New York City New York Family Law Blog

How do you choose where to divorce?

A divorce isn't always easy, but it's sometimes a necessity that comes after years of marriage or months of trying to work through difficulties. The reality is that some people do better when they're not in a relationship with each other, and a divorce can help that happen. Unfortunately, ending a marriage is not as simple as ending a relationship with a boyfriend or girlfriend. There are legal steps to take to make sure you resolve issues with your divorce and that you can start fresh.

Deciding whether to divorce or not is up to you and your spouse, but if you're ready to start the process, then it's time to look into filing. You'll want to file for divorce based on where you currently hold residency. If you and your spouse currently hold residency in two places, then either state could have jurisdiction over your case.

Establish paternity to guarantee your parental rights

Fathers have many rights when it comes to their children. Fathers need to make sure they establish those rights, though. While a mother can be assumed upon a child's birth, the same isn't true about a father. As such, the best thing for a father to do is to make sure he seeks a paternity test or agrees to a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity.

After a child's birth, you can sign a legitimation form, which is the form that grants you the right to provide for and raise your child, even if you are not married to the mother. If you're not sure that you are the true father, you may want to ask for a DNA test. If the mother won't agree, you can file a paternity lawsuit to seek a DNA test to prove that you are or are not the father of the child.

Do unwed fathers have a right to custody?

When you aren't married, it can make obtaining custody much harder if you are the father of a child. Why? It's because the mother is the only guaranteed parent.

As an unmarried father, there are steps you can take to make sure you can see your child. For instance, you can ask for a paternity test or exercise your rights based on signing the child's birth certificate and an Acknowledgement of Paternity.

Is there still a bias in custody cases?

As a father, the last thing you want to find out is that you're going to have limited time with your child because of your gender. In court, there is not supposed to be a bias against fathers. Instead, a judge is intended to look at the child custody case and to make sure that the child gets time with both parents (when it is safe to have this arrangement).

There is not supposed to be a bias toward mothers receiving custody. This is an old thought process, and it's one that should not be pervasive in today's courts. If you believe that a judge is biased, there are some steps you can take, like asking the judge to step down and be replaced by another judge or having your attorney help you settle your custody arrangements outside court. By settling your custody arrangements without the judge's influence, you'll have the most control over what happens with your parent-child relationship.

What needs to be determined before my divorce becomes final?

As a father seeking to end your marriage, you likely have concerns not only about the divorce process, but also related to continuing your relationship with your children.  As with any divorce, you and your partner must agree upon the terms of your divorce for it to move forward. To end your marriage with your rights in mind, the two of you must agree on the basics.

Be aware of divorce's effects on kids during the holidays

If you are a parent going through a divorce and your first holiday season as newly single, it may feel overwhelming. Perhaps Thanksgiving didn't go as planned, and you're dreading spending the winter holidays as a single parent.

For most children, their parents' divorce will be the most challenging event that they have ever experienced. Despite their own feelings of sadness and loss at the end of the marriage, divorcing parents must still protect their children's tender feelings at this difficult time.

5 rules for telling your children about your divorce

Going through the divorce process will be tough on you. Just the same, you can expect your children to face difficulties along the way. It's your job to do whatever it takes to put their mind at ease during this challenging time.

Here are five rules to follow when telling your children about your divorce:

  • Have a plan: Know what you want to say and how you want to convey your message. This avoids a situation in which you're stuck and not sure of what to do next.
  • Be ready to answer questions: If your children are old enough to talk, they are likely to have questions about your divorce. You must be willing to answer every last one.
  • Don't lie to them: It's easy to tell your children what they want to hear, but this will only make things worse. Be open and honest from the start.
  • Do it at the right time: It's not a good idea to tell your children about your divorce right before they leave for school or a few minutes before they go to bed. You need enough time in your schedule to touch on everything.
  • Let them know you're always available to talk: This may be the most important step, as you want your children to come to you in the future should they have anything else on their mind.

Personal property can be a sticking point during your divorce

The moment you decide to divorce is the moment you should turn your attention to the property division process. While you know you won't get to keep every asset, you should fight for what's yours.

Personal property is often a sticking point during a divorce. By preparing for this in advance, you may be able to avoid some stress down the road.

Time to ask your spouse for a divorce? Do these things

If the time has come to ask your spouse for a divorce, there are sure to be many things running through your mind. Even though it's a scary situation, you need to proceed in order to get your life back on track.

Since this is such a sensitive conversation, there are several things you'll want to do to ease the tension. Here are five tips:

  • Prepare for everything: You need to know what to say, when to say it and how to respond to everything your spouse will throw at you.
  • Choose the right time and place: This is one of the most important conversations you'll ever have, so you need to choose a time and place that allows you to discuss everything in private.
  • Be safe: If you're concerned about your safety, it's okay to ask for a divorce in a public place or over the phone. It's not ideal, but your safety should always come first.
  • Don't talk about the details: For example, if you own a variety of valuable assets together, you may be tempted to talk about this when asking for a divorce. However, you don't want to cloud the water with these details right now.
  • Don't expect everything to go smoothly: Even if your spouse is okay with the idea of divorce, you're sure to run into challenges.

Planning for your child’s tuition in a divorce

Many things change during a divorce. Separating spouses expect to make a lot of tough adjustments. Long-term plans need modifications. Both men and women need to reassess retirement, consider disruption with savings and more. When children are in the mix, the money situation gets even more complex. You want the best for your family, so it is important to factor in a higher education for your children.

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