Long Delays for Divorces

Massive budget cuts and layoffs in the NYC court system are causing long delays in granting of uncontested divorces. Divorce cases are taking longer to resolve in most counties, with Richmond County and Kings County judges taking up to 10 months to sign uncontested divorce judgments.


William J. Leininger, a veteran matrimonial attorney, said “the wait to obtain a signed judgment finalizing a divorce is now nine months or more after both sides agree to terms. The finalization process used to take three or four months.” And that, he says, is “on top of the time typically required —  from a few months to two years — to reach the divorce settlement.”

These delays are hindrance to remarriage by the parties and, far more importantly, to payment of needed alimony and child support, because settlements incorporating them are unenforceable without the signed judgment. This can place some parties in financial hardship as they wait around for the final judgment, without which they cannot collect the promised sums they need to continue to support their families. Under New York’s no-fault amendments, parties may seek pendente lite support, but that, too, takes time and burdens the system, and meanwhile they are without needed support. Pendente lite support is often used to provide support to the lower income spouse while the divorce process is pending.

According to the New York City Bar Association, the state judiciary, in 2010, was subjected to a $170 million budget cut. About 8 percent of its workforce, or 1,300 employees, left the courts due to early retirements and layoffs.… <Read More>


What is Fair Alimony in the 21st Century?

What is fair alimony in the 21st century? Alimony was originally designed to protect a woman and family from falling into poverty after a divorce. It originated during a time when women were mainly at home caregivers  where many lacked proper educations allowing for sufficient employment. However, in recent times the majority of women work and nearly a third have college degrees.

Florida lawmakers are pushing to overhaul the state’s alimony law in a bid to better reflect today’s marriages and make the system less burdensome for the alimony payer. Florida joins a growing number of states that seek to rewrite alimony laws by curbing lifelong alimony and alleviate the financial stress that some payers — still mostly men — say they are forced to take on.

“It can strangle the person that is paying it,” said Alan Frisher, the founder of Florida Alimony Reform, an organization of 2,000 members, several of whom testified recently at legislative committee hearings. “Oftentimes, we can’t afford to pay that amount of alimony. It can provide a disincentive for the receiver to ever go back to work, to make more money or remarry. I don’t think anybody should have to be an indentured servant for the rest of their lives.”

The legislature in Massachusetts, which had some of the country’s most antiquated alimony laws, passed without opposition a measure to rewrite the laws and make them more equitable.

Commissions in other states have been set up to collect data and stories about the hardships of long-term alimony payments and presenting them to lawmakers to hopefully make the necessary changes to bring the alimony laws to the 21st Century and to take into account current household dynamics. … <Read More>


Violence in the Courtroom

Everyone knows that divorce law is a very volatile area of practice. In the words of Pat, an attorney in New York City, divorce, death and moving are the most traumatic times in a person’s life. In a Broward County, Florida courtroom, a husband flew into a rage on Friday after Judge Ronald Rothschild ordered him to pay child support and set visitation rights for the couple’s 1-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son. He began attacking his wife right in the courtroom in front of the judge and had to be subdued by being shot twice with a stun gun.

“It was surreal,” a witness said. “To see that violence play out in a judge’s chambers is somewhat surreal.”  The wife was taken to a hospital with a broken nose, broken bones in her face and a torn lip. The husband was charged with felony battery, domestic violence and resisting arrest. His bail was set at $1 million. This rage occurred between a couple who was only married 5 years , can you imagine the emotion and rage that could occur between a couple married for 20, 25, 30 or more years?… <Read More>


Misuse of ACS?

As overworked as the Administration for Children’s Services is, no one wants to hear stories like this one. This daily news article outlines public school parents’ beliefs that school administrators are calling ACS on parents who complain. The Administration for Children’s Services is under constant scrutiny for not investigating cases which should have been investigated and unfortunately sometimes end by having a child found dead or severely abused. For an overworked system to have any chance at success, cases like the ones outlined in the article, paint a clear picture of why ACS can’t investigate every single case which comes through their agency.… <Read More>


Probation for a Rapist?

“I got 12 months for a falsified police report and he got probation for raping me and the others,” Ashley said on Friday. “It’s just ridiculous.”


Prosecutors and the judge agreed to a sentence of 10 years probation in exchange for Tony Simmons’, a counselor at Juvenile Justice Department, plea to rape against Ashley and other sexual counts for sexual conduct between 2005 and 2008. This plea offer agreement was later withdrawn by Judge Mullen, of New York County court, because Simmons had not shown any remorse for his actions. He made numerous comments that his victims inticed him or consented to his actions.
While Simmons was supposed to be helping these young female teens, he was instead taking advantage of their fragile states. He also entered into an agreement on behalf of Ashley which involved a 12 month sentence for a falsified police report while Simmons pled guilty to rape and was only given a probation sentence. This seems highly unbalanced justice that a juvenile offender would be so harshly punished for such a minor offense. This makes on wonder, whether this type of disproportionate justice frequently occurs in the juvenile justice system?
Finally on February 1st, 2011, Simmons was sentenced to a 4 year prison sentence for sexually abusing two girls.
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