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The Child’s Attorney
During the summer of 1995, I received a letter written by a 13 year old child from summer camp. The letter indicated that her parents were going through a divorce; that the judge had awarded custody of her to her mother; that she wanted to live with her father; that she was very unhappy living with her mother; and that the law guardian appointed to represent her had not worked to help her live with her father. She wanted to know if I could help her. The next seven months were very difficult ones as I sought to represent her in the divorce action on the question of custody and visitation. They were also very enlightening as to what the role of a law guardian should be and the ability of private counsel selected by the child to have input into the issues involved. This article is meant to inform the bench and bar of what I learned from the process.
I have dealt with many law guardians over the years, but never fully appreciated what their obligations were; as well as the possible standing of private counsel to seek to represent a child. I also came up against certain assumptions raised by the specific facts of that case and the Judge handling the case.
The first issue is standing of a child, in custody litigation, to have her own attorney, be it as a law guardian and/or by counsel of her own choice retained privately by her. Because a child's future is being decided in her parent's divorce action, including whom she lives with, the child has certain due process rights, and the result will, in many ways, have a profound effect on her life, both short and long term. This is confirmed in Matter of Jamie TT, [i] when the Court noted that:
...once custody of her was restored to respondent, he had the right to invoke State sanctions against her in a person in need of supervision proceeding (see , Family Ct. Act art.7) if Jamie challenged his authority by "ungovernab[le]" behavior or running away (see, Besharov, Practice Commentaries, McKinney's Cons. Laws of NY, Book 29A Part 1, Family Ct.Act §712, at 21-22). We would be callously ignoring the realities of Jamie's plight during the pendency of this...proceeding if we failed to accord her a liberty interest in the outcome of that proceeding, entitling her to the protection of procedural due process.[ii]
As any child's future development will be effected by the custody determination of the Court, clearly due process and the effects of the decision give her standing to request relief in that area from the Court. Courts having authority to appoint a law guardian, or an attorney to represent the child, confirms this[iii]. See Law and the Family New York, 2d Ed., Foster, Freed & Brandes, 1995 Supplement, §1:10A, which noted that:
...counsel is often indispensable to a practical realization of due process of law and may be helpful in making reasoned determinations of fact and proper orders of disposition. page 28
The authority for the appointment of a law guardian is based upon 22 NYCRR §202.16(f)(3) and FCA §§241 and 249. FCA §249 provides, in pertinent part that:
...the court may appoint a law guardian to represent the child, when, in the opinion of the family court judge, such representation will serve the purposes of this act, if independent legal counsel is not available to the child.
22 NYCRR §202.16(f)(3) provides that:
The Court may appoint a law guardian for the infant children, or may direct the parties to submit to the court, within 20 days of the conference, a list of suitable law guardians for selection by the court.
FCA §249 permits appointment of a law guardian when independent legal counsel is not available to the child. Does that give the child a right to select her own independent legal counsel? Proper representation by counsel of the child's choice is her inherent due process right. Under both state and federal constitutions, a child has, as does any other individual, a right to have counsel of her own selection representing her. This is a part of the constitutional right of due process, see U.S. Const., Amend. VI and N.Y. Const., Art 1, §6. As was held in People v. Gomberg,[iv]
...an important concomitant of the right to counsel is the obligation of the courts to respect a selection of counsel made...and such choice should not be lightly interfered with. (See United States v. Sheiner, 410 F2d 337, 342, cert.den. 396 US 825, 90 SCt 68, 24 LEd2d 76.)[v]
See also People v. Arroyave, [vi]which held that:
It is certainly well established that the right to counsel, guaranteed by both the Federal and State Constitutions (US Const, 6th Amdt.; NY Const, art I, §6) embraces the right...to be represented by counsel of his own choosing. [citations omitted] As a necessary corollary to this right, a defendant must be accorded a reasonable opportunity to select and retain his counsel. [citations omitted][vii]
The right to counsel of one's own choice also applies in civil proceedings, see Pemberton v. Dolphin Development Corp., [viii]which noted that:
Plaintiff had the absolute right on public policy grounds to terminate the attorney-client relationship with the firm at any time, with or without cause (see, Demov, Morris, Levine & Shein v. Glantz, 53 NY2d 553, 556-557, 444 NYS2d 55, 428 NE2d 387).[ix]
This right to counsel has been applied to children, see Goss v. Lopez[x]; Haley v. Ohio[xi]; and In re Gault[xii].
The standing of any attorney selected by a child will be affected by how the child has come to that specific attorney. There are two specific cases on this subject, P. v. P. [xiii], and Anonymous v. Anonymous[xiv], and because of that factor, the Court reacted differently in each case.
When the child indicates that she feels that the law guardian either does not advocate her position and/or there is a clear communication problem with the law guardian, it would be inappropriate for that attorney, under those circumstances, to continue to represent the child against her wishes, see Sansiviero v. Sanders[xv]. Under those circumstances, it is my opinion that the Court must listen to the child. The Court should not, based upon its own predetermined opinion of either or both parents, make its decision without giving the child a chance to be heard. Law and the Family New York, 2d Ed., Foster, Freed & Brandes, 1995 Supplement, §1:10A, p.30, acknowledges the right of a child to retain independent counsel. The Court should not deny the child her right to counsel of her own choice, an attorney who she would feel comfortable with and who would consult with her on a frequent basis, keep her apprised of the status of the proceedings as they concern her and advocate her position before the Court. Otherwise, the Court might deprive her of her right to due process as guaranteed both by the State and Federal Constitutions. Further, that deprivation will inherently flaw the proceedings. Further, as one of the parents stated in the case I was involved in, "I am puzzled why a lawyer would fight so hard to keep a client (no matter their age) against their wishes." In Law and the Family New York, 2d Ed., Foster, Freed & Brandes, 1995 Supplement, §1:10A, there is an evil noted to be avoided at all costs that, "Sometimes a child is ignored by a well-meaning judge adopting an 'older and wiser' attitude." p. 28
A Court should not feel an obligation to make this decision for the child, without regard for her wishes and against those wishes and her rights. Clearly a child, as is her right, should have the opportunity, under appropriate circumstances, to choose independent counsel. Her wishes as concerns who should represent her in Court should govern.
It should be noted that if private counsel is retained, the Court Rules[xvi] require that the child receive a copy of the Client's Rights and Responsibilities and sign a written retainer agreement. For the attorney selected by the child to have any possibility of effecting the outcome, her selection of her attorney should be unaffected by any of the parties or any attorney involved in the litigation. Two cases involving this issue, P. v. P.[xvii] and Anonymous v. Anonymous[xviii] demonstrate how. In P.v. P., an 11 year old child found his prospective attorney with the help of his father; the father entered into a written retainer with the attorney as concerns payment only; the father took the child to the attorney's office when necessary and met with the attorney prior to the Court appearance. Because of how the attorney was selected and retained, there was an appearance of a possible conflict of interest, and different counsel was eventually selected for the child. In Anonymous v. Anonymous, the children found the attorney on their own after they saw his name listed as a custody "specialist" in a magazine. In that case, the attorney selected by the children, the selection not being tainted by either parent, was confirmed and the appointment was made.
Another concern, raised by the Court, was that prospective counsel must be on the "list" pursuant to the Second Department rules[xix]. Those rules are limited to appointments pursuant to JudL §35, which only refers to the form of payment. It should be noted that P. v. P.[xx] disregarded the "list" because the new attorney for the child was to be paid privately. In Anonymous v. Anonymous[xxi], there was no such direct consideration because the First Department rules are slightly different[xxii]. In any event, unless payment is to be made pursuant to JudL §35 (i.e. with public funds), there should be, in my opinion, no need to require counsel to be on the law guardian panel if the selection process followed by the child is not tainted by a parent or their attorney and the attorney is otherwise qualified.
In Fargnoli v. Faber[xxiii], the Appellate Division, Third Department, reviewed a number of issues that are of vital importance on this issue. The Court, in that case, held that:
...law guardians or counsel of their [the children's] own choice should represent the minors (see Family Ct. Act, §§241, 249, subd.[a]; Besharov, Practice Commentary, McKinney's Cons. Laws of NY, Book 29A, Family Ct. Act, §241, p.188; see also, Matter of Anonymous v. Anonymous, 70 Misc2d 584, 585, 333 NYS2d 897).
...Children are entitled to independent representation...because their interests are at stake and because neither the parents, the parents' counsel, nor the court can properly represent the children's interests (see Family Ct. Act §§241m 249, subd.[a]; Borkowski v. Borkowski, 90 Misc 2d 957, 959-961, 396 NYS2d 962)...children...can be represented by counsel of their own choosing (Family Ct. Act §§241, 249, subd.[a]) and even by counsel to whom they are merely referred by a parent (see Doe v. Doe, 92 Misc2d 184, 190, 399 NYS2d 977)[xxiv]
Matter of Elianne M.[xxv], in holding that the trial Court should have relieved the law guardian and granted the child's application for a substitution of counsel, noted that:
Family Court Act §§241, 249(a) specially provides for representation of a child by counsel of their choice because it is their interests that are at stake (see, Fargnoli v. Faber, 105 AD2d 523, 481 NYS2d 784 appeal dismissed 65 NY2d 631, 491 NYS2d 158, 480 NE2d 746).
That Law Guardian's role is to provide assistance of counsel to help protect the interests of minors...and "to help them express their wishes to the court" (Family Ct. Act §241; see also, Matter of Scott L. v. Bruce N., 134 Misc2d 240, 509 NYS2d 971). Where, as here...the teenage child...has indicated her lack of trust in her appointed representative will not effectively communicate her wishes to the court ...the proper course was to relieve the Law Guardian and permit substitution of counsel of the child's own choosing. [Emphasis supplied]601 NYS2d 482
Finally, on this subject, P. v. P. [xxvi], confirms that a Court should discharge a law guardian and substituted counsel of the child's choice to represent a child. In P. v. P., the Court, in discharging a law guardian appointed to represent an eleven year old, the child complained that she was not getting along with the law guardian and wished to obtain counsel of her own choice. It should be noted that the attorney making the application was referred to the child by the father and entered into a written retainer agreement with him, he met with the attorney and provided transportation for the child to get to the attorney's office. In deciding the application, the Court held that:
...a child whose parents are involved in a custody dispute may be represented by independent counsel of their choosing (See, Family Court Act §§241, 249, Subd.[a])...a child can ask the court to replace a court appointed attorney with an attorney of the child's choosing(See, Matter of Fargnoli v. Faber, 105 AD2d 523)....there should be a showing that the relationship between the child and court appointed counsel is in someway tainted...
...the child has indicated that he has had some differences of opinion with his appointed counsel. At this juncture it is clear that to continue the relationship between the child and Ms. Magill would not be fruitful ...it would be appropriate for this court to excuse Ms. Magill from her appointment as law GUARDIAN of the CHILD.
The role of a law guardian has also been subject to litigation and rules and/or guidelines in this state. The New York State Bar Association has published standards to govern the conduct of Law Guardians[xxvii]. The actual standing of privately retained counsel for the child may be affected by how well the law guardian lives up to those standards and her relationship with the child. It is not always an indication that the law guardian has not done her job well if the child seeks a replacement; just as it is not that uncommon in matrimonial litigation for clients to seek to change their attorney when outgoing counsel has done an outstanding job on their behalf.
In Marquez v. Presbyterian Hospital[xxviii], the Court reviewed the obligations of a law guardian. In its decision, the Court noted that:
The adversarial role for law guardians has, quite properly, predominated. As the Second Department noted it is "the right and duty of such counsel [law guardian] to proceed in the same manner as counsel representing a defendant in a criminal proceeding" (Rapoport v. Berman, 49 AD2d 930, 931, 373 NYS2d 652). In the routine case "the authority to make decisions is exclusively that of the client and * * * are binding on his lawyer" (Code of Professional Responsibility, EC 7-7). The same principle applies to juveniles (see, American Bar Association, Juvenile Justice Standards Relating to Counsel for Private Parties, Standard 3.1[b][ii][b]. Recent cases, without any discussion of the issue, routinely treat law guardians as though they were counsel in a criminal case. (See, e.g., Matter of Elianne M., 196 AD2d 439, 601 NYS2d 481 [substitution of counsel of the child's choosing for the law guardian]; Matter of Jamie TT., 191 AD2d 132, 599 NYS2d 892 [law guardian held to the same standard of competent representation...]; Bentley v. Bentley, 86 AD2d 926, 927, 448 NYS2d 559 ["the relationship(between)the Law Guardian and the child * * * is one of 'attorney-client'" and communications are clearly clothed with the testimonial privilege]...
...the New York State Bar Association's Law Guardian Representation Standards, Volume II: Custody Cases, is premised on the view that law guardians will make an independent investigation and express the child's view. [Emphasis supplied]159 Misc2d 622, 624, 608 NYS2d 1015, 1016, 1017
The child's attorney, whether a Court appointed law guardian or independently selected counsel, whenever a recommendation is made to the Court, should keep this obligation in mind. If not, a law guardian has not complied with her obligations to represent her client, see Stien v. Stien, 130 Misc2d 609, 496 NYS2d 902 (Fam.Ct., West.Co., 1985), which held that:
The Law Guardian...must represent to the court whether in her opinion the client in fact has an ascertainable, reasonably settled point of view that the court can be made aware of...what the child does seem to want ...First and foremost the Law Guardian is a lawyer, and subject, of course, to the Code of Professional Responsibility. 496 NYS2d 906
A law guardian's primary job is to present the child's position to the Court, see the Code of Professional Responsibility, EC 7-7, which notes that "...the authority to make decisions is exclusively that of the client and... such decisions are binding on his lawyer." DR 7-101(A)(1) notes that "A lawyer shall not intentionally fail to seek the lawful objectives of the client..."[Emphasis supplied]. By treating a child's goal as less than advisory, the law guardian can violate the child's right to effective assistance of counsel.
In the Eitzen, "A Child's Right to Legal Representation in a Custody Dispute,"[xxix] that issue was explored. Tari Eitzen noted that the role of such an attorney requires that:
...the child [have] the opportunity to participate in decisions which affect his life. He [the attorney] would provide explanations that take into consideration the child's age and maturity. The child's attorney should be wary of opposing the child's preference in the realization that there may be valid reasons for that preference which are not readily observable. He will often be able to use his position to act as a mediator and enhance the child-parent relationship.
While advocating the child's preference will depend upon the circumstances of each case and the age of the child, the attorney must remember that he is representing a client.
Many of the attorney's duties will be similar to those he performs when he represents an adult client....He will argue his client's case. [Emphasis supplied] pages 68, 69
The article goes on to recommend that there be a rebuttable presumption in favor of the child's preference if over twelve years of age(page 71).
Too frequently, the child's preferences as to custody and visitation are brushed aside...A law guardian may be appointed by the court to protect the interests of the children, or the child may choose independent counsel.
...the mission of the law guardian is certain—to solely, exclusively and with unwavering loyalty represent the child in the dispute between the parents and express the child's wishes to the court....the role of the law guardian was to be the same as the role of independent counsel. [Emphasis supplied] pages 34-36
In reviewing P. v. P., supra, Foster Freed & Brandes goes on to note that:
...there was no distinction between private attorneys retained to represent a child in a custody dispute and "court appointed counsel who are called Law Guardians." All attorneys representing children must be guided by the same set of principles "to represent their clients —the children." page 36
This approach is further confirmed in the Law Guardian Representation Standards of the NYSBA promulgated in 1994, see Standard B-2, which notes, in the commentary, that:
When the child is of sufficient age to articulate his or her desires and to assist counsel, the plan [position and strategy] should be developed with the child's cooperation and agreement. The child often has a keen insight concerning his or her needs.
Standard B-4 requires the law guardian to discuss the case periodically with the child. In my representation of the child, I merely treated this client similar to another client, as every client should be treated. It is my opinion that a Court appointed law guardian should not hesitate to communicate with her client. I have, from time to time, seen law guardians who attempt to limit such contact with their clients.
A law guardian or independent counsel must serve the child as her advocate during the trial to properly provide her with effective assistance of counsel. Not to not forcefully advocate the child's desired result is in violation of EC 7-1 and 7-7. EC 7-1 specifically requires an attorney "...to represent his client zealously..." EC 7-3 points out that an attorney "...should resolve in favor of his client doubts..." Not to do so would deprive the child of effective assistance of counsel, see Matter of Jamie TT[xxx], which held that:
Jamie did not receive the effective representation to which she was constitutionally entitled...it was the duty of Jamie's court-appointed Law Guardian to insure that the evidence sustaining her allegations... was fully developed....The Law Guardian did nothing to make up for these lapses in presentation of the evidence in support of Jamie's allegations. 599 NYS2d 895
While a law guardian's objective may be slightly different than of counsel retained by a child (retained counsel's sole goal is to present the child's views and try to implement them; the law guardian has a joint obligation, to present her client's desires and her best interests), a law guardian still has an obligation to present the child's views and try to be impartial as between the parties; search out the truth; and make sure that a balanced approach is presented to the Court, especially if it advances her client's desires.
Standard A-9 also specifically places as an objective on the law guardian that, "When appropriate, independent court ordered evaluations or studies should be requested." The advantage of independent evaluations, especially in representing a child, should not be downplayed. In the case that encouraged this article, there were numerous forensic reports of experts retained by both sides. A review of the reports from the experts of both parents confirmed their adversarial nature. What came through was different spins on almost the same reported facts. What one expert called a strength of one parent, another attacked as being a deficit. Without a mental health expert independent of both parents, the best picture that the Court had, in my opinion, was confused and conflicted at best; with the trial Court left to choose from the adversarial alternatives. While each parent insisted that their expert was truly independent; that the recommendation was not an adversarial one; yet, they were so divergent that, without confirmation from someone independent, as someone looking to represent the child's interests, none should have been relied upon. I felt very strongly that, on behalf of my client, independent forensics were vital and the lack of an independent evaluation demonstrated the wisdom of Rosenblitt v. Rosenblitt[xxxi], and why the Courts seek to encourage independent reports and discourage the use of hired guns by both sides. In Rosenblitt v. Rosenblitt[xxxii] the very strong preference for independent forensic evaluations and the clear preference over the use of experts hired by one or the other party created an exception under CPLR 3121, preventing the examination by a party's expert when the independent report would be available.
It has been a long standing approach of the Courts that independent forensic evaluations are preferred, see Kesseler v. Kesseler[xxxiii]. That preference has developed over the years so that, in Rentschler v. Rentschler[xxxiv], a reversal was based primarily on the opinion of an independent psychiatrist, noting that such an evaluation "should not be readily set aside..."[xxxv]. It has been held to be reversible error not to have such an independent psychiatric or psychological report, see Bayer v. Bayer[xxxvi].
In Koppenhoefer v. Koppenhoefer[xxxvii], it was noted that:
...appointment of a law guardian has been recognized as appropriate and helpful to the court. The attorney may act as...advocate for the child's preference...[xxxviii]
In Scott L. v. Bruce N.[xxxix], the Court noted that:
The law guardian's functions are to provide assistance of counsel to help protect the "interests" of minors...and "to help them express their wishes to the Court."(FCA §241)
Where the child is a teenager of reasonably sound judgment, either a law guardian or a guardian ad litem would...advocate for the outcome the child prefers, and properly so, since the wishes of a mature youngster also carry greater weight with the court than those of a younger child. Eschbach v. Eschbach, 56 NY2d 167, 451 NYS2d 658, 436 NE2d 1260(1982)...the law guardian might see this course as arising out of the attorney-client relationship... [Emphasis supplied]509 NYS2d 973, 974
I will note that there may be reasons for a law guardian and/or the Court downplaying or disregarding a child's preference under certain circumstances. In my opinion, a law guardian does so in violation of his obligations to represent his client. Considering what has been set forth above, it is my opinion that a law guardian should never not advocate his client's position, while keeping in mind and before the Court a balanced view of the proceedings.
There are cases which may call for the Court disregarding a child's preference. One such case, Young v. Young[xl], set forth the basis. Yet, a careful review of Young will show that its use is fairly limited. In Young, the mother was constantly teaching the children that their father was dangerous and made persistent and uncorroborated allegations of sexual abuse; that there was an independent psychiatrist appointed to conduct forensic evaluations[xli]. Even if the case contains serious allegations such as in Young, the Court still not totally disregard the child's input and the law guardian must never do so!
In Young, the Court held that the factors in a custody determination are:
..."the parental guidance the custodial parent provides the child; the ability of each parent to provide for the child's emotional and intellectual development; the financial status and ability of each parent to provide for the child; [and]the overall relative fitness of the parties" [citations omitted]....
...any determination of child custody must be based upon "what is for the best interest of the child, and what will best promote its welfare and happiness"[citations omitted] 628 NYS2d 960
Sometimes, the child's happiness will not coincide with what a Judge will feel is in the child's best interests. Admittedly, those are the most difficult cases and a law guardian has a much stronger obligation, under those conditions, to primarily represent her client. Further, the age of the child is of utmost importance, see Koppenhoefer v. Koppenhoefer[xlii], which held that:
This court has held that the preference of a 15-year-old was "entitled to great weight" (Bergson v. Bergson, 68 AD2d 931, 932, 414 NYS2d 593)....In this case, the children who form the subject of this appeal were 14 and 12 years old respectively at the time of trial and concededly mature. Their input would have been highly relevant. [Emphasis supplied][xliii]
In the recent case of Anonymous v. Anonymous[xliv], the children contacted Robert Z. Dobrish, a private attorney, to represent them and replace the guardian ad litem previously appointed on their behalf. In that decision, Justice Silberman noted that:
While the court recognizes that the defendant sees the role of law guardian and an attorney selected by the children as different, it is clear that no such distinction is contemplated by the Family Court Act itself. ...§242 clearly defines the role of a law guardian as that of the child's advocate and...that role is no different than that of an attorney selected individually by the children
Mr. Dobrish was appointed to represent the children to be their attorney. Whether we call him a law guardian, or an attorney of choice...
While Mr. Dobrish may be asked to make recommendations to the court in the context of his representation of the children, this in no way diminishes his role as an advocate for his clients...
It is clear that the purpose of a law guardian is to provide a child effective assistance of counsel, and failure to do so is reversible error, see Matter of Karl W.[xlv] Proceeding without the law guardian is a denial of the due process rights of a child, see Matter of Karl S.[xlvi] A law guardian that does not advocate the child's position results in a similar denial of effective assistance of counsel and due process or for the child to request that independent counsel of her own selection. In my opinion, the Court should give such independent counsel full standing to represent the child and, if there is a reason to question counsel's sole position as to his client only, the Court should at least give such counsel the "benefit of the doubt." More important than anything else is to give the child a full and complete voice in the litigation.
[i] 191 AD2d 132, 599 NYS2d 892(3d Dept., 1993)
[ii] 599 NYS2d 894
[iii] 22 NYCRR §202.16(f)(3) and FCA §§241 and 249
[iv] 38 NY2d 307, 379 NYS2d 769, 342 NE2d 550(1975)
[v] 38 NY2d 312, 379 NYS2d 774
[vi] 49 NY2d 264, 425 NYS2d 282, 401 NE2d 393 (1980)
[vii] 49 NY2d 270, 425 NYS2d 285
[viii] 134 AD2d 23, 522 NYS2d 740(3d Dept., 1987)
[ix] 522 NYS2d 741
[x] 419 US 565, 95 SCt 729, 42 LEd2d 725(1975)
[xi] 332 US 596, 68 SCt 302(1948)
[xii] 387 US 1, 13, 87 SCt 1428, 18 LEd2d 527(1967)
[xiii] NYLJ, 11/10/92, p.29, col.3(Sup.Ct., Kings Co., Rigler, J.)
[xiv] NYLJ, 9/8/95, p.27, col.3(Sup.Ct., NYCo., Silberman, J.)
[xv] 117 AD2d 794, 499 NYS2d 431(2d Dept., 1986)
[xvi] 22 NYCRR §§1400.2 & 1400.3
[xvii] NYLJ, 11/10/92, p.29, col.3(Sup.Ct., Kings Co., Rigler, J.)
[xviii] NYLJ, 9/8/95, p.27, col.3(Sup.Ct., NYCo., Silberman, J.)
[xix] 22 NYCRR §679.11
[xx] NYLJ, 11/10/92, p.29, col.3(Sup.Ct., Kings Co., Rigler, J.)
[xxi] NYLJ, 9/8/95, p.27, col.3(Sup.Ct., NYCo., Silberman, J.)
[xxii] 22 NYCRR Part 611
[xxiii] 105 AD2d 523, 481 NYS2d 784(3d Dept., 1984)
[xxiv] 481 NYS2d 786
[xxv] 196 AD2d 439, 601 NYS2d 481(1st Dept., 1993)
[xxvi] NYLJ, 11/10/92, p.29, col.3(Sup.Ct., Kings Co., Rigler, J.)
[xxvii] Law Guardian Representation Standards of the NYSBA promulgated in 1994
[xxviii] 159 Misc2d 617, 608 NYS2d 1012(Sup.Ct., Bx.Co., 1994)
[xxix] 19 Family Law Quarterly 53, Vol. XIX, No. 1(Spring, 1985)
[xxx] 191 AD2d 132, 599 NYS2d 892(3d Dept., 1993)
[xxxi] 107 AD2d 292, 486 NYS2d 741(2d Dept., 1985)
[xxxii] 107 AD2d 292, 486 NYS2d 741(2d Dept., 1985)
[xxxiii] 10 NY2d 445, 225 NYS2d 1(1962)
[xxxiv] 204 AD2d 60, 611 NYS2d 523(1st Dept., 1994)
[xxxv] 611 NYS2d 524
[xxxvi] 102 AD2d 879, 477 NYS2d 51(2d Dept., 1984)
[xxxvii] 159 AD2d 113, 558 NYS2d 596(2d Dept., 1990)
[xxxviii] 558 NYS2d 599
[xxxix] 134 Misc2d 240, 509 NYS 2d 971(Fam.Ct., NY Co., 1986)
[xl] 212 AD 2d 114, 628 NYS2d 957(2d Dept., 1995)
[xli] 628 NYS2d 959
[xlii] 159 AD2d 113, 558 NYS2d 596(2d Dept., 1990)
[xliii] 558 NYS2d 599
[xliv] NYLJ, 9/8/95, p.27, col.3 (Sup.Ct., NY Co., Silberman, J.)
[xlv] 168 AD2d 997, 564 NYS2d 940(4th Dept., 1990)
[xlvi] 118 AD2d 1002, 500 NYS2d 209(3d Dept., 1986)
In order to qualify for a New York uncontested, "no-fault" divorce, both parties must agree to the divorce, division of all marital assets, debts, property, custody of the minor children, support for the minor children and spousal maintenance. In an uncontested divorce, the defendant can be served but if he or she does not answer the complaint in divorce then the plaintiff can seek a default judgment in divorce. The defendant can also waive his or her right to answer the complaint.
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