Tips on How to Complete Your Statement of Net Worth

By David P. Badanes, Esq. and Max Glick

In New York State, if your divorce is contested, you will have to fill out the “Statement of Net Worth” (sometimes called the “Net Worth Statement”).  The Statement of Net Worth (hereinafter “SNW”) is a very comprehensive form where you will list: (i) all your assets; (ii) all your liabilities (debts); (iii) your income; (iv) your monthly expenses; (v) your gross income; (vi) applicable, business interests information; (vii) legal and expert fees paid; and (viii) some basic family information). When filing the SNW, you have to attach your retainer agreement with your attorney, your most recent W-2 (or 1099s) and your most recent income tax returns.  You can think of a SNW as doing a “Budget on Steroids”.

When you file your SNW, you are signing it under the penalty of perjury. Furthermore, the SNW can be – and will be – used by your adversary to determine if you are telling the truth about your income, expenses and all the other information you state in your SNW. This is why it is extremely important to make sure that your SNW is accurate, error-free and truthful.

Here are a few tips on how to complete your SNW:

  • If something does not apply to you, do not leave the field blank, instead write “Not Applicable”. For instance, if you do not own any stock, you would write “Not Applicable” in the appropriate space.
  • If you do not know the value of an item, do not guess. Instead, you can write “To be determined” or “Do not know”. For example, if you own some jewelry and do not know its value (if sold, not what you bought it for), you can truthfully write: “Do not know”.
  • When completing expenses, it is usually best to compute all of your expenses on a monthly basis. You also do not have to include “cents”, instead you can simply “round up” or “round down”.  For example, if on a yearly basis you spend $1,600.00 for heating expenses, on a monthly basis that would be $133.33.  However, in the SNW, it would be acceptable to write “$133.00 per month”.
  • When filling out the form, you are taking a snapshot in time. All the information should be “as of” the date you are completing the form.
  • If you do not know your expenses, you can consult your bank statements or call the vendor/provider to determine how much you pay. For example, you can call your mortgage statement, the utility company or your credit card company to obtain the information you need. You can also go on-line to obtain this information.
  • For your expenses: if your spouse pays a particular expense, you should still list the amount of the expense and then state who is paying that expense. For example: “Mortgage: $2,500.00, currently paid by husband.”
  • Indeed, you can put as many “notes” as you want in the form.
  • Most people have a better idea of their income. However, you still should consult your most recent W-2 forms and/or pay stubs to make sure you are listing your correct income.
  • When completing the asset section, make sure you list all your assets. If you forget to list an asset, then it might not be considered in your divorce.
  • Liabilities (debts): Make sure you look at your bank statements and credit card statements. Many people have automatic debits, which they forget to put down on their SNW.
  • When listing a credit card or loan, be specific. For example, write: “Chase Visa Card ending in 1234”.
  • The SNW is a long form. It might be a good idea to complete it in two or more settings.
  • Do your homework and be careful in completing the form.
  • After you complete the form, double-check it.

If after you file your SNW, you discover that you made a mistake or an error, you can file an Amended or Second SNW.  Similarly, if there is a significant change in your finances, you can also file a Second SNW.  Finally, if your case goes to trial, the Court may require you to file an updated SNW.

David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office, P.C. have helped numerous clients in completing their SNW.  If you are thinking of getting divorced or you were served with divorce papers and need an experienced divorce attorney on Long Island, then call David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office.

Contact us today at 631-239-1702 or email at david@dbnylaw.com. The Badanes Law Office has offices in Suffolk County (Northport) and in Nassau County (Uniondale, across from the Nassau Coliseum).

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How Do You Get An Annulment in New York

There are three basic ways to end a marriage: (i) divorce; (ii) annulment; or (iii) death.  Of these three methods, the one that is least used and indeed, in rarely used, is an annulment.  In general terms, it is much harder to get an annulment than it is to get a divorce.  This is how you can get an annulment.

Similar to getting a divorce, to start an annulment, you must file a Summons and a Complaint.  The Complaint will state the basic legal reasons why you are seeking an annulment.  You can also request both an annulment and a divorce.  In this manner, if for some reason you do not qualify for an annulment, at least you can get a divorce.

To get an annulment, you have to satisfy certain legal requirements.  There are two general types of annulments.  First type is that your annulment was “void at its inception.”  This means that the marriage technically never happened and that you are not really “married.”  Despite this fact, it is wise to have a court grant you an annulment declaring that your marriage was void from its inception.

The second type of annulment means that your marriage is “valid”, but, due to certain facts you can. There are three categories of “marriages” that are void from their inception.  This means that the marriage technically never happened and that you are not really “married.”

Despite this fact, it is wise to have a court grant you an annulment declaring that your marriage was void from its inception.

Void at its inception:

As stated, if your “marriage” fits into one of the following categories, then it is void at its inception, and you were never really “married”:

  1. Incestuous marriage: A marriage between very close relatives, for example: a Father and Daughter, Brother and Sister, Aunt and Nephew are all examples of incestuous marriages.  Not only are these marriages illegal, a court can also order a fine or even a prison term for parties that enter into an incestuous marriage.
  2. Still married to your former spouse or married to more than one spouse: New York does not recognize any bigamous marriages.  You can only be married to one person at a time.  Sometimes, one spouse will “honestly” believe that their divorce was finalized and get married, however, this is still considered a bigamous marriage.  If you are married and you filed for a divorce, you have to wait until your Judgment of Divorce is signed before you get re-married.
  3. Married by someone not authorized to do so. There is an authorized list of people who can perform a marriage.  This list includes, but is not limited to, a religious leader, a leader of the Society for Ethical Culture, mayors, some magistrate, and judges.  If your marriage was performed by someone who was not authorized to do so, you are not married.  In those situations, if you were “married” by an unauthorized person, your marriage, like the other two in this category is invalid from the start of the so-called marriage.

Other types of marriages that can be annulled:

Unlike the three categories stated above, if you fall into one of these categories, your marriage is “valid” until an annulment is granted.

  1. Age of consent: If both parties are over 18 years of age, then the age of consent has been met.  In New York, no one under the age of 17 years old can get married.  If one of the parties is 17 years of age, then a judge’s approval is required for them to get married.  If later on, you want to have the marriage annulled because you were 17 at the time you got married, you can still request for it to be annulled.
  2. Incapable of consent. If, at the time of the marriage, the person could not mentally understand that he/she was getting married, that marriage may be able to be annulled.
  3. Incapable of entering into marriage due to physical cause. If, at the time of the marriage, the person was unable to have sexual relations, then the marriage may be able to be annulled.
  4. Marriage was due to force, duress or fraud. If the marriage was brought about due to force, duress or fraud, then it may be annulled.
  5. Incurable mental illness for five or more years. This category does not require that the mental illness exhibited at the time of the marriage.  Anytime after the marriages, if one spouse develops an incurable mental illness for five years or more, then the marriage may be annulled.

If you are granted an annulment, your marriage remains in the State’s record.  If you had children, an annulment does not affect their status, they are still legitimate.  As with a divorce, if you are granted an annulment, the court is still empowered to make awards of child custody, child support, spousal maintenance and equitable distribution.

If you considering a divorce or an annulment, then you need to hire an experienced divorce attorney.  David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office have helped numerous individuals in all areas of matrimonial and family law and helped several clients seeking an annulment. If you need an attorney to represent you, then call David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office today at 631-239-1702 or email david@dbnylaw.com.  The Badanes Law Office has offices in Northport and Garden City.

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Understanding Forensic Evaluation Reports In Child Custody Disputes

If there is a child custody dispute, the Court may order that a forensic evaluation be conducted. A forensic evaluation is an evaluation done by a psychiatrist who will then produce a forensic report for the Court.

The psychiatrist, who will sometimes be referred to as the “forensic evaluator” will consider the factors in determining who should be the custodial parent. In addition, the psychiatrist will determine what is in the best interest of the children as it relates to child custody and parenting time (visitation).

The psychiatrist will typically see the children alone and will observe their interaction with each parent. They usually will also see each parent alone and may give certain psychiatric tests to each parent and sometimes to the children.

The psychiatrist, unlike a court, can consider almost anything in rendering their report. This would include considering hearsay evidence. They could also consider unverified Facebook posts or other social media postings.

A forensic evaluation is typically very expensive. It can also take a long time to obtain one. This is why forensic evaluations are not done in every divorce where there is a child custody dispute.

As stated above, once the psychiatrist completes their evaluation, they will produce a forensic report. The report will usually be very extensive and very long.

Now that you have a forensic report – can you read it? The answer, at least in Suffolk and Nassau Counties is generally “no”. In New York City and in most other parts of New York, the answer is “it depends on the Judge.”

No matter where your divorce is, your attorney has an absolute right to read the forensic report.  Your attorney, while reading the report, can take as many notes as they want. However, at least on Long Island, your child custody lawyer may not make a copy of the report and they will not be given a copy of the report.

Yet, virtually every Long Island Judge will not allow the parties to read the actual report. The Court will allow the attorney to discuss the contents of the report with their client. The attorney can also show their client their attorney’s notes.

What if you do not have an attorney, and you are representing yourself pro-se? Although, there is no reported case on this fact, it would seem that a person representing themselves, would have the opportunity to read the report.

David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office has represented and helped numerous clients in their divorce and in their child custody disputes.  David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office has the experience to guide you through your divorce.  If you need an experienced Long Island family lawyer, please contact David Badanes and the Badanes Law Office at 631-239-1702 or email at david@dbnylaw.com. We have offices in Northport, Garden City, Brooklyn and Manhattan.

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