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Cohabitation before marriage is more common than ever these days. It is super common for couples in a serious relationship to move in together before marriage. In many cases, these couples rent, but an increasing number of couples are buying a home together before they get married. However, this can lead to some legal and financial complications.

It’s tough to say whether or not someone should or shouldn’t buy a property together before they are married. Everyone’s situation is different and every couple has a different dynamic. Some couples may be able to make this purchase together with zero problems, and others may be on the verge of breaking up and may believe a big joint purchase will stabilize them to keep them together. However, there are some precautions that every couple needs to take before making a joint purchase if that’s what they decide to do.

Some Precautions to Take Before Buying a House or Condo with Your Boyfriend/Girlfriend

First, if it is at all possible, make sure that both of your names are on any ownership and financing documents. This ensures that you both have legal control over the asset. It also prevents one party from potentially abandoning the relationship without having to suffer any of the financial consequences of paying for an asset. The worst-case scenario in this situation would be if one party were to abandon the relationship and not have their name on the property’s ownership. In that situation, it would be possible for them to stick the financial obligation on the other party, causing a huge and unmanageable expense.

Of course, the opposite could happen as well. It would also be possible for the legal owner of the property to evict their partner, causing that individual to become homeless and potentially lose possessions. Clearly, both these situations could leave one person in a disastrous situation, which is why having both parties in legal control is the best move to take.

Second, make sure that you are familiar with how the law treats unmarried couples before making a purchase. All fifty states have fifty different laws, and this is why it is so important to understand how your state would treat your relationship both before and after any marriage may occur. Remember, all states have different procedures for a variety of potential relationship circumstances, including common law marriage or no-fault divorce. Ensuring that you have an adequate understanding of these issues can prevent heartache and financial pain for both of you.

What rights do unmarried couples have in New York?

Generally, unmarried cohabitants do not enjoy the same rights as married individuals, particularly with respect to property acquired during a relationship. Marital property laws and other family laws related to marriage do not apply to unmarried couples, even in long-term relationships. The characterization of property acquired by unmarried cohabitants is less clear than that of married couples whose ownership of property is governed by marital and community property laws. Some property acquired by unmarried couples may be owned jointly, but it may be difficult to divide such property when the relationship ends. There is no obligation of financial support attached to a couple who cohabits, absent an agreement to the contrary. If you are financially dependent on a romantic partner and the relationship ends, the effects of the breakup can be much harsher.

Living together, or cohabitation, in a non-marital relationship does not automatically entitle either party to acquire any rights in the property of the other party acquired during the period of cohabitation. However, adults who voluntarily live together and engage in sexual relations may enter into a contract to establish the respective rights and duties of the parties with respect to their earnings and the property acquired from their earnings during the nonmarital relationship. They may also agree to pool only part of their earnings and property, form a partnership or joint venture or joint enterprise, or hold property as joint tenants or tenants in common, or agree to any other arrangement.

Other legal issues that may affect cohabiting couples include estate planning and medical care. Generally, someone who cohabits with another is not considered an heir under the law or has the same rights to make medical care decisions in the same manner as a spouse. Therefore, unmarried cohabitants may consider estate planning and power of attorneys in addition to having a non marital agreement.

COVID-19 has turned the world upside down, and the legal system in New York is no exception. Governor Cuomo and the New York State Chief Administrative Judge, Lawrence K. Marks, have issues several Orders pertaining to the laws in New York State and how same is being handled during this unprecedented time. .

Pursuant to those Orders, no new filings of legal actions, including divorces, can be filed at this time. Additionally, if you were served with a Summons and Complaint prior to the issuance of the order the time frame to respond to same is now suspended and tolled. The dates for discovery demands and discovery responses have also been suspended and tolled. However, a new divorce matter can be filed as long as it accompanied by a motion for an essential emergency matters as discussed below.

While the Courts in the state of New York are closed, motions for essential emergency matters are still being heard virtually, via Skype for Business, and in rare necessities in person. In the context of divorces, motions for essential emergency matters consist of temporary orders of protection (including but not limited to matters involving domestic violence), emergency applications related to the coronavirus. extreme risk protection orders (ERPO). If your issue is not one of the enumerated essential emergency matters, it can still be heard by a Judge is the Court deems essential.

As of April 13, 2019, Courts are also beginning to hear non-essential matters virtually as well. That means if you already have a matter pending in Court, you can reach out to the Judge presiding over your matter to schedule a Court conference via Skype for Business or telephone conference. However, in order to obtain a conference you case must warrant immediate court attention. An email can be Judge stating the reason a conference is being requested and the specific issues to be addressed and a description of what recent efforts have been made by the attorneys and/or litigants to address the issues. It will then be up to the Judge to determine whether or not the issue warrants a conference.

Despite the fact that Courts are closed, your divorce matter can still be settled whether you have case pending or not. Palermo Law, P.L.L.C. is open during normal business hours, which is Monday to Friday 9:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M. Right now, we are also available weekends upon request However, due to the fact that the Governor has Ordered that 100% of the employees of all non-essential business have to remain home, we are currently working remotely. All communication shall take place via either telephone call or video conference. Legal documentation, such as Stipulations of Settlement to complete your divorce matter, can even be signed via video Conference as Governor Cuomo has issued an Executive Order allowing notarizations to be performed over video conference so long as certain steps are taken. Please contact our office in Order to speak to one of the attorneys regarding how we can help you with your divorce during this unprecedented time.

It’s finally started, either you or your spouse has pulled the trigger and commenced a Divorce action on Long Island, New York. When a divorce is commenced in New York State, Automatic Court Orders are put in place. The Automatic Orders are Court Orders, which prohibit certain activities immediately upon commencement of the action and each party is directed to follow them.

The Automatic Orders essentially state that both parties must maintain the “status quo” except in the case of mutual written agreement between the parties or further Court Order. Some of the Automatic Orders are that neither party can sell or dispose of marital assets; neither party can withdraw, transfer, or dispose of any money from their bank accounts, stocks, mutual funds or cash accounts that is not within the ordinary course of business or for customary household expenses; neither party can withdraw money or take loans from their retirement accounts; neither party can cancel the health insurance, the dental insurance, the optical insurance, or the automobile insurance or change beneficiaries on their life insurances and retirement accounts. So you can’t sell your spouses car out from under them, but you can pay your kids tuition.

The Automatic Orders go into effect for the Plaintiff the day that the Summons and Complaint commencing your divorce action is filed. However, the Automatic Orders do not go into effect for the Defendant until they are personally served with the Summons and Complaint and become aware of the orders contained in the documents they were served.

If either party violates any of the Automatic Orders, there are certain legal steps that can be taken to rectify the issue. In Suffolk County, an Order to Show Cause for Contempt of Court can be filed in order to hold one party in contempt for violating the Automatic Orders.

If you have further questions pertaining to the Automatic Orders, how they will affect you or if your spouse has already violated same after an action has been commenced please contact Suffolk County Divorce Lawyer Christopher Palermo directly at his office 631-265-1051 in order to schedule your free consultation.

Unfortunately, we are all being affected by the outbreak of Coronavirus-COVID-19 virus. There is new information every day and our daily routines are ever changing. At Palermo Law, we want to let you know that our office is up and running and that we have planned for contingencies if need be.

Office Hours

Our office hours are remaining the same for the time being. We are open from 9-5 Monday through Friday. We are also available after hours and on weekends in case of emergencies. However, in an attempt to adhere to social distancing we are making some changes to our normal practices. First, most appointments can be scheduled and held via telephone and/or Facetime.  However, there are instances where it is necessary to meet in person. We ask that you call to schedule an in person appointment rather then walking in as some of our staff will be working remotely over the next few weeks.  As you may be aware, the Governor issued an order prohibiting more then 25% of a business’s employees to be present at the same time. We are adhering to that order and have our staff rotating from in office to remote work schedules.

Further, should Federal, State or local authorities require us to close our offices, we do have a contingency plan. Our staff has the capabilities to work remotely. Therefore, you can rest assured that we will continue to work on your case and will be available by phone for any questions during regular business hours. We will also remain available after hours and on weekends in case of emergencies.

Court Dates and Trials

Second, all State Supreme Court Matters have been administratively adjourned until at least April. This includes all divorce matters.  Should you have an upcoming trial or court date you can expect that to be adjourned accordingly. We will of course send you a notification of the exact date that your matter has been adjourned to.

Mediations and Arbitrations

As of now, all mediations are scheduled to proceed. This is of course subject to change. Also, most mediation facilities have the capacity to hold video mediations. Therefore, it is possible that your mediation could be done remotely as well. Please call us twenty four hours prior to your appointment to confirm.

Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to ask everyone to remember to practice social distancing, wash your hands regularly, stay home if you are sick a please be mindful of the sick and elderly.

Some stranger just handed you papers labeled “Action For Divorce”, and your mind starts racing. Anger, fear, regret, and anxiety are just some of the emotions you’re feeling. But what should you do next?

First and foremost, don’t overreact and do anything extreme that you will regret later. Do your best to stay in control of your emotions. This is a time to be thinking as clearly as possible.

If you just don’t think you can face your spouse or control yourself in front of your kids right now, it’s ok to take a moment. Take a timeout. Seek comfort from family, friends, or be by yourself for a while if necessary. Devote the day, the night, or a weekend to yourself. Then as soon as possible, get back to your life and routine. Especially, if there are children involved you have to maintain routines for their sake.

Just to be clear, I am not telling you to vacate your marital residence permanently, in fact just the opposite. You have to be prepared mentally to dig in, and do what is necessary to care for your children. Do not give your spouse the opportunity to seize control over the home and your children’s routines.

With regard to your kids and your behavior, the most important thing you can do is to leave your children out of your adult relationship problems. Let your kids be kids. No matter how mature you think they are, be careful not to tell them too much. Instead of burdening them with your relationship problems, reassure them that both of their parents still and will always love them. Explain to your children that regardless of what’s happening with your marriage, they will always be taken care of and loved by both of you.

Once you are able, you will want to start gathering necessary information. Including Copies of previously filed tax returns inclusive of W2’s, statements from all bank accounts, investment account information, retirement account statements for you and your spouse if available. And mortgage statements that include the amount still owed on the loan. Equally important is having all information about debts, such as credit card statements

At this point you need help, and should be seeking a consultation with a respected local divorce attorney. The papers you were served with need to be  answered in a timely manner.

In addition, those papers contain automatic orders that prohibit certain activities. The local divorce attorney you consult with should be able to advise you of what your next move should be. Finally, the papers you were served contain automatic orders that prohibit certain activities. Our next post will discuss the initial automatic order‘s and what to expect at your initial consultation with attorney Christopher Palermo, The Suffolk Divorce Lawyer.

The idea of commencing a divorce around the holiday season can seem scary. Although you can argue that divorce is always going to hurt no matter what time of year it is, there is a certain sentimentality during the holidays that might hold someone back from initiating a divorce until the new year. This is why it is important to weigh the pros and cons and see if it is worth commencing a divorce now, or leaving it until the new year. Hiring a Long Island Divorce Lawyer can help you weigh these pros and cons.

Sometimes doing something scary causes us to make excuses to put off going through with something that we are nervous about. If staying with your spouse through the holidays is only going to cause more negative memories, you aren’t doing yourself any favors by putting it off. Having children in the picture can make things even more complex. But no matter what it is going to be painful.

If you do decide to commence a divorce during the holiday season, here are some tips to help alleviate the process.

  1. Plan ahead: If you have children, you wouldn’t want them to feel left in the dark wondering what their holidays are going to be like. Having plans with them will give them something to look forward to. If you don’t have children, make sure you aren’t alone during the holidays. Being alone will only encourage negative thoughts and can lead to an emotional downward spiral. Reach out to other family members or friends and enjoy yourself.
  2. Avoid Public Arguments: Although conflicts often arise during the divorce process, do not argue with your ex-spouse in front of your children. This will turn their holidays into a negative memory.
  3. Create New Traditions: Reminiscing on old traditions may only bring bad memories. A divorce can represent a new stage of your life, and having new traditions can add new excitement to that. If you have children, have them help contribute ideas. This creates something new and exciting for you and your kids.
  4. Plan a Getaway: If you find the holiday season to be too emotional for you, some have found taking a “perspective vacation” to help clear the mind. It is pretty common to take off work around the holidays, so using a couple vacation days to get away can really help you. Even if you don’t have the money or circumstances to go somewhere on vacation, take a vacation at your hometown. Rent a hotel for a couple of days and enjoy the amenities. Being away from your home and family drama can help give you peace and perspective.
  5. Make A New Years Resolution: Now that you’re essentially turning the chapter in your life, it’s not a bad idea to come up with some resolutions for the New Year. Become someone new. Join a club, join a sports league, or try and find ways to get yourself out there and meet new people.

Not every couple can go their separate ways with level heads. In many cases, one spouse may be extremely controversial – expressing feelings of anger, resentment, and attempting to make the divorce a living Hell. While divorce is never a walk in the park and always stirs up negative emotions, some may catastrophize the situation. When it comes to splitting up financial assets and property, they may hide marital assets. They may try their hardest to take a majority and leave you with little. If you have children, they may even try to pin them against you, manipulating them into disliking you.

It’s important you protect yourself from toxicity that may come along with a combative spouse – while you’re going through divorce, and even after. You have to safeguard your future as well as your children’s lives. It can be difficult when your ex or soon-to-be ex-spouse is overbearing, manipulative, or narcissistic. But there are ways you can take the wheel. Here are 4 tips for dealing with a toxic divorce…

Make Sure To Get Everything In Writing

With a volatile soon-to-be ex-spouse, phone conversations may end in shouting matches. Limit your interactions to only written forms of communication, such as e-mail, texts, or messages sent between both your attorneys. Written communication can be presented in court if needed. It can also be reflective for you, helping you deal with your aggressive soon-to-be ex or ex-spouse. Make sure you keep your messages short and concise, though. There’s no need to be extremely descriptive. If you receive an extremely explosive message through text or email, try to take time if necessary. You may be tempted to say something that you regret. Don’t let angry messages evoke anger in yourself. With written communication, you have the time to reflect on how you will respond.

Written communication can also be extremely beneficial when it comes to temporary custody and support orders as well as alimony. These may be put in place before the finalization of your divorce. While some divorcees on friendly terms come to verbal agreements and stick to them, high-conflict divorcees may deny ever making verbal agreements. It’s best to have these agreements down in writing. Your attorney can help you establish written orders and file, or you can file with the courts.

Get Financial Paperwork Together As Soon As Possible

An aggressive or manipulative spouse may try to hide marital assets when they know a divorce is imminent. These assets are important when it comes to determining alimony, child support and asset division. These types of assets may include pay stubs and tax returns, bank statements and credit card bills, stock portfolio and retirement account info, and more. They may do this either as a means of obtaining more than you in terms of your financial split or as a means of revenge.

So, to make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s best collect as much financial paperwork as possible before the divorce process. You should run a credit report to help identify financial accounts that are open in both of you names. If you do happen to file your taxes together, you can request a copy of your tax return from the IRS. This may help you in determining whether or not marital assets are being hidden from you.

Leave Your Children Out Of It

An aggressive or resentful ex may actually use your children as a weapon against you in your divorce. This is highly detrimental to children. It’s a good idea – until cooler heads prevail – to have someone with you when you drop off your children. You don’t want to get into a verbal argument in front of them. You can immediately end the conversation if your ex tries to lure you into an argument. If your ex is extremely aggressive and you believe they intend to sue you for full child custody (ie. with allegations of child abuse), keep a parenting diary that details your day-to-day life as a parent. This journal may become a valuable piece of evidence to disprove these types of allegations.

Get A Restraining Order

If you’re ex is overstepping your boundaries, you have full control to file a restraining order. You ex may be sending you angry texts, stalking you, etc. Anything that makes you feel unsafe should be a red flag to file a temporary restraining order for both you and your children.

In the world of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and all things social media, some of us are reserved, and some of us are glued to our smart phones. Some don’t have much reserve at all when it comes to what they share on Facebook. And that’s all fine. But it’s imperative that you know what you can share and what you can’t share on social media if you are in the middle of a divorce. Your social media accounts, if necessary, will be investigated by your spouse’s divorce attorney. It’s very common. They’re looking for evidence to use against you, and even seemingly benign posts can end up hurting your reputation in the context of a divorce. A damaging post can affect the outcome of division of marital property, allocation of parental responsibilities, and child and spousal support payments. There are several ways your spouses divorce attorney may use information you post on social media against you in your case.

Don’t Attack Your Spouse

For some of us, it feels like somewhat of a pull, especially during a contentious divorce, to vent out your feelings to a friend regarding your divorce. You may make derogatory remarks regarding your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Even electronic communications, such as emails, can be used as evidence against you during court. Bitter comments regarding any matters revolving your divorce or your spouse can make you appear socially unstable or hateful. A divorce attorney may highlight this behavior and use it against you in the matter of child custody.

Don’t Disclose Anything Suggesting Disposable Income

Many of us love showing the world of social media what we do on vacation and during social outings. During a divorce, this is not a good idea. Is suggests you have disposable income and lucrative assets, even when that’s not actually true. These photos may show a contradictory depiction of your financial standing. Your spouse’s divorce attorney can use these photos, which may be contradictory in nature, to sway the court’s decision on matters such as spousal support, child support, or property allotment.

If You’re Dating, Keep It As Private As Can Be

Some people may look down on those dating while going through a divorce. There are opposing sentiments about it. If you do decide to date during a divorce, it’s best not to advertise it. It could call into question your personal morals. If you have children, it’s best not to bring this your new partner around them. For one, it could truly confuse a child to see their mother or father dating someone else when they’re still not fully understanding of divorce and what it could mean for their future. Secondly, you could end up dating someone you don’t fully know everything about. What if they’ve been in trouble with the law? If your spouse’s divorce attorney finds evidence that you are with someone else – especially anyone who has been in trouble with the law – this could hurt the matter of child custody in your divorce case.

Keep It Simple

You may be driven to use social media during a divorce. It can help you get back out with friends, see what the world has to offer for you – there are plenty of benefits. It’s extremely important, however, to keep some of your affairs off social media during a divorce case. Do not delete your social media accounts without consulting with your attorney first.

Is it smarter to divorce when your children are younger, or older? This is a difficult decision many couples must decide on when divorcing. Many parents to feel that waiting until kids are older to divorce will be less challenging for them. At the surface, it does makes sense. Younger children, even those in high school, might be more fragile to the separation of their parents than say, a young adult, who may simply be more matured. But it’s all very circumstantial. Especially when your child is in college, not living at home any longer.

When young adults go off to college, they’re entering a whole new world. They’re making new friends, getting used to a new environment, putting themselves out there, taking on whole new responsibilities, and getting used to life without both their parents around. This can create a sense of instability in their lives. But they may find relief in knowing that they can return home for holidays or even weekends. The familial situation they’re used to will be there for their comfort, even if their parents are not on the best of terms.

College can be overwhelming in and of itself for young adults. If they learn that their parents are divorcing, this can simply add to their stress. Additionally, just being in college may make them feel as if they’ve lost the parental figures that have guided them their entire lives. When you add divorce to that, they may anticipate that loss of parental guidance even stronger.

Younger children are vulnerable to the effects of divorce, but they do tend to bounce back quicker than young adults. Young adults tend to take on some of the responsibilities, becoming involved in care-taking for their own parents. Young adults already have enough responsibilities on their plate, and this need to take on responsibilities may add to that stress too.

This isn’t to say that younger children don’t feel the effects of divorce though. No matter what, every divorced parent is responsible for their child’s feelings. Every child deserves:

Misconceptions about divorce are prevalent, and one of them is that parents frequently engage in custody battles that are litigated in court and resolved by a judge’s ruling.

The truth is that most couples prefer to settle their differences privately and avoid courtroom litigation. Even when a custody issue becomes high profile in the media, like the case of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, this is true.

Here are some interesting statistics reported in the Huffington Post that put child custody litigation into a proper perspective:

What Factors Influence the Decision to Make Mothers Primary Custodians?

During divorce, most parents want the process to go as smoothly as possible for the children. Introducing the least amount of life style change generally makes the transition for children easier. These statistics show why mothers typically get most of the primary care duties, even when both parents work.

The Pew Research Center released a report in 2011 regarding families with children and it found:

There are many factors to weigh when arranging for child custody, and it is wise to discuss your concerns with an experienced lawyer. Attorney Chris Palermo can help you make important decisions that affect your and your children’s future.