What does child custody have to do with your job?

For those New York parents who are going through a divorce, the stressful aspects of that process can begin to bleed into other areas of life, including one’s career. This can be especially true for parents who are going through a difficult child custody struggle, while trying to maintain their job performance. It is important to acknowledge the challenges of juggling one’s personal and work lives, and to put coping strategies into place that can prevent a negative impact on one’s career path.

One of the most important steps that a divorcing parent can take is to avoid discussing their child custody struggles at work. Doing so can lead to the assumption by one’s co-workers and supervisors that a worker is distracted from their work-related tasks, and is not able to maintain the required pace during a time of personal struggle. These assumptions can linger long after the divorce is over, and can even impact future promotion assessments and performance evaluations.

Talking to one’s co-workers about divorce and child custody issues can also lead to tension within the workplace. Often, people don’t know how to react when confronted with information of a personal nature, especially if they do not have a strong friendship bond with the person going through a divorce. In some cases, hearing constant updates on the divorce and child custody proceeding of a co-worker only serves to remind one of his or her own divorce experience, which can make it even more uncomfortable.

The best course of action is to allow work to be a space in which one’s divorce has no influence. Focus on work while at work, and focus on divorce and child custody matters when at home. By doing so, many New York spouses will find that they have a better outcome in both regards. Preserving one’s career path is an important goal, especially during the end of a marriage, when the future can be uncertain.

Source:, “Divorce can be a career limiting event if you aren’t careful“, Lee E. Miller, June 15, 2014

Spouses could be hiding marital assets online

When a New York couple is preparing to divorce, one of the most important tasks that must be accomplished involves gathering information on the family’s financial standing. This includes gaining access to documents regarding income, assets and debt. For some, questions will arise during this process when certain holdings seem to be depleted. In such cases, it may be possible that a spouse has taken steps to attempt to shield marital assets from the property division portion of the divorce.

One way that spouses can achieve this goal is through the use of services such as Bitcoin. This company offers clients the ability to convert their money into a form of digital currency. The funds are then stored online in a Bitcoin account. Many readers may recall that Bitcoin was the currency service of choice for many Silk Road customers. Silk Road, which has since been shut down, was an online marketplace for the sale of drugs, illegal weapons and other illegal goods and services.

For those who are preparing to divorce, Bitcoin offers a high degree of anonymity and a difficult road to follow when trying to link a client and hi or her online account. For those spouses who are not above taking unscrupulous action to attain a monetary gain, Bitcoin offers a way to hide assets. While it is possible to discover this type of digital currency conversion, it is not easy to do so.

For New York spouses who are concerned that their partner may have converted marital wealth into a form of online currency, there are several ways to find answers. One simple suggestion is to ask, by means of including online currency within the list of assets that are required to be disclosed. This step may be enough to persuade a spouse to come clean about these funds. In other cases, however, it may be necessary to hire a forensic computer specialist to determine whether marital assets may have been converted into a digital format.

Source: CNBC, “Bitcoin could be used to hide assets in divorces, warn lawyers“, Jane Croft, June 3, 2014

Should ex-spouses communicate on alimony tax issues post- divorce

Once a marriage has ended, many spouses in New York hope to have far fewer reasons to communicate with their former partner. In fact, those without children may envision a future in which no communication is necessary. When it comes to tax matters related to alimony payments, however, it may be a good idea to remain in touch after a divorce, especially in the weeks prior to filing both tax returns.

This is due to the fact that many formerly married couples will remain linked within their tax documents. Spouses who pay alimony can claim those payments as a tax deduction, but are required to provide the IRS with a Tax Identification Number (TIN) for the party who receives those payments. This link gives the IRS the ability to track whether the amount claimed by the paying spouse matches that claimed as income by the recipient. When those two numbers do not match, the result could be the unwelcome attention of an IRS agent.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently completed an audit of tax returns for the year 2010. The result was the discovery that the IRS has not caught a great many returns that appear to contain discrepancies, errors or acts of fraud. The basis of these questionable returns are instances in which the alimony deduction amount does not match the amount claimed as income by the recipient. It is estimated that the IRS could lose approximately $1.7 billion in revenue over a period of five years, in addition to $1.6 million in lost penalties.

For those in New York who are paying or receiving alimony, it may be a good idea to try to reach out to one’s former spouse as tax time approaches. While sharing the full details of one’s return is not necessary, former spouses should check that the alimony being claimed as a deduction matches the amount claimed as income. Doing so could save a great deal of time, money and stress if and when one’s return is chosen for an audit by the IRS.

Source: The Washington Free Beacon, “IRS Approved $2.3 Billion in Fraudulent Alimony Deductions“, Elizabeth Harrington, May 22, 2014

Adoptive couple devastated by child custody dispute

It takes a special New York family to make the decision to open their hearts and their home to an adopted child. Without such caring parents, many more children would be left to grow up in foster care or institutional settings, when their biological parents are unwilling or unable to care for them. When making the decision to adopt, however, it is imperative to have a full understanding of any and all potential challenges that could arise in the years to come. One couple is currently embroiled in a child custodycase that reversed their adoption, and led to the loss of their 9-year-old daughter.

The child was placed in their care as a foster child before the age of two. In 2008, the couple adopted her, and gave her what they thought would be a permanent home. Her biological father was a convicted felon serving a 15 year sentence in federal prison, which led to the automatic loss of his parental rights. Everything seemed to be in place to secure a permanent adoptive placement, and the adoptive couple were overjoyed.

The biological father, however, was able to negotiate a deal in which his sentence was reduced to less than eight years. That change allowed him to pursue his parental rights. When he made efforts to regain his child custody rights, a court allowed the child to remain in the home of her adoptive parents, as she had already established a close bond with them. Nearly five years later, her adoption was reversed, and a court ordered that she be placed in the care of her adoptive father.

This unusual child custody case has no clear winners, as both sides have been or will be deprived of a portion of their daughter’s childhood. The case does serve as a warning to all prospective adoptive parents of the need to have a comprehensive understanding of New York law before moving forward with an adoption. Understanding the potential challenges that an adoptive family could face is an important component to bolstering one’s parental rights.

Source: CNN, “Adoptive parents fight for custody of 9-year-old Sonya“, Randi Kaye, May 20, 2014

Property division and social security benefits within divorce

While considering the details of their divorce, many New York spouses fail to give the proper attention to their retirement planning. The two topics may seem unrelated at first glance, but they are in fact intertwined. The outcome of one’s property division settlement can have a huge impact on retirement funding, and smart spouses will include retirement planning in their negotiation strategy.

When determining the division of marital assets, individuals must begin with a working understanding of their projected retirement income. For those who feel that they may need additional financial help during retirement, it makes sense to pursue investments during the property division process. These types of assets will provide a better income stream in later years, as opposed to the family home or personal property.

Many spouses are unaware that they will be able to claim Social Security benefits against the work record of their ex. This is true only when the marriage lasted at least ten years, and when the divorce has been final at least two years prior to making the initial claim. Claiming these benefits can allow an individual to postpone claiming against their own record, which allow the payment level to grow as time passes.

However, in order to maximize one’s Social Security benefits in this way, it must be financially feasible to get by on the Social Security spousal benefit while the individual benefit grows. This requires advance planning, and the acquisition of other income-producing assets. For those in New York who can take a big-picture approach to divorce and property division, it is possible to structure an agreement that will ensure financial stability as retirement approaches.

Source: Fox Business, “5 Ways Divorce Can Impact Your Social Security Benefits“, , May 13, 2014

For unwed fathers, child custody can be an uphill battle

In today’s world, the face of the modern American family has shifted. Many parents in New York choose to raise their children in a non-traditional setting, and there are plenty of success stories featuring moms and dads who have found a way to make unique parenting arrangement that suit their particular needs. It must be noted, however, that the law is often slow to catch up to social change, and that parents who are not careful to protect their parental rights can face serious legal obstacles when trying to assert their child custody rights.

Such is the case for actor Jason Patric. Patric and his former girlfriend choose to conceive a child through artificial insemination. Reports do not indicate whether Patric was the donor, or if the couple used another party to complete that process. What is clear is that the pair failed to establish Patric’s paternity through any form of written agreement.

As a result, when the parties went their separate ways, Patric was in a difficult legal position to obtain access to his son. The matter went before a court, where the child’s mother received full custody rights. Patric is now left to pursue the matter in appeals. In a recent hearing, the actor was granted the right to use his son’s name in efforts to raise awareness of his fathers’ rights cause.

This case serves as an example of the importance of establishing a legal connection to one’s child or children. Few New York parents begin the process of raising their child with the belief that they will part ways. However, this is often the case, and a father who cannot claim a legal bond with a child is left in a difficult child custody position.

Source:, “Jason Patric – Jason Patric Wins Latest Battle In Child Custody War“, , April 29, 2014

Will “conscious uncoupling” be the new divorce norm?

Social trends come and go, and serve to paint a fleeting portrait of where we are as a culture. This is true of divorce, as much as of marriage, courtship or other social interactions. With the recently announced split between actress Gwyneth Paltrow and musician Chris Martin, a new divorce trend may soon arise, that of “conscious uncoupling.” The concept is not of the celebrity couple’s own design, but is a therapeutic approach created some years ago to help couples in New York and across the nation find a better path to resolution within their divorce.

In many cases, the choices made by high-profile couples will influence those made by the general public. In regard to conscious uncoupling, many stand to benefit from the example set by the Paltrow/Martin divorce. If the couple is able to complete their transition from married to single, using this method, they will present an excellent example of a divorce approach that is respectful, kind and considerate.

In conscious uncoupling, parties work to identify the aspects of their individual personalities that can stand in the way of a cooperative end to the marriage. Once those traits are acknowledged, individuals can work to avoid letting old habits, fear or misconceptions influence their interaction with each other. The end result can be a divorce process that focuses on building a foundation for the relationship that the parties will have moving forward, and not on rehashing the differences that led to the split in the first place.

While many in New York might dismiss the idea of conscious uncoupling as little more than a celebrity divorce trend, there is a great deal to be gained from integrating the basics of this approach into any divorce. When spouses are able to set aside their emotions and focus on the choices that must be made within a divorce, the outcome can be better for everyone. This may be one celebrity divorce that provides a positive example, rather than just salacious details and tabloid speculation.

Don’t let emotions overrule reason in child custody matters

When a New York marriage ends in divorce, the primary concern for parents involves how the rights and responsibilities of child rearing will be divided. For many, this can be a stressful and emotional time, as the realities of dividing parenting time set in. It is easy to allow one’s fears and uncertainties influence decision-making during child custody negotiations, but parents should make every effort to control their emotional response to the situation and focus on making the best possible decisions.

One way that many parents sabotage their own child custody case involves turning to social media as an outlet for their emotions. Many of us believe that what we say and do online can be made private, or can be deleted without a trace. In reality, however, there is no such thing as online “privacy,” and no way to fully retract information once it is put into the virtual realm. Social media is becoming a factor in more and more child custody cases, and parents are well-advised to understand how a momentary lapse of judgment could derail their bid for custody.

A common mistake that parents make during the course of a custody case is to vent their frustrations about the other parent on their social media pages. It is important to understand that doing so can be portrayed in court as an inability to make reasonable and tempered decisions, which can then be used to questions one’s parenting skills. In addition, parents who bash their former spouse online are often asked why they would post negative comments that their children could potentially read. This is a nearly impossible action to defend in front of a judge.

For those in New York who are preparing for a child custody battle, the best course of action is to avoid making any reference to the divorce or your soon-to-be-ex on social media sites. There is nothing wrong with taking a Facebook or Twitter hiatus during this busy time, especially when online outbursts can cause a great deal of damage. Perhaps the best way to vent one’s frustrations is the tried-and-true method that our parents used: a drink with a close friend who is willing to listen and provide support.

Source: The Huffington Post, The Divorce Mistakes You Don’t Even Know You’re Making, Taryn Hillin, March 18, 2014

Child custody issues

Child custody issues can be resolved

Child custody issues can be resolved by creating routines

When kids go through their parent’s divorce, it can be difficult for them to know what to expect from the process and the eventual outcome. Children thrive on structure and consistency, and divorce and child custody changes can throw a wrench in their daily routines. For New York parents who want to ease the transition from one household into two, the creation of new routines can be instrumental to their success.

While it may be difficult for parents to work together to create new routines, the benefits are well worth the effort. Children will have a far easier time adjusting to the change in family dynamic if many of the household rules and schedules are the same within both homes. This can include bedtimes, morning routines, homework expectations and even household rules. By collaborating on these issues, parents can ensure that their kids know what to expect, no matter if they are with mom or dad.Child custody issues can be resolved in Poughkeepsie

For younger children, having a nighttime routine where a parent reads to them for a period of time before bed can help create a peaceful end to the day. Older children can benefit from a dedicated hour after dinner to get help on their homework or talk about issues at school. No matter what the routine may be, consistency is the key to success.

When creating a child custody and visitation schedule, parents in New York should take the time to discuss this issue with each other. When both mom and dad agree that working out shared routines is the best course of action, the path ahead can be made far smoother for everyone. Often, taking the focus away from their own issues and placing it on the well-being of their shared children can help divorcing parents make an easier transition into their new parenting roles.

Source: Deseret News National, How raising kids within routines boosts social and emotional health, Lois M. Collins, March 17, 2014

Unusual child support order focuses on tuition

For many New York parents who divorce, the financial support for their shared children is a top concern. Child support determinations comprise a significant portion of the divorce negotiations, and each family has the right to decide on a support plan that meets their own unique needs. Many families include the cost of a college education in their child support agreement, but parents should be wary of how this part of their divorce settlement is worded.

One area father has recently learned the hard way that the details of such an agreement must be clearly spelled out in writing to avoid potential disputes when it comes time to write tuition checks. He and his former wife agreed to cover the cost of their daughter’s postgraduate education, should she decide to pursue a law degree. However, when the time came to begin those studies, father and daughter were estranged, leading to a dispute that recently went before a family court judge.

Within the divorce agreement, the only condition placed upon the obligation of the parents to pay for their daughter’s legal education was that she maintain a “C” average during her studies. However, the father argued in court that it was also expected that she begin her postgrad work within a year or two after receiving her undergraduate degree, and that she attend Rutgers University, where her father is a professor. Instead, she chose Cornell Law School, where tuition runs approximately $225,000.

In court, the judge ruled that because there were no such conditions outlined within the divorce settlement, the father is responsible for covering half of the cost of his daughter’s tuition. For parents in New York who are negotiating the details of their own divorce settlements concerning child support, this ruling serves as a warning of the importance of including any and all stipulations on an agreement to send their child to college. Failing to do so can lead to serious financial hardship if the cost of tuition and expenses runs higher than expected.

Source:, NJ court orders divorced father to pay half of daughter’s pricey law school expenses, Jeff Goldman, March 5, 2014