Monday, August 10, 2009

New Laws to Effect Divorcing Parties’ Rights

Attorney Steven Getman is reminding New Yorkers that three laws will take effect this fall that directly impact matrimonial actions in that state.

Effective September 1, the Domestic Relations Law will provide for automatic stays whenever a matrimonial action is filed. According to Getman, these automatic stays are designed to prevent parties from transferring, disposing of or borrowing against assets “except in the usual course of business or for customary or usual household expenses, or for reasonable attorney's fees in connection with [the] action.” They also prohibit a divorcing spouse from removing the other party or the children from any existing medical, hospital and dental insurance coverage.

“The intent of this legislation is to preserve the status quo during a matrimonial proceeding.” Getman explained.

In addition, Getman said, under the new laws, courts must take additional steps to insure that both parties are notified as to the possible effects of a divorce on the right of each spouse to be covered by the other’s health insurance plan. That provision takes effect October 9.

Finally, the law has been amended to add the loss of health insurance coverage to the statutory factors a court must consider in making an award of Equitable Distribution and/or spousal maintenance, Getman noted. This measure is effective Sept. 26, 2009.

“These significant changes, effective in September and October, will directly impact on the rights of couples divorcing in New York State,” Getman said.

“Therefore, anyone contemplating dissolving their marriage should make sure to discuss these changes, and other legal issues related to separation and divorce with a qualified matrimonial attorney of their own choosing.”