Lori Loughlin’s and Felicity Huffman’s Choices and How that Relates to Your Divorce

As you may have heard, two actresses made very different choices when it came to the criminal charges against them. Lori Loughlin has decided to plead “not guilty”, while, it has been reported that Felicity Huffman has decided to plead “guilty”. Although their choices were made in the context of a criminal matter, they illustrate how different cases and situations result in different choices. This article explains some of the choices you have in your divorce matter.

In a divorce, there are two major choices to be made:

  • Go to Trial; OR
  • Settle

It is estimated that 95% of divorce cases settle. Of that amount, some people settle at the very last minute, meaning on the day of trial.

The reasons why people settle is that typically if you choose to go to trial, they will be spending a lot of money in attorney fees, while if they choose to settle, the opposite will most likely be true, as they will be saving a lot of money in attorney fees.

In addition, choosing to settle, typically results in a better outcome. This is because, in a trial, most Court Orders are not as extensive as the settlement agreement. This could mean that the Court’s order will leave out important details. In contrast, a settlement agreement usually is very detailed.

Of course, in some cases, choosing to go to trial may be the best option. In order to decide which choice you should make, you need to consult with your attorney.

There are many other choices that most likely will have to be made in your divorce case, they include:

  • Housing: Do you choose to retain the marital home or do you choose to sell it. If you choose to try to retain it, for how long?
  • Child Custody: Do you choose to agree to joint custody? Do you fight for sole custody?
  • Parenting time: There are numerous choices to be made in deciding what your parenting time will be and what your spouse’s parenting time will be.

When signing an agreement, a client may state: “I had no choice”. That is incorrect, I tell them, that there is always a choice. Here, the choice is to either sign the agreement or if you don’t sign the agreement, then a Judge will make a decision. The client’s choice is to weigh out the positives and negatives of signing the agreement versus the potential outcome if the case goes to trial.

Divorce presents many choices. One of your first choices will be who you decide to hire for your attorney. If you are seeking an experienced attorney who will present all the choices and explain them to you, in plain English and how those choices affect you, then contact David Badanes, Esq. and the Badanes Law Office, P.C. Contact David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office, P.C. today at 631-239-1702, email at david@dbnylaw.com or visit us on Facebook to get important legal news, tips, and articles: www.facebook.com/BadanesLawOffice.

Are Character Witnesses Helpful In A Divorce?

Many of my clients will ask me if it helps to have a character witness in their divorce case. Here is some information that will help answer that question.

A character witness is a person who attests to another’s moral character, conduct and reputation in a court of law. Typically, character witnesses are used in criminal cases to verify the positive traits of the defendant.

However, in divorce cases character witnesses usually do not have that much of an effect. This is because in a criminal case, the effect of a character witness is to help to lessen a criminal punishment. In a divorce case, the Court is not weighing whether or not it should impose a harsh sentence, but, is weighing who should receive custody of a child. Furthermore, in a divorce case, both parents will be able to bring in character witnesses who will state that each parent is a “good parent.” Finally, the Court will realize that your character witness is most likely a family member or a close friend and will discount their testimony.

However, if the character witness can testify to events that they have actually seen (or perhaps heard) which reflects negatively on your spouse and/or positively on you, then the character witness may have more of an impact. Here, the character witness is not just stating that you are a good parent, but, they are testifying that they have seen you exhibit positive behavior or they have seen your spouse exhibit negative behavior.

Instead of using a relative or a close friend as a character witness, it may be better to call a teacher, one of the children’s coaches, or any neutral adult that can testify about what they have actually witnessed. These types of third-parties are viewed as more persuasive witnesses.
It is important to note that a character witness may backfire on you. Your spouse’s attorney is sure to cross-examine the witness and if the witness testifies to anything that may be viewed as negative to your case, that could weaken the witness’s testimony.

Another reason why a character witness may not be helpful, is that they may be a reluctant witness. You should also know that many times, a character witness, will not want to be bothered to having to come to court to testify.

When you are getting divorce, it is important to hire an attorney who knows what witnesses to call. David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office, P.C. have extensive trial experience and can help you in your divorce.

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What Is The Difference Between A Divorce Trial, Hearing And A Court Conference?

You are getting divorced or maybe thinking of getting divorced. You have been told that there is going to be a court conference, a hearing or a trial. What is the difference between these terms?

A court conference:  In a divorce, typically a court conference is where the Judge will meet with the attorneys to get an update or status of the divorce. There may be specific issues that will be discussed, or it may be a more general discussion. In most court conferences, the parties do not meet with the Judge. The Judge may issue orders for the parties to follow and there will either be another court conference scheduled or a hearing or a trial scheduled for the future. In most court conferences, it is rare for the Judge to hear testimonies.

There are several different types of conferences, namely:

  • Preliminary Conference: This is almost always the first conference with the Judge. At the Preliminary Conference (usually called a “PC”), the Court will set a discovery schedule and set other deadlines.
  • Status Conference: This is where the Court will get the status of what is going on in the divorce. There are usually more than one status conferences.
  • Compliance Conference: In a compliance conference, the Court wants to determine if the parties are in compliance with the Court’s orders or with the discovery schedule.
  • Pre-Trial Conference: A pre-trial conference is typically held about 1 to 2 months before a trial (although, it could be held only a few weeks before a trial). The Court will hear last minute issues and issue any orders to be followed for the trial.

A hearing: Usually a hearing is where a discrete issue is being decided. A hearing could be very short or take a full day. In rare occurrences, a hearing could occur over several days. For a hearing, testimony is almost always taken. Issues can run from the very mundane to extremely important ones (e.g. child custody or child support issues). At the end of a hearing, there usually will still need to be more court conferences and/or a trial (unless the case settles).

A trial: In a divorce, a trial will usually mean that several issues are being heard and decided. Testimony is almost always taken, and trials usually take at least a full day and can run for a week or longer. Typically, once a trial is over, the court will render a final decision, and there should not be a need for any further hearing or trials. Although, in some cases, the Court may need to hear more testimony or schedule a court conference.

If you need an experienced divorce attorney on Long Island, please contact David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office at 631-239-1702 or send us an email at david@dbnylaw.com. David Badanes, Esq. has represented clients in their court conferences, hearings, and trials. Mr. Badanes and the Badanes Law Office has the experience to guide you through your divorce.

The Badanes Law Office has offices in Northport, Garden City, Brooklyn, and Manhattan.

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What Does An Expert Witness Do In A Divorce?

When watching television or a movie with a legal case, you may have seen an attorney call on an “expert witness.”

What is an expert witness? What does an expert witness do in a divorce?

An expert witness is a person who has specialized knowledge about an issue. An expert witness can be anyone with knowledge about a specific issue or subject. Typically, the expert witness has years of experience or education about the issue or subject. There are experts in just about every human endeavor and subject area.

An expert is there to help the Court better understand a specific issue. Hopefully, the expert can explain a complex issue in easy to understand language. This helps the Judge, and if there is a jury, the jury understand that issue.

There are two types of expert witnesses: (i) a Neutral Expert Witness; and (ii) an Independently Hired Expert Witness.

A Neutral Expert Witness is typically appointed by the Court to give an opinion on a particular issue. In a divorce, a Court may appoint the following Neutral Experts:

  • A real estate appraiser – to appraise the value of a house, vacant lots, or any other type of property
  • A retirement valuation firm – to provide a valuation of the parties’ retirement funds and also to draft a Domestic Relation Order to distribute those funds
  • A forensic accountant – to provide a valuation of a business
  • A forensic psychologist – to provide an opinion on child custody issues
  • A jewelry appraiser – to appraise the value of jewelry

The Court will also determine how the neutral expert is paid, typically, the parties will equally share the cost of a neutral expert. However, in situations where one party earns much more than the other party, the wealthy spouse may have to pay all or most of the neutral expert’s fees.

An Independently Hired Expert Witness is where a party directly hires their own expert witness to provide an opinion at trial. In those instances, typically, both parties hire their own separate expert witnesses. When both parties have their own independent expert witnesses, you have what is commonly called a “battle of experts”. The Court can choose to follow one expert’s opinion, neither expert’s opinion, or a combination of both expert’s opinions.

In most divorces, it is very rare for the parties to hire their own independently hired expert witnesses. This is because it can be very expensive to do so, in addition, the Court would rather that a neutral expert be retained to limit the time it takes for expert witness testimony.

Experts are not just used at trial, especially in divorce cases. Usually, an expert will issue a written report prior to a trial, and in many cases, early in a divorce matter. The expert will help the parties understand the issues and the value of the parties’ home, retirement assets or other assets. The parties can use that knowledge to help them reach a settlement before the case goes to trial.

If you are thinking of getting divorced and need a divorce attorney on Long Island, NY, please contact David Badanes at Badanes Law Office. Mr. Badanes has represented hundreds of clients in their divorce. Mr. Badanes will help you in either finding an expert witness or in interpreting the expert witnesses’ report. Call today at 631-239-1702, email at david@dbnylaw.com.

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