FAQ

DIVORCE:

• What is a divorce?
What is the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce?
How long does it take to get a divorce, from beginning to end?
Will I have to go to court at any time during my divorce?
Should I consider divorce mediation?
How is property divided in a divorce?
Can a woman be forced to change her name after divorce?
Do I have to include my address on the divorce papers?

CUSTODY AND SUPPORT:

How is child support determined?
Why are child support checks made out in my maiden name?
Is the first payment of child support due at the preliminary hearing?
Can my child’s father get joint custody if he doesn’t even use his visitation?
What are my chances of getting custody if I owe back support?
If my child’s father is declaring bankruptcy, will that affect the child support he pays me?

SEPARATION:

Can I use my maiden name during our separation?
If I am legally separated and my spouse should die, will I still be entitled to social security benefits?
Are assets obtained after a legal separation considered marital property?
Can you keep health insurance with a legal separation?
Can I still file joint income taxes with my husband if we are legally separated?

ANNULMENT:

How long after you get married can you get an annulment?
If I married in a different state than I reside, which state should I file for an annulment in?
Can my husband file for an annulment without my knowledge?
Can I claim single as my marital status if I got an annulment?
Can I get engaged before my annulment is complete?

DIVORCE:

What is a divorce?
Divorce is legally referred to as dissolution of marriage, and is a proceeding by which a valid marriage is terminated.

What is the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce?
A contested divorce is when the spouses are not in agreement regarding important issues. It is likely that spouses will be in conflict with one another, which can make it hard for them to resolve issues. An uncontested divorce is when the spouses are able to agree upon important issues and are also able to work together to create mutual terms. However, even though spouses may not be in conflict with one another during the divorce process, it is still advisable that each spouse retains their own lawyer and to protect their individual best interests.

How long does it take to get a divorce from beginning to end?
This depends on a lot of different factors, whether it is contested or now, how backed up the courts are and the specifics in the divorce case. If you have an uncontested divorce it is a matter of months, but if you and your spouse do not agree expect it to take more than a year, sometimes up to two years.

Will I have to go to court at any time during my divorce?
The court is necessary to finalize any divorce, but you do not need to go to a trial. You can reach an agreement using attorneys, or you can go to mediation and reach a settlement there. Any settlement must be submitted to and approved by the court.

Should I consider divorce mediation?
Divorce mediation allows spouses to work through their conflicts together, to communicate openly and to create an arrangement that is agreeable for everyone involved. For some people, mediation is an excellent way to resolve conflicts and to come to mutual agreements on big issues like child custody, visitation, child support and alimony.

How is property divided in a divorce?
Property that is acquired during the marriage such as houses, cars, income and debt are considered “marital property”. This type of property is usually divided at the discretion of the judge that is presiding over the divorce case. Property that is acquired prior to or after the marriage is classified as “separate property”. This type of property is not subject to division between the spouses.

Can a woman be forced to change her name after divorce?
No. It is completely up to her what name she uses. Even if the court order included a section saying she could go back to it, she would not have to.

Do I have to include my address on the divorce papers?
You need court permission to leave it out.



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CUSTODY AND SUPPORT:

How is child support determined?
The “Child Support Standards Act” governs child support in the State of New York. This statute sets forth specific guidelines for how much child support the non-custodial parent is obligated to pay. The court first determines the noncustodial parent’s gross income, and then makes certain deductions (including Medicare, Social Security, and New York City or Yonkers tax) to establish the non-custodial parent’s adjusted gross income. The court then multiplies the adjusted gross income by the standard guideline percentage for the number of children. These percentages are as follows:
1 child = 17%
2 children = 25%
3 children = 29%
4 children = 31%
5+ children = no less than 35%

Why are child support checks made out in my maiden name?
When you file for divorce, the decree gives you the right to change back to your maiden name. Since most people normally do, the child support agency most likely just automatically changed it. If you want it made out to your married name, you can notify them.

Is the first payment of child support due at the preliminary hearing?
No child support is due until an order is entered. It then generally becomes due the next week or next month (depending on whether it is being paid weekly or monthly).

Can my child’s father get joint custody if he doesn’t even use his visitation?
If he does not exercise his visitation, he has little chance of getting custody.

What are my chances of getting custody if I owe back support?
Custody is determined based on the best interests of the children.
Support is a completely different issue, however that doesn’t mean a judge might not have it in the back of his mind.

If my child’s father is declaring bankruptcy, will that affect the child support he pays me?
No. Child support is not dischargeable in bankruptcy.
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SEPARATION:

Can I use my maiden name during our separation?
You can unofficially use your maiden name, but to change items like your driver’s license, you need to do a legal name change, which involves a court procedure.

If I am legally separated and my spouse should die, will I still be entitled to social security benefits?
Yes. Legally separated is still legally married.

Are assets obtained after a legal separation considered marital property?
Generally, no.

Can you keep health insurance with a legal separation?
You are always entitled to continue health insurance through your spouse under COBRA. Some employers and insurers will stop coverage as of the date of separation, not the date of divorce.

Can I still file joint income taxes with my husband if we are legally separated?
You can still file jointly, or you can file married filing separately.



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ANNULMENT:

How long after you get married can you get an annulment?
There is no time limit as long as it meets the conditions for an annulment. However, most people who do get annulments tend to get them within the first year.

If I married in a different state than I reside, which state should I file for an annulment in?
You file in the state of your residence.

Can my husband file for an annulment without my knowledge?
No. You must receive notice of the proceeding.

Can I claim single as my marital status if I got an annulment?
Yes. If a marriage is annulled that means it did not legally exist and does not count as a marriage.

Can I get engaged before my annulment is complete?
Yes, there is no legal restriction on engagement.



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