The Law Office of Heather L. Winters, PLLC handles all aspects of contested and uncontested divorces. In October, 2010, there was a substantial change in New York State Law which provides for the granting of a divorce on the grounds that the marriage has been irretrievably broken for a period of six months or more. The significance of this new legislation is that it is now possible to obtain a divorce even over the objection of the other spouse. It is no longer necessary for one party to be deemed at fault for the demise of the marriage. For a party to obtain a divorce, there must either be an agreement reached as to all aspects of the marriage (financial and otherwise) or there must be a trial before a Justice and the Justice will make the ultimate decision on the remaining issues. It is only after all ancillary issues are addressed (whether by agreement or by Order) that a Judgment of Divorce can be granted.
An uncontested divorce is a divorce where both parties have reached an agreement as to how to resolve all outstanding issues and have entered into an agreement, with the assistance of counsel, and involves the preparation and negotiations of the agreement, along with the preparations of the final divorce documents to be submitted to the Justice assigned to the matter for final signature.
A contested divorce is when the parties are not able to agree on all or some of the issues involved in their case (such as issues of custody, support, division of assets, etc.) and a decision must be made by a Justice of the Supreme Court after a trial. The decision rendered after a trial will be binding upon the parties, subject to appeal.
The Law Office of Heather L. Winters, PLLC prides itself on being able, in many instances, to resolve matters without the need for court intervention. In the event an amicable resolution cannot be reached, we have the skills necessary to fight for our clients to obtain the optimal results.
Contact Heather L. Winters, PLLC today for a free consultation to discuss all of your options to determine the right path for you and your family.
Custody & Parental Access (Visitation)
The most important decisions you can face when preparing for a divorce or separation or if you have a child in common with someone are the issues of custody of your child(ren) and parental access (visitation). This area of family law is probably the most emotional and can lead to a lengthy and costly legal battle, if an agreement cannot be reached by both parents. Clearly, an agreement that is reached by both parties as to what is best for the child(ren) is the ideal outcome. However, if an agreement cannot be reached by the parents, the Court will ultimately determine which parent should be granted custody of the child(ren) and direct an appropriate amount of parental access for the other parent. The standard the Court will use in granting custody and parental access to a parent will be what is in the best interest of the child(ren). This is determined based upon all of the evidence presented to the Court at a hearing or trial and generally an Attorney for the Child(ren) will have been appointed that will solely represent the child(ren).
There are several types of custodial arrangements that can be reached by agreement of the parties or by the Court. It is important to understand at the outset that there are two aspects to custody, 1) legal custody and 2) residential custody. Legal custody refers to decision making regarding all issues affecting the child(ren), such as health, education and religion. Residential custody, as the name suggests, refers to where the child(ren) will be residing, which may affect school residency requirements and also which parent will receive child support.
The most common custodial arrangement is joint legal custody, where both parents have equal say in major decisions affecting the children, and residential custody to one parent with the other parent having a parental access schedule.
There is also the possibility of a shared residential arrangement where the child(ren) evenly divide their time with each parent. This is sometimes achieved by literally dividing the week in half or each parent having the child(ren) for one week at a time. Generally, this arrangement only works if the parents reside fairly close to each other and in th same school district.
Finally, there is sole custody, where one parent has sole decision making rights over issues affecting the child(ren). In many cases, even if one parent is granted sole custody of the child(ren), a parental access schedule will be established for the other parent. Although there may be some restrictions (such as supervised visitation) if there is a danger to the child(ren) or if some other need for supervision exists. There will also generally be some provisions made for discussions with the other parent even though one parent is granted sole custody.
Heather L. Winters, PLLC understands the emotional trauma facing mothers and fathers regarding all issues that affect their child(ren). We will walk you though the entire process and take extra care to address all of your concerns.
Contact Heather L. Winters, PLLC today to discuss all of your custody and parental access (visitation) options.
Child support is a financial contribution from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent on behalf of the child(ren). While in many states child support is paid until age 18, in New York State child support is paid until age 21, unless certain factors exist that result in the child being deemed emancipated sooner.
Generally, the amount of child support you are entitled to receive (or required to pay) is determined by the guidelines set forth in legislation known as the Child Support Standard's Act, there are other factors that can affect the amount. There are also additional expenses that the non-custodial parent may be required to contribute to, such as unreimbursed medical expenses, child care expenses, etc.
Contact Heather L. Winters, PLLC today to discuss all of your child support and related questions.
Modifications & Enforcement Proceedings
The Law Office of Heather L. Winters, PLLC handles all types of modifications and enforcement proceedings in the Family Court and Supreme Court. A modification refers to the need for the terms of an existing Order to be altered based upon some type of change in circumstance that has occurred. A modification is not automatic. It is important to be aware of the standard that applies in your situation in order to determine whether you will be able to modify an existing Order, which our firm can explain to you.
An enforcement petition is brought to enforce an existing Order that the other party has failed or refused to abide by. This can include a host of remedies, such as seeking a money judgment or seeking to hold the other party in contempt. In many instances the violating party will be held responsible for the attorney's fees incurred to bring an enforcement application.
Contact Heather L. Winters, PLLC today to discuss your options and determine your rights.
Orders of Protection
There are many different types of Orders of Protection that can be obtained in order to protect you from someone that is acting in a harassing, menacing or threatening manner. An Order of Protection can be obtained in the Family Court, the District Court and/or the Supreme Court. For an Order of Protection petition to be brought in the Family Court, it is necessary to have standing. This means that only certain people can bring a petition in the Family Court seeking an Order of Protection. This does not mean that there are no other options available to you. It simply means, as the name suggests, that the Family Court is designed to deal with Family issues involving relatives, former relatives, people with children in common or those involved in an intimate relationship.
Contact Heather L. Winters, PLLC today to determine if you have standing to bring a petition in Family Court seeking an Order of Protection. We will be happy to provide you with all of the information you need and point you in the right direction to keep you safe.
Adoptions (Private Placement & Agency)
Whether you are a step-parent that wishes to adopt your step-child or you are a couple seeking to adopt from an agency, there is no better reason in the world to appear before a Judge than when you are finally legally joined together as a family. Heather L. Winters, PLLC has handled all types of adoptions in the Family Court and Surrogate's Court in multiple counties. Please contact us today to assist you with preparing the intricate paperwork involved in an adoption and guide you through the entire process with ease.
Whether you wish to change your own name or your minor child's name, for whatever reason, our firm can guide you through the entire process with ease. Heather L. Winters, PLLC will prepare the necessary paperwork to obtain a legal name change and handle the publication requirements, generally without the need for you to ever appear before a Judge.
Whether you are buying your first home or selling your fifteenth, it is important to have the right firm representing your interests. Heather L. Winters, PLLC has handled countless real estate transactions to a successful conclusion. We provide legal representation from contract to closing for a reasonable flat fee.
Contact Heather L. Winters, PLLC today for all of your real estate needs.
Heather L. Winters, PLLC can assist you with care, sensitivity and knowledge throughout all of your estate matters in the Surrogate's Court of Nassau and Suffolk Counties, as well as the five boroughs of New York City. We will prepare and file all necessary paperwork and represent you in any court appearances, if necessary, in order to submit a Last Will and Testament to probate or if a loved one died without a will, determining if an administration proceeding must be commenced or if certain assets can be distributed without the need for filing. In addition, we can assist with final accountings for an Executor or Administrator of an Estate.
Contact Heather L. Winters, PLLC today to discuss your options.