CPL Family Law Practice Group
The Family Law Practice Group was developed to assist our clients in the creation and protection of their families and the formation and dissolution of their relationships. We offer more conventional representation or guide parties toward reaching agreements and resolving their disputes through mediation. The Family Law Practice Group, along with the firm’s Trusts & Estates Practice Group and its dynamic residential and commercial real estate practices, allow the firm to continue to serve our clients and as their needs evolve over time.
We offer the following services:
Prenuptial Agreements (or Postnuptial Agreements, if the Agreement is signed after the marriage), memorialize a couple’s agreements with respect to income, assets, debts, during their marriage, their estate rights, and also their rights and obligations upon divorce. There is a misconception that Prenuptial Agreements are all about divorce and, consequently, many people are wary of them. However, Prenuptial Agreements are as much, or even more, about the agreements you have with your spouse during your marriage. Often, the process of talking through relevant issues and identifying what is important to the parties sets the parties’ relationship up for long-term success. At CPL, we can negotiate Prenuptial Agreements on behalf of one spouse, or we can meet with both parties as a neutral mediator to guide them toward reaching their own agreements.
There are all types of relationships and families. For some, marriage is not the right fit (either because it is not an available option in the case of multiple-person relationships, because the parties do not want to marry, or because the nature of the relationship is not romantic, e.g., agreements between a parent and child or between siblings). Memorializing agreements with respect to the parties’ financial and emotional interdependence and planning for the future is important in all relationships and families. At CPL, we can negotiate these agreements on behalf of one party, or we can meet with all parties as a neutral mediator to guide them toward reaching their own agreements.
“It takes a village,” to raise a child. Less traditional family structures have always existed, but today, more “non-traditional” families, for example, non-coupled co-parents or multiple-parent families, are seeking to memorialize their agreements regarding the custody and care of their children and their financial and emotional interdependence. At CPL, we can negotiate these agreements on behalf of one party, or we can meet with all parties as a neutral mediator to guide them toward reaching their own agreements.
Where parties agree that one party will donate an egg or sperm to an intended parent(s), the terms of that agreement should be memorialized in a written agreement. This fosters understanding between the parties as to their expectations and their respective rights and obligations. It also allows them to avoid unintended legal consequences of the relationship. At CPL, we negotiate these agreements on behalf of either the donor or the intended parent(s).
A second-parent adoption (or sometimes called a step-parent adoption where the parents are married) is the process by which one partner or spouse legally adopts the other partner or spouse’s biological/legal child. Although these legal processes are not limited to same-sex parents, this arises most often in same-sex relationships. Where parents are not married, this process establishes the parental rights of the non-biological/non-legal parent. In New York, if the parents are married, there is a presumption that a child born of that marriage is the child of both spouses regardless of the child’s genetic ties to the parent. However, that presumption is rebuttable. This leaves open the possibility that where parentage is called into question, a court might not recognize the parentage of the non-biological parent, despite the parents being married at the time of the child’s birth. The laws surrounding presumptions of parentage vary from State to State and even in New York, there are conflicting court decisions regarding whether the parental presumption applies to children born of same-sex spouses. A second/step-parent adoption, however, will firmly establish the parentage of the non-biological/non-legal parent. This is a complex and ever-evolving area of the law and we invite you to contact us to learn more. At CPL, we represent parents (most often jointly) and guide them through this process
Marriages sometimes end. It is a particularly difficult time for most couples and we are committed to making this process as clear and non-adversarial as possible. At CPL, we meet with divorcing couples as a neutral mediator to guide them toward reaching their own agreements with respect to support, division of assets, responsibility for debts, and child custody, care, and support so that parties can end their marriages with dignity and respect.
Relationships sometimes end. It is a particularly difficult time for all those involved. Although parties may not be married, that does not mean they do not have assets to divide, debts to consider, or children to care for and these agreements should be memorialized in a written agreement. At CPL, we can negotiate these agreements on behalf of one party, or we can meet with all parties as a neutral mediator to guide them toward reaching their own agreements.
We guide clients through the process of legally changing their names and gender markers on legal documents. Although people may decide to change their names for a variety of reasons, the importance of having your name and gender marker conform with your gender identity cannot be understated. CPL represents members of the transgender and gender non-conforming communities and will guide clients through the legal processes necessary to obtain documents that conform with your personal sense of self.
Where parties jointly own real property or shares allocated to a cooperative apartment, they may have complex agreements regarding their contributions toward initial purchase price, payment of ongoing expenses, the upkeep of the property, loan obligations, and their financial expectations upon its sale. When parties are selling a property, disagreements surrounding these same issues may arise. At CPL, we can negotiate these agreements on behalf of one party, or we can meet with all parties as a neutral mediator to guide them toward reaching their own agreements.
“Mediation is a voluntary process in which the parties make decisions together based on their understanding of their own views, each other’s, and the reality they face.” – Gary Friedman and Jack Himmelstein, Challenging Conflict: Mediation Through Understanding