Quatela Chimeri, PLLC

Long Island Family Law Blog

Guitarist Slash nears end of high asset divorce

New York music fans may already be familiar with the marital problems faced by Slash, the lead guitarist for the rock band Guns N' Roses. His high asset divorce dragged on for several years, which Slash -- real name Saul Hudson -- blamed on his ex-wife. Four years after the initial filing the couple appears to have finally reached an agreeable solution to proceedings. 

Slash and Perla Ferrar were married for 13 years before he filed divorce papers in 2014. Now, four years later, they will finally see an end to the process. The 53-year-old guitarist will make a one-time equalization payment of $6,627,352. Spousal support was set at $100,000 per month and he will also make monthly child support payments of $39,000. Their agreement also guarantees that his children will receive nearly 2 percent of his income through 2036. 

I'm getting a divorce, can I keep my work retirement account?

You spent years saving for retirement, and now that you are about to end your marriage the contents of your retirement accounts could be in question. Do you get to keep the accounts since they are associated with your work and you contributed to them solely from your income? What if all or some of the retirement savings were in your spouse's name? Although it may seem overwhelming and confusing, you can address these questions during your divorce. 

Like other marital assets, you may have to divide your retirement savings during a divorce unless you have a prenuptial agreement that states otherwise. This is true even if you started the savings account before you were married, although it will only apply to money saved since you said, "I do." However, as you probably already know, retirement accounts are extremely complex in New York. Unlike other types of savings accounts, there are penalties and steep tax consequences to withdrawing, so you will not be able to just pull out your half and go on with your life. 

Is co-parenting the right solution for your child custody issues?

Co-parenting is a relatively newer idea in family law, but it is significantly influencing how many New York parents choose to handle custody issues. Shared custody is now quite popular compared to more traditional child custody arrangements. This approach puts a greater focus on children's best interests, but it requires a little more effort from both parents. 

Making shared custody work can be hard and requires a significant amount of effort from both parents. Initially, this may feel impossible; after all, how can two people who decided to divorce work together well enough to co-parent? It may seem hard, but many parents successfully do just that by creating a strong foundation in their custody agreement. Creating a predictable schedule helps children and parents alike start their first steps into co-parenting after a divorce. 

Why are millennials so prepared for divorce?

The idea of an older, wealthy individual asking a less-fortunate spouse to sign a prenup is not the reality that most people face today, and there is one group of people to thank for that -- millennials. Although prenuptial agreements are an incredibly useful aspect of New York family law, an unfair association with greed and distrust has long kept the average person from considering it as a possibility. Now, millennials are better prepared for both marriage and divorce than most past generations. 

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported that 62 percent of family law attorneys saw a rise in the use of prenups over the past three years. The largest increase in prenup use falls on millennials, for a variety of reasons. This generation tends to delay marriage, so unlike past generations who married in their late teens or early 20s, they are saying "I do" when they have higher earning capacities and more assets. 

Who gets the retirement accounts in a divorce?

If you and your spouse have accumulated significant retirement accounts and/or pension plans over the years, dividing them up during your New York divorce may prove to be an extraordinarily complicated undertaking. Unfortunately, if you fail to do it properly, the consequences could be thousands of dollars in taxes and/or penalties for one or both of you.

Before heading into these troubled waters, each of you should seriously consider whether or not you want to go to the trouble and expense of dividing these accounts between you. Yes, they represent a good portion of your marital property, but if you are a high net worth couple, you have other assets as well that you may be able to exchange for the values of your respective retirement accounts.

Does your spouse hate your friends? You're more likely to divorce

Most people in New York think that only two people can affect the outcome of their marriage -- themselves and their spouse. However, a recent study showed that other people can influence whether a couple ends up filing for divorce. It might come as a surprise to some people that the study is not talking about in-laws.

Spending times with friends is important. It gives most people a mental break from their lives while also fostering important relationships with other adults. Unfortunately, it could also be a marriage downer. A university study collected and reviewed 16 years' worth of data and came to a simple conclusion -- if a person hates their spouse's friends, they are more likely to divorce.

Have a lot of student loans? You may be more likely to divorce

Dealing with money issues -- like having too much debt or not enough income -- can be stressful at any point in life. However, younger couples in New York seem to be hit particularly hard by financial stress. A recent survey found that when it comes to divorce, approximately one out of every eight can be traced back to student loans. 

The nationwide student loan crisis hit a new high this year. With a collective $1.5 trillion in debt, the average student loan borrower owes a little over $34,000. The average balance shot up 62 percent in the last 10 years, and the number of people who are $50,000 in debt for school tripled during the same time. This is not great news for young couples who are ready to tie the knot or recently said "I do." 

New LGBT family law challenges during adoption

LGBT couples choose to start their families in a number of different ways. Although some New York couples choose methods in which they can rear biological children, many also turn to adoption when they are ready to become parents. Unfortunately, a new proposal could create some serious LGBT family law challenges. 

The proposed change would be an amendment to the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill. If the amendment is adopted, child welfare and adoption agencies that receive federal funds would be allowed to deny services based on religious affiliation. Currently, agencies receiving taxpayer money cannot deny adoptions based on the prospective parents' religious beliefs or sexual orientation. 

Understanding the Majauskas formula

If you and your spouse are a high net worth New York couple, your pensions and retirement accounts may represent a major portion of your marital assets when you divorce. Per state law, you must fairly and equitably divide these retirement accounts between you.

Determining exactly what constitutes a fair and equitable division usually is much easier said than done. Most pension plans contain their own specific rules and regulations and require that the court issue a Qualified Domestic Relations Order whose legal language meshes seamlessly with each plan’s own provisions.

Female breadwinners at slightly higher risk for divorce

There is no denying that society is changing, and as it does so do standards and norms. Historically, men have been expected to earn enough on a single income to support an entire family. Things are a little different now, with many married couples both working outside the home and sharing household duties. While this is now largely accepted in New York, wives who out earn their husbands could be more likely to divorce.

In 1987, 18 percent of married women reported being the family's breadwinner. Data from 2016 shows that nearly one third of women now make more than their spouses, with 29 percent reporting that they are the high earners in their relationship. On the surface, this is great news for women who aim to climb the ladder of their chosen career. Unfortunately, things do not look so bright on the personal side of things.

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