whose credentials you have not verified independently.

If you want information on the United States immigration benefits that are available to Haitians please read our other blog posts covering this subject regarding TPS for Haitians in the United States on January 12, 2010 and other temporary immigration benefits that are being granted at this time to Haitians due to the terrible calamity that has befallen the Republic of Haiti.

→ 2 CommentsTags: Consumer law · Fraud and "con" schemes · Identity Theft · Immigration Law · Internet Fraud · Ruminations · visa fraud