Why You Need a Lawyer for a Marital Settlement in New York?
A stipulation of settlement is a binding legal contract that details important aspects about you and your spouse’s life after divorce. Issues in a marital settlement include alimony, equitable distribution, and child custody/visitation and child support. It is important to hire a Manhattan divorce settlement attorney to prepare or at least review your agreement. An attorney will make sure that important legal matters are added into the marital settlement agreement so that your rights are protected.
Do I Need a Marital Settlement Agreement for an Annulment, Divorce or Legal Separation
It is best to have a divorce settlement attorney in Manhattan draft your settlement or separation agreement for your divorce, annulment or legal separation.
Divorce: When you get a divorce, you are acknowledging that the marriage was valid and want to terminate it. In New York, you do not have to prove the reason you want to get divorced other than letting the court know that the marriage between you and your spouse has not functioned for a period of at least six months. Other grounds for a divorce in New York include
Annulment: In New York, you can legally end a marriage through either divorce or annulment. When you get an annulment, the Court declares that the marriage was never valid or that the marriage is void. Annulments are generally harder to obtain than a divorce because you must convince the Court that the marriage should be declared null and void by proving certain facts.
Legal Separation: Legal separation does not change your marital status. When you apply for legal separation, you are still legally married, and you cannot marry someone else. Legal separation is for people who cannot get divorced due to religious reasons or other financial circumstances. The grounds for legal separation are like that of an at-fault divorce: adultery, abandonment, imprisonment of your spouse for a period of three or more years, neglect and inhumane treatment.
WHAT GOES IN A MARITAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT?
A marital settlement is also known as a stipulation of settlement. This is a contract that you and your spouse enter into before finalizing your divorce. A marital settlement includes provisions for:
Alimony or Spousal Maintenance: Paying alimony restricts potential unfair economic effects of a divorce by providing steady support to the less-monied spouse. This ensures the less-monied spouse has the ability to maintain their standard of living until they reach a time where they can support themselves. You and your spouse may decide on alimony together or rely on the Court maintenance calculator to determine the alimony amount.
Equitable DistributionEquitable Distribution: New York is an equitable distribution state. This means that any property or debt you and your spouse acquired during your marriage will be divided equitably during your divorce. Equitable distribution does not mean an even or 50-50 split. It means that the Court will consider the individual circumstances of each spouse and will divide your assets and debts in a fair or equitable manner.
Child Support: Child support is money paid by a parent to pay for a child’s needs. Child support covers basic expenses as well as childcare, education, healthcare, and other expenses. Generally, the non-custodial parent will pay child support to the custodial parent. In the interest of fairness, the Court will use a standard formula to calculate what a person should pay. The amount paid is based on how much the parties earn in a year and on the number of children involved.
Child Custody and Visitation: In New York, either the father or the mother may get custody of their child. Neither parent has an automatic nor preferred right to custody of their child. In other words, the child’s mother does not have a greater right to custody than the father. Visitation rights or parenting time gives the non-custodial parent the ability to see the child on a regular, consistent basis. Custody and visitation rights are typically decided at the same time.
Depending on your circumstances, there are provisions that may be added or removed from your marital settlement agreement.
CAN I CHALLENGE MY MARITAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT?
Marital settlement agreements, once signed, are valid and enforceable contracts. After signing, the Court typically will then issue a judgement of divorce that incorporates terms from the settlement agreement. The matter becomes final, and the divorce cannot be challenged.
You may challenge a marital settlement if there was:
Fraud: During the divorce proceeding, you must file a sworn statement of net worth. This details all your assets and debts. If you or your spouse fail to disclose property or assets or is not completely honest about the true value of the assets, the Court may refuse to enforce the settlement agreement.
Mistake: You and your spouse believed you had signed a document that dealt with all of your assets at the time you entered into the settlement agreement. But it turns out that assets were missing from the marital settlement agreement. The court may therefore choose not to enforce the agreement. You both can correct the error by signing an amendment to the marital settlement agreement and having the amendment notarized.
CAN MY SPOUSE AND I MODIFY OR CHANGE MY MARITAL SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT?
Yes. Provisions regarding property, assets, debt, and almost all other financial matters cannot be modified, unless you both agree to a change. If you both agree, you can enter into a modification agreement. This modified agreement should then be incorporated into a new court order.
Child support agreements or orders may be modified if
i) a substantial change in circumstances; or
(ii) that three years have passed since the order was entered, last modified or adjusted; or
(iii) there has been a change in either party’s gross income by fifteen percent or more since the order was entered, last modified, or adjusted; however, if the parties have specifically opted out of subparagraph
(ii) or (iii) of this paragraph in a validly executed agreement or stipulation, then that basis to seek modification does not apply.
CONTACT MANHATTAN DIVORCE SETTLEMENT ATTORNEYS AT STEPANIAN LAW FIRM FOR A PEACE OF MIND
With guidance from Stepanian Law Firm, you can be confident that the terms you and your spouse reach in the marital settlement agreement will be favorable to you. If you would like to schedule a consultation to discuss whether you need an attorney for a marital settlement agreement or stipulation of settlement, contact us or call us at (646) 596-6874.