Four New Divorce Laws in New York State

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Recently, New York State enacted 4 important laws that can affect your divorce. Here are the highlights:

1. New Rules Governing Certain Actions

In any divorce action started after September 1, 2009, there will be a set of automatic orders which will prevent certain actions by either party until the divorce is final or until another court order.  They are:

  • Neither party can sell or transfer any real property or personal property.
  • Neither party can transfer or withdraw any tax deferred funds, stocks, 401K accounts or profit sharing plans
  • Neither party can incur "unreasonable debts", including, but not limited to, credit card debt, credit lines, or cash advances, except in the usual course of business or for customary or usual household expenses, or for reasonable attorney's fees
  • Neither party can remove the other party or the children of the marriage from any existing medical, hospital and dental insurance coverage
  • Neither party can change the beneficiaries of any existing life insurance policy.  Each party shall maintain the existing life insurance, automobile insurance, homeowners and renters insurance policies in full force and effect

2. Loss of Health Insurance Will Be Considered

As of September 26, 2009, the Court must take into consideration the loss of health insurance when making decisions concerning equitable distribution.  Equitable distribution is the process where marital assets are divided between the parties.

3. Notification of Loss of Health Insurance Coverage

As of October 9, 2009, both parties must be notified, prior to the judgment of divorce or legal separation, that after the divorce, they may or may not be eligible to be covered under the other party's health insurance plan.  This new law replaces a similar law.  However, the new law should be easier to implement. 

4. Changes in Determining Child Support Obligations

As of January 31, 2010, the child support obligations have been modified.  In the past, the court applied a set percentage to the combined income of both parents up to $80,000.00.  If the parents' income was greater than $80,000.00, the courts did not necessarily have to apply the set percentages.  However, in practice, most courts applied the same percentage for incomes greater than $80,000.00.  The new law specifies that the set percentages will be applied to combined incomes up to $130,000.00.  In addition, the $130,000.00 figure can be adjusted every two years to reflect changes in the Consumer Price Index. 

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