How the Lockdown Affected Custody Battles

a little boy and a little girl

One of the more peculiar aftereffects of the coronavirus pandemic was the alarmingly increasing rates of divorce. Yep: more people got divorced during the pandemic than they did otherwise. In fact, it is even expected that divorce rates will rise even further after the pandemic is over. A divorce boom—as the BBC puts it—is in order.

Well, we can’t blame them. But there’s always bad news with the good. And here, the bad news is this: custody battles.

And those were seriously affected by the lockdown.

Difficulty Navigating Visitation Rights

Physical distancing was right off the charts once the world went into lockdown mode. Parents who were living with joint custody had to face the greatest complications. Emergency motions, travel restrictions, even unemployment—all became ab eventual roadblock.

Many couples who have been living separately had to face the ultimate question as lockdowns began: do we still allow our spouse to exercise their visitation rights? Of course, it’s a right—and it would be quite wrong to disallow that right, right?

Continuing Litigation

a sad woman

If visitation rights weren’t already an issue, some were dealing with litigations in process. Spouses can now file ex-parte motions, stopping their ex or separated spouses from visiting their children on the grounds of contagion fears.

Issues for Healthcare Workers

Healthcare workers already have too much on their plate to deal with: they are dealing with COVID patients on the frontlines, are directly exposed to the virus, and have extended work hours.

Add drawn-out custody battles to the mix, and you have a series of unfortunate events on your hands. With healthcare workers facing custody battles, what makes it harder is the fact that their exes can easily file for ex-parte motions. The scales aren’t tipped in favor of healthcare workers, and that makes everything a lot worse than it already is.

Coronavirus or Control?

Many exes who have tried to take undue advantage of the whole situation have acted as if the reason behind their reluctance to go ahead was the coronavirus. But was it really? Is it about the coronavirus—or about control?

More often than not, it’s about the latter. In the pandemic, family lawyers have also witnessed a sharp rise in emergency custody motions. Most of these have emerged due to battles for control—because it’s often a fight for control, not for custody.

An Oklahoma-based worker lost custody rights to her children earlier in the pandemic due to the same reasons—coronavirus fears. Dr. Theresa Greene’s husband filed for an emergency custody motion when she began taking care of coronavirus patients. Eventually, she lost custody of her four-year-old daughter. She did appeal the motion—and that, of course, takes time and money, which not many can afford in these times.

Facing Custody Complications Due to Coronavirus?

The Law Offices of Ledwidge & Associates, P.C. extends Family Law Services Queens, Brooklyn and other parts of  New York. If you are in the Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Long Island, and Bronx regions, you can reach out to us for legal counsel and help.

 

How Quickly Can I Get a Divorce in New York?

an engagement ring

When it comes to divorces, you can’t get one quick enough. Sadly, divorces aren’t just about a man and woman cutting it off. Several factors are involved: the court, your documents, and your legal counsel. It is no longer between two individuals—and that means it will take some time to sort it out.

However, it will take some time. The only conciliatory thing we can say here is this: you have dealt with the toxic marriage all these years. A few more weeks can’t hurt—can’t hurt too much, we mean.

Factors That Draw Out a Divorce

While nobody wants a divorce that’s long and drawn out for no reason, these factors can seriously affect how your proceedings work out:

  • Children. The involvement of children means you need to work out the custodial issues, and it often gets ugly.
  • Property and other money-related issues. Dividing up estates and sorting out properties can often complicate matters.
  • Court complications. Not showing up for hearings and non-compliance with court orders, among other complications, can cause undue delays in a divorce.

Uncontested Divorces

a sad couple

Uncontested divorces take less time than contested divorces to be resolved. At the most, it takes 3 months for an uncontested divorce to sort out. Of course, this still takes some legal weightlifting and perhaps even the involvement of a judge. With a professional divorce lawyer on your side, you can resolve it in record time and move on with your life.

Contested Divorces

Contested divorces are the real tough nut to crack. It takes anywhere between 9 months and one year for a contested divorce to resolve. It really depends on the factors involved. Sometimes, given the ease of factors, these cases can even be resolved in as little as three months. At other times, it is dependent on the county you’re in. Regardless, good legal counsel can help smooth out the process.

Mediation Helps

One of the best parts about working with a legal counsel is the assurance that mediation becomes a greater possibility. If you truly want to shorten the length of your divorce proceedings—that, too, by months—you need a mediator or a legal counsel behind you. In cases where both parties agree to a divorce and to sort out their assets, the period is usually shorter. Since New York is a no-fault divorce state, you can get divorced on any grounds—given that both parties agree.

Get in Touch with a Divorce Lawyer Today

Divorces might be legal matters, but they don’t always have to involve a judge. All you do need, however, is legal counsel. The Law Offices of Ledwidge & Associates, P.C.  provides legal counsel and services for family law and divorce cases. If you are looking for Divorce Attorney Queens, Brooklyn we can be reached here.

Common Probate Issues

A probate lawyer in New York helping a client with the estate planning process.

According to Forbes, the COVID-19 crisis has forced US citizens to consider estate planning more seriously. As the crisis’s volatility continues to impact our everyday lives, wealth transfer has become more common.

Before you get down to business and start writing your will, here are a few problems that you might face in New York:

Will Contests

A will contest is a legal effort made to invalidate a will. Anyone can contest a will if it’s believed to be procured by fraud or forgery. You can also challenge a will if you have reasonable grounds to believe that the testator lacked the mental capacity to write a will or was made to sign it under duress. A will can also be invalidated if it’s outdated, and a more recent version of it exists or if it isn’t compliant with the state laws.

However, you can’t contest a will just because you don’t like its provisions and terms. Other than that, you also must be directly affected by its outcome to challenge it. A legal heir or a beneficiary can only contest the will. After a will is successfully contested, the court invalidates the entire will, instead of a single provision.

In either case, it’s not easy to contest a will because the entire process also translates into court expenses. Only an experienced probate attorney can simplify the process for you.

There Is No Written Will

This shouldn’t surprise you. 68% of Americans currently don’t have a written will. Dying ‘intestate’ will only complicate the matters for their surviving descendants. According to the state laws, when someone dies without a will, the court decides how the estate will be distributed.

When a New York resident dies without a will and no children, the surviving spouse usually inherits the estate. If there are more legal heirs, the surviving spouse only gets $50,000, and the rest is divided among the descendants. If there is no spouse, the entire estate is inherited by the descendants.

This is a problem because you might not want your estate to pass on to your surviving spouse, especially if you’re not on good terms. A large number of Americans prefer leaving their estate to charities. Your wishes will only be honored if you have a written will.

A deceased individual’s last will

The Executor Isn’t Carrying out Their Duties Well

An executor is the individual chosen to oversee the probate and honor the deceased’s wishes. Your chosen executor can step down from the role or choose not to have a say in how the estate is distributed. This usually happens when they take upon the duty without realizing the gravity of the responsibilities and pull out later. In this case, the court will check if you name a successor executor. If there isn’t one, the judge will appoint an estate administrator to carry out the probate duties.

With the right probe representations, none of these problems are too big. If you’re based in Brooklyn, Manhattan, or Queens, The Law Offices of Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C. can help you out! Joseph Ledwidge Attorney  has around 20 years of experience in helping clients deal with complicated probate cases. Reach out for a free consultation.

When Is Probate Not Necessary In New York?

A trustee signing a living trust and helping a property holder avoid probate

When you’re planning your estate, your goal should be to spare your family and legal heirs the hassle as much as you can. The probate court proceedings could be very extensive, costly, and complicated. If you’re based in New York, here’s when you can avoid probate:

Joint Ownership

If you jointly owned property with your deceased spouse, the probate process won’t apply if you had ‘rights of survivorship.’ In this case, the surviving spouse automatically becomes the owner after one of the owners passes away. However, you still might need to present some paperwork to the court to prove that the surviving owner now holds the property.

  • Joint tenancy: You’re called a joint tenant if you and your partner (married or not) own an equal share of the property. Joint tenancy applies to real estate, bank accounts, valuables, and vehicles.
  • Tenancy by the entirety: Unlike joint tenancy, this form of ownership is only applicable to married couples if their real estate is co-owned.

The last will of an individual

Payable-On-Death

A POD designation (payable-on-death designation) applies to bank accounts, certificates of deposits, and savings accounts in New York. Under this system, you have full control and full rights over the money in your accounts until your death. After your death, the same right passes on to the beneficiary automatically without going through the court proceedings.

Transfer-On-Death

Transfer-on-death or TOD applies to your securities and financial assets. You can register your brokerage accounts, bonds, and stocks in a TOD form in New York. You also need to name a beneficiary in the same form. The designated beneficiary will automatically inherit your financial investments after your death. Instead of going through the probate proceedings, the beneficiary will directly deal with the brokerage company.

According to the state law of New York, TOD deeds don’t apply to vehicles or real estate.

Living Trust

Any assets placed in a living trust don’t need to go through probate. You can hold almost any asset in a living trust, including bank accounts, real estate, and vehicles. All you need to do is create a trust document, assign a successor trustee, and transfer your estate ownership to the trust. After this point, the property’s ownership will be controlled in terms of the trust. After your death, the successor trustee can transfer the assets to the trust beneficiaries without court proceedings.

The Law Offices of Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C. helps families simplify the probate process in Brooklyn, Queens, and Jamaica. Joseph Ledwidge attorney has around 20 years of experience in dealing with the most complicated probate cases.

Speak with us for a free consultation.

 

An Overview of the Probate Process in New York

An estate lawyer in Brooklyn helping a client write her last will.

In New York, probate is necessary for assets solely owned by the deceased and haven’t been legally bequeathed to a designated beneficiary. This means that if the property owner passes away without a written will, the probate court will distribute the estate according to the state laws. However, if the property holder leaves behind a will that stands uncontested, the probate has a limited role to play.

What Are Probate And Non-Probate Assets?

Assets that can go through probate include solely-owned bank accounts, vehicles, antiques, cash, art pieces, and jewelry. On the other hand, non-probate assets include:

  • Any bank accounts with named beneficiaries.
  • Retirement accounts.
  • Life insurance policies with named beneficiaries.
  • Jointly held real estate.
  • Assets held in a trust.

Probate may also not be necessary if:

  • The total value of the estate is not big.
  • The estate only comprises non-probate assets.
  • The deceased left behind an estate plan to avoid probate.

A deceased individual’s last will.

A Quick Look at the Probate Process

Here is the process that follows:

  • The executor starts off the process by filing the probate petition. For this, they need a copy of the deceased’s death certificate and the original will. Both of these documents need to go to the Surrogate’s Court of the County, where the deceased individual last lived. The exact filing fee depends on the total size of the estate.
  • The next step is to itemize the inventory. The executor will collect the deceased’s physical and non-physical assets and appraise them as of the date of death.
  • The executor will also use the estate funds to pay any outstanding debts, liabilities, and taxes. If the estate doesn’t comprise enough cash, they might need to sell one of the assets.
  • The next step is to notify the distributees (legal heirs). The formal notice is called a citation, which also goes to the Surrogate’s Court. The estate is then distributed according to the Surrogate’s Court Procedure Act (SCPA) and the Estates Powers and Trust Law (EPTL).

Seek Guidance from a Probate Attorney Brooklyn

Other than this, probate law also involves matter related to contesting a will, spousal rights, estate planning for blended families, and administration of a trust. If the process sounds overwhelming, try seeking help from a well-experienced probate attorney.

There is no better option in Brooklyn than The Law Offices of Joseph A. Ledwidge, P.C. Joseph Ledwidge attorney himself has around 20 years of experience in dealing with complex estate matters.

Try us out. We also offer services in Queens, Manhattan, and Jamaica.

An Estate Planning Checklist for Beginners

A house in Brooklyn passed on to a beneficiary through a probate

Preparing for the end of your life sounds challenging, but it’s something that you should do, notwithstanding. Having a well-thought-out will is not just essential for seniors but for the youth too. Life is uncertain. The best you can do for your children is to plan your estate carefully and intelligently.

Let’s cover the basics of estate planning:

Make a list of your belongings.

To get started with your estate planning, you need to begin to itemize your inventory or belongings. This may take a few days. Grab a paper and pen and start looking around for all the tangible and intangible assets you own. After you’ve enlisted the assets, you should also mention their estimated market value, date of purchase, purchase price, appraisal and valuation reports, and the number of years it’s been with you.

Your tangible assets may include real estate, property, homes, precious metals, ornaments, jewelry, antique collectibles, trading cards, cars, motorcycles, and boats. Intangible assets mostly comprise your investments, receivables, and bank accounts. Common examples of intangible assets include retirement plans (IRAs), savings accounts, mutual funds, stocks, bonds, certificates of deposits, treasury bills, and business ownership. When you’re enlisting these items, write down account details and the company/institution where your investments are held.

Consider Your Family’s Needs.

Your estate planning will also revolve around some important family decisions. If your children are still young, you need to name a guardian and backup guardian (if the primary guardian doesn’t survive). This will ensure that your children are taken care of and help avoid costly court fights. You don’t need to assume that your immediate relatives will share your child-rearing goals. Document your childcare-related wishes as explicitly as you can.

If you’ve remarried and don’t name a guardian, the child’s custody automatically goes to the surviving biological parent. If you’re not on good terms with your ex-spouse and don’t want this to happen, specify it in the will.

A probate courthouse

Review the Beneficiaries.

When you’re writing your will, don’t leave any beneficiary sections blank. In this case, when the will goes through probate, the assets will be distributed according to the estate laws. We also recommend contingent beneficiaries that get the property if the primary beneficiary dies before you do.

If you’ve remarried, you might want to update the beneficiary list. Let’s say your ex-spouse is still a beneficiary on your life insurance policy; your current spouse will not get a penny from the policy payout. The same goes for your retirement account. Keep track of and update the beneficiary designations as needed.

The last step is to select an estate executor who will in charge of administering the last testament. Choose someone competent, responsible, and possesses good decision-making ability. Your spouse isn’t always the best choice, especially if losing you takes a toll on their emotional well-being.

If the process sounds complicated, we recommend seeking help from a well-qualified estate and probate lawyer. If you’re based in Brooklyn, Queens, or Manhattan, and are looking for Queens Probate lawyer or Brooklyn Probate lawyer there is no better option than the law office of Ledwidge & Associates, P.C. We have over 20 years of experience in handling complex probate cases. You can contact online or give us a call at 347-395-4799 to arrange a consultation with an experienced New York probate attorney.

 

Here’s Why You Need to Consult An Estate Planning Service

Estate planning isn’t just for the rich. Irrespective of your current financial status, you should have an estate plan ready to help secure a financially stable future for your family after your demise.

If you’re under the impression that you can accomplish this all on your own, though, think again. Not only is that highly inadvisable, but it can also prove to be quite detrimental for you and your family.

Person shaking hands with an estate attorney representing a successful collaboration

For Legal Advice on Asset Naming

Here’s the thing: your will doesn’t automatically covers all your assets. You need to clearly state the different types of property ownership, retirement accounts, beneficiary designations, and life insurance terms. Otherwise, they’ll be considered to be independent of your will.

An estate planning attorney can review your assets and recommend asset titling options. They can also help you in changing beneficiary designations. This helps in time-consuming and costly procedures in the future.

For Professionally Drafted Documents

Another advantage of having an estate planning service handle your case is that you can be assured of professionally drafted documents and impeccable paperwork. You won’t have to worry about errors and inaccuracies in the documents, which can prove to be quite costly. They’ll take care of each and every aspect of the forms and applications, doing an immaculate job.

Moreover, an estate planning expert can customize your documents as per your specific situation and goals. They’ll arrange for the witnesses and required notary signatures, include all necessary details, and take care of the whole process without you having to worry about the piles of paperwork ahead of you.

Estate lawyer drafting an estate plan for client

For Timely Updates

You can’t create an estate plan and then never revisit it. With changing circumstances, wills, trusts, and other types of estate plans need to be updated. This is necessary so as to keep the contents aligned with the current situation.

For example, you may want to change details in your estate plan five years down the road. Maybe a close family member got married; maybe you relocated; maybe your family experienced a financial setback or blessing. Your life events affect your financial situation, which in turn affects your estate plan. Therefore, it’s important to keep it updated.

An estate attorney will remind you timely to review your documents. Moreover, they’ll also help you update your estate plan in case of changing state laws such as the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act and changing governments.

Ledwidge & Associates offer estate law attorney Queens and Brooklyn. Call our Estate lawyer Queens and Brooklyn at 347-395-4799 today for further assistance.

Why Should You Sign a Prenuptial Agreement?

Not only are millennials getting married later in life but are also getting prenuptial agreements before they do. From using it to strengthen their marriage to creating a safety net for themselves, they haven’t shied away from signing prenups. In fact, there has been a significant increase in the number of millennials opting for prenups in recent years.

gold wedding bands representing the sanctity of marriage

Getting married soon? Here’s why you should consider signing a prenup:

To Clarify Your Financial Rights

One of the most common reasons for couples getting prenups is to get clarification of their individual financial rights once they’re married. You can decide how you wish to spend your money and what your financial responsibilities will be after marriage.

For example, if you earn more than your partner and want your income to be utilized a certain way, you can mention this in the prenup. Similarly, you can also determine the ownership of your properties, stocks, investments, bonds, bank accounts, and other assets.

To Avoid Conflicts in Case of Divorce

Many people are averse to prenups because of how unromantic they seem, especially if you just got engaged or are planning your wedding in full swing.

Signing a prenup doesn’t mean you already know that you’ll get a divorce. However, there’s no denying the fact that even the most successful marriages can end at any given point for whatever reason. Isn’t it better to be prepared for such circumstances than suffer disputes and arguments if you are to get divorced later?

With a prenup, you’re compelled to discuss the difficult and uncomfortable topics you’d rather not think about just yet. It may not be the most pleasant experience, but it’s definitely a safe option and comes very handy if a couple chooses to get divorced.

couple discussing their prenuptial agreement terms with a family lawyer

To Pass on Property to Children from a Previous Marriage

If you have a child from a previous relationship, you can use the prenup to decide what shares of your properties and assets are to go to them after your demise. A prenup agreement is a solid way of outlining exactly what you wish to happen to your property and how you wish for it to be divided among your children.

This is important as otherwise the surviving spouse will have claims to most of your property. If you have specific ideas about your wealth and property distribution among your family, prenup is the way to go.

Ledwidge & Associates offer Family Law Services Queens and Brooklyn.  Call our team 347-395-4799 for further assistance on prenuptials.

 

Understanding Contested & Uncontested Divorce

People get divorced for all kinds of reasons. Try as hard as we may, sometimes the relationship we invest so much in just doesn’t work out and the marriage has to end.

How a marriage ends is another topic altogether. There are different kinds of divorce proceedings, the two most common ones being uncontested divorces and contested divorces.

What’s the difference between the two? Let’s take a look.

marriage certificate being cut into two pieces with scissors, representing divorce

Uncontested Divorce

When both the spouses are in agreement on filing for divorce and go ahead with the procedure mutually, it’s considered to be an uncontested divorce. This means that neither party has an objection to the divorce itself and is willingly proceeding with it. In uncontested divorces, both spouses also agree on the terms of dissolution. They’re on the same page regarding the distribution of assets, sorting of debt, and custody of their children. Many couples also reach a settlement on their own without having to go to court for it.

While uncontested divorces are generally amicable, you should still have an attorney guiding you through the proceedings. Sure, the process itself is likely to be swift and easy, but you do want to ensure everything’s taken care of properly. Even if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse agree on the major points of discussion, having a professional lawyer with you is a safe and smart move.

Contested Divorce

In contrast, contested divorces are those in which one of the spouses does not agree to the divorce, or the couple isn’t able to agree on the key issues pertaining to the divorce, for example, a spouse may object to getting divorced altogether and refuse to comply. In other cases, both parties encounter major conflicts on issues such as the division of assets, spousal support, child custody and support, and debt allocation. This creates a lot of turbulence, often leading to resentment and hostility between the spouses.

married couple arguing over the terms of their impending divorce, representing contested divorces

Unsurprisingly, getting legal support isn’t just recommended for contested divorces, but downright necessary. Neither party can move forward without having legal representation in a contested divorce, and no, you shouldn’t consider being your own lawyer in a contested divorce. It’s of the utmost importance that both parties hire professional divorce attorneys for their case so as to avoid losing out on the settlement and being negatively affected by the legal proceedings.

Our divorce lawyer Brooklyn and Queens at Ledwidge & Associates offer Family Law Services Queens and Brooklyn and Queens. Call us at 347-395-4799 for further assistance on navigating through your divorce proceedings.

How the Pandemic Is Impacting Divorce Rates

2020 has been a wild ride. Ever since the pandemic hit, the world has toppled upside down. The effects of the COVID-19 can be seen in all aspects of our lives, be it personal or professional.

For married couples, COVID-19 has proven to be especially challenging and has resulted in the deterioration of their marriage. In fact, it is expected that more and more couples are moving toward divorce considering new circumstances.

Why Are Couples Getting Divorced During the Pandemic?

Divorce is rarely a spur-of-the-moment decision. It’s usually based on underlying issues or conflicts that a couple couldn’t resolve or get past. Being locked down together due to COVID-19 has meant that couples who were already facing issues haven’t been able to escape their problems. In fact, being around each other constantly has made things worse.

married couple fighting in their house during the lockdown

Think of it this way: if you and your spouse haven’t been getting along too well lately, you’ll probably limit your interactions with them to some extent. Most of your conversations will either be neutral or negative. With the lockdown, however, you can’t really get away from each other. This means that all your worries, arguments, and issues are constantly present, ready to resurface at any moment.

This situation has led several couple to rethink their relationship and reconsider how they truly feel about their partners. For many of them, it has brought the realization that they no longer want to continue being in that relationship.

What Do the Statistics Say?

While there isn’t a foolproof way to actually track divorces during the pandemic, there has been an obvious surge in divorce filings. Of course, there’s no way of determining if these have come about because of the pandemic. Moreover, since the courts were closed in the initial months of the pandemic, there isn’t a record of divorce filings that would’ve been made if they were still operating.

Even as the courthouses in New York City reopen, there is a backlog of previously filed divorces to attend to. Thus, the surge in divorces shown suddenly cannot be entirely attributed to the pandemic, as they are not all new cases. There also are not sufficient statistics or surveys to prove that the couples who have recently filed for divorce have done so because of the pandemic specifically, and what it brought.

couple standing side by side with red crosses drawn on their hands, representing they’re no longer getting along and want a divorce

What Does the Future Hold?

It’s expected that divorce rates will soar after the pandemic. According to one email survey conducted in April, the current situation has highlighted couples who already had poor relationships and believe that the quarantine has further harmed their relationship. There has also been an increase in anxiety, depression, hopelessness, and domestic violence during the pandemic, which have also affected relationship dynamics among married couples. Thus, it’s highly likely that more couples will be getting divorced in the coming months than usual.

Our divorce lawyer Queens and Brooklyn, and other places in New York at Ledwidge & Associates offer Family Law Services Brooklyn and Queens. Call us at 347-395-4799 for further assistance on divorce proceedings.