Family law is a legal practice area that focuses on issues involving family relationships, such as adoption, child custody, child support, domestic violence, among others. Families having to appear in family court to deal with domestic issues can be a very emotional and daunting process. We at the Law Office of Regine D. Pointdujour, PLLC are here to guide you through all aspects of family court matters to make the process as smooth and painless as possible.
Adoption is a life-changing moment for a child and their adoptive family!
Adoption is the legal process in which parental rights are transferred to the adopting parents, creating a new parent-child relationship. In New York, there are two types of adoptions with different procedures – agency adoptions and private placement adoptions. Our legal team will help you understand the issues involved in adopting a child, prepare all the required documentation and represent you at the adoption hearings.
Child Neglect & Abuse
Child neglect and abuse cases are civil proceedings this could have deep consequences for families. These cases are brought by an authorized agency against parents or caregivers accursed of neglecting or abusing children. These proceedings are governed by Article 10 of the Family Court Act, and are heard exclusively in Family Court. In New York City, the agency authorized to file neglect proceedings is the Administration for Children's Services (ACS). When the abuse or neglect is severe, there may be concurrent criminal charges filed against the parents as well.
Examples of Child Neglect
Examples of Child Abuse
Physical Abuse - hitting, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, strangling, scalding, burning, poisoning and suffocating
In determining custody, the courts seek to determine what is in the best interest of the child(ren). Determining the best interests involves a complex inquiry, such as: “the quality of the home environment and the parental guidance the custodial parent provides for the child, the ability of each parent to provide for the child’s emotional and intellectual development, the financial status and ability of each parent to provide for the child, the relative fitness of the respective parents, and the effect an award of custody to one parent might have on the child’s relationship with the other parent.” Matter of Yu Chao Tan v. Hong Shan Kuang, 136 AD3d 933, 934 (2d Dept 2016).
There are two types of custody: Legal custody and physical/residential custody.
Legal custody involves decision-making surrounding the health, education, religion, and general welfare of the child.
Physical custody is where the child primarily resides.
Who will get custody of your child is not a foregone conclusion. Simply because you’re a father doesn’t mean you can’t get custody of your child, and just because you’re a mother does not mean you will automatically get custody of your child.
Your lawyer will be negotiating with the lawyer of your ex-partner to sort out issues regarding child custody and avoid a full-blown battle in court. It is also important to suggest a solution that is in the best interest of the child since that will help tilt the case in your favor and give your lawyer some bargaining power.
Custody on an Emergency Basis
A parent may seek emergency temporary child custody under the following circumstances:
- You have reason to believe that the child will be relocated without your consent
- You have reason to believe that the child has been a victim of child abuse or neglect
Child support is set up specifically so that the costs of raising a child will be shared by both parents. There are very clear guidelines, which is outlined in The Child Support Standards Act, that dictate how much money will be involved.
Generally, the amount of child support that the non-custodial parent pays to the custodial parent will be:
One child: 17% of total income
Two children: 25% of total income
Three children: 29% of total income
Four children: 31% of total income
Five or more children: 35% of total income, or more
Special needs of the child and other factors can be taken into account that may alter the percentages involved.
Divorces come in two forms: contested and uncontested.
In a contested divorce, resolutions to disputes are put in the hands of the courts. A contested divorce often comes about when there is substantial property or assets and a feeling by one spouse or the other that he/she deserves more. In New York the court will divide property according to equitable distribution, a fancy way of saying according to what is fair. Factors considered include each spouses earning power, non-marital property, and services as the homemaker, duration of the marriage and the age and health of both parties.
In an uncontested divorce, the divorcing parties will work together to agree upon a resolution. When you and your spouse agree to divorce, the most simple and cost effective route is to pursue an uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce couples agree to the division of their assets and debt without the help of the courts. You work out an agreed upon plan for child custody and child support.
Whether a divorce is contested or uncontested, more often than not, divorce involves addressing a variety of issues, including:
Modification or Enforcement
In order to request a modification of a court order, there typically needs to have been a substantial change in circumstances since the initial order was issued. Perhaps you have lost your job and can’t pay child support or you have lost your job and require an increase in child support payments. Perhaps your former spouse has remarried and you believe you should no longer pay alimony.
When child support payments are not being made and custody and visitation agreements are not being followed, there are steps that can be taken. A person failing to follow court orders can be held in contempt of court. In serious situations, this can result in jail time. We will use the enforcement options to see that your needs are being met according to the divorce agreement.
Order of Protection
A person who is in fear of their safety can petition for an Order of Protection in family court against a person with whom they have an “intimate relationship.” The Order of Protection can protect the person from being subjected to disorderly conduct, harassment, sexual misconduct, forcible touching, sexual abuse, stalking, criminal mischief, menacing, reckless endangerment, criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation, strangulation, assault, and other prohibited behaviors.
If you are a survivor of domestic violence and would like to obtain an Order of Protection against your spouse, family member, partner, or someone with whom you have a relationship with, the Law Office of Regine D. Pointdujour, PLLC can help you take steps to ensure your protection.
Being accused of committing an act of domestic violence can have a serious impact on your personal and professional life. Having an Order of Protection issued against you can directly impact the amount and quality of the access that you will be afforded with your children, access to your home, among many other limitations. Call our office today to help guide you through this emotional process.
A paternity lawsuit may be necessary to determine parental rights if the identity of the biological father is in question. A paternity determination can ultimately involve a wide range of family law issues such as child custody, visitation, child support, and other family law matters centering on children; the courts are guided by the principle of protecting the best interests of the child.
In representing our clients, we are guided by the same principle. We understand that children deserve to have their father in their lives. We understand that fathers deserve to be far more than a weekend stay over and source of financial support.
Pre & Post Nuptial Agreement
A prenuptial agreement, also called a premarital agreement or contract, is a contract that allows a couple to decide what will become property of the marriage and what will remain each person’s separate property. It typically lists the property owned by each person as well as their debts, and specifies what each person’s property rights will be after marriage.
Like a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement can head off disputes over money by forcing the spouses to think about and agree upon these matters before disputes arise. A post-nuptial agreement is a contract that is entered into after a couple has entered into a marriage.
A grandparent can seek visitation or custody of a child in either Family or Supreme Court.
While parents have a fundamental right to raise their children as they desire, the court will recognize a grandparents right to request court-ordered visitation when:
they have a substantial existing relationship with their grandchildren, or
the child’s parents have interfered with their efforts to establish or maintain a relationship.
The courts must determine if it will be in the best interest of the child(ren) to for the grandparent(s) to have a relationship with the child(ren). This right applies only to biological or adoptive grandparents and does not extend to great-grandparents.
Courts typically refer to time spent with a child as “visitation time.” At the Law Office of Regine D. Pointdujour, PLLC, we prefer to refer to this quality time as “parenting time.” We believe that time spent with your children is not only important to you but a vital part of their upbringing. Persons who can petition the court for “parenting time” includes: parents, grandparents, and siblings.