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Lauren F. Riesenfeld Law, P.C.
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How To Avoid A Costly Divorce: Impact Makers Radio Interview with Stewart Andrew Alexander
Listen in as Lauren speaks about how to avoid a costly Divorce. Sit back with a notebook and pen and learn more about the process.
An ongoing series of informational entries
Now That Spousal Support Is Not Taxable Nor Deductible on Federal Tax Returns, Should the New York State Maintenance Guidelines Be Modified?
Linked article courtesy of Susan M. Moss, Carl Wu and Maryanne Koussa, New York Law Journal.
August 10, 2022
Divorce can undoubtedly be a difficult process, both emotionally and financially. One of the biggest financial concerns for any spouse going through a divorce, is the issue of spousal support, which in New York State is referred to as “spousal maintenance.”
Many divorcing couples, however, are unaware of the fact that spousal support is no longer permitted as a tax deductible to the payor-spouse, on their Tax Returns, due to new Federal law(s) in place.
This may come as a surprise to some, especially since spousal support payments are counted as income and are factored into child support determinations. However, the IRS has deemed spousal support payments to be no longer a tax deductible, and the question now is then whether New York State’s Domestic Relation Law(s) will also be amended in response to this modification in Federal law.
To date, New York State has not revised its formula to account for this change. Should the New York State Spousal Maintenance Guidelines be amended? That is simply a question up for major debate at this time.
This article will examine what, if anything, should be done regarding this change.
Transgender Surgeries - Should Divorcing Parents Be Legally Responsible to Financially Contribute?
July 27, 2022
In our ever-changing society, transgender children are becoming more and more common. During a child’s lifetime, there comes a point in time when they will need and/or want to make a decision whether to undergo certain elective medical procedures to either partially or completely transition themselves physically, into the sex they feel connected with. Apart from the utter importance of making this initial decision(s), is the financial component involved in signing up for these costly procedures. Specifically, undergoing one or multiple transgender procedures can cost a person thousands upon thousands of dollars, which health insurance likely will not/does not cover as these procedures fall under the “elective procedure” category.
Under New York Domestic Relations Law(s), both parents are responsible for their pro-rata financial share of any and all uncovered and/or unreimbursed medical expenses incurred by their child/children until the age of 21. The statute requires parents use in-network medical providers, unless under emergency circumstances.
However, the New York laws do not provide for either parent’s financial obligation towards a child’s elective surgery/medical procedure for any purposes, whatsoever. Indeed, while a child and/or adult-child may wish to undergo certain elective surgical procedures for a variety of reasons, the particular area of transgender elective procedures, is uncharted territory to date under New York’s Domestic Relation Law(s). In some ways, such a procedure or series of procedures may be deemed necessary in regards to a child’s mental health. As such, the question then becomes whether or not a parent may be permitted to deny their child and/or adult-child, the financial support necessary towards
such a life-changing and vital medical procedure, especially when such procedure(s) are not covered under the child’s current health insurance plan.
This question becomes even more murky, when one or both parents do not agree with their child’s decision to become transgender. In those instances, it is arguably even more unlikely that a parent or both parents, will voluntarily financially contribute to their child’s elective procedure(s), and/or feel that the law should obligate them to be financially responsible to any extent of a procedure they disapprove of.
Moreover, without further guidance on this specific issue under the law, parents are forced to battle both inside and outside of Court regarding whether or not one or both parents will voluntarily agree to be financially responsible for this add-on expense.
For more on this subject, read the following linked article, Child Custody’s Gender Gauntlet, courtesy of Abigail Shrier, City-Journal.org.
Family Court Reform Bill: Experts in Child Custody Cases Must Be Licensed
Linked article courtesy of Chris Bragg, TimesUnion.com.
July 13, 2022
Bill passes both houses of Legislature and awaits the governor's action.
By a unanimous vote, the state Senate passed the bill raising standards to be a "forensic evaluator" providing paid expertise in Family Court cases.
The bill would require forensic evaluators to be licensed New York psychiatrists, psychologists or social workers — a mandate that had not uniformly existed across the state.
The bill is the first among a package seeking to increase child safety in Family Court that has passed both the Senate and the Assembly.
New York is one step closer to passing the Donor-Conceived Person Protection Act
Linked article courtesy of Ellen Trachman, AboveTheLaw.com.
June 22, 2022
This groundbreaking bill will provide immense protections for those conceived through donor conception.
Many recipients are surprised to learn that most sperm banks do not verify the information provided by donors, but take them at their word.
As with any new proposals, there are pros and cons from both recipients and reproductive tissue banks.
If passed, it would add into state law a duty for reproductive tissue banks to collect and verify medical, educational, and criminal background information for all donors.
New York Law Extends a Parent's Child Support Obligation to Age 26 for Adult-Children with Special Needs
June 8, 2022
As of October, 2021, New York State has joined 40 other states in extending a parent’s obligation to pay child support past the age of 21 years old for adult-children with special needs.
Indeed, New York now marks the 41st State that has joined in this legislation, taking into account the considerable ongoing expenses that a parent/parents incur as a result of an adult-child’s special needs.
New York State has modified its child support law(s) pertaining to adult-children with special needs.
Prior to this new enactment, a parent was only obligated to pay child support up until the age of 21 years old, despite circumstances such as adult-children with special needs.
This lack of extension for special circumstances such as this, typically left one parent as the sole financial provider for any and all expenses incurred as a result of their child’s special needs after the age of 21.
New York's Child Support Modification for Children with Special Needs.
This new law permits a custodial parent to petition the Family Court for an extension of child support for children with developmental disabilities. See Domestic Relations Law Section 240(d); Family Court Act Section 413(b).
A custodial parent and/or caregiver of a developmentally disabled child and whom the child is principally dependent on, including, but not limited to, residing with, may seek this said extension from the Court.
Child Support Extension for Children with Special Needs
Specifically, the child/adult-child must be diagnosed by a medical professional with a developmental disability.
A “developmental disability,” is as defined by the Mental Health Law, which includes, but is not limited to, cognitive, developmental and physical disabilities.
The disability must: (1) have originated before the child became 22 years old; (2) have continued, or can be expected to continue, indefinitely; and (3) constitutes a substantial handicap to the child’s ability to function normally in society. See, Mental Health Law §1.03 (22).
Thus, if a support Order is already in effect, this law allows a parent to petition the Court for a modification of the current child support order.
If an Order is not currently in place, this law permits a parent/guardian to either stipulate and/or receive an Order from the Court granting this extension of support.
The Rise of Gig Economy and What it Means for Divorce
Linked article courtesy of Nathalie Boutet, FamilyLawyerMagazine.com
May 25, 2022
It has now been a little over two (2) years since the COVID-19 Pandemic first began. Many people have been turning to what’s referred to as a “gig economy” when it comes to work. As a result, businesses are hiring more freelance and contract workers, rather than hiring full-time employees/staff. But for separating couples in New York – the “gig economy” and remote work setting, presents many new challenges especially when determining child and spousal support during a divorce.
The article below, discusses the complexities and assessments regarding these issues.
Parenting Plan Pitfalls:
the “First Right of Caretaking” Clause
Linked article courtesy of Annette Burns, FamilyLawyerMagazine.com
May 11, 2022
Would you agree to include this provision in your drafted Custody Agreement? A “right of first refusal” can be a helpful clause to include in custody agreements. This clause allows the other parent the first right to care for the child when the other parent is working and/or unable to spend their scheduled time with the child. This allows for the child to bond with the other parent during these times, rather than spend the time with a third-party and possible stranger. It is always better when a child/children can spend time with their parents versus a stranger or third-party. However, not all parents are willing to agree to include this provision within their custody agreement(s).
Running a Law Firm Remotely During COVID-19: Challenges and Solutions
January 15, 2022
Enjoy this re-post of my published article in FamilyLawyerMagazine.com
Running a law firm remotely during COVID-19 has its fair share of challenges. My best advice for riding out the pandemic is to embrace this new reality and work on adjusting both your personal mindset and business practices to evolve with it.
Although my firm was not specifically prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic, we were certainly prepared to have full functioning capabilities while working remotely. My firm was initially set up with remote capabilities so that I would be able to access my client files, work on documents and administrative data like billing, even when not in the office. This is an integral part of my practice. In family law, issues come up that are not on a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule – in fact, family law, custody, and visitation issues come up most often on holidays and weekends, so full access to my files was imperative even before the pandemic. This insight made for a seamless transition from working in the office to working from home.
Having a great IT support team is essential as things go wrong and tech support must be available to keep the practice running.
Running a Law Firm Remotely During COVID-19 Requires a New Set of Rules
As a sole practitioner, there is a certain efficiency and ease in not having to worry about communicating with others to get critical work done. While delegating responsibility and having a team is always helpful when running a business, at times like this, I find being able to complete my work tasks on my time in my way is more efficient.
In terms of sending and/or receiving essential paperwork during this pandemic, technology has allowed me to convert most, if not all, of my documents from Word to a PDF document. Once the document has been converted to a PDF, I am then able to email the PDF directly to clients or to other attorneys without the concern of the document being altered or modified from the original format. There are always documents that need original signatures and that cannot be avoided, but accommodations are made to get this done as well.
Working remotely has come with a new set of rules to adapt to, but communicating with my clients via email has always been the main avenue of communication for my office. Since many of my clients work full-time and do not wish to have personal conversations regarding their family, finances, and home-life in front of their colleagues, email has been a way around this obstacle. During lockdown – especially for those spending it with a soon-to-be-ex-spouse – my clients are able to contact and/or respond to me via password-protected email without having to speak out loud in front of their spouse or children.
Social media has also become key to accessing information not typically transmitted in this informal matter. For example, I have joined several Facebook groups that have been created for the purpose of keeping matrimonial/family lawyers informed of any Court updates in New York. These groups also have many sub-groups, creating access to information that pertains to only specific counties in New York State. Judges who have joined these Facebook groups have been wonderful at sharing information regarding both their specific Part’s guidelines as well as the Court system as a whole, which helps to keep us up with new rules and regulations going into effect.
As a sole practitioner, I have been extremely fortunate to have developed many close relationships amongst my colleagues. Some of whom are also sole practitioners like myself, and some who work for larger firms. I have found that the family law community as a whole has been remarkable during this confusing time. Everyone is always reaching out to others whether it be by webinar, Zoom, Facebook, texts, or emails to make sure everyone is informed of all updates in effect.
Running a Law Firm Remotely During COVID-19: Challenges and Work-Arounds
Running my law firm remotely, while seemingly easy, also has its fair share of challenges. While I do make an effort to scan and electronically save almost all of the documents in my client files, there are certain voluminous items which remain in hard-copy form in the client’s physical file. While working from home, there are often situations when information is needed from these documents, and not having the physical file presents an issue with obtaining it. Thankfully, I have found that adversaries and clients are all being understanding and are willing to work with me to provide the information I may not have saved on a client’s virtual file.
As I maintain a business Facebook account, I have also found it helpful to post articles that affect my clients during this time. It is no surprise that being quarantined with your spouse/partner and/or children can be challenging. In many two-earner households, this is a new world spending all this “mandatory” with their families. There have been so many wonderful articles posted online specifically dealing with co-parenting during quarantine and cohabitating with your spouse or soon to be ex-spouse. I find it very helpful to post a link to these articles on my business Facebook page so that clients may take advantage of helpful advice and seeing that their problem is not unique in these unprecedented times.
My best advice for riding out the pandemic is to embrace this new reality and work on adjusting both your personal mindset and business practices to evolve with it. It is very nerve-wracking for someone to go from working long hour days to having all of this free time they never had before. Part of you wants to embrace the calm and enjoy the little things such as time with your family, hobbies you may not have had time for and of course, the outdoors. On the other hand, there is a natural level of anxiety in navigating this new “normal”. The best way to handle getting through this pandemic is balance. Balance is key. You must keep yourself in check and tell yourself that it is ok to enjoy downtime while also maintaining contact with your clients and colleagues to handle necessary business matters at this time.
As of late April, I personally had not witnessed an increase or decrease in the number of custody matters because of COVID-19. What I have seen, however, is many parents dealing with issues of co-parenting while being quarantined. Unfortunately, while the hope is that parents will work together for the benefit of the children during this scary time, many parents are using the pandemic as an excuse to further their personal agenda. It is disheartening to see parents refusing to cooperate with parenting schedules previously agreed upon and using the pandemic as their reasoning for same. While there are of course certain cases where one parent’s home may be more suitable for the child during quarantine, many people are using this only as an excuse to both gain more time with the children, and to prevent the other parents from having their fair access.
I have seen an increase in the number of divorce-related inquiries since the pandemic began, which I think it makes perfect sense. As stated previously, while there are many families fortunate enough to use this time as a gift, where they can spend more time together with their families, catching up on family activities they may not have otherwise had time to partake in because of work, other couples and families are experiencing severe strains on their relationships which is leading them to debate filing for a divorce. Being under quarantine requires you to become reacquainted with your spouse, and unfortunately, many couples are seeing that they themselves or their spouse have become very different over time, resulting in a lack of commonalities between them. Many women have even found that their husbands are not very in tuned with their children’s lives and in fact, some women claim their husbands don’t know their children at all. This stark reality has really hit people hard and might be the last straw that pushes them to file for divorce.
Prepare to Hit the Ground Running Post-COVID-19
Given the fact that this pandemic and ultimate quarantine is forcing many couples to re-evaluate their marriages and financial circumstances, my best advice is to prepare to hit the ground running once this crisis ends and make myself available to anyone in need of advice at this time. Courts are not open for the filing of any divorce actions at this time, but clients can still retain you and the papers can all be drafted, completed and signed so that when the clerk’s office does re-open papers will be ready to be in-line for the first round of new filings.
Compassion, Integrity and Zealous Advocacy
February 14, 2022
Lauren F. Riesenfeld Law, P.C. is a boutique Long Island Divorce/Family and Criminal law firm. Located in Plainview, New York, we represent clients in complex issues involving matrimonial and family law cases, and criminal defense matters for clients who are charged with misdemeanor and/or felony offenses.
Compassion, Integrity and Zealous Advocacy are the hallmarks of LFR Law, P.C., and we pride ourselves on our outstanding communication which keeps clients informed of the day-to-day issues pertaining to their respective case. Our legal team will call you back and keep you abreast of your legal matter, offering high-quality service, that is not only our policy but our passion.
I am a top attorney and president of the law firm, and I specialize in Matrimonial, Family and Criminal Law. I represent clients through all stages of criminal defense from arraignment to trial. I also represent clients facing serious felony charges, misdemeanor charges as well as violations. I have also represented clients in the areas of Real Estate Law, Appeals, and Guardianship Proceedings.
I am best known for my shrewd litigation skills that encompass a unique combination of compassion, integrity and aggressiveness. I understand what my clients are going through when they are faced with matrimonial and family law issues. As a defense attorney I will use my expertise in criminal law, being a strong advocate for you if you have been accused of a crime. I will be in your corner to protect your future, your reputation, and your family. I am able to assess each case’s facts and circumstances in order to provide the best possible legal strategy for my clients.
This, coupled with strong client relationships, is what makes LFR Law, P.C. the right firm for anyone going through a difficult divorce, custody, child support, father’s rights, adoption, grandparent’s rights or criminal matters.
My prior experience as a junior accountant enables me to represent clients in matters that involve complex financial and tax issues that so often accompany divorce and custody litigation. Hiring an attorney with such expertise results in cost-effective representation that yields outstanding results for clients.
I pride myself on maintaining client relations, unmatched by any of my competitors. I strive to develop close relationships with my clients, fostering trust and confidence in my ability to protect their interests and the interests of their child(ren). I was humbled and honored to be recognized for my efforts by the Avvo’s client’s choice award for both 2016 and 2017. In addition, I was named top ten female family law attorney for 2017 by the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys. I also received recognition as a 2017 Rising Star in the field of Criminal Law by the American Institute of Legal Advocates, Top 10 Family Law Attorneys for 2019 by The Attorney & Practice Magazine, and am included in the Top Attorneys of North America 2019 edition of The Who's Who Directories.
I am a member of the New York State Bar Association, Family Law Chapter, Suffolk County Bar Association and am admitted to practice law before the United States District Court for the Eastern District. I am also a member of the National Association of Divorce Professionals. I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Northeastern University and attended the University of San Diego School of Law program in Barcelona where I studied International Criminal Law.
If you're looking for compassion, integrity and zealous advocacy, you've come to the right place.