Frequently Asked
Questions

Long Island Matrimonial & Family Law
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How do I file for divorce?

A divorce action is started by filing a document called a Summons with Notice with the County Clerk. The Summons with Notice states that you are seeking a divorce, the grounds for divorce, and other relief that you want the Court to grant you. You are called the Plaintiff and your spouse is the Defendant. A copy of the Summons with Notice is served on your spouse (hand delivered by a process server) after it is filed. Sometimes a more detailed document, called a Verified Complaint, is filed and served with the Summons with Notice.

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What are the differences between sole custody, joint custody, and shared custody?

Perhaps more than in any other area of matrimonial and family law, there is confusion over custody terminology. Having custody of a child, and having “sole” custody of a child are the same thing. It means that the child resides with you and you are responsible for making all important decisions in that child’s life. If the child resides with you but you share the responsibility of making decisions with the other parent, then you have residential custody but share joint custody . . .

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How does the Court determine how much child support a parent must pay?

The New York law which governs the support of children is referred to as the Child Support Standards Act (“CSSA”). According to the CSSA, the basic child support obligation is determined as a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income less certain deductions, most commonly FICA (Social Security and Medicare taxes). The percentages are 17% for one child, 25% for two children, 29% for three children, 31% for four children and at least 35% for five or more children.  However, the . . .

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What is spousal maintenance?

Maintenance is a periodic payment made to a spouse by the other spouse for his or her support. If it is made during an action for divorce, it is called temporary maintenance, and if it is made after the divorce, it is called permanent maintenance, even if it is limited in duration to a period of months or years and is not truly “permanent.”

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How long do I have to file an appeal?

For Supreme Court orders (divorce cases) you have thirty days from the date of service of a copy of the order or judgment with notice of entry. For this time period to start, the order/judgment must have been entered with the county clerk and there must be notice served of this filing. If any one of these things does not happen . . .

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What is a QDRO?

QDRO stands for Qualified Domestic Relations Order and is pronounced “quad-dro.” A domestic relations order is a special court order that is designed to distribute a piece of a pension or retirement account to a former spouse. A qualified domestic relations order is a domestic relations order (“DRO”) that, after it is issued by the court, is qualified. . .

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What disadvantages are there to being legally separated, but still married?

There are numerous disadvantages to a legal separation, but the primary problem is enforcement. Divorce judgments are far more easily and effectively enforced than separation agreements standing alone. . . .

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What are the grounds for annulment in New York?

A common misconception is that a marriage can be annulled simply because it was of very short duration. This is not the case. As in divorce, New York law requires that you have one or more specific grounds to obtain an annulment. . .

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How do I obtain an Order of Protection?

If you are a victim of a crime, the district attorney will request an order of protection for you. If the other party has not been charged with a crime, you will have to go to Family Court to file a family offense petition for yourself or your child . . .

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When facing a divorce, child custody, or child support case, you deserve a lawyer who will listen to your concerns and take the time to explain your options, and who has the knowledge and experience to give you the best advice.

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Petroske Riezenman & Meyers, P.C. staff