Divorce and Family Law

New York’s divorce statute changed dramatically in 1980 with the Equitable Distribution law.  (If “equitable distribution” is a new phrase for you, please ask us about it.)  At the same time, the Legislature made the processes of divorce lawsuits very similar to commercial cases.  Chuck Newman was then a business and real estate litigator, but his firm’s divorce practice was large and expanding rapidly.  Chuck started helping with the litigated aspects of divorce cases shortly after those major legislative changes.  In short order, he also took over the other aspects of divorce cases, gaining experience in all facets of divorce: client support, case analysis, negotiation, motions, trials and appeals.  Ever since, he’s been sharpening his skills, expanding his knowledge, and learning what clients need during the divorce and what they will likely need after.

Mr. Newman’s approach is not to hurt the other spouse.  (You can waste a great deal of money with other lawyers if that’s what you want to do.)  His stance is much more practical: using skills honed as a commercial litigator and an instinct to focus on what is most important to his client, Chuck prefers to get productive with the other lawyer, in court proceedings and negotiations, to work with the law and facts to achieve his client’s goals.

Whatever the difficulties in your marriage, they are terribly important to you, and Mr. Newman encourages you to be candid with him.  But most people going through divorce want to put the problems behind them and move on.  Mr. Newman believes the lawyer’s job is to assist clients get to their destination.  He not only listens to his clients and helps them understand and prioritize their needs.  He works hard to make sure his client receives a fair division of the couple’s assets and liabilities, normally one of the more complicated financial aspects of divorce.  If his client is entitled to “maintenance” (which used to be called alimony), he makes sure the client gets as much as possible in order to continue with his or her life, minimizing new economic strains.  On the other hand, if the other spouse is entitled to maintenance, Mr. Newman diligently assures that the amount is no more than the other spouse really needs, and that his client can afford it and still continue his or her life.

When a couple has children, there are additional layers of crucially important issues.  They include where the kids live most of the time; when and how the other parent spends time with them; and who pays what for the kids needs.

The law always wants to do what is “in the best interests of the child.”  But that simple phrase masks a huge array of very nuanced, complicated factors.  Every divorce lawyer can tell you the phrase.  The best ones want to find out from their clients all the considerations — the facts, the special circumstances, the uncertainties, the schedules, the fears — that go into figuring out what really is best for the kids.  Mr. Newman takes a lot of care to understand the facts and to make sure his client understands the law, to give real life to “the best interests of the child.”  He also makes sure the client can actually live with the arrangements.  If both spouses and the other lawyer are willing, Mr. Newman prefers to have everyone understand the family situation and dynamics, and come to a negotiated arrangement about child support, custody and visitation.  That requires good will and an open mind on both sides.  Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, parents can’t come to an agreement.  A court ruling is then required.  That is where Mr. Newman’s extensive litigation experience comes in.  If a sound agreement is not possible, he is a tenacious and fierce advocate in litigation.

Please contact Mr. Newman if you would like to discuss your situation, or if you have any other questions.  If you prefer the phone, please call (212) 332-3321.

Mr. Newman takes the same sensibility — Can we arrive together at a good solution for your family? — into the mediation sphere.  To read more about his divorce and family mediation practice, please click here.