This can be attributed to New York being the only remaining state still requiring grounds for divorce, or the fact that New York's custody laws seem to encourage litigation, or the fact that licenses and degrees are classified as marital assets, which promotes even more litigation.
What is a Smart Divorce?
It is possible, however for many couples to have an affordable, reasonable, even amicable divorce settlement, which we call the "Smart Divorce". The Smart Divorce should be the goal for every couple facing the end of their marriage in today's economic climate. In every net worth category and income level, families today are faced with declining home equity, shrinking 401k investments and depleting college savings. They are faced with job losses, loss of overtime income, and looming credit card debts. Just about everyone should be concerned about saving money and assets during a divorce.
What are the Conditions to Having a Smart Divorce?
There are some conditions necessary in order to have a successful "Smart Divorce":
o The most important one is a commitment by both parties to give their full efforts to negotiate out of court settlement with the assistance of their attorneys. Litigation should never be an initial strategy, but a last resort. Grounds for divorce should be agreed to from the outset.
o Secondly, parties should devote their efforts to reaching a custody and visitation agreement which provides the least disruption to the children. Joint custody and joint parenting should be explored. With most households having two working parents, shared parenting is often in the best interests of the children, and attorneys can help their clients create a customized schedule to meet the needs of the whole family.
What About Financial Issues?
As to financial issues, it is extremely important for parties to be realistic about their expectations, and to follow the advice of their attorneys. This includes being up front about assets and income, and producing necessary documentation in a timely manner. With fewer resources at their disposal, and a gloomy economic forecast, "lifestyle" expenses such as vacations, private schools, private tutors and camps must be looked at carefully and with a view to compromise. It is important to realize that many issues related to the children, including support and visitation are not "written in stone", but may in fact be modifiable in Court after the divorce is settled, based upon a change of circumstances. An experienced attorney can guide you on issues which concern you.
What Can I Do if I Cannot Settle My Case?
Regrettably, in some cases, an amicably settled divorce is simply not possible and litigation cannot be avoided. These include cases where there is abuse, domestic violence, mental illness, drug and alcohol issues, hidden assets or income, paternity issues, a family business, or separate property issues. It is also a challenge to settle a case when one party has completely unrealistic demands, anger, or a vindictive streak that gets in the way of negotiations.
Contact Jacqueline Harounian for a free Smart Divorce consultation in her office at 516-773-8300, or visit her interactive website, www.lawjaw.com for more information and resources on family law issues.
Additional resources provided by the author
It is our firm's philosophy that most cases should be settled, not go to trial. The strategy in the vast majority of cases should be a negotiated settlement out of Court. Make the choice to retain a lawyer who will focus on resolving your case in an affordable, reasonable manner.
Wisselman, Harounian & Associates, PC, established in 1976, is one of the largest matrimonial firms on Long Island, New York. Contact us to find out why we have earned our reputation for professionalism, integrity, and outstanding service to our clients. www.lawjaw.com; For a free consultation, call (516) 773-8300.