Rapaport Law Firm, PLLC
A New York Divorce Attorney's Thoughts on NY Matrimonial and Family Law
Marc Rapaport has 19 years of experience handling New York family law matters. Marc is the founder and principal of Rapaport Law Firm PLLC, a matrimonial law firm in Manhattan's Empire State Building. We hope that this blog provides you with an informative discussion of New York family law. If you are looking for a divorce lawyer in New York City, call for a free telephone consultation: ph (212) 382-1600.
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Court December 02, 2011

REFLECTIONS OF A NEW YORK DIVORCE LAWYER OF TRENDS AFFECTING DIVORCE AND FAMILY LAW IN 2011


Posted by Marc Rapaport

            As a New York divorce lawyer, an important part of my job involves identifying the economic and social trends that affect divorcing couples.  In this article, I will try to summarize some of the most significant trends and factors currently affecting New York divorce cases.

(1) The Continuing Stagnation of the Economy Affects All Families, and is both a Cause of and Complicating Factor in New York Divorce Cases:

 In 2011, the continued stagnation of the economy has been the dominant issue affecting divorcing families.  The stagnant economy affects divorce on a number of different levels.  Economic pressures sometimes fuel (or at least contribute to) the pressures and tensions that lead to marital distress (and, consequently, divorce).  The loss of a job, and protracted unemployment, often cause emotional distress and physical ailments, which, in turn, affect all family members.  Sometimes, families are left without quality medical insurance coverage.  In addition, declining income and net worth have profound impacts on how a variety of legal and factual issues in New York matrimonial cases are resolved.  Previously, it was assumed that in nearly every case, the role of a New York divorce lawyer was to protect a client's interest in the seemingly ever-increasing equitc`y in a marital residence.  Today, many New York couples are saddled with homes in which they have little or no equity.   Sometimes, divorce is made more difficult by the inability of the one of the spouses to obtain medical insurance, or the parties' inability to sell their marital residence.

 Because New York law requires a full and final resolution of financial issues prior to the issuance of a final judgment of divorce, even the most simple New York divorce case involves a review of the divorcing couple's financial condition.  If nothing else, the assets and liabilities of each spouse must be tallied and apportioned.  Sometimes, that process is as simple as reviewing the parties' most recent credit card and bank statements. In other instances, valuations of pensions, retirement accounts, and real estate must be performed, sometimes with the involvement of outside experts.  Regardless, each case provides a window into the financial trends and conditions affecting New Yorkers.   During the past year, the view from that window has been particularly bleak. 

(2)  Increasing Frequency of New York Divorce Among Baby Boomers:

More than 25% of people who get divorced are over the age of 50.  Researchers at Bowling Green State University recently released a report that details what divorce lawyers already know from first hand experience: the rate of divorce among older people has dramatically increased in recent years.  The report predicts that the rate of divorce among baby boomers (people who were born between 1946 and 1964) will continue c`to rise.  As a New York divorce lawyer, I have noticed, during the past several years, that an increasing proportion of divorce cases involve couples whose children have already left the home.  Divorce cases involving baby boomers present unique challenges.  Because many baby boomers have been married for the duration of their careers, their pensions and other retirement assets are often of greater value and importance than is the case among younger couples who get divorced.  In addition, because they are nearing retirement, baby boomers are often relying on their retirement assets as essential - and sometimes their only - financial resources.  If you are a baby boomer facing divorce, it is essential for you to retain a divorce lawyer who is thoroughly familiar with the complex laws, such as ERISA, relating to the division of retirement accounts.  Pensions and other qualified retirement accounts are distributed through a specific type of decree, called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO).  Your lawyer must be familiar with federal and state laws pertaining to QDRO's, as well as New York's unusually complex divorce laws.  The law relating to distribution of retirement benefits is complex, and requires the involvement of an experienced New York divorce lawyer.  A lawyer who does not specialize in New York divorce may be unaware that specific language must be included in a marital separation agreement and QDRO to protect a client's interest in death benefits and other aspects of retirement accounts.

(3) The Increasing Number of Pro Se Divorce Litigants:

The financial crisis has also led many more people to file their divorces pro se (without hiring an attorney).   The dramatic increase in the number of people handling their own divorces has led to the rise of a new industry, do it yourself divorce forms.  Particularly in cases that do not involve distribution of valuable property or other complex financial issues, many litigants find that they are able to avoid hiring a divorce lawyer.  However, in divorce cases that do involve contested financial or other issues, pro se litigants are oftentimes confused about their rights and the appropriate procedures. 

If you are facing the prospect of divorce, it is important that you get advice and guidance from an experienced New York divorce attorney.  Rapaport Law Firm has assisted New York residents in divorce and family law matters since 1995.  We are located in Manhattan's Empire State Building.


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RAPAPORT LAW FIRM, PLLC.
One Pennsylvania Plaza, Suite 2430, New York, New York 10119
Phone 212.382.1600/Fax 212.382.0920/info@rapaportlaw.com
MARC RAPAPORT IS A NEW YORK DIVORCE ATTORNEY WITH MORE THAN 18 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE. HE IS A CONTRIBUTOR TO NEW YORK MAGAZINE'S "ASK THE EXPERTS" COLUMN, AND HE REGULARLY APPEARS IN THE LOCAL AND NATIONAL MEDIA REGARDING NY DIVORCE AND FAMILY LAW. IF YOU ARE FACING DIVORCE, IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT YOU RETAIN AN EXPERIENCED NY DIVORCE LAWYER. FOR AN APPOINTMENT, CALL THE RAPAPORT LAW FIRM TODAY: (212) 382-1600 or EMAIL MR. RAPAPORT.
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