Brian D. Perskin & Associates

Modifying Child Custody Orders in New York

Child custody modifications

Child custody is one of the most important components of divorce. Your child custody agreement will determine if your child will live with you, or if you can make decisions on their behalf.

It is likely that your child custody order will need to be changed as time goes on. What are some of the most common reasons parents seek a child custody modification? What will a Judge consider while making their decision?

Significant Change in Circumstance

There are many reasons why you can petition the court for a modification of child custody. A few of the most cited reasons for a modification include:

  • Relocation after divorce
  • Changes to either parent’s lifestyle (finances, health, etc.)
  • Allegations of child abuse or neglect
  • The desires of the child

You must prove that there has been a significant change in circumstance, regardless of why you want to modify your Order.  For instance, a new job in another state, access to critical health care, or unsafe living conditions all constitute a significant change in circumstance.

Best Interest of the Child

Contrary to popular belief, the courts do not favor mothers over fathers in child custody proceedings. The same rings true for modification requests. A Judge must rule in the child’s best interest when deciding if they should grant a request to modify a child custody order.

Some of the factors that help determine the child’s best interest are:

  • Which parent has been the primary caregiver
  • The parenting skills of each parent, their ability to provide for the child, and their lifestyle
  • The child’s relationship with siblings and extended family members
  • Whether there is a history of domestic violence

Each child custody modification case is different, and no two rulings will be alike. These best interest factors are merely a guide for Judges. Discuss your case with an attorney prior to filing your petition.

The Modification Process

You must file a Petition for Modification in order to start a new child custody case. Your petition will be denied if you fail to provide enough evidence that a significant change of circumstance has occurred.

The Court will issue a Summons with Petition for Modification when your request is granted. As with any other legal action, you need to have the other parent served with the Summons. Your Summons will have a court date listed, and you and your ex will need to appear in front of a Judge.

During your modification trial, a Judge will hear testimony and review evidence. After which, they will decide whether or not to grant your request.  The Judge will issue a new child custody order if your Petition is approved. Keep in mind: your current visitation and child support agreements might change if your custody order is modified.

New York’s Child Custody Attorneys

Child custody modification cases are very complicated. You do not want to file your petition without speaking to an attorney first. You are taking the first steps when you hire an experienced family law attorney.

The team of lawyers Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. have represented thousands of New Yorkers in sensitive divorce and family law matters. For more information on child custody modifications, contact the firm at 718-875-7584 today!

Parallel Parenting: Conflict Free Co-Parenting

Parallel Parenting: Alternative Co-Parenting

Last week, we briefly touched on parallel parenting during our discussion on alternative forms of co-parenting. However, this method deserves more in-depth coverage, as it can be helpful for divorcees who are unable to co-parent successfully.

What is Parallel Parenting?

Parallel Parenting allows for divorced couples to co-parent while keeping their interaction with each other to a minimum. This method was developed for couples involved in high-conflict divorces. It is also useful for parents who can not interact without fighting.

During parallel parenting, parents are able to make decisions regarding their children without having to consult with their ex. For this to work, parents much agree on which aspects of their children’s upbringing they want to have control over. For instance, one parent will make all medical decisions, and the other will handle schooling and extracurricular activities.

Changing Communication Strategies

The main goal of parallel parenting is for children to be raised in a conflict free environment. In order to do this, parents must change the way they communicate with each other. To accomplish this, parents can:

  • Only communicate via email, text message, or on co-parenting apps
  • Keep conversations factual, and do not let emotion take control
  • Never attend the same school or extra-curricular functions
  • Do not spend time alone with the other parent
  • Arrange a neutral location for custody exchanges
  • Use a third-party to help with custody exchanges

These changes will not happen overnight. They take work. Parallel parenting is not easy, and there will be some trial and error. But, remember: this co-parenting method is good for children.

Pros and Cons to Parallel Parenting

The pros to parallel parenting far outweigh the cons. Since communication between parents is limited, there is less stress. Parallel parenting may even result in lower legal fees, as parents won’t get stuck in a loop of conflict and litigation. This method also helps to foster a stronger relationship between the child and each parent.

In some cases, parallel parenting can have a negative impact on children. Some kids can have difficulties moving between households, and may develop a sense of loyalty to one parent. Children can also feel hurt when they can’t have both parents at graduations, sporting events, and birthday parties.

Get the Help Need

In order for parallel parenting to work, both parents need be on the same page. They must realize that they cannot co-parent without a great deal of strife. Developing an effective co-parenting method is a marathon, and not a sprint. It requires the help of an experienced family law attorney.

Trust the team at Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. to customize a hand crafted divorce and co-parenting strategy for you. For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, contact us at 718-875-7584 today!

Alternative Forms of Co-Parenting After Divorce

Alternative co-parenting strategies

Traditional family dynamics are changing, and so are co-parenting arrangements after divorce. Gone are the days when a divorced mother would be the primary custodian. What are some of the new forms of co-parenting, and will they work for your family?

Parallel Parenting

Parallel Parenting was designed with high-conflict families in mind. The purpose of parallel parenting is to help you and your ex care for your child, while limiting communication.

During this form of co-parenting, you are able to make your own decisions regarding your child, without having to consult your ex. But, keep in mind, your ex is allowed to do the same. Typically, each parent would choose aspects of their child’s upbringing that they would like to have control over. For instance, you would be responsible for decisions regarding medical care, and your ex would choose which schools your child attends.

This form of co-parenting allows for both parents to play an active role in raising your children, without having to risk tension filled arguments. Many people practicing parallel parenting rely on parenting apps to keep verbal communication to a minimum.

Bird’s Nest Parenting

Bird’s Nest Parenting is a unique approach to co-parenting after divorce. The goal of bird’s nest parenting is to put your child’s needs and comfort first. It is 100% child centered.

During this form of co-parenting, your child will remain living in one home, and will not travel between households for visitation. Instead, you and your spouse would take turns living with the child. You are responsible for maintaining a separate home to live in during your non-parenting time. Your ex will have to do the same.

The bird’s nest approach can help alleviate the amount of stress and anxiety your child feels because of the divorce, but it can be quite costly. Review your finances prior to agreeing to this co-parenting arrangement, and make sure your family can afford to support three different households.

Living Together After Divorce

The most unusual way to co-parent after divorce is to live with your ex. Whether in the same home, same apartment building, or same neighborhood, a growing number of divorced parents are choosing to live within close proximity to their ex.

This form of co-parenting should only be attempted if your divorce is uncontested, and you maintain a close relationship with your ex-spouse. The two of you need to have the same approach to parenting, and vow to put your child’s needs first.

Living with your ex after divorce can have tremendous benefits for your child, but this form of co-parenting needs to be approached with caution. Speak with a therapist of mediator, and develop a list of rules that you and your spouse must follow. Doing so can help ensure that this unique co-parenting arrangement is successful.

------------------------------------------------------------------

The law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. specializes in complex divorce and family law cases. Brian and his team of attorneys have represented thousands of New Yorkers, and successfully advocated on their behalf. For more information on how we can help you, call us at 718-875-7584 today.

Common Divorce Myths in New York

Common Divorce Myths

The internet is a wonderful tool, but it can be harmful to your divorce or child custody case. There are countless divorce horror stories online, and it’s hard to not believe them. Luckily, the team at Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. have shed a light on the most common New York divorce myths out there.

Myth #1: You must file for divorce in the city/state you got

married.

This is not true. Where you file for divorce depends on where you, or your spouse, legally reside. So, just because you got married in Las Vegas, doesn’t mean you must file for divorce in Nevada. Check out New York’s residency requirements for more information.

Myth #2: You cannot get a divorce if your spouse doesn’t

consent to one.

This is one of the biggest divorce myths. New York has two types divorce: contested, and uncontested. Contested divorces occur when one party does not consent to the divorce, or they don’t agree with the terms listed in the Complaint.

A Judge will never force you to stay married if your spouse doesn’t want a divorce. Contested divorce cases take more time than their uncontested counterparts, but a divorce will be granted. Just remain patient and let your attorney handle the matter for you.

Myth #3: Mothers will always be granted child custody

because of court bias.

In New York, child custody is determined in the best interest of the child. This can mean either the mother or the father.

A Judge will issue a child custody order ff you and your ex are unable to reach an agreement on your own. The Judge will take many factors into consideration, including which parent was the primary caregiver prior to divorce, while making their final decision.

Myth #4: You will “lose” your divorce case if you commit

adultery.

New York is a “no-fault” divorce state, so Judges typically pay little attention to accusations of adultery. You are not entitled to a greater share of marital assets just because your spouse had an affair.

With that being said, alimony payments may be impacted if a Judge decides that a cheating spouse wastefully dissipated marital assets by spending a lot of money on his or her fling. It is recommended you hire an attorney to help you determine if this is true in your case.

Myth #5: All marital assets will be split 50/50.

New York divides marital assets equitably, not equally. This means that marital property cannot be split in equal halves between you and your ex.

Instead, the Court must take many factors into consideration while determining the equitable distribution of assets. Factors can include the length of your union, your income, and each spouse’s financial contribution to the marriage. The Court must also determine if an asset is sole property, joint property, or has been co-mingled during the marriage.

Myth 6: You don’t need a divorce lawyer.

One of the most concerning and harmful divorce myths is that you don’t need a lawyer. Divorce cases are complex matters. It is easy to get caught up in your emotions, and for your judgement to become clouded. This is why it is always recommended that you retain an experienced divorce attorney to advocate on your behalf.

The team of attorneys at Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. are experts in matrimonial and family law, having represented countless New Yorkers throughout some of the most difficult periods in their lives.

Find out how we can help you. Call us at 718-875-7582 to schedule a free, no obligation consultation today!

Divorce and Child Custody 101

Divorce and Child Custody 101

Knowledge is power, especially when it comes to divorce and child custody. Having a basic understanding of the two is vital to the success of your case. Should you file for a divorce or legal separation? Can you have legal custody if your child doesn’t live with you?

Consider this your much needed crash course in New York divorce and child custody law.

Divorce vs. Separation

At Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C., we have many New Yorkers ask us if they should for a divorce or legal separation. What is the difference, and does it really matter?

  • Legal Separation: You will remain married to your spouse during a legal separation. Your separation agreement will address common divorce issues. Issues include child custody and support. You will remain on your spouse's insurance, and have access to their retirement benefits, during a legal separation.
  • Divorce: A divorce terminates your marriage. There are two kinds of divorce in New York: contested, and uncontested. Your divorce will be contested if you and your ex are unable to agree to the terms of the divorce. You need to hire an attorney if you are going through a contested divorce.

Child Custody, Visitation, Support

Child custody and support cases can be their own individual actions, or they can be aspects of a divorce matter. As with divorce, there are different forms of child custody:

  • Physical/Residential Custody determines which parent a child will live with.
  • Legal Custody refers to which parent has the right to make major decisions on the child behalf, including education, medical care, and religious upbringing.
  • Sole Custody means that one parent has been granted a certain form of custody.
  • Joint Custody occurs when both parents are awarded the same type of custody.
  • Visitation time is awarded to the parent who has not been given physical custody.
  • Child Support is money paid to the custodial parent, and terminates once the child is 21 years old, or has been emancipated.

Child custody agreements are unique, and will vary from case to case. Regardless of what kind of child custody order you receive, it will always be made in your child’s best interest.

The Divorce and Child Custody Experts

What makes Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. so unique is how we represent our clients. Our team of attorneys all have different styles of representation. Some favor settlement outside of the courtroom, while others prefer to duke it out in front of a judge. We can guarantee that we have the right lawyer for you!

Our lawyers have over 50 years of combined experience, and have helped thousands of New Yorkers with their complex divorce and child custody cases. For more information on how we can help you, or to schedule your free consultation, contact us at 718-875-7584 today!

Tips for Celebrating Father’s Day during Divorce

Father's Day During Divorce

Last month, the team at Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. published a guide for surviving Mother’s Day during a divorce. With Father’s Day quickly approaching, we thought it’d be helpful to bring you our top tips for celebrating Father's Day during divorce.

Let Your Kids Have a Say

Your children may be having a difficult time coping with divorce. Allowing them to help plan Father’s Day activities or gifts is a great way to assist in their healing. The change in routine, and chance for celebration, will be a much needed break from the struggles of divorce.

Have a Plan, but be Flexible

Life in unpredictable. Weather can change, kids can throw tantrums, or time can get away from you. To make the most of your Father’s Day, you have to plan it out. Have a list of possible activities or restaurants, and be prepared to make last minute changes. Having a backup plan can help alleviate stress, and being flexible will help you enjoy Father’s Day.

Celebrating with Long Distance Dads

Some fathers do not live in the same city, state, or country, as their children. Just because they live far away, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be able to celebrate Father’s Day.

If this situation applies to you, try to facilitate an extended Skype session, or make arrangements for the children to visit you. Father's Day during divorce doesn’t have to be a lonely experience if you take time to plan ahead of time.

You Might Not See Your Kids on Father's Day

If you are the non-custodial parent, you may not have the chance to spend time with your children on Father’s Day. Unfortunately, this is a very sad reality for many dads. You have every right to feel sad that you won’t see your kids, but try keep your focus elsewhere. Visit your family. Make arrangements for the next time you see your children. Have a group outing with other divorced dads.

Father's Day during divorce can be tough, especially when you are unable to spend time with your children. Remember to stay positive, and try not to dwell on negative emotions, or to lash out at your ex.

Father’s Rights Advocates in NYC

The law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. specializes in complex family law matters. We are strong father’s rights advocates, and we will do everything we can to ensure dads are not separated from their children.

For more information on how we can fight for you, contact us at 718-875-7584 to schedule your free consultation.

4 Signs Your Child Needs Therapy during Divorce

Divorce is difficult, especially for children. Divorcing parents have a lot to worry about, including how their child is coping with the divorce. Are they adjusting well, or are they misbehaving at school? Some out-of-character behavior is expected, but how do you know when your child needs therapy during divorce?

1. Long term behavioral changes

Your child will experience some behavioral changes during the divorce process. Periods of sadness, anger, or acting out are normal. However, prolonged bouts of these of behavioral changes are alarming and need to be addressed. Ignoring them can lead to long term issues, and your child’s academics, social skills, and emotional well-being will be at risk.

2. Problems eating or sleeping

Your child may be having difficulties coping with divorce if they are showing signs of insomnia or a lack of appetite. Both can result in physical and mental side effects, such as extreme weight loss and irritability. If your primary care doctor has ruled out any medical reasons for this behavior, you should consider sending your child to therapy during divorce.

3. Newfound separation anxiety

Separation anxiety is a key indicator that your child is having a hard time adjusting to the divorce. Signs of separation anxiety usually manifests during visitation pick-up and drop-off. It can also occur when you leave for work, or when your child goes to school. While experiencing separation anxiety, your child can throw tantrums, act irrationally, or become overly clingy.

Separation anxiety during a divorce is an indicator of deep seeded fears of abandonment, guilt, and other insecurities. A licensed therapist is the best person to help address these issues.

4. Decline in school performance

Slipping grades, disruptive classroom behavior, and skipping school are signs that your child is having trouble handling the divorce. Academic and social skills are developed in school, and performing poorly can set your child up for years of insecurity and self-doubt. In some cases, your child may be subjected to bullying from fellow classmates.

To help combat this, speak with your child’s principal, teachers, and the school guidance counselor. Let them know you’re going through a divorce (you don’t have to give details). Educators are trained to spot uncharacteristic behavior, and can let you know if something is amiss with your child.

The Benefits of Child Therapy during Divorce

Therapy provides a safe, candid, and confidential environment for your child to express themselves. Having this safe space is crucial to making sure they cope well with the divorce. You love your child and want the best for them, and during divorce, therapy may be in their best interest.

Not all children respond to therapy in the same way, so you need to figure out what will work best for your child. Individual therapy is great for one-on-one conversation, whereas group therapy can help provide a sense of community. Younger children tend to react well to informal situations, where they will feel more comfortable opening up to their therapist.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The family law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. specializes in complex divorce and child custody matters in New York City. For more information, or to schedule your free consultation, call 718-875-7584 today!

The Top 4 Annulment Myths… Debunked!

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to annulments in New York. In fact, you may be shocked to find out that you are unable to file for an annulment, and instead must proceed with a divorce if you want to end your marriage.

Below, the family law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. breaks down the top 4 annulment myths.

Myth #1: You can get an annulment if you have only been

married for a few months.

Contrary to popular belief, you can’t get an annulment in New York based on the duration of your marriage. There are very specific grounds you must meet:

  • Either spouse was under the age of 18 at the time of marriage;
  • At least one spouse was unable to consent to the marriage due to a mental incapacity or impairment;
  • One spouse has been deemed to be incurably mentally ill for a minimum of 5 years;
  • The marriage was entered into by either spouse under duress, fraud, or coercion; or
  • Either spouse is unable to have sexual intercourse or relations with their spouse.

If you do not meet one of the grounds for an annulment, you must wait at least 6 months after your wedding day to file for a divorce. There is not a deadline for filing for an annulment. (Click here for the Grounds for Divorce in New York.)

Myth 2: Annulments in New York are easier to get than a

divorce.

Unfortunately, it is not easier to get an annulment than a divorce. If you file an action, you bear the burden of proving the grounds to be true. For instance, you will need to provide documents attesting to the fact that you lacked the mental capacity to marry, or you were under duress while marrying your spouse.

Myth 3: Annulments are faster and cheaper than divorces.

The annulment process can be quite lengthy, and thus, more costly than an uncontested divorce. You are required to appear in court, where your attorney will argue your case in front of a judge.  The evidence you present at your court appearance needs to support your grounds for annulment, and these documents can sometimes be difficult to obtain.

You need to look into an uncontested divorce if you are interested in separating from your spouse as quickly, and cheaply, as possible. These kinds of cases rarely require court appearances.

Myth 4: You cannot get an annulment in New York if you

have children.

You can be awarded an annulment if you have children. The child custody process will be the same as if you were going through a divorce. Child custody will be determined in the best interest of the children, with a judge making a final ruling if you and your spouse are unable to reach an agreement.

Still Considering an Annulment?

Are you still interested in filing for an annulment in New York? If so, speaking to an attorney is in your best interest. While filing for an annulment seems like a relatively easy process, it isn’t. Going at it alone is risky.

To see if you qualify for an annulment in New York, call the family law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. at 718-875-7584. As always, we offer free, no-obligation consultations to New York City residents. Contact us today!

What is the Hague Convention?

Last week, we briefly mentioned the Hague Convention while discussing traveling with children during divorce. Besides being a very complex area of law, what exactly is the Hague Convention, and how can it help protect your children?

An Introduction to the Hague Convention

The Hague Convention (HC) is a treaty that was created to help address issues surrounding international family law, commercial law, and civil procedure. As of today’s date, over 80 countries have signed the treaty. Members of the HC agree to settle legal matters by referencing special rules, referred to as “private international law” rules.

In 1983, member countries started to enforce a treaty known as the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. The treaty provides methods that aid in the safe and speedy return of a child who has been kidnapped by one of their parents.

International Kidnapping

International parental kidnapping occurs when:

  • One parent takes their child overseas without informing the other parent;
  • One parent refuses to return their child after a pre-approved international vacation.

The Hague Convention’s job is to preserve the current child custody status quo. This means that the HC strives to oblige by the most recent child custody agreement that a set of parents have. For example, let’s say you have sole custody of your child. You let your ex take your child to England for summer vacation, and he refuses to bring your child home. You, and your attorney, can enlist the help of the HC to make sure your child is returned to their home country safely.

Filing a Hague Application for Return

The process for filing a Hague Convention Application for Return is very tedious, and you must begin as soon as possible. In order to file an Application, the HC requires that the following conditions are met:

  • Your child is a habitual resident of a member country;
  • Your child is being held in another country that is part of the Hague Convention;
  • The country your child is being held in was a member of the HC prior to the date your child arrived;
  • Your child was removed from their home country without your permission, or is being held longer than you agreed to;
  • Your child is 16 or younger at the time the Application is filed;
  • You can prove that you have custodial rights.

Along with your written Application, you will need to provide a number of documents. Such documents include a birth certificate, Judgment of Divorce or Marriage Certificate, Custody Order, and evidence of the abduction. Some countries require other documents, but it varies. Check out the U.S. Department of State for more information.

The Harsh Reality of the Hague Convention

Unfortunately, not every Application for Return is granted. Members of the HC can deny your request to have your child returned to you if:

  • Your child is over 16 years old, and refusing to come home;
  • Your child’s safety will be at risk if returned to their home country;
  • The return of your child would violate human rights/freedoms of the country where they are being held;
  • You waited too long to file your Application.

Get the Help You Need

You need to hire a lawyer in the country your child is being held in before you can start a Hague Application, however, the law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. can help you get started. Our team of expert attorneys can review your custody order, obtain documents from the court, and analyze your evidence.

If your child has been taken overseas by your ex, time is of the essence. Contact us at 718-875-7584 for more information on the Hague Convention, child custody, and divorce in New York.

Traveling with Children during Divorce

Traveling with kids is no walk in the park, but traveling with children during divorce can often present extra hurdles. There is a lot to do before you take off, including obtaining a passport, getting permission, and confirming an itinerary with your ex.

Read on for important information about traveling with children during divorce:

Obtaining a Passport

The process of obtaining a passport for a minor child varies, depending on your current custody order.

If you share joint legal custody with your ex, then you both must consent to the passport application. Both parties must sign a DS-11 form during the application’s submittal. If only you are able to be present at the time of application, you can attach your ex’s notarized Statement of Consent, along with your DS-11 form.

If you have sole legal custody, you are required to bring a certified copy of your custody order, stating the same.

Problems with International Travel

International travel can pose certain risks, especially if your divorce or child custody case has a lot of conflict. The threat of international parental kidnapping is very real, which is why Judges are hesitant to allow international travel with a child during contested cases.

However, Judges are more inclined to permit international travel if the destination country is part of the Hague Convention. Many countries, including the United States, are part of this treaty. These countries have an agreement in place to help protect children who fall victim to international kidnapping.

Letting your child travel overseas is nerve-wracking, but you can take comfort knowing that your child is traveling to a country that is a member of the Hague Convention. It isn’t common for a non-custodial parent to refuse bring their child home after an overseas trip, but it does happen. The process to have your child returned to you is complicated. Do not try to handle this matter yourself.

Hague Convention Map

Members of the Hague Convention 

Domestic Travel

Your child custody order should contain rules for domestic travel with either parent. These stipulations are put in place to prevent misunderstandings between you and your ex. Typical rules may include:

  • Time of year travel is allowed, and for how long
  • The amount of advanced notice that must be given to the other parent
  • Whether or not consent is required
  • Restrictions on activities or destinations
  • Access to the child during travel

Traveling Without a Court Order

It is possible to travel with your child without a court order. However, it is recommended extend these courtesies to your ex before you make any reservations:

  • Get written permission and confirm the dates and location of travel
  • Provide your ex with your itinerary, including travel arrangements
  • Provide your ex with contact information for your hotel
  • Offer to schedule short evening phone calls between your ex and child during the trip

Being courteous during travel has two main benefits, the first being that your ex will appreciate the gesture. They will most likely extend the same to you when they want to travel with the child. The second benefit is that it will help you build a strong co-parenting relationship with your ex-spouse. Learning how to co-parent successfully is crucial to your child’s post-divorce development.

Traveling With Children During Divorce

Traveling with children during divorce requires that you clear a few hurdles, which is why hiring a family law attorney is so important. The law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. routinely handles a wide range of child custody matters, including issues surrounding travel. For more information, or to schedule a free, no obligation consultation, call 718-875-7584 today!