Brian D. Perskin & Associates

High Net Worth Divorce in NYC

High Net Worth Divorce

All divorce cases have challenges, but high net worth cases are more complex and present additional obstacles. Assets must be addressed during these unique cases. What key things should you know if you’re facing a high net worth divorce?

Handling Assets

High net worth divorce cases often involve a great deal of assets. Assets can range from financial accounts, to homes, cars, and collectibles. New York State uses a concept called Equitable Distribution to help divide assets during all divorce cases. Given the increased number of assets that high net worth cases have, you are faced with a prolonged discovery process.

To help keep you organized during your divorce, we suggest you create an index of all assets. This includes balances in financial accounts, loan amounts, mortgages, leases, and insurance documents. Streamline and organize your high net worth divorce with Brian D. Perskin & Associate’s free Assets and Liabilities Checklist.

Mixing Business with Divorce

A concern facing many litigants is that a high net worth divorce will effect their small business. Unfortunately, there is a good chance it may be. Your business will be subject to equitable distribution if it was created, or grew, during your marriage.

Your business is an asset, and needs to be valuated during your divorce. A Judge will issue a court order that assigns a third party company to evaluate your business. This complicated process requires the attention that only an experienced divorce attorney can provide. For more information on how to handle your business during a divorce, click here.

Other High Net Worth Concerns

High net worth divorce cases can contested, or uncontested. Even if you are in agreement with your ex-spouse regarding the distribution of assets, you still need to address custody, child support, and alimony. Court intervention is needed when divorcing parents are unable to reach a child custody agreement on their own.

Hidden assets are a major concern in high net worth divorce cases. Hiding, or trying to siphon off, assets is a very serious matter and will impact alimony and child support. Litigants often try to transfer their assets to a family member in an attempt to make the court believe they have a lower net worth. You can help your attorney recognize hidden assets by keeping an index of marital property, especially smaller items like jewelry and collectibles.

The High Net Worth Experts

With over forty years of combined experience, the team at Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. have represented countless New Yorkers in their high net worth cases. The knowledgeable attorneys are well versed in matrimonial law and the discovery process. Their keen eye for discrepancies have helped protect the net worth of residents in all five boroughs.

For more information on high net worth divorce cases in New York City, contact Brian and his team at 718-875-7584 today. (Don’t forget to schedule your free consultation online!)

Protecting Your Credit during Divorce

Protecting Your Credit

Divorce has the power to impact every aspect of your life, especially your finances. Protecting your credit during your divorce will help to secure your financial future after your case is settled. What steps can you take now, to ensure that your credit doesn’t suffer later?

Why Your Credit Score Matters

Your credit score is one of the most important factors to consider while planning for your life after divorce. A higher credit score can make it easier to apply for loans or refinance your mortgage. Protecting your credit can even lead to lower interest rates, as well as better financial opportunities.

Protecting Your Credit during Divorce

There are many ways to protect your credit during divorce. Some of the most common methods include:

  • Closing, separating, or freezing all joint accounts
  • Create an index of your properties and assets, so you can better monitor these accounts
  • Keep current on all of your bills throughout the duration of your divorce
  • Track your expenses, make a budget, and stick to it
  • Monitor your credit report and financial accounts, and address any discrepancies

Divorce is tough. Worrying about your finances during divorce can make the situation much more stressful. While you may not want to address these tough issues now, it will pay off in the long run.

Improving Your Credit after Divorce

Divorce is a major life event, and it will impact your finances. Transitioning to a single income household, coupled with support payments and legal fees, can make it hard to improve your credit rating. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to rebuild your credit after divorce.

  • Sign up for credit monitoring programs and set up alerts
  • Continue to stick to the budget you made during your divorce proceeding
  • Open new credit accounts in your name, and remain current on your payments
  • Make sure you have been removed from joint accounts with your ex, so you aren’t held responsible if they go into default

Rebuilding your credit after divorce is a marathon, not a sprint. Just because you took measures to protect your credit early on, doesn’t mean that it won’t take a hit as your case drags out. Adjusting your finances to your post-divorce life takes time, but keep it up. You’ll get there!

Hiring the Right Attorney

Hiring a divorce attorney may not seem like a method for protecting your credit during divorce, but it is. Your lawyer will have your best interest in mind throughout your case, and that includes your finances. An experienced divorce lawyer has the skills and capabilities to get you the financial settlement you are entitled to, which can help protect your financial future.

For more information on the financial aspect of divorce, contact the law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. at 718-875-7584 today!

Statements of Net Worth in New York Divorce

SNW NY Divorce

Some of the most common points of contention in New York divorce cases involve money. Spouses often disagree on child support, alimony, and equitable distribution. How can a Statement of Net Worth help to alleviate these issues?

What is a Statement of Net Worth?

A Statement of Net Worth is a court document, and is part of every contested divorce action. This document outlines your finances and expenses. It also aides in dividing assets, and determining support obligations. You, and your spouse, will need to prepare a Statement of Net Worth prior to your court appearance.

Preparing and Filing a Statement of Net Worth

Preparing a Statement of Net Worth is a relatively easy process. Your attorney will work with you to draft the document, but it will be up to you to provide the following information:

  • Tax returns from the last three years
  • Financial statements, investment portfolios, and loan documents
  • Household expenses (utilities, mortgage, insurance)
  • Lifestyle and recreational expenses
  • Costs related to children (tuition, child care, extracurricular activities)
  • Index of tangible assets (jewelry, artwork, collectibles)

Your attorney will file your Statement with the court and serve a copy on the opposing counsel. You will also receive a copy of your spouse’s Statement of Net Worth. It is important that you review the document thoroughly, to make sure your ex isn’t trying to hide or liquidate marital assets.

Using Your Statement for Budgeting

A major benefit of completing your Statement of Net Worth is that it outlines your monthly expenses, and allows you to budget accordingly. Divorce can have a big impact on your finances, especially if you have to pay child support or alimony. Scaling back on lifestyle expenses, such as dining out, recreation, or shopping, can help you secure your post-divorce financial future.

Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C.

Our law firm, Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C., specializes in complex divorce and family law matters, with an emphasis being placed on high net worth cases.

Securing your finances, both during and after divorce, is important. You need to hire an attorney to ensure that your assets are addressed correctly. For more information on how our team can help you, call us at 718-875-7584 today!

5 Things You Should Do Before Filing For Divorce

Deciding to file for divorce is a big deal. The thought has probably been floating around in your head for a while, and you have most likely spent a great deal of time really weighing your options. Before filing for divorce, follow these 5 tips from Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. to have a winning case.

FILING FOR DIVORCE? HIRE AN ATTORNEY

Just contacting an attorney isn’t enough. You need to hire an experienced lawyer before filing for divorce. Your family, assets, and financial future can be at serious risk if you try to represent yourself. Don’t go at it alone- trust the team at Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. to fight for you.

GATHER FINANCIAL INFO

Finances, assets, and liabilities play a major role in divorce. It is important to provide your attorney with an index of financial accounts and statements, as these records can help determine spousal and child support. Use our free Financial Checklist to get organized and stay ahead in your divorce.

TAKE CONTROL OF ACCOUNTS

Get rid of joint checking, savings, and credit card accounts. Change your PIN and bank login info for your personal accounts. Divorces can turn ugly at the drop of a dime, and you don’t want to risk a bitter soon-to-be ex taking your money.

OVERHAUL SOCIAL MEDIA

A pending divorce is the perfect excuse to overhaul your social media routine. Put your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages on lockdown. If your divorce seems like it will be messy, delete your spouse’s friends and family members. Get in the habit of not posting rants, or flaunting new purchase or vacations. This can all be used against you during your divorce.

STAY POSITIVE

Listen, we know that filing for divorce can be difficult. It can take a toll on your mental and emotional health, which only leads to more stress and greater hardships. See a therapist, confide in a close friend, or keep a journal. Focus on keeping your head clear, and let your attorney handle everything else.

If you’re ready to file a case, contact the law offices of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. to discuss your case with an experienced divorce attorney. Specializing in complex matrimonial and family law matters, Brian and his team approach each case with keen proficiency, providing each client with aggressive and intelligent representation. Call the firm at 718-875-7584 today!

Cost Effective Divorce Strategies

“Marriage is grand. Divorce is about Twenty Grand.”

- Jay Leno

Let’s face it: divorce can be expensive. Contested cases, as well as grey divorces, often lend themselves to higher legal fees that can result in financial hardships for both parties. While some pricey divorces are inevitable, there are ways to keep costs low and your bank account padded. Below, the staff at Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. have compiled the top 5 money saving divorce strategies.

1. Hire an Attorney

You may think that hiring an attorney is counterintuitive to the act of saving money on your divorce. While this may be true in rare circumstances, such as in very simple uncontested cases, it is generally false.

Retaining a legitimate matrimonial law attorney, even for an uncontested matter, is a smart financial move. There are many instances where people will attempt to represent themselves, or turn to low-cost divorce centers, in an attempt to save money. This usually backfires because of the person’s lack of experience with matrimonial law and the court system. Your lawyer will be able to ensure that documents are drafted, filed, and served properly, all within the court’s required time frame. Paying one retainer before your case begins can save you thousands of dollars down the road.

Contested and more complicated actions always require the help of a divorce or family law attorney. Discovery, depositions, motion practice, and litigation, are all impossible for a layperson to tackle on their own. Don’t assume you can handle this on your own. Play it smart and hire a lawyer before you get in over your head.

2. Pitch In

Most family law attorneys bill their clients per hour, meaning you will be charged a set amount of money for each hour your lawyer spends working on your case. This includes locating financial records and tax returns, indexing account statements, insurance policies, and other assets. To help lessen the amount of time your attorney spends doing this kind of work, as well as to keep your bill to a minimum, try pitching in and helping with some of the legwork your case requires.

By using our free Financial Checklist, you can easily keep track of your assets, liabilities, properties, and various insurance accounts. Write down what statements and documents you have in your possession, then contact financial institutions to request others. When providing documents to your attorney, send them on a disc or flash drive, so the law firm’s staff can easily and quickly transfer the documents to your e-file.

Having a complete and organized index of all relevant financial information will not only make the discovery and equitable distribution phases of divorce easier, but lend a hand in accelerating the drafting of your Statement of Net Worth.

3. Be Rational

Divorce can be an emotional hard hitter, but it is important to think with your head and not your heart if you are trying to have a more cost effective case. Fighting fire with fire will have a huge negative impact on your financial future post-divorce.

At Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C., we have seen countless litigants fight over the little things, such as a work of art, a collectible, or a vehicle. These tangible assets can easily be replaced, and often for far less than it costs to duke it out in court and have a judge determine which party will retain ownership of the property. Sometimes the smart move involves cutting your losses and walking away from a battle.

More serious situations, such as being falsely accused of child abuse, also require rational thinking. You may want to be quick to defend yourself, but this tactic can often result in prolonged litigation, and heated arguments with your ex-spouse. Instead, contact your attorney immediately, and listen to their advice. Let them handle the matter, as they are experts and will be able to sort out the allegations. Thinking, and acting, irrationally, can cause more problems, and even hurt your relationship with your children.

4. Consider Alternatives to Litigation

Some New Yorkers are able to save big on their divorce by avoiding the court room. Litigation is expensive and time consuming, with especially complex cases taking years to be finalized. Speak to your attorney to determine which kind of divorce is right for you.

If you have an amicable relationship with your ex, then you may want to consider letting your attorney negotiate a settlement on your behalf. This can save you tens of thousands of dollars, as well as your time (which is priceless!).

Contested and high net worth actions will require quite a bit more work than their uncontested counterparts, however, they don’t always have to result in extensive litigation. Our dedicated attorneys routinely settle complicated matters before they are due to proceed to trial, thanks to their tenacity and experience with complex motion practice. We understand that litigating a divorce or family court case can be expensive, and we tirelessly fight for our client’s best interests and work towards keeping them out of the court room.

5. Be Open, Honest, and Trusting

The best tactic you can use to save money during your divorce is to be open and honest with your attorney. During your initial consultation, discuss your desired outcome regarding equitable distribution, child custody and support, alimony, etc. It is important that you and your prospective attorney are on the same page prior to your action being filed.

It is normal to change your mind regarding certain aspects of your divorce in the middle of your case, but you need to keep your lawyer informed. It is not uncommon for an attorney to spend days advocating for a certain position regarding custody or assets, which can become quite costly. Save your money and let your lawyer know if you have changed your mind.

Trusting your lawyer is imperative to the success of your case, as well as a proven method to keep your legal fees low. Your attorney has spent years learning and interpreting matrimonial and family law, and he or she is an expert in their field. Trust them to fight for your rights, and listen to them when they tell you the likely outcomes of a particular motion you want argued, or tactic you would like to try. Your attorney is ethically bound to represent your best interests, and they cannot do this if you are unwilling to place your case (and trust) in their hands.

Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. is a New York City based matrimonial and family law firm, specializing in complex divorce actions. For more information, or to schedule a free consultation, contact 718-875-7584, or visit us online.

Subpoenas in NY Divorce

Contested divorce actions can be complex. Many litigants consider the discovery phase of divorce to be the most time consuming, as their attorneys are required to thoroughly review years’ worth of financial statements and property or business documents. The opposing party is usually responsible for producing requested documents, but when they fail to comply, a subpoena must be issued.

What is a Subpoena?

Subpoenas are common in contested divorce cases. There are two types of subpoenas used in New York divorce actions: a regular subpoena, and a subpoena duces tecum. A standard subpoena simply summons a person to testify in a court proceeding. The summoned party must appear and testify during a court appearance or a pre-trial deposition.

A subpoena duces tecum, on the other hand, requires a person or organization to produce certain documents pertaining to the case. These documents can include bank statements, tax returns, mortgages, cell phone records, and even social media posts. At Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C., we primarily subpoena records from financial institutions when the opposing party is unable to comply with our discovery demands. If the need arises, we can also serve a subpoena on an individual, both during the discovery period of divorce, and in preparation for trial.

When are Subpoenas Needed?

Subpoenas are required when one person fails to comply with the other party’s discovery demands. Either they refuse to produce the requested documents, or they are unable to obtain statements because they do not have access to them. It is quite common for individuals to receive a subpoena during a divorce action.

In many cases, subpoenas will be issued upon a business, corporation, or other institution, in an attempt to obtain a large quantity of documents. Bank, investment, mortgage, and other financial statements are needed to accurately determine each party’s net worth, and to ensure a fair and equitable settlement. Couples who have a high net worth tend to face a prolonged discovery process, and thus, more subpoenas that will be served upon banks.

Banks and other companies must respond to each subpoena duces tecum they receive, regardless of whether or not they have the requested documents or records. If documents for a specific time period do not exist, the organization must alert the requesting law firm in writing. If the subpoenaed documents are able to be produced, the institution will forward all requested items to the law firm.

Large corporations have special units within their legal departments that only handle subpoena related inquiries. Because of this, it is often easier to subpoena large amount of records from a company directly, as compared to each party compiling years’ worth of statements on their own. Letting experienced professionals handle complex discovery matters can make divorce less stressful.

Being Served with a Subpoena

Being served with a subpoena should not incite panic. Litigants who are represented by counsel can elect to have their attorney accept service on their behalf. Pro-se litigants, or those who are representing themselves during a divorce action, should consider hiring a lawyer to handle their case. The discovery phase of divorce, as well as settlement negotiations, can be tricky, and will benefit from the attention of an experienced attorney.

When a party is served, it is important they work diligently and quickly to obtain the subpoenaed documents within a reasonable amount of time. Most companies make a record of documents available online, which can easily be downloaded and printed or saved to a disc. Litigants can also contact the institution directly, and request the documents or statements be provided to them.

While most documents or records are free to be subpoenaed by either party, some items are confidential and off limits in a divorce action. These items will vary on a case by case basis, which is why it is important to hire an attorney to handle the action. Such items can include confidential medical records, or financial statements that are irrelevant to the divorce action.

It may be tempting to purposely not comply with a subpoena during a contested divorce, but it is not encouraged. Parties who do this risk being found in contempt. The key to having a successful divorce is to work diligently towards a settlement, and that means complying with subpoenas in a timely fashion. Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face!

Discovery and Subpoena Professionals

The most important component of creating a winning divorce strategy is to hire an experienced team of attorneys to handle the nuances of your divorce case for you. The family law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. specializes in complex matrimonial actions, with an emphasis being placed on difficult discovery periods. For more information on subpoenas, divorce, and how we can best represent you, contact 718-875-7584 or visit us online to schedule a free consultation today!

Gearing Up for Divorce Month

The beginning of a new year is marked with resolutions, promises made to oneself to better themselves in one way or another, such as joining a gym or changing careers. A more extreme, and surprisingly common, personal resolution is to separate form a spouse and file for divorce.

January has been dubbed “Divorce Month” by matrimonial law professionals across the globe, citing the increase in inquiries from potential clients, as well as a rise in the number of new divorce case filings. If you’re one of the countless individuals who are considering filing for divorce come the start of 2016, here is what you need to know:

You’re Not Alone

According to research published from FindLaw.com, internet searches for terms relating to divorce jumped a whopping 50% between December 2010 and January 2011. Many of the couples looking for information regarding divorce, child custody, and family law will hire an attorney and begin the separation process. This trend grows steadily throughout the first few months of the year.

So, why do so many people file for divorce after the New Year? As always, reasons vary on a case by case basis, but the some of the most common can include:

  • Wanting to spend one last holiday season as a cohesive and nuclear family unit;
  • The desire to make family gatherings less awkward or uncomfortable;
  • Not wanting to endure the stress of a divorce during Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year’s;
  • Tax or financial reasons; and
  • A limited court calendar, which delays any preliminary appearances in front of a Judge or document filing deadlines.

Financial Benefits

In addition to not wanting to upset the usual holiday routine and traditions, couples will delay filing for divorce because of financial and tax reasons. New York State considers any money earned leading up to the day a Summons is filed to be marital property, and thus, subject to equitable distribution. Because of this, one spouse may wait to file for divorce until after their husband or wife receives a substantial year-end bonus from work.

The biggest, and by far most common, reason to wait until after the New Year to file for divorce has to do with state and federal taxes. If you are still married on December 31st, each party has the option to file their taxes as “married/filing jointly” or “married/filing separately”. Filing a joint tax return usually means a couple is entitled to a larger refund, which can be used to pay for any legal fees associated with divorce. Common expenses, such as those relating to the marital home or child care, can qualify for much larger deductions if spouses are married and file their tax returns jointly.

Filing for divorce in the beginning of the year will give the parties more time to negotiate next year’s tax filing. For instance, who will claim the children as exemptions? Will either litigant be responsible to pay taxes on spousal support that was paid or received? Having a whole year to make important tax decisions can be very beneficial.

Better Be Prepared

The best way to prepare for divorce is to do your research. Spending the time to familiarize yourself with the divorce process in New York will make filing easier because you will already have a general idea of what will happen next, as well as a ballpark estimate for how long it will take for your divorce to be finalized.

Beyond completing initial research, a surefire way to secure a desirable judgment or settlement is to retain an experienced New York City family law attorney. Trying to represent yourself during any legal action is never recommended, especially when the case is as sensitive as a divorce or child custody matter. The fate of your family and lifestyle are at stake during divorce, and an attorney will be well-equipped to advocate on your behalf. It is important that your lawyer has the best interest of you and your children in mind, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and voice your concerns openly and honestly.

Schedule a Consultation

There is no need to rush into an attorney’s office first thing in the morning on January 4th, but it is recommended that you schedule a consultation as soon as you are sure divorce is right for your relationship. The attorneys at the family law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. work tirelessly for their clients, advocating on their behalf in Supreme and Family courts throughout New York City and Long Island. To find out how their experience and stellar reputation can benefit your divorce or child custody case, contact Brian and his team today!

Grey Divorce: The Next Big Baby Boomer Trend?

Baby boomers have been at the forefront of many social, economic, and cultural movements throughout the past few decades. Always a generation to embrace change, those 50+ are now leading the pack when it comes to divorce trends.

The Stats Don’t Lie

According to a 2013 study conducted by the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), a reported 61% of divorce lawyers have seen an increase in the number of new cases involving baby boomers. The attorneys who participated in the AAML survey estimated that about a quarter of all grey divorce cases were initiated by women, and only about 14% of filings were started by husbands.

Baby boomers are paving the way for complicated divorces later in life. If the growing trend continues on it current path, matrimonial lawyers will continue to see an increase in grey divorce cases well into the next decade or two.

Why are Baby Boomers Getting Divorced?

Just as with any divorce, the reasons for filing will vary on a case by case basis. However, there are a handful of common reasons as to why boomers are divorcing at an exponential rate:

1. Divorce is more easily obtainable. Thanks to New York’s no-fault divorce law, obtaining a final judgement of divorce has never been easier or faster.

2. Empty Nesters. Many older couples come to the realization that they only stayed together because they thought it would be in their children’s best interest. Once the kids have flown the coup, empty nesters realize that they no longer have a reason to remain together.

3. Growing Apart. Self-reflection is often associated with growing older, and upon evaluating their lives, baby boomers may realize they have grown apart from their spouse and are no longer in love. Instead of staying married to their partner, boomers decide to divorce and focus on their personal growth and happiness.

4. Infidelity. Unfortunately, infidelity sometimes plays a role in grey divorce. After being married to the same person for 20 or 30 years, interests in their spouse may wain and an extramarital affair may occur. Adultery is often cited in many divorces, regardless of the age of the parties.

Are Grey Divorces Easier?

The complexity of any legal action will depend on many factors that are specific to each individual case. Grey divorces are no exception, and can either be contested or uncontested. There are pros and cons to proceeding with divorce later in life. Adult children usually cope better with the news of their parent’s impeding divorce, but boomers need to be sensitive of their children’s feelings. While there is less of a chance of child custody and support disputes in grey divorces, older couples have to spend extra time addressing assets, alimony, and retirement funds.

Alimony, Retirement, and Grey Divorce

Alimony, also referred to as spousal support or maintenance, is almost always awarded to one party during a divorce action. The amount of support, and the amount of time a judge orders it to be given, varies depending on the length of the marriage, and how much money each spouse made throughout the course of the union. In long-term marriages that last a few decades, baby boomers may be expected to pay their ex a larger amount of support over a longer period of time. In some instances, support can be paid (or received) for the rest of a person’s life.

Retirement and pension benefits will need to be addressed and divided during a New York divorce. Typically, a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) will be completed prior to finalizing any agreements regarding retirement accounts. In most cases, a judge will order each party to list their former spouse as a beneficiary on their individual IRA or 401(k) accounts. Exactly how a retirement account is addressed during divorce depends on the type of account it is. For instance, if a party used income earned during the marriage (which is considered to be marital funds) to contribute to their IRA, then their spouse is entitled to half of the account’s value.

Since the terms and conditions of alimony and pension issues in grey divorce actions are case specific, the only way to get a thorough understanding of what to expect is to speak with an attorney. He or she will be able to advocate on your behalf for a fair agreement.

Equitable Distribution Complications

New Yorkers who divorce later in life have a much longer period of time to accumulate marital property, which can be broken down into tangible and intangible assets. All marital assets are subject to a process called equitable distribution. This means that all major assets, such as homes, cars, financial accounts, jewelry, and art and collectibles, are examined and a value is placed upon them. A common misconception about equitable distribution is that all assets are divided in half evenly, however, this is not the case. Sometimes one party will relinquish their ownership in the marital residence, in exchange for not having to pay their ex as much spousal support.

Baby boomers going through grey divorce will have to endure a prolonged discovery and distribution process since they tend to have an increased number of joint assets. To help expedite the process, it is recommended that litigants have access to property deeds, financial and mortgage statements, and retirement account documents. Using a financial checklist to help keep track of documents is helpful.

NYC’s Grey Divorce Advocates

The attorneys at the family law firm of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. understand the complexity of grey divorces. These unique cases often require a detail oriented and aggressive litigator who is capable of reaching a fair and beneficial settlement for their client. With over 50 years of combined experience, Brian and his team of associate attorneys have a thorough knowledge of New York State law, and apply their expertise to each case. For more information, or to schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact NYC’s leading divorce law firm today!

Social Media Rules for Divorce

Social media is becoming an increasingly popular component of divorce cases across the globe. Posts to Facebook and Twitter profiles are not only leading to divorce, but are also being submitted as evidence during litigation. Matrimonial and family law attorneys strongly advise that divorce participants carefully monitor what they post throughout the duration of their case.

Social Media’s Link to Divorce

A recent survey from British attorneys Slater and Gordon reports that 1 in 4 Britons have considered filing for divorce based on their spouse’s activity on Twitter, Facebook, Skype, or SnapChat accounts. Such activity ranges from interactions with former flames, to a lack of posts that include their significant others.

Of those surveyed, a whopping 50% admitted to checking their partner’s social media profiles behind their backs, with about 15% stating they considered filing for divorce based on their findings. In a separate study conducted by the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), over 80% of attorneys have seen an increase in the amount of social media evidence presented during divorce proceedings. These numbers are a direct result of the prominent role social media plays in our everyday lives.

Social Media is Changing the Legal Landscape

Given our societal need to share every aspect of our lives with friends, family, and followers, it comes as no surprise that social media profiles and posts are playing an ever prominent role in the discovery process. Some parties will try to hide assets from their ex-spouse during divorce, however, they will post photos or statuses boasting about expensive purchases, such as a new car or lavish vacation. These posts will act as evidence, proving that a party is lying about his or her assets or net worth.

An extreme example of the effect of social media on divorce can be found in one of Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C.’s recent court cases. In this particular matter, feuding spouses were involved in a highly contested divorce that involved children and a great deal of assets. The defendant, a small business owner, claimed that he was not involved in the opening or operation of a new location of his company. The firm’s client, the plaintiff, was facing the very real possibility that she and her children would not receive a fair and accurate amount of alimony and support. After diligent research, Brian and his team found Facebook, Yelp, and Twitter posts that proved the defendant was actively involved and benefiting from his company’s new location. Without this crucial social media evidence, it would have been nearly impossible to prove to the court that the defendant was trying to hide assets.

The Golden Rules

Digital communication makes our day-to-day lives easier, but it also has its pitfalls. In order to protect yourself during divorce, there are certain rules you should follow:

1. Change your passwords and privacy settings. It is important to change all of your passwords if you are worried about you ex logging in and checking your messages. Increased security settings will help to maintain your privacy during divorce.

2. Don’t trash talk you ex. Speaking negatively about your former spouse can add fuel to the fire and create additional hurdles and stress to overcome during your action. Take the high road and remain civil, or simply do not discuss your case on social media.

3. Be mindful of the photos you post. Do not post photos of yourself partying, drinking, or doing drugs. Such evidence may lead you to lose custody of your children because you will appear reckless and unable to provide adequate care.

4. Do not cyberstalk your ex or their friends and family members. Obsessing over your former flame is unhealthy. Resist the urge to check up on them by unfollowing your ex and their friends or family members. You’ll be much happier.

5. Remember that everything on the internet is permanent. Apps like SnapChat promise to delete all content after it is viewed, but receivers still have the ability to take a screen cap and save an image. The same can be done on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Once released into the ether, social media content is permanently out there.

6. Use common sense. Using common sense is a surefire method to ensure that your social media activity cannot be used against you in a divorce or child custody proceeding. Do you have to think twice before posting a status update or photo? Is there a little voice telling you not to? Listen to it. Be safe, and trust your instincts.

7. Delete or deactivate accounts. If you think that you will be unable to play it safe on social media, then you should consider deleting or deactivating your accounts for the duration of your action. It’s better to go without Facebook for a few months than have your activity come back to haunt you before you’ve reached a settlement.

New York City Divorce Experts

There is only so much a plaintiff or defendant can do on their own during a divorce or child custody proceeding. The expert attorneys at Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. specialize in contested and hard-to-handle cases. The lawyers dedicate their time to providing topnotch representation, from the initial filing of paperwork, to prolonged discovery production periods, and straight through to litigation and settlement. Contact Brian and his staff to schedule a free and confidential consultation today!

Marital Debt in New York Divorce

We have previously discussed the division of assets in New York divorce. Marital assets are divided between spouses in a process called equitable distribution. Pieces of property, jewelry, and financial accounts are the first items to come to mind during equitable distribution, but the issue of marital debt must be addressed before a divorce can be finalized.

What is Marital Debt?

Simply put, marital debt is any debt acquired throughout the course of a marriage. Common forms of marital debt include credit card debt, mortgages, medical bills, and personal or automobile loans. This kind of debt is often accrued for the benefit of the marriage, such as buying a home.

That being said, there are instances where premarital debt becomes marital. Just as with other forms of property, the separate debt must be co-mingled in order for it to be considered marital. Separate debt can become joint debt if the couple, once married, shows intent to address the debt together. For instance, a wife may come into the marriage with $10,000 in credit card debt. The debt would become marital property if the husband helps his spouse pay off her bills with money from his personal accounts, or if funds from joint bank accounts are used to pay down the debt.

Student Loans and Divorce

Student loans can be approached in a couple different ways during divorce. As with other forms of debt, student loans can be personal or marital property, depending on when they were acquired and how they are paid off. New York State typically considers most student loan debt to be marital property, and will factor in advanced degrees and the Enhanced Earnings Capacity of each spouse while distributing assets and determining alimony.

An argument can be made that student loan debt is not a result of the marriage if the loan money was used only for academic expenses, such as tuition, textbooks, and other supplies. Additionally, many litigants argue that this kind of debt is separate property if their marriage ends shortly after a degree is earned. Many judges will rule that student loans are marital property if a portion of the funds are used to pay living costs and household expenses. In this case, both spouses would have directly benefited from the loan, thus is classification of being a marital debt.

How is Debt Divided?

Debt is divided in the same manner as other forms of marital property. Either parties can negotiate an agreement amongst themselves, or a judge can intervene and issue an order detailing which party will assume ownership of certain marital debts. The court will consider the amount of each debt, why and how it was acquired, and which spouse benefited the most from the debt. Finally, the court will review each spouse’s finances and determine who is more financially capable of paying off a debt.

Post-Divorce Debt

Retaining sole use and occupancy of a piece of property, such as the marital home, can be alluring, but it is important to consider the financial and tax implications. A major component of debt distribution in divorce is the financial impact it has on litigants. It is not uncommon for former couples to agree to sell a marital asset in order to avoid one person accruing more debt or having to refinance mortgages and other loans. Divorce parties should remain level headed through the equitable distribution process, and make sure they fully understand the pros and cons of each asset or debt they may be awarded.

The Equitable Distribution Specialists

The division of debt (and assets in general) during divorce is a complicated and emotionally charged process. Because of this, it is not recommended that parties attempt to settle property disputes without proper representation from qualified matrimonial law attorneys. The lawyers at Brian D. Perskin & Associates, P.C. specialize in high conflict divorce cases, many of which involve intricate asset distribution components. For more information on equitable distribution, call 718-875-7584 to schedule a free consultation today!