Divorce 101

Divorce 101

Together with the Additional Topics in Matrimonial Law CLE, this CLE was broadcast live from Rochester's Hall of Justice as part of New York State's first live broadcast of pro bono CLEs, as confirmed by John Ritchie, Esq., Special Counsel to the Hon. Fern A. Fisher, Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for New York City Courts and Director, NYS Courts Access to Justice Program. The major topics addressed include an overview of a divorce action, judgment rolls & more and child support basics.

Subsequent to this CLE training in May, 2010, there have been several important changes in New York Divorce Law:

On October 12, 2010, New York's no-fault divorce law went into effect. Before that, a spouse wanting a divorce had to accuse the other of a specific legal breach such as cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment, adultery, prolonged incarceration, etc. Now, NY simply requires a claim by one spouse only that "the relationship between husband and wife has broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months", though issues of spousal support (alimony), property settlement/distribution and child custody and child support must be resolved before a court can enter a final divorce decree.

In addition, this new law allows a court to award temporary spousal maintenance (alimony) while the divorce is pending if one spouse's income is less than two-thirds of the other spouse's. The new formula is the lesser of:

In addition to awarding temporary spousal maintenance, the law goes even further to create a presumption that the spouse with the higher income will, in the court's discretion, pay both spouses' attorney's fees for the divorce. Previously, the burden to get such an award was higher and thus an award was rare. Under the new law, an attempt is being made to "level the playing field" so that lower earning spouses can hire counsel without worrying who will pay the bill.

Finally, the new law also allows modifications in child support orders in the event of a "substantial change in circumstances", which is defined as a fifteen percent or more change in either party's gross income. However, a mere reduction of one party's income is insufficient unless the reduction was involuntary and that party has diligently tried to find other employment, the goal being to protect children, the innocent bystanders in divorce proceedings. Similar to the changes above, this provision seeks to ensure predictability and equity in the dissolution of a marriage.

Date of original presentation: 05/07/2010

Presented by: Paloma Capanna, Esq., Lisa Sadinsky, Esq., and Kevin Nasca, Esq., Principal Law Clerk to the Hon. John M. Owens, J.S.C.

Total viewing time: 2 hours 33 minutes

CLE credit: 1.5 Professional Practice, 1.5 Skills

Cost for viewing this training if CLE credit is requested: $60.00 for Not-for-Profit Agencies; $90.00 for Private Practice Attorneys. There is no charge for viewing this training unless CLE credit is requested. Attorneys located in or near Monroe County may receive CLE credit free of charge in exchange for a commitment to accept and complete one Volunteer Legal Services Project of Monroe County, Inc. pro bono case within one year. The fee will be refunded after the attorney completes a case and requests a refund.

Financial Hardship Policy: Available upon request. Contact Linda Kostin, Pro Bono Coordinator, Seventh Judicial District

Newly admitted attorneys in New York State cannot receive CLE credit for online training.

If you are an attorney who is not licensed in New York State and want CLE credit, please check to see if your state allows New York State CLE credits to be applied to your state's CLE requirements.

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