Unfortunately, a divorce is akin to a war; one does not go to battle without being sufficiently prepared and without considering every strategy prior to engagement. In Winning Divorce Strategies, author and attorney Brian D. Perskin details the tactics his firm has learned and the mistakes he's seen in divorce cases with the with the goal of maximizing your happiness and ensuring you achieve the best possible outcome.
From filing for divorce through the trial, Winning Divorce Strategies provides guidance to help you avoid the pitfalls of divorce and to help you prepare a game plan to take control of your divorce. It provides information on
• choosing a lawyer;
• deciding to litigate ornegotiate;
• recognizing the opposition;
• filing and serving papers;
• being prepared;
• making financial decisions;
• winning custody strategies; and
• negotiating a win-win settlement.
Through experience gained from real-life situations, Perskin shares the divorce secrets he has discovered and details the tactics that have been designed to ensure you are in the best possible position throughout the case.
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Read an Excerpt
WINNING DIVORCE STRATEGIESIntelligent and Aggressive Representation for Every Person Going through Divorce or Custody Proceedings in the State of New York
By Brian D. Perskin
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2013 Brian D. Perskin, Esq.
All right reserved.
ContentsAnatomy of a Divorce....................xiii
Chapter 1: Winning Divorce Strategies....................1
Chapter 2: Divorce Considerations....................7
Chapter 3: The Divorce Process....................11
Chapter 4: Recognizing the Opposition....................17
Chapter 5: Winning Custody Strategies....................21
Chapter 6: Engaging the Services of Professionals in Custody Cases....................29
Chapter 7: Winning Financial Strategies....................33
Chapter 8: Forensic Examination in Financial Matters....................41
Chapter 9: Winning Maintenance Strategies....................45
Chapter 10: Negotiating a Win-Win Settlement....................49
Chapter 11: Divorce Tactics to Watch For....................55
Chapter 12: Winning Strategies That Are Not Talked About....................59
Appendix A: Common Divorce Questions and Answers....................67
Appendix B: Income & Asset Analysis Checklist....................83
Appendix C: Glossary....................87
Appendix D: List of County Clerk's Offices....................93
Chapter OneWinning Divorce Strategies
Crafting a Winning Divorce Strategy
When clients come into our office, they are all essentially asking us what they should do. Every day, my team and I speak with all different types of people about what to do in their particular case, and day in and day out, we encounter the same mistakes made by individuals and other attorneys that are easily avoidable had they been more familiar with the court system. Unfortunately, a divorce is akin to a war; one does not go to battle without being sufficiently prepared and without considering every strategy prior to engagement. This book will detail the tactics we have learned and the mistakes that we have seen that you will wish to avoid with the goal of maximizing your happiness and ensuring that you achieve the best possible outcome.
The Essentials of a Personalized Winning Divorce Strategy from the First Meeting
Anyone who contacts my office is told that he or she must first meet with one of our attorneys for a consultation in person. Unlike other lawyers, we firmly believe in a lengthy introductory meeting, wherein you as the client will detail the status of your case and how we can help you. Speaking and listening to each person provides us with the information we need to devise a strategy specific to each client. This meeting is not a sales pitch; instead, it serves as a vehicle for us to learn about you and the means by which we may help you. If you choose to hire our firm, this meeting is essential to guaranteeing that your case is on its proper course. In certain instances, this may mean working toward a settlement through a formal offer, while other situations may require the filing of a suit in court to safeguard that person's best interests. The initial consultation is therefore essential and requires a client who is upfront and open to discuss strategy.
In deciding which lawyer to hire, pay attention to the questions that are asked during your initial consultation, and make sure that at that initial meeting you are getting advice. When clients come into our office, we first need to get a basic overview of the case. We need to know: names, ages of the parties, ages of the children, employment history, a list of assets both separate and marital, the parties' present living situation, the general demeanor and attitudes of their spouse, and a general schedule of the children's routine, including who primarily does homework with the children, who attends doctor appointments, and who attends parent-teacher conferences. We also need to know if there is a history of violence, including confrontations in front of the children, and who controls the family's finances. Once we have this information, our next question is always: "What do you want?"
You should only choose a lawyer who is willing to litigate to achieve the results that you want. If a client tells us what s/he ultimately hopes to achieve and we determine this unreasonable, we politely apologize and inform that individual that our firm cannot be of assistance.
Where the Case Will Go After the First Meeting
Almost any competent lawyer can figure out how to file divorce papers in New York, but a divorce lawyer is more than a paper pusher. A divorce lawyer is your counselor and your chief strategist. Strategy is not taught in law school and can only be developed over a long career and through proper training; your divorce lawyer should not only be familiar with how to file the necessary paperwork and the proper relief to request in a New York Court, but should also be able to strategize the perfect time to file for divorce or the right motion to apply for seeking immediate relief. Your divorce lawyer should look at both the short- and long-term strategies.
A week does not go by where we are not amazed at the ignorance of certain attorneys who blindly give out advice or file suit without any hint of strategy or any knowledge of the facts of that client's case. These lawyers either file for divorce in cases where their client should clearly have waited, or they ask for relief from the Court that has little to do with the actual situation the parties face. What many divorce lawyers do not understand is that the court system is an ever-evolving one; for example, the way that papers were filed several years ago is completely different today. Every individual who is going through a divorce needs a lawyer who regularly practices and shows up to court in front of the same judges. This ensures that you have a lawyer who is up-to-date with the current legal procedures, court processes, and the different personalities of judges that may preside over your case.
Do not choose a lawyer that simply tells you what you want to hear. Choose a lawyer who has the courage to tell you the truth about your case, even if the truth is contrary to what you wanted or expected to hear. Once you hear the truth about the actual law applied to the facts of your case, and not a sugar-coated version of what might happen in a perfect world, you can make the best decision for you and your family. Do not think about your case as winning or losing; instead, think about how to best achieve your goals, given your specific set of facts. Every case is different, and hiring a lawyer that treats every case the same will lead to your dissatisfaction with the outcome of your case. If you want general advice that is given to everyone without any examination of the facts of your case, you can receive free generic information on the court system's website.
Be Prepared to Litigate or Waste Your Money Negotiating
After our initial meeting, there are a number of avenues that you may pursue. It is essential to remember that every case has a beginning, middle, and end. If appropriate to the circumstances, we will urge clients to immediately file for divorce, thereby putting pressure on your spouse to either settle or litigate.
Generally, my team and I are willing to attempt to settle for 30 days before involving the courts. If this fails, we will often file suit. Delaying your case through endless negotiation with your spouse will only cost you money and will lead to little progress. Too much time is wasted by lawyers trying to negotiate a settlement out of court. If settlement cannot be accomplished within 30 days, forget about it. While both you and your spouse may want to settle, without a judge acting as the referee, most lawyers simply tell clients what they want to hear. Consequently, the case goes nowhere. Our experience has shown us that cases settle quicker if the Court becomes involved.
Familiarity with the court system is therefore essential in crafting a highly efficient divorce strategy, which may then be tailored to the particular judge who is assigned to your case. For example, the assigned judge may be particularly unsympathetic towards fathers with regard to the matter of custody, thereby requiring a strategy that changes the conversation to decision-making and access. On the other hand, some judges may favor fathers, allowing your strategy to focus more on the mother's negative attributes to build your case. Familiarity with the judges in each county is essential.
Following the filing of the initial paperwork with the Court and the service of process of these documents, your case will be scheduled for a Preliminary Conference, which serves as an introductory vehicle between the Court and the litigants and establishes a roadmap by which your divorce will proceed. Prior to the Preliminary Conference, a Statement of Net Worth must be prepared, listing your assets, expenses, liabilities, and income and requires the production of your tax returns, W-2 forms, and 1099 forms. At the Preliminary Conference, the Court will determine what has been resolved and the remaining outstanding issues and will then set up a timeline by which the exchange of financial documentation will occur.
Judges commonly tell you how they think they are going to rule almost from the outset, including giving a speech at the first appearance stating how much time and money this will cost you and who is going to have primary custody of the children. Do not be put-off: this is done to scare you in an effort to force you to settle. At this point, the judge does not have all of the facts, evidence, and information available; the only time a judge has all of the facts is after a trial. It is always essential to follow the strategy set by your attorney from the initial stages to the final trial if necessary.
Ultimately, if your matter is not resolved, you will appear for compliance conferences and a pre-trial conference until the Court eventually schedules your case for trial.
The Importance of Having a Lawyer Who is Prepared to go to Court
It is crucial to engage the services of a divorce attorney that is not afraid to litigate in court. This is an absolute MUST as the courtroom is a critical bargaining venue. If you have a lawyer that is unprepared to appear before a judge, you maintain little bargaining power. Even further, a lawyer must be prepared to stand up to a judge and fight back to protect your best interests. If you wanted a "yes-man," you could appear without representation; acquiescing to a judge's demands or those of your spouse's lawyer does not require a law degree.
The Power of Knowing the Other Side
Aside from an overall strategy and familiarity with the court system, your lawyer must have a good understanding of opposing counsel and any other individuals that may be associated with your case, including an attorney for your children or any forensic evaluators. A lawyer who knows all of the other players will be well-informed and will be able to factor their roles into your overall plan.
Given what is at stake, an ambush by opposing counsel with a tactic that you were completely unprepared for is unacceptable. Therefore, your strategy will also depend on your spouse's attorney and your spouse. Knowing who the other party is that you are opposing will determine the rules of engagement and the foundation of your winning divorce strategy.
As stated at the outset of this book, your divorce must be treated seriously and often presents itself as a zero-sum game: if you are unprepared and have not crafted a strategy that best protects your interests, you will likely suffer. This book is designed to assist you through various tactics and through real-life examples my team and I have encountered to best ensure that you are successful personally and financially.
Chapter TwoDivorce Considerations
All relationships may be considered turbulent and emotional at times, but if you are consistently having more downs than ups, you may be looking at divorce as an appealing option. If you are unable to get the idea of filing for divorce out of your head, you need to truly think about the consequences of this decision.
How to Tell Your Spouse
You will probably not blindside your spouse with the news that you want a divorce, unless he or she has not been paying attention to your recent problems. For this reason, we advise potential clients to hire a divorce attorney before telling your spouse; being the first to file may provide you with an advantage.
Your Spouse's Response
It is impossible to know how someone will respond to the news of divorce. An angry or surprised spouse may react in one or more of the following ways:
A request for an explanation
A quick exit to go think alone
If your spouse reacts with a threat, it will often involve money or your children. For example, your spouse might swear that you will never get maintenance or any of your shared assets. After 22 years of practicing law, I have trained my team to know how to continue moving the case forward so that your spouse's threats do not work. The uncooperative spouse could even get into legal trouble for using stall tactics, so rest assured that this approach will not work for him or her.
If you have kids, your spouse will likely threaten that you will never see them, even if you are currently the primary caregiver. Fortunately, your spouse would be wrong in most cases. Most courts frown on parents using their kids to gain an advantage, and this type of threat will likely reduce your spouse's chances of obtaining custody. Most judges want to help both parents to be involved in their children's lives, which means that as long as you can provide a safe, loving home for your child, you still have a chance for custody.
Are You Afraid to Leave Your Spouse?
If your partner has made you afraid to get a divorce, it is important to let your attorney know before you inform your spouse of your decision. We have helped many terrified spouses escape a dangerous environment. Your attorney can help you obtain an Order of Protection to ensure your safety and that of your children.
Get Help Notifying Others of Your Divorce
One of the most difficult aspects of the divorce process is figuring out how to inform others. If you are worried about how friends and family members will react, remember that they will likely support you in your time of need.
If you are not sure how to tell everyone, know that you are advised to notify others in a way that seems fitting. When it comes to your best friends and family members, a phone call or in-person chat might be the most personal approach. Once you are ready to let others know, you might consider easier, faster ways, such as through text messages and status updates on social media sites. However, do not make any written or publicly derogatory comments about your spouse.
Telling Your Kids
Telling your children is likely what you may dread most. If you have been delaying, realize that having your kids find out from other people is far more damaging than any approach you might take. As major decisions are being made, such as one parent moving out, you need to let your kids know as soon as possible. Letting them be blindsided when their mother or father moves out is not advisable.
Many couples choose to have a family meeting to discuss divorce. If you choose this approach, you and your spouse should schedule a date and time to gather your kids into one room at home. Make sure you have their full attention as you announce the divorce, and keep in mind how they are feeling. Let them know they may ask anything they need to in order to better understand what is happening. However, this approach is not advisable if you and your spouse are unable to be together without bickering or blaming.
Some children handle the news better than others. But be aware that even if your children seem like they are fine, they may begin struggling in school or while socializing. Many children are not great at communicating their feelings, so their negative emotions may manifest in other ways.
Excerpted from WINNING DIVORCE STRATEGIES by Brian D. Perskin Copyright © 2013 by Brian D. Perskin, Esq.. Excerpted by permission.
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