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Divorce and Family Law Attorneys

Our strength is advocacy.  Our goal is resolution.

Many people in an unhappy marriage and victims of domestic abuse endure ongoing oppression and a feelings of powerlessness and isolation.  Mazzara & Small will not hesitate to step in and speak up for clients in settlement negotiations and in litigation, if an equitable settlement is not possible. We seek justice by facilitating a fair resolution. Call or e-mail us to schedule an initial consultation. The scope of our family law practice encompasses:

 

7 Common Mistakes Parents Make When in a Custody Dispute

  1. Fail to remind their children that they will always love them, no matter what, even though things did not work out with their Mother or Father. Fail to remind them that the break was not their fault.
  2. Tell their children how rotten or stupid the other parent is for doing this or that.  Every child is half of each of you, so if the other parent is stupid, half of them is too.
  3. Defend themselves to their children against allegations of the other parent, by making the other parent wrong.  Take the high road. You are in it for the long haul. Your child will understand the situation when he or she gets older and will appreciate what you did not say or do.
  4. In a high conflict dispute, send messages or money through or with their children. Be the grown up. Using your children as a messenger, dramatically increases the chance of them being put in the middle of your conflict.
  5. Make their children feel bad about enjoying time with the other parent or discouraging them from spending any extra time with that parent, for no good reason.
  6. Do not factor in the emotional cost to their child, before deciding whether to take the matter to trial or settle the matter.
  7. Choose a divorce attorney who does not appreciate that your children are what really matters.

 

Child custody. Bickering over custody rarely secures a child’s good will toward either parent.  While in the past courts have tended to favor the maternal interest in custody battles, the more recent trend has been to share custody jointly between the parents so as to secure stronger parent-child relationships.  Still, issues of parental fitness can affect the outcome of a custody battle.  Often, there is plenty of dirty laundry to be aired in open court — from alienation of a parent to smothering tendencies.  In other cases, swifter and more meaningful resolution may be reached in settlement negotiations.  Mazzara & Small stands ready to represent you and your child in open court or in negotiating a settlement.
Visitation.  Even a parent whose past misconduct has led the court to refuse custody has some right to supervised visitation.  These visitation rights cannot be denied to a noncustodial parent unless the custodial parent believes that the child will be placed in imminent harm by being released into the custody of a custodial parent who is intoxicated or otherwise unfit to be responsible for the child’s well-being.  Moreover, visitation cannot be denied to a parent who is in arrears for child support.  The court recognizes the right to a “frequent and meaningful” visitation between parent and child, outside of a purely financial obligation to pay child support. For assistance with your legal issue, do not hesitate to contact the law offices of Mazzara & Small.
Child support.  Payments to the custodial parent serve a purpose:  to secure the comforts of the children.  Wage garnishment and other collections remedies are available to the custodial parent when the noncustodial parent is in arrears or simply refuses to pay.  Note, however, that such invasive resolutions do not get to the heart of the conflict — which is the reason behind the noncustodial parent’s nonpayment.  Noncustodial parents who are suffering temporary financial setbacks can petition the court for reprieve.  An attorney at Mazzara & Small would be happy to assist with any of the above-referenced legal actions.
Divorce.  Splitting finances and sharing custody are hot-button issues during a divorce.  In general, custody rights and shared accounts are divided equitably rather than equally among the divorcing spouses.  In some cases, one spouse assumes more of the debt to offset the attainment of a major joint asset, like the home or an investment account.  Since property values and financial investments tend to change in value over time, questions of valuation require the knowledge and skill of appraisal experts who can make representations as to what is a fair dollar valuation.  The final resolution of a divorce depends on whether you choose to litigate or settle your divorce. In a litigation setting, it is usually a judge who decides the final outcome.  In settlement negotiations, the divorcing spouses, with the assistance of their attorney-advocates, negotiate to decide the final outcome.  The advice of an attorney is invaluable to you as you secure your rights and protect your interests in these highly adversarial settings.  Contact the law offices of Mazzara & Small to learn more about how we can help you.
Orders of protection.  When you feel threatened by someone in your life, it is important to take action to protect yourself.  An order of protection is a legal guarantee that a stalker, a violent ex or an abusive parent will stay from you and, possibly, your children.  The most important first step is to talk to an attorney at Mazzara & Small.  We look out for victims of abuse.
Relocation.  Relationships with children are compromised when a parent moves out of state.  In New York, courts recognize the rights of both the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent.  If the noncustodial parent chooses to relocate, the custodial parent may continue to receive child support.  If the custodial parent chooses to move, the noncustodial parent may either file an injunction to stop the custodial parent from moving out of state or ask the court to rework the custodial arrangement in order to share custody more equally.  Technological advances, like Skype conferencing and teleconferencing, may also be scheduled into the custodial arrangement.  The attorneys at Mazzara & Small can provide you with the legal advice you need to modify your existing custody arrangement.
Premarital agreements.  Consider this:  Do you know your fiancé’s credit rating?  Do you know how much they have in the bank?  Do you have written guarantees that your children from a former marriage will be adequately taken care of in the event of your death?  A premarital agreement does not have to affect the course of your marriage. It only takes effect in the event of a death or divorce.  At the law offices of Mazzara & Small, our attorneys are sensitive to the needs of newly affianced couples.  We streamline the process of negotiating prenups.
Paternity rights. Illegitimacy has its challenges for children whose moms are constantly being maligned as promiscuous or unfaithful.  DNA testing both ameliorates and exacerbates the situation.  While it can eliminate the possibility of a man having fathered a child, it can also verify parenthood for men who are unprepared to have children.  At the law offices of Mazzara & Small, our attorneys care about the client.  We recognize that, for the child, not knowing who his or her father is can be devastating.  In these situations, we believe that justice involves finding out the truth — either way — and establishing a plan for the future.
Children’s rights. Legally speaking, children have few rights, if any.  One right that they are certainly entitled to is the right to death benefits when their father has died.  The relatives of the biological father must step in to be DNA tested so that the child can receive benefits through the Social Security Administration.  While this right has no impact on existing relationships with paternal relatives, it at least allows the child the additional comforts of financial support from a deceased parent. Securing these rights is part of what we do at the law offices of Mazzara & Small.
Biological parent’s rights.  Biology alone, without more substantive involvement in a child’s life, is insufficient to establish a basis for parental rights. So, when it comes to issues of adoption, a birth father may be disenfranchised if he has not registered with New York’s putative father registry and is not in current communication with the biological mother.  Similarly, men are often disenfranchised when it comes to issues of abortion, wherein women generally retain the right to terminate a pregnancy without consulting with the birth father. Birth parents may face other challenges related to terminating an adoption agreement.  In any of these scenarios, the advice of counsel can be invaluable to biological parents.
Substitute parents rights.  It can be difficult to establish legal standing for “substitute” parents who bond with the children before a good relationship turns sour.  The problem is that unless the couple is married, it is difficult to establish standing for a nonbiological parent who does not have any legal ties to the children.  However, in some cases, visitation may be possible if a court can be convinced that visitation is in the best interests of the child.
Primary caregiver’s rights.  When a child grows up with a grandparent, aunt or uncle, it may be jarring to consider the possibility that a birth parent would want to pull them away from the only home they have ever known to move in with what might feel more like a distant relative.  The child’s preference and best interests are the primary factors courts consider when enforcing a primary caregiver’s rights over those of the birth parent.  Mazzara & Small offers skilled advocacy to primary caregivers who are about to have a child taken away from them by the biological parent.
Dependent spouse’s rights.   Alimony in New York can be granted on a temporary or permanent basis.  Issues of remarriage, job loss and relocation can affect the amount due to the dependent spouse.  At the law offices of Mazzara & Small, our attorneys understand the legal issues involved with collections and arrears, as well as termination of spousal support.  Please call or e-mail us to schedule an initial consultation.

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Mazzara & Small represents clients throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties in New York including, but not limited to, Babylon, Brookhaven, East Hampton, Huntington, Islip, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Smithtown, Southampton, Southold, Glen Cove, Long Beach, Hempstead, Great Neck and Oyster Bay.

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