Custody is complex and emotions are often high in Poughkeepsie divorce

  Poughkeepsie divorce clients often start out a consultation wanting sole custody and control of the visitation schedule. This is a common misconception of the term and what it means. There are essentially two types of custodial arrangements in Poughkeepsie divorce, not to be confused with parental access schedules or visitation. They are Joint Custody and Sole Custody. The difference between the two is who will be making the major decisions for the child or children. In a sole custodial arrangement the parent who has sole custody will have the right to make all decisions relating to health, religion and education that relate to the children. In a joint custodial arrangement both parents work together to make the decisions in this area.
 Parental visitation schedules in Poughkeepsie divorce are as varied as the lives of different parents. They can be alternating weekends, one weekend a month, equal time often called shared custody (not to be confused with either joint or sole) and any other combination of access times the parties can work out in the best interest of their children and family.  The parent of a sole custody order does not get the right to alter a court ordered parental access or visitation schedule in Poughkeepsie divorce.
 Physical custody and shared one are also terms you will often hear in Poughkeepsie divorce. Neither are a joint or sole custody order but rather  are terms which relate to the time each parent has with the child or children. The Physical Custodial parent in Poughkeepsie divorce is the parent who has the child or children more than 50% of the time and will be entitled to child support. A shared custodial arrangement is where each parent has the children 50% of the time. Even in a shared custodial arrangement one parent will be labeled the physical custodial parent for the purpose of child support, with the other being able to possibly seek a reduction in their child support obligation called by the Courts a “deviation”
 Custody is complex and emotions are often high in Poughkeepsie divorce. A poorly written or understood order can lead to loss of trust between the parents, fights and never benefits the children. Please contact  MacKay and Berube for a free consultation and more detailed analysis of your custodial issue.

Financial tips for New York men facing alimony, child support

Divorce can be a challenge, and many spouses who feel that their marriage is coming to an end search for advice on how to manage the process and to know what to expect. A great deal of the information available in print and online, however, focused on advising women on how to navigate divorce. Very little is geared explicitly toward men and their divorce concerns, leaving many New York husbands feeling out of the loop and unsure what to expect when it comes to alimony and child support.

In many ways, divorce advice is gender-neutral. However, men and women do have different interests when it comes to certain aspects of a divorce. Alimony is one area that serves as an example. While many men struggle with the concept of making long term payments to a former spouse, it is possible to reframe the manner in which one considers spousal support. Alimony payments are tax-deductible, and in many cases can provide solid tax benefits when handled correctly.

A related issue involves men who might be eligible to collect, rather than pay, alimony. While spousal support was once considered solely the realm of wives, many husbands are entitled to these payments based on their own efforts to support the career of their spouse or set their own career aside to care for shared children. When a father is going to assume the primary care for those children, then child support becomes another issue that will buck the “normal” path of a divorce. If there is any question whether a husband is eligible to receive these payments, it is important to meet with an attorney to investigate the matter further.

Times have changed, and along with those changes have come shifts in the way that divorce is perceived. Men who are facing the end of a marriage should make every effort to determine their rights under New York law, as well as what to expect from the divorce process. Having this information will help spouses make the best choices possible as they work toward a favorable settlement in regard to alimony and/or child support.

Source: The Week, 8 financial tips for men getting a divorce, Hayley Krischer, Sept. 30, 2013

Take care when claiming alimony deductions

One of the few silver linings of having to pay spousal support is the ability to deduct those payments from one’s Adjusted Gross Income, or AGI. In some cases, this tax deduction can make a big difference in one’s overall tax outlook. However, for those in New York who are planning to make use of the alimony deduction, it is important to understand how doing so can raise a red flag with the Internal Revenue Service.

Claiming alimony payments as a deduction requires that the filer submit a social security number or tax identification number for his or her former spouse. This allows the IRS to match the amount claimed as a deduction, with the amount that the recipient claims as income. However, if those two numbers do not match, both returns could be flagged for further review.

In 2010, over half a million tax returns were filed in which alimony was claimed as a deduction. Of those, nearly half did not list the same amount as that claimed by the recipient. From the perspective of the IRS, this may represent a significant loss, as well as a great deal of potential fines. While audits concerning these discrepancies are still relatively uncommon, it would not be surprising if the IRS decides to turn additional focus toward these discrepancies.

For those in New York who are preparing to divorce, it is important to understand how alimony will play into one’s tax planning in the years to come. It can be difficult to control whether one’s spouse files a proper tax return. However, knowing that a discrepancy could trigger an audit should underscore the importance of ensuring that one’s own return is accurate.

Source: Forbes, “Alimony Deduction Requires Good Substantiation“, Peter J. Reilly, Aug. 13, 2014

Witness protection program stalls divorce process

When a New York spouse has made the decision to end his or her marriage, one of the early steps within that divorce process involves serving the other party with the required paperwork. In most cases, this step is completed in a relatively simple and straightforward manner, and the divorce moves forward. However, when one party is unwilling or unable to be served, delays can occur.

witness-protection-programA prime example lies in the divorce between Scott and Kim Rothstein. The Rothsteins are now both inmates within the federal prison system. Scott Rothstein is serving a 50-year sentence for his involvement in a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of nearly $1.4 billion. His wife is serving just 18 months for attempting to hide jewelry and additional assets during the investigation and subsequent bankruptcy.

Mrs. Rothstein has decided to initiate divorce proceedings, and she has made efforts to serve her husband with divorce papers. This process has become complicated, however, due to the fact that Mr. Rothstein is being housed within the federal prison witness protection program. The program provides security for inmates who assist in the identification and prosecution of members of organized crime. Because of his inclusion within the program, Mrs. Rothstein has been unable to serve him. She has asked the court to grant an extension of the service deadline, and officials are looking into how Mr. Rothstein may be safely and properly served.

For most New York spouses, any service issues that may occur will be on a far smaller scale than the ones mentioned here. However, if one spouse takes actions to avoid service, difficulties may arise. In such cases, one’s divorce attorney can assist by providing referrals to process servers or private investigators who can track down the individual’s location and complete the service of legal paperwork as needed.

Source: The Sun Sentinel, “Where’s Rothstein? Divorce hits delay because fraudster is in secret prison“, Paula McMahon, June 2, 2014

Tips to help those in a New York divorce protect their finances

Just as financial disagreements can cause a rift between two married people and eventually lead to adivorce, it can make the divorce process challenging to get through. This can be particularly concerning for a New York couple with significant assets. A few tips can help them to protect themselves financially during and after the divorce.

First, it’s typically ise to immediately close all accounts that one has opened jointly with an ex-spouse. This is important because if the ex decides to go on a shopping spree and rack up huge amounts of debt on a joint credit card, or drain a bank checking account, the other party could be held responsible for the credit card debt or for the resulting bank account overdraft fees. It’s helpful to suspend a joint account and confirm that it can’t be reversed of the account otherwise reopened.

In addition, it is normally essential to change the beneficiaries applicable accounts. Failure to do so may mean that an ex gets access to one’s assets, including a 401(k) or IRA, even after a divorce is final. The individual may also want to update his or her umbrella liability or homeowner’s insurance coverage. This may keep the person from paying to financially cover assets that he or she may no longer own.

If two people have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that dictates how high-value assets will be split during a divorce, this can be immensely helpful for the parties. If such an agreement doesn’t exist, the two can still strive to find common ground and reach a settlement together. Both parties have the right to fight for their individual wishes to be taken into consideration when making tough financial decisions during a New York divorce proceeding.

Source:, “22 Tips to Transform Your Financial Life After a Divorce“, Robert Pagliarini, July 28, 2014

Discussing divorce and visitation with one’s children

The best way to let kids know that their parents are preparing to divorce is in a “family meeting” type of setting. Whenever possible, both parents should be present. The meeting should take place in a familiar and comfortable environment, without scheduling pressures on the back-end. This is not a talk that should be rushed by a softball practice or scout meeting. Leaving it open-ended also gives kids a chance to formulate questions at their own pace, without feeling rushed.

When discussing the reasons for the divorce, parents should strike a balance between being open and honest with their kids and avoiding burdening them with information that they do not have the ability to process. It is perfectly acceptable to express sadness about the change in family structure, because this allows children to see that it is OK for them to be sad, as well. It goes without saying that parents should be absolutely sure that reconciliation is not possible before breaking the news to their kids.

When preparing for this meeting, parents in New York should not feel as though they have to cover every aspect of the divorce and resulting visitation schedule in one sitting. It takes a number of discussions to fully prepare kids for the changes ahead, and it is important that parents are able and willing to revisit the matter whenever necessary. By remaining available and accessible to their children, parents are providing the love and support that kids need to adjust to the transition as it occurs.

Source: The Huffington Post, “9 Things To Consider Before Telling Your Kids About The Divorce“, Armin Brott, July 26, 2014

The role that debt plays within property division in New York

When considering the financial aspects of a New York divorce, spouses should not overlook the issue of debt. Just as assets are divided during property division, so too are the debts accumulated within the course of the union. The manner in which debt is handled during divorce will play a significant role in the financial stability of both spouses in the years to come.

Perhaps the most important thing to realize is that one’s divorce agreement is of no concern to creditors. In the eyes of a credit card issuer or other creditor, the parties listed on the account are jointly responsible for repaying the debt, regardless of the agreement they may reach during the course of their divorce. Therefore, if one spouse agrees to assume a given debt and fails to repay that obligation, the creditor can and usually will pursue the other spouse for repayment.

The best way to avoid this fate is to pay down as much debt as possible before the divorce is finalized. In some cases, this will require dipping into savings or selling off an asset. However, the peace of mind that is gained holds a value in and of itself. Knowing that these accounts are paid off and closed can help one move forward without worries that the matter will arise at a later date.

When considering how to structure the division of debt during a New York divorce, spouses must take a big-picture approach to their current and future financial standing. Whenever possible, paying off as much debt as possible prior to the property division portion of a divorce is the best course of action, even if it means depleting savings or liquidating assets to do so. The ability to move on without fear of future credit damage has a value all its own.

Source: Fox Business, “Debt and Divorce: 5 Steps to Make a Clean Credit Split“, Dawn Papandrea, July 14, 2014

Parents often fear repercussions for enforcing child support

Many New York parents who have gone through divorce struggle to make ends meet each month. Raising kids on a single income is difficult, not to mention having to run a household and care for a child at the same time. When the other parent fails to contribute by way of paying child support, the custodial parent is often placed in a difficult position, and unsure how to best approach the issue.

Many parents fear that taking an aggressive stance toward child support enforcement will lead to tension with their child or children. This is especially true when the kids still have contact with the non-custodial parent, who may be playing the role of victim in the matter. However, allowing the other parent to fall behind in his or her child support obligations does no good for the child or children who need that support.

While the realities of child support enforcement may be difficult to explain to a child, parents must take action to ensure that the financial needs of the family are adequately met. In some cases, this means involving the court in the process. It is possible that a family court judge can communicate the importance of making timely payments without the necessity of punitive measures. However, the decision to make good on one’s obligation lies solely with the individual who is responsible for those payments.

As with most issues surrounding child custody and child support in New York, the best course of action is to refrain from discussing the matter in depth with a shared child. These are adult issues, and children are unable to grasp the complexities of the financial requirements of running a household. Including a child into the dialogue is not only not necessary, but could end up leading to tensions between all involved.

Source: The Washington Post, “Things can get ugly when family and money mix, especially over child support“, Michelle Singletary, July 12, 2014

In dividing marital property, focus on retirement accounts

The legal act of ending a marriage is the same for all New York couples, even though the details of each divorce are unique to the spouses involved. The same can be said of the intricacies within a divorce; both spouses are dealing with the same set of facts, but the best interests of one party can be vastly different from those of another. Women who are divorcing often have different concerns than their husbands, and should be sure to identify and address those needs during the division of marital property.

The primary example lies in retirement funding. While there are certainly notable exceptions, for the most part, women still earn less than their husbands, and often amass fewer retirement benefits. As a result, older women who move toward divorce have a unique set of needs when dividing marital assets. Unfortunately, many in the legal profession see far too many cases in which wives focus on the wrong set of assets.

Often, the error comes in fighting for the right to keep the family home, while letting retirement savings remain with the husband. This is usually not a good idea, as the value of retirement investments are a far more stable investment than a piece of property can be, especially in times of instability in the real estate market. In addition, the costs of maintaining and ultimately selling a home can make it an even more unbalanced division of assets.

Women should focus on the various retirement assets held within the family, and make savvy decisions on which types of marital property are best suited to meet their long-term financial goals. With the right degree of planning, it is possible to emerge from a New York divorce with a solid financial foundation for the future. For those nearing retirement age, certain assets are worth far more than others, even when the values appear to be similar on paper.

Source: Forbes, “The Big Money Mistake Divorcing Women Make“, Kerry Hannon, July 3, 2014

Knowing when it is time to file for a New York divorce

For spouses who are unhappy within their marriage, it can be hard to know when things have degraded to the point that divorce is the best possible option. Marriage vows are not something to be taken lightly, and most New York spouses will go through a great deal of internal debate and consideration before making the motions to end the marriage. There are some scenarios, however, in which divorce is clearly the right choice.

One example lies in cases in which one or both spouses have serious alcohol or drug addictions. The problems are deep-seated, and require professional help and a dedication to change on the part of the user. In the vast majority of cases, spouses who are married to an addict suffer a range of negative consequences, and grow to be deeply unhappy. When an individual who suffers from addiction issues is unwilling or unable to get treatment, his or her spouse has every justification to seek a divorce.

Another scenario in which divorce is often the best choice is when there have been acts of infidelity during the marriage. While there are certainly cases in which spouses can get beyond an affair, it is far more common for the betrayal to cause serious problems within the marriage. Unless a spouse feels confident that he or she can forgive the other person and re-establish a level of trust, it may be better to take steps to end the marriage.

While these are some of the more obvious examples of indicators of an irreparably failed marriage, there are many others that are not as easy to identify. Perhaps the best advice that can be given to spouses who are thinking about divorce is to work with a trusted therapist to gain a measure of clarity on the matter, and to determine what the best course of action might be for future happiness. This can be a difficult time, but many in New York are able to reach a decision that they are not only able to live with, but one that can lead to a vastly improved quality of life.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Is It Time to Get a Divorce?“, Honoree Corder, June 17, 2014


It is a difficult time for all of us but together we will get through this crisis. While travel restrictions are in place our office will continue to operate as we were previously set up to operate remotely in bad weather conditions. The staff continues to work from home and can be reached by email. Tammy can be reached at, Katherine can be reached at, Kevin MacKay can be reached at, and Richard Berube can be reached at Emails will be checked every hour from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If you are a new client, we are still taking in new matters. Most new clients do initial free consultations, and these will still be done over the phone or by video conference via Skype, Facetime or Zoom. You can call the office at 845-462-0001, the receptionist will still be answering phones remotely and if not available please follow the phone tree and press new client. This will transfer to one of the attorney's cell phones. You may also text Kevin MacKay at (845) 857-7717 or email any of the above individuals.
Many of the cases we deal with are stressful for our clients and the staff at the law firm appreciates your patience during this unprecedented time. Courts are closed for most non-essential matters but there are exceptions. Please call or email to confirm your court is cancelled. Stay healthy!