The Real Cost of Student Debt: Why New York State Should Allow Common Law Marriages

By Raelynn Leggio

As law students we are experiencing first hand the crushing weight of debt in order to obtain our degrees. In 2012 the average law student had incurred approximately $140,616 of debt. This figure doesn’t include undergraduate debt, and millennials are truly feeling the pressure as tuition for undergraduate and graduate programs only continues to increase.

So what does that have to do with marriage?

Although many millenials face significant debt burdens, the cost of a formal wedding continues to increase. Wedding spending is at an all time high in the U.S., with a 2015 survey from The Knot revealing that couples shell out an average of $32,641 for their big day; that’s about the same price as the average tuition at a private undergraduate university. If you want your big day to be in Manhattan, you could be spending about $82,299. Every reception category from the venue price, to custom guest entertainment, to wine and liquor tastings has increased, while the lists of invitees have gone down to an average of 139 guests.

But that is the reality we face today. The cost of getting married is just added to the mountain of debt that students owe. Student debt has become the new normal and so is the delay of experiencing many life milestones. Marriage, buying a home, and purchasing a car are the top three things that are being delayed by the recent graduate, according to the Consumerist, with 56% of the millennial age bracket stating that their debt has turned them away from investing or starting a family.… <Read More>

The Every Student Succeeds Act

By: Jarienn James

On December 10, 2015, a bipartisan bill revising the National Education Law was signed into law by President Obama. Using twelve pens, President Obama repealed the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The ESSA prepares children for college and affirms the government’s commitment to ensuring each child receives quality education. President Obama remarked NCLB had the right goals such as:

high standards, accountability and closing the achievement gap… [However,] it didn’t always consider the specific needs of each community. It led to too much testing during classroom time. It often forced schools and school districts into cookie-cutter reforms that didn’t always produce the kinds of results that we wanted to see.

This war on education began in 1965 when President Lyndon B. Johnson enacted the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). President Johnson believed that “full educational opportunity” should be “our first national goal.” This civil rights law would expire every three to five years, leaving Congress to reauthorize it. In 2001, the Government, in response to the significantly low achievement standards of the poor and the minority students created the NCLB.

Purpose of the Acts

The purpose of the NCLB was “…to ensure that all children have a fair, equal, and significant opportunity to obtain a high-quality education and reach, at a minimum, proficiency on challenging State academic achievement standards and state academic assessments.” The NCLB delved further and listed twelve steps that States may use to achieve its goal.… <Read More>

Molloy v. Molloy: What is “Good Cause” for an Extension of an Order of Protection


By: Mallory McGee

Earlier this year, the Second Department of the Appellate Division of New York, issued an opinion on the issue of extension of orders of protection for “good cause.” In Molloy v. Molloy, the petitioner/wife was granted a two-year order of protection pursuant to the Family Court Act § 842 against her husband. As the order was about to expire, the petitioner filed for a five-year extension. The Family Court of Queens County denied the motion stating that the goal of the Family Court Act § 842 was to protect victims for two years and that the petitioner failed to demonstrate the requisite standard of “good cause” to grant an extension.


What is “good cause” allowing for an extension of an order of protection? In Molloy, the Family Court found that the evidence presented by the petitioner of three domestic incident reports detailing violations of the first order of protection and the respondent’s girlfriend warning the petitioner that the respondent would kill petitioner once the order expired, was insufficient to support “good cause.”


The Appellate Division stated that the issuance of the initial order of protection did not render the extension superfluous. It cited legislative history on matters involving domestic violence which demonstrated a long standing history of protections for victims. The Appellate Division noted that lack of any abuse occurring during the term of the order does not necessitate a denial of the extension application. In reversing the Family Court and finding that the petitioner had established the “good cause” necessary to extend the order of protection, the Appellate Division held that:

“Thus, in determining whether good cause has been established, courts should consider, but are not limited by, the following factors: the nature of the relationship between the parties, taking into account their former relationship, the circumstances leading up to the entry of the initial order of protection, and the state of the relationship at the time of the request for an extension; the frequency of interaction between the parties; any subsequent instances of domestic violence or violations of the existing order of protection; and whether the current circumstances are such that concern for the safety and well-being of the petitioner is reasonable.”


This decision by the Court is a victory for victims of domestic violence seeking to protect themselves and their family from the effects of domestic violence.… <Read More>

Remembering Judith Kaye: A Pioneer for Women in the Legal Profession and Advocate for Children and Families


By: Mallory McGee


On Wednesday, January 6, 2016, former New York Court of Appeals Chief Judge Judith Kaye passed away at the age of 77 years old, leaving behind a legacy as an advocate for social justice who paved the way for many women in the legal profession.


Born Judith Ann Smith on August 4, 1938 in Monticello, New York to Polish immigrants Benjamin and Lena, Judge Kaye skipped two grades and was admitted to Barnard College at the age of fifteen. At Barnard, she studied Latin American Civilization and worked for local newspapers in the hopes of pursuing a career in journalism. Post graduation, Judge Kaye landed her first journalism job at the Hudson Dispatch, a newspaper in Union City, New Jersey where she reported on the society pages. In the hopes of furthering her journalism career, she decided to enroll in New York University’s law school. She attended law school part time and worked as a copy editor by day. The law began to appeal to her more and in 1962, Judith Kaye graduated from N.Y.U Law School; she was one of ten women in her graduating class of 300.


Following law school graduation, Judge Kaye worked at Sullivan and Cromwell for two years and then went to IBM’s legal department. While raising her family, Judge Kaye worked as an assistant to the dean at N.Y.U. Then she went to Olwine, Connelly, Chase, O’Donnell & Weyher, where she became the first female partner. Her career took a different turn when former Governor Mario Cuomo stated that if elected, he would appoint the first female judge to the Court of Appeals.… <Read More>

New Laws Protecting Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Victims

By: Mallory McGee

Last month, Governor Cuomo signed into law two important provisions protecting victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. Cuomo believes that the laws will close a “potentially dangerous loophole and will help ensure that victims receive the protections that they deserve.”

The first law,  Chapter 240 of 2015, applies to defendants convicted of felony sexual assault. In these instances, the new law provides a ten year order of protection. This allows for the victims to receive protection through the term of probation, which is maxed at ten years. If the charge was a misdemeanor, then a mandatory six year order of protection is ordered, which is the maximum period of probation allowed. Previously, according to Criminal Procedure Law §530.12, a domestic violence victim’s order of protection would often expire before the end of the probation period. The law also amends Criminal Procedure Law §530.13 which covers crime victims not in family offenses. This amendment provides the same protections under §530.12. This law goes into effect 30 days from the signing by Cuomo.

The second law,  Chapter 241 of 2015, makes it easier for victims of domestic violence and other crimes who wish to change their name to obtain waivers for the requirement to publish any name changes in a newspaper. The amended Civil Rights Law §64-a now gives courts broad discretion to determine whether a person’s safety would be at risk by publishing a victim’s name change. This discretion is not limited to direct threats against the personal safety of the victim.… <Read More>