New York child custody, Manhattan child custody, Brooklyn child custody Lawyer
Divorce Lawyer. New York child custody, Manhattan child custody, Brooklyn child custody Lawyer.
Divorce Lawyer. New York child custody, Manhattan child custody, Brooklyn child custody Lawyer.

Articles on New York Divorce Law

What happens if my Divorce case goes to Court?
October 2, 2020

What happens if my case goes to court?

When one party asks for divorce, the customary thing to do is to retain counsel and that attorney contacts the other party and asks them to retain counsel to negotiate a settlement.  If you cannot afford an attorney, then it is advisable to at least consult with one before trying to secure your divorce on your own. 

Often this can result in an amicable process where the attorneys negotiate a settlement. However, this is not always the case and sometimes you have to go to court. Most of the time you must go to court if there are substantial differences in the positions of the parties. For instance, if the parties have different ideas about how to parent their children, the court is the only one who can decide those differences.

Besides settling your case out of court, a divorce trial is the only way that court can decide your case.

Going to court does not necessarily mean you are going to trial. Once one of the attorneys files the request for intervention in your New York divorce case, the judge will set down a preliminary conference date so that the parties and attorneys can meet with the judge and map out the way the case will proceed in court. In New York, the guidelines set forth by the administration expect that your case will be handled within a nine-month period. However, that is sometimes impossible, and your case may stretch on even longer than that.

After the preliminary conference, the court and attorneys will sign a preliminary conference order which also requires the signature of the parties. This preliminary conference order will dictate how the case will proceed forward. This preliminary conference stipulation and order will deal with such issues as child custody, child support, spousal support, and equitable distribution discovery. The preliminary conference order in New York will also advise the parties as to the availability of mediation services and will address other concerns that the attorneys might have as to deadlines and expert appointments that might be necessary for resolution of your case.  

If there are custody issues involved, the preliminary conference order will set forth in writing and will indicate whether it is anticipated that an attorney for the child will be appointed to represent the children, or whether a forensic evaluation of the parties must be had.  The PC order will also try to have the parties agree to a parenting scheduling agreement pending final resolution of the case.

The preliminary conference order will also indicate what issues are resolved and what issues are not resolved.

If there are financial issues at stake such as equitable distribution or support, the law requires, and the court will allow the parties to exchange formal demands for financial information.

As to these demands, a strict schedule is put into place for the timing of the exchange of demands and responses to demands. Documents will have to be exchanged and no one is exempt from these demands. However, and experience New York divorce attorney will be able to guide you through and help you formulate your responses to any sort of demand that the other attorney might serve. These demands come in the form of notices of discovery and inspection, interrogatories, and depositions. Sometimes demands may also be phrased in request to admit or deny.

All these formal legal instruments and  papers are designed to procure information from you to share with your spouse so that both parties have full knowledge of the financial status of the other party.

Once these documents are exchanged, the court will hold status conferences from month to month to try to assist the parties in settling their matter. If after several of these court appearances the parties cannot come to terms with their issues of support equitable distribution in custody, the court will set the matter down for a trial. In my experience, most cases do not go to trial but you still nevertheless need to be ready for one in the event that one of the parties is not willing to negotiate a fair financial settlement or is not living up to their financial or custodial agreements,  or if one of the parties is not amenable to any resolution of all of the issues. 

If the case cannot be resolved after some time, your attorney will file what is called a note of issue and certificate of readiness for trial. Shortly thereafter, the judge will set the matter down for a divorce trial.

In a New York divorce trial, you do not have a jury unless you are trying grounds for divorce. The courts discourage the parties from having trials on grounds. Most of the time, the courts will encourage the parties to proceed with their divorce on the grounds of your retrievable breakdown of the marriage.

The issues to be determined in a divorce trial in New York State are primarily grounds, child custody, child support, possession of the marital residence, and equitable distribution of assets and debts. The trial court will also decide how to divide up retirement accounts and pension plans. The court will also decide what interest you may or may not have in any business the parties may have started during the marriage and in any pension or retirement plan regardless of whether some or all of the plan’s value was earned before or during the marriage.  For instance, even if you earned a part of your retirement before the marriage, your spouse may still be entitled to an equitable share of that part of the retirement earned during the marriage.

Whether or not you will go to trial depends on several factors. However, if it turns out that you were going to trial, you want to be prepared by an attorney who is experienced in trying cases. That means in New York you want an experienced professional divorce lawyer who has experience in trying cases so that they might assist you in preparing and putting on your case in an effective manner.

In my experience, preparation is the most important part of a trial. At a trial, a court will swear in the parties to tell the truth and each party will be able to present evidence, testify and call witnesses in support of their positions. Normally, certain pieces of evidence are stipulated into evidence such as the parties’ statement of net worth and tax returns. More complex matrimonial trials, however, may require the parties to retain experts to compile detailed reports and to testify to certain complicated financial matters pertaining to businesses that ran or were opened during the marriage.

In most instances, to avoid duplicitous testimony, the court will appoint a forensic expert to evaluate the martial business. It does not matter if the business is in your spouse’s name,  such that you still may have an equitable interest in it,  depending on your direct and indirect contributions. That is why it is important to evaluate the business.  This forensic accountant will render a report to the court and that often helps to settle a case. But if the report does not settle the case then it is up to your attorney to call that expert as a witness to testify in court. Without a stipulation from the other side, the expert report will not come into evidence unless the expert is in the court room and takes the stand to authenticate the report and to render an expert opinion.  if one of the parties does not agree with the conclusions of the expert’s opinion, they will have a chance to cross examine the expert. There are also times where it might be good to retain your own expert to rebut the findings of the independent expert. This is a matter of judicial discretion.

Once the evidence is in and you have called all your witnesses the trial will come to a close and the court will render a decision. In my experience, and in cases that do not involve children, the Court will appoint a referee to hear the case and report back to the court its findings. In that instance, the court will write a written decision based on those findings. However, the court also allows the parties to stipulate to a hear and determine order which means that the referee can not only hear the case but also make the final decision. And a final decision means just that once the decision is made it is reduced to a final order which is called a divorce judgment. If you do not like the divorce judgment and you have only 30 days from service of the Judgment on Notice of Entry to appeal.  You would appeal to the appellate division and you would follow the appellate court rules that appertain to that appellate department that oversees your county court decisions. The rules of the appellate division are extremely strict, and compliance is mandatory.  That is, for example, if you do not file your notice of appeal within 30 days and if you do not perfect your appeal in the manner prescribed by the court rules  your case will likely not be heard by the Appellate division. 

Nome of the above is attorney advise and is provided for informational purposes only.  I hope this has given you insight as to what to expect if your case is headed toward trial.


By: Lisa Beth Older

Your New York City Divorce Lawyer



How does a court decide child support in your New York divorce case?
September 26, 2020

How does a court decide child support in your New York divorce case? The first thing the court does is determine what each party earns as far as net income goals. When you determine that income you were looking at your gross income from the IRS return minus deductions of FICA New York City income tax or Medicare or Medicaid. Next, the court will use the formula by adding both parties net income together then they multiplied by a percentage depending on how many children you have such as 70% for one child 25% for two children, 29% for three children and 31% for four children if there are five or more children child-support cannot go above 35% then that amount would be divided in proportion to each parties net income of the combined net income of the parties.

However, Manhattan or New York State child support is calculated on income up to $154,00.00 of combined parental income. Once again, however, the Child Support Standards Act are only guidelines and the case law shows that the court can deviate upward from this amount depending on the circumstances of the case, the ability to pay and the needs of the children.

If you need to calculate Child support, there is a child support calculator online which can be found on the New website.

The above child support obligation is not the only child support you are required to pay If you are the non-custodial parent. There are certain add one to the basic child support as stated in the above paragraph.  For instance, one parent or the other must contribute toward health insurance of the children. Next, the parties will likely prorate the amount of child support childcare and child support medical payments that are not covered or included in the insurance coverage. Some courts will also direct that you pay toward your children’s college education and private school, but this is discretionary. Payments toward extracurricular activities is also discretionary with the court.

With Covid 19 affecting many New York divorce cases, you must also understand how unemployment affects your child support obligation.  For instance, if you are on unemployment there are consequences. New York State's Social Services Law Section 111-j  will work to allow you to ask the agency to withhold child support from unemployment insurance benefits (UIB). However, in the State of New York the maximum they can withhold is fifty percent.

If you feel you are paying too much child support keep paying but immediately think about hiring a New York divorce attorney to file a downward modification of child support.  If you reside in Manhattan hire a Manhattan divorce lawyer who is very familiar with the child support laws of New York. Remember that your petition will be retroactive to the date of the filing so keep paying your child support until you file your petition.

The Child support Standards Act which are only guidelines, does not require you to pay for the extracurricular activities of the children, absent a court order or agreement.

However, some courts consider these costs as necessary if the court determines that they need to deviate from the Child Support Standards Act. It is good to keep this in mind when you meet with your lawyer because you might want to add extracurricular activities into the agreement. For more information go to my website at or give us a call at 212-786-0901. 

When it comes to child support, your status as to marriage is a relevant. If you’re not married, you may file for child support in Family Court.


By: your Manhattan divorce lawyer and Manhattan custody lawyer.

Forensic Psychological Evaluations In New York Custody Cases
September 18, 2020


Often psychological testing and interviews become part of a child custody case in Manhattan. So, it is especially important to familiarize yourself with this process.

The psychological testing is usually referred to as a mental health evaluation or an independent forensic psychological or psychiatric  evaluation.

The forensic evaluation includes more than testing.  The attorneys in your custody case will ask the judge to appoint a forensic psychological evaluator for your case and often the judge will allow you to have input as to who will be performing the evaluation. Some judges even request the attorneys to suggest areas of inquiry for the forensic evaluate her to explore. The forensic evaluation entails interviews of the parties, Interviews of the children, interviews of each child with each parent, and interviews with collateral persons who have knowledge about the parties parenting abilities. After the interviews are conducted the psychologist will explore the psychological status of the parties through testing. This is especially true we are there are allegations of mental illness. Some of the tests include the MMPI test, which looks for psychological disorders, the MCMM 1-3 which consists of true and false questions that are designed to identify personality disorders in individuals.


Another test involved might be the TAT Test which the evaluator will use to try to detect a party’s personality. There are several other tests, but the most interesting test is the BPS, or Bricklin Perceptual Scales test, which is designed to find out what the children think about their parents.

The testing might also include IQ testing of the parents.  The American Psychological Association has come up with a protocol we are by there is some scientific reliability to these reports and tests.

In fact, there is a protocol for testing and many of the forensic experts use the same tests.


Forensic  testing is quite common in child custody cases where the child is at high risk or where there are drug or alcohol issues or mental health issues involving the parties or children.  Forensic evaluations are also common if the Court needs some guidance as to scientific issues for which they might lack an expertise.


However, in recent years many of these tests have been met with conflict and consternation by the Bar and by other psychologists and  scientists


. After the testing is completed the forensic evaluator will prepare a report as to the fitness of the parents. It used to be that the court would ask the forensic evaluator for a written recommendation as to which party should get custody, but this methodology has been discredited and now the purpose of the reports is to better inform the court of the psychological issues involving the parties so that it can’t make up its mind at trial as to who gets custody of the children.


In a Manhattan divorce case, or in any New York divorce case where child custody is that issue, a   forensic evaluator will be appointed if the parties feel it is necessary and the court feels it is necessary

Usually, this forensic evaluation only occurs if one or the other of the parties requests that it be done.

In preparation of the interviews of the forensic psychologist, bear in mind that you should be truthful with respect to all allegations made against your spouse. It is also important to focus on the good points of your spouse as well as the bad points, because it bolsters your credibility with the court and shows that you are not apt to not encourage a good relationship between the children and the non-custodial spouse. It is also important not to get angry during the evaluation because you are being judged by your demeanor. 

The evaluate may ask you to bring in certain documents and it is best to comply with all requests. If the parties make over a certain amount of money they will be expected to pay for the forensic evaluator. Usually, the court will make each party pay the forensic fee prorated to their income.



If it all possible, it is desirable that there be no psychological evaluation if there are no serious mental health issues because you will be putting your child through multiple interviews. However, each case is different and some cases really require that the evaluation a car to get to the bottom of your preparing for your interviews with the forensic psychologist, work with your attorney to familiarize yourself with the kind of questions that you will be required to ask. As I stated before, try not to be negative about your spouse but if you must be negative do so in a calm manner. Make sure you arrive at the appointed hour, and bring all the documents necessary that have been requested by the evaluator.

At trial, should there be a trial, the forensic evaluator will likely be called as a witness so that the report can be admitted into evidence. During that time all attorneys are allowed to question the forensic evaluator and confront the evaluator as to certain findings the evaluator made.

It is the forensic report is not favorable to you, your attorney can ask questions and ask for clarification as to how the forensic expert arrived at his scientific opinion. Your attorney can ask hypothetical questions that in formed the forensic expert that he might not know all the facts and that if he did know all the facts his opinion might be different. Do not treat the forensic evaluation lightly. Historically, courts put a lot of emphasis on the forensic evaluation report. However, it is Judicial air to depend solely on the psychological evaluation. The test for a judge to determine custody is to consider all the evidence that he must weigh in deciding the best interest of the child. This would include all the testimony, all the physical evidence and exhibits, and will give some weight to the opinion of the attorney for the child.

If you are contemplating having a forensic evaluation in your case, or if you are looking for a divorce lawyer in Manhattan or custody lawyer in Manhattan and you wish to learn more, feel free to contact us at Or call 212-786-0901.  Thank you.

By: Lisa Beth older

Your Manhattan custody lawyer in Manhattan divorce lawyer

Custody Decisions: Remote verses actual attendance?
September 12, 2020

New York City has been the epicenter of the COVID-19 virus and this is had an extreme impact on child custody cases in New York. As parents ready themselves to take the children back to school, parents involved in a child custody or divorce case are up in arms against each other when having to decide whether learning will be remote versus in person versus a blended curriculum.

The Family Court and the Supreme Court in child custody cases and divorce cases involving children are very anxious to have children back in school for variety of reasons. One of such reasons is that children need socialization as well as education. This issue has caused an uproar in Family court because many times the parents cannot agree on how to venture forth with the education of their children. In cases where custody is at issue and where both parties await a judicial determination after trial as to decision making, The courts are often faced with motions by one or the other of the parents to determine temporary legal decision making with respect to the above decision as to schooling. The arguments for and against remote learning versus in person learning are obvious. Some parents prefer that the children study at home, especially if they do not agree that the schools taking adequate precautions to ensure the safety of the children. Other parents, particularly those of younger children, have concerns that keeping the children at home will deprive them of the socialization that they need to move forward in their lives and in their education.

COVID-19 has challenged families in ways that they can never imagine. Family court is likely to see a surge of cases because of the re-opening of New York schools this month.   Moreover, we will see a challenge to court orders affecting child support and spousal support due to a potential  payor’s loss of income. Another problem that is anticipated in Family Court in New York  is that it will take a considerable amount of time before the Family Court and the Supreme Court get back to a regular schedule. The mandated closures of the courts have caused a backlog and judges are reviewing cases that take precedence over other cases that have more serious issues at stake. As a result, thereof, parents are using self-help whereby one parent in enrolls the children in remote learning classes only to find out that the other parent has unenrolled the children from the remote learning classes.  Try to arrive at a solution or compromise or the court might do that for you,

Child custody cases are overly complicated. However, with the onset of COVID-19 now, more than ever, it is important that parents utilize mediation and use common sense to sort out their differences. It is highly unlikely that the court system will be able to attend to all the cases that have this pressing issue prior to the opening of schools in September 2020.  

Another issue the courts face in Family Court is the fact that the courts are now accepting new filings and petitions based upon a change in circumstances due to COVID-19.  Courts will accept petitions but there may be a time lag before you are heard, absent an emergency. Moreover, the courts expect the parties to use common sense and will not let the parties use Covid as an excuse for not obeying court orders.

As to existing child custody and visitation agreements or court orders, the courts are expecting the parties not to violate these orders. In fact, the police are enforcing these orders even though one parent or the other might have a good reason to protect her child from the spread of the disease.



other issues that have arisen have to do with the employment of one party versus the other. If one of the parties is an essential worker and has to go to work in a hospital and is potentially exposed to COVID-19, the other party might see this as a risk to the child and make a motion to the court for protective order or for a change in custody. These motions have a mixed result. Some courts do not wish to punish the parent who is a front line worker while other courts put the children’s best interest first, as they should, and change custody to the parent who is the least at risk.

To conclude, the unprecedented hardship caused by COVID-19 to our court system will not be remedied quickly. However, the courts are taken great strides to write the wrongs that have been caused by COVID-19. For more information go to



By: Lisa Beth Older, your Manhattan custody lawyer

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August 20, 2020

My experience in New York City with respect to post Covid operations has been remarkable. It is truly incredible that the court system has adapted so well in such trying times to accommodate the needs of party litigants.

 As a Manhattan matrimonial lawyer, we have seen a rise in domestic violence because of quarantine. The latest update, as stated by the chief justice JANET DIFIORE, is that New York City has been able to accommodate 1500 New Yorkers for in person grand jury service and this is very important because Criminal courts need in person face-to-face time because of the right to confront witnesses.

However, in divorce and child custody cases, the movement towards in person appearances at the courthouse is a bit slower. The courts are looking at innovative ways of relying on technology to ensure that there is justice in the court system for child custody litigants and for divorce litigants. In New York City alone, a program has been instituted that allows for virtual trials in civil matters in Supreme court and this would also appertain to matrimonial matters.

This means that actual trials are being conducted via Skype or other technologies. This program is going to be expanded next week.

I also see that Manhatttan Family Court has opened additional virtual courts and the transition is working almost seamlessly.  No question about it, there have been delays caused to preexisting cases 

However, with the new protocols being put into place daily, more and more of these obstacles are being met by the Office of Court Administration.New rules as to trials have emerged. Those trial affected by these rules are being expedited so that justice can be had sooner rather than later. These rules are designed to expedite the timeframe in which the case may be heard. These trials are conducted by a judge, rather than a with a relaxed set of rules of evidence. This does not affect divorce and child custody cases so much since they were always heard as bench trials. As for evidence, which is usually placed before court and shown to counsel prior to its admission, is being submitted in the form of an electronic delivery system that can be accessed by the attorneys as well as litigants quite easily and I find the system to be quite user friendly.

As to virtual trials and the admission of evidence, the parties under the new rules  would have to consent to the relaxation of the rules of evidence but normally you can expect that will happen because the courts will encourage that. This pilot program that is being tested in New York City will likely be extended to other counties in New York if it works in New York City.

During the pandemic the courts have also established a new order that identifies preliminary Order form as to outstanding issues, and said form is meant to identify issues which can or are resolved by the parties, so that the litigants can focus on the remainder of the issues that are in dispute in order to save the Court some time.

I  have been to a few virtual court appearances by now, and I have seen them to be amazingly effective. I have obtained orders of protection, I have vacated orders, I have filed divorce papers and I have had successful movement on my divorce cases Via Skype. These conferences have the judge, the attorneys, and the parties on the screen at the same time and the same issues are raised just as though you were standing in front of a judge.

While this approach is very new, it is likely going to become the norm for a while until we see a vaccine until the pandemic is resolved.  In fact, as the attorneys and Judges become more acclimated to this new virtual reality, we are likely going to see a movement toward more proceedings being done virtually.

Some of my colleagues have even tried cases on Skype, although this has been challenging because of the problems involved with tweaks in the virtual technology. However, we will proceed as per the court administration’s direction, to try to follow along until/if the courts reopen. So, it is safe to say that the courts are well on their way toward providing a pathway toward a resolution of your divorce or child custody case in Manhattan and beyond. I hope this information has been helpful and stay healthy and Covid free.


By: Lisa Beth older


Your Manhattan divorce lawyer and Manhattan Custody lawyer.

August 5, 2020



We may very well expect changes in court ordered forensic evaluations of children in custody cases in New York.

The Journal of the American Academy of psychiatry and the law recently posted an interesting article By kirk HEILBRUN, Stephanie CBURKE, Amanda NEMOYER, Kelly Durham and Alicia Desia, that dealt with the impact of COVID-19 will have on procedural aspects of forensic psychiatry and forensic mental health assessments. Forensic mental health assessments will be frequently referred to as FMHA for purposes of this article. Because of COVID-19, the quality of the forensic Evaluations of the parties and the children have changed drastically. The public health concerns have limited how forensic psychologist can conduct these sorts of evaluations so that courts can rely on their reports and testimony and guidance at trial. Forensic evaluations are relied upon by courts to give them insight into certain medical and mental health conditions that they might not otherwise be privy to or knowledgeable about.

The reliability of these reports have always been subject to scrutiny by many New York divorce lawyers in New York in many New York divorce scholars. If COVID-19 disallows in person evaluations to occur the quality and validity of the evaluation will change.  Many forensic experts and lawyers believe that video conferencing might be helpful in determining evaluations of children and parties in custody cases in New York, but that we are just not there yet.  The challenges cited have been that the parties evaluated will have a hard time developing a rapport with the forensic psychologist because of the distance involved in videoconferencing. Other problems that arise would be that certain studies and tests administered by these experts cannot be administered telephonically. We can naturally expect that changes will have to be made to compensate for the lack of face-to-face contact between the forensic expert and the evaluated party.

Another problem exists because certain aspects of the evaluated party cannot be captured live since only the face and upper body can be seen visually on the Skype or zoom screen. Another problem is that people‘s body language are an important part of the evaluation. The evaluator will not be able to notice for instance if a party is tapping his foot and getting nervous at certain questions designed to arrive at the parties psychological stability. Another challenge is that when you interview a party in person the evaluator used was trained to become acutely attune to very subtle cues given to him by the party such as humor, kindness, and suspiciousness.  Arguably, more information will need to come from more third-party information, and this often taints the objectivity in the report. Another problem with retaining psychological evaluations in New York child custody cases is the fact that the forensic experts being used need to obtain an authorization to conduct SMHA either from the court or at the request of an attorney.  This might pose a legal challenge due to concerns about confidentiality.  For instance, who is in the room with the doctor and  who is in the room with the party during the evaluation?  Not knowing this will chill free discourse during testing and evaluation talks.

Next, we must evaluate the multiple sources of documents which a forensic expert uses in his or her assessment. The forensic expert usually conducts interviews testing and specialized modules which often require to be performed in a private room with the party face-to-face with the expert. Clinical interviews remotely suffer the consequence of being unreliable because of not only technical difficulties in administering the valuation but also interference occasion by technological failures in communication. As all these factors are taken into consideration, the risk of having in valid test results increases. As far as testing validity goes many measures used by forensics require the use of the party’s hands to either manipulate objects put in their control or to use in their hands. Remotely, this is just impossible to address in remote circumstances. Next, we come to the validity of these clinical evaluations. Clinical evaluations must be reliable and scientifically valid or else the courts cannot depend on them. The scientific evidence on comparing in person evaluation‘s against remote evaluations is just not there yet. As such, there must be much more testing and scientific inquiry into whether these forensic evaluations will be reliable enough for a court to consider.

in a recent ABA article dated June 11, 2020 in title technology, cases outlive COVID-19, points to the fact that they believe that forensic evaluations in custody cases should only be use for high-stakes situations or time sensitive situations. Obviously, the New York State bar will have much to say on this issue as days go on and if the challenges of Covid continues in our lives. I hope this gives you information that is valuable when you are in a Manhattan divorce case or child custody case  and when you or your attorney must decide whether to ask for a forensic evaluation


Lisa Beth Older

Law Offices of Lisa Beth older

Your Manhattan Divorce Lawyer


How do I get through a divorce in New York during a pandemic?
July 22, 2020

How do I get through a divorce during a pandemic?


The COVID-19 pandemic has posed numerous problems for clients going through a divorce. However, the courts are innovating and figuring out new ways to prosecute cases through to a final resolution using virtual technology.


The court system is working out alternate ways to have remote hearings and trials but that causes significant problems. The technology hasn’t quite caught up with civil procedure. However, this new way of approaching cases might long be the future of the court system.  Actually, traveling to court in order to appear before the Judge is  not always a positive experience because of traffic congestion, security checks and having each attorney talk over the other one.  Now, the courts are handling cases through zoom or business Skype.  In my view, the New York Supreme Court Matrimonial Part Judges can actually mute one  party over the other, making oral argument more productive and giving the Judge more control over the Courtroom.  The other benefit to virtual court appearances  is that most attorneys charge for travel time to court so this translates to big savings for the clients.


If you were undergoing a divorce during the pandemic in Manhattan, you will sign that as to custody matters it has become more difficult to obtain assessments for the children during psychological evaluations. Psychological evaluations that will be done remotely are being recommended only on cases which are highly necessary such as cases involving mental illness or drug abuse.

Another issue the Courts and clients are struggling with is therapy for the children.  Especially when it comes to children, keeping their attention to the computer screen during a therapeutic session with a four-year-old is nearly impossible without the assistance of one parent or the other.  Often times child therapy needs to occur without a parent in the room.  Thus, remote therapy impedes the therapeutic process because a child of that age cannot sustain their attention for more than a few minutes without re-direction. These challenges however have been met with innovations and creative problem solving between the parents themselves because of the need of flexibility due to the lack of easy access to the court system.


New York has recently opened at court system so that we can electronically file new cases in divorce and child custody. The electronic system provides for the filing of a verified complaint in a divorce action and/or verified Answers to same,  as well as for the filing of motion practice. The electronic court system also allows you to file post judgment enforcement motions and emergency applications. 


even during times when the court system worked methodically, divorce poses challenges for clients. Clients must work hard to prepare net worth statements and gather documents for the exchange of financial discovery. Clients also must sometimes engage other experts to value businesses which must be distributed equitably. In a divorce, where there is money, the valuation of the assets can be difficult.  The frantic experts are challenged because a business that was thriving prior to the pandemic may now be depreciating in value. Therefore, it might be timely to file a divorce action if your business is going bankrupt at this time but has a chance of revival after the pandemic.


Another focus of attention in a divorce case is securing a  life insurance provision in a settlement or court order so as  to protect the recipients of spousal support and child support. 


Due to the fact that life insurance premiums are expected to rise in large part because of the COVID-19 pandemic, some parents wont be able to afford it and this will pose a problem in the settlement of this issue because the issue of obtaining life insurance for the benefit of the children is often times a bone of contention.


 If you are considering a NYC divorce during these trying times you might want to consider a collaborative divorce because this can be done remotely and might be more efficient at arriving at a settlement agreement then filing during a pandemic when it is likely that there will be a backlog in cases. For more information contact us at Thank you. I hope this information has been helpful.


Lisa Beth Older, Esq.


 your NYC divorce lawyer



New York Divorce News
June 22, 2020


On June 10, 2020, the New York County judges and staff return to the various courthouses in all  of New York County.  And the way that the courts are handling business is that while the judges are in their chambers and the clerks are in their offices and back offices, there is no traffic with respect to litigants coming in and out of the buildings.  This will change once the Governor moves us closer to re-opening.  Most contacts that the courts will have with litigants will be virtually either by Skype or telephone.   However, if you do not have the technology to access the services via Skype the courthouse has set aside a certain amount of space where litigants can access these services. 


As to new filings in New York City, the court system has implemented a system whereby new cases may be filed with the state of New York electronically. For more information, feel free to contact an attorney to request whatever services you might need at this time. With respect to divorce and child custody cases, this law firm still at the size is this area of law and would remain available to consult with you with respect to any questions you might have. During Covid, we are providing free 15-minute consultations and we will do so through the end of June 2020.


Another issue that has arisen in days past has been the aftermath of the shocking killing of George Floyd by the police department in Minnesota. Chief justice DIFIORE made an announcement on the New York golf website with respect to how the state will tackle racism and bias in the court system. This area of exploration is extremely important especially in family law where many families are now of mixed race. in order to tackle this very sensitive topic, the judge has appointed Mr. Johnson, of the law firm of Paul Weiss, to conduct a review of the New York court systems internal practices with respect to trying to identify and illuminate any issues of racism. Mr. Johnson is charged with rendering a report by October 2020 which will evaluate how the court system handles claims of discrimination.


if you are a person of mixed race or if you feel you have been discriminated against by the court system as a result of your race, or as a result of gender bias and if you require new legal representation in a hotly contested child custody or divorce case in Manhattan which deals with these issues, please consider our law firm as one that might take your case on. We are not an inexpensive law firm, but we are very familiar with these kinds of issues and can be of great assistance.


Thank you. 


Lisa Beth Older 

Your Manhattan Divorce Lawyer

How will the Court handle my case during Covid-19?
June 16, 2020


This article is about the coronavirus and how it has impacted our legal community in New York. On June 15,  2020 the court announced certain changes in the court system. Chief Judge DIFIORE made an updated message with respect to these latest developments and posted a video on the court’s website. One such development was a way to file documents electronically. Thus, even though the court system is closed, the court is now accepting new applications for divorce and child custody. The rules are a bit different with respect to Family court however since Family court is dealing with essential cases. However, what is different is that the court is excepting new divorce and child custody cases in Supreme Court.  There is a new 

Filing system that has been made available to the public called the EDDS. EDDS is an electronic document delivery system that will allow for the transmission of documents by litigants, judges, clerks, and other offices in New York. You can file new cases using this system and you may also file documents emotions in pending cases in New York State Supreme Court.


The chief justice announced on the New York Government website that they are working very diligently to get the courts and courthouse is open. On June 10, 2020, the justices return to their actual posts in the court room to attend to their pending case calendar. However, now, the courts are not open to attorneys arguing their cases except for emergencies. Normally, these applications are heard on Skype. It is hopeful however that we will get back to normal once we have COVID-19 under control. COVID-19 brings many challenges to New York divorce attorneys. First, if you are involved in a pending divorce matter, expect delays. Secondly, if you are already involved in a pending divorce matter you may have to revisit certain valuations as to your business and we are property and assets. This is because the financial situation surrounding these assets has changed and the value may have gone down. This will require new forensic evaluations and you might be able to expect additional delays because of that. on the upside of things, if you are the money spouse this might be a good time to consider filing for divorce if the marital assets have been reduced because of COVID-19. Another aspect to consider is filing for a modification in child support or spousal support if you have lost your job or if your business has gone under because of COVID-19. It is important to know that you should not just stop paying court ordered obligations because all court orders are continuing automatically until the courts set up a new court date for you. Therefore, if you are in financial difficulty You should not ignore your financial circumstances and you should seek relief and supreme court through a modification of child custody or child support obligations.


Ask your child custody, the COVID-19 problem has put a strain on our court system. Parties that have not been used to living together in small quarters for long periods of time are now considering divorce.  


As to those parties who have orders of protection in their favor, the courts have issued an order that all orders that were due to expire on March 19, 2020 has been automatically extended which means they’re still in effect.

As such, you are still protected as a matter of law.  All custody orders are also in effect until otherwise ordered by the court.


If you are considering a divorce her child custody case you may contact the law offices of Lisa Beth Older for more information. You can reach me on my cell phone at 914-388-7557. Thank you and good luck to you and your family.


By:  Manhattan divorce lawyer and Manhattan custody lawyer:  Lisa Beth Older, Esq.


Must I pay maintenance when I am over the age of retirement?
June 5, 2020

In a matter recently decided by the appellate division second department, located in Brooklyn, the appellate division reversed the trial court decision in part and held that there was no reason to award the plaintive wife maintenance.  The citation for the case is ACHUTHAN versus  ACHUTHAN 202, NY slip app 00255, decided this year on January 15, 2020. 

In that case, the court reversed the trial court decision awarding the wife maintenance. The appellate division reversed the decision because in part the husband was 80 years old and the wife was 71 years old. Another reason why the appellate division reversed the lower court decision in part was because the marital portion of the retirement account for the wife was increased by $800,000 by the appellate division’s decision from the award stipulated to by the parties at the time of the trial. 

In my view, the higher court that due to the large award of equitable distribution there was no basis to award spousal maintenance. This case was based on a filing for divorce prior to year 2016, which required the courts to consider many factors in determining maintenance. Subsequent to 2016, the courts generally follow the presumptively correct spousal maintenance amount awarded under the New York guidelines.

As in for equitable distribution, while the courts have an extreme amount of discretion in awarding distribution of marital assets, in this decision the appellate court self that a 51/49 percent split between the parties was unfair and next modified the lower court decision. In making adjustments to the award, to reflect a 50-50 split of marital assets, the court sided to the case of Spencer Dash Forest versus Forest, 159/83 at page 764.


In my opinion, while the court has a lot of discretion to make a distributive award , usually the lower court’s decision will not be disturbed. However, in this case it is interesting that the higher Court made this adjustment for two reasons.  First this was a long-term marriage of 33 years. So, on the facts, the distributive award in my opinion should have been 50-50.   Secondly, my take away from this decision is that this decision indicates that the courts are more and more likely to award 50% of the marital assets to the parties and that, apart from distribution of business entities,  this should be a starting point in negotiations.


By: Lisa Beth Older Esquire, your Manhattan divorce lawyer.