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Cases of Note

With over 85 years of collective legal experience, Jeffrey S. Schecter & Associates, P.C. has handled numerous cases that are at the forefront of developing areas in matrimonial and family law, many of which have been published and/or cited in case reporters and/or legal periodicals. A few examples of cases that exemplify our expertise are as follows:

Custody and Parenting Time

Custody matters can be significant areas of contention in matrimonial and family law in which our firm has a wealth of experience. In the matter of J.F.D. v. J.D., 45 Misc.3d 1212(A), in a decision described as having established “new policy” in litigated custody matters involving forensic experts, our firm successfully applied for the release of raw data and the notes of a court-appointed forensic expert for review to facilitate the preparation of cross-examination at trial in a contested and complicated contested custody matter. Prior to this decision, the generally accepted principle was that pretrial disclosure of such materials could not be compelled without a showing of special circumstances. This decision issued by the Nassau County Supreme Court was viewed as potentially establishing a new path with respect to access of forensic evaluations in contested custody matters and has been cited in multiple legal periodicals since its issuance, including the New York Journal, as well by other trial courts. This case was the also the subject of an article written by Leigh Baseheart Kahn, Esq. in the December 2014 edition of the New York Family Law Monthly entitled, “Opening the Door”;

In a complicated matter that was decided by the Nassau County Family Court in March 2020, after a fourteen day trial, our firm secured custody for the mother of a ten-year-old child against the child’s paternal grandparents whose son had custody of the child but had passed away.

Marital Agreements

Our firm has handled numerous cases involving enforcement of marital agreements, including Prenuptial Agreements, Separation Agreements and the like as well as proceedings seeking to set aside such agreements. In a decision issued by the Appellate Division in the matter of Freed v. Kapla, 129 A.D.3d 615, the firm successfully defended an appeal filed by the defendant who was seeking to set aside the parties’ prenuptial agreement which included waiver of payment of spousal support and which also required the defendant to vacate the apartment in which the parties had resided. All branches of the defendant’s appeal were denied as were subsequent efforts by the husband to seek relief from the highest court in the State, the Court of Appeals. The New York Law Journal reported on the firm’s successful defense of the appeal in an article written by Ben Bedell entitled “Two Rulings Emphasize Proper Execution of Prenups” dated July 1, 2015. The New York Law Journal also published a copy of the decision in its July 2, 2015 publication.

In two decisions issued by the Suffolk County Supreme Court in 2020, our firm defended separate proceedings brought by a spouse seeking to set aside a Prenuptial Agreement and a Separation Agreement respectively. In each proceeding, our firm filed motions to dismiss which were both granted by the Court. The decision dismissing the claim to set aside the Separation Agreement, in the matter of Siegel v. Siegel, was published in the May 11, 2020 edition of the New York Law Journal;

In May 2020, our firm obtained an order of dismissal on our client’s behalf whose former spouse sought to set aside their divorce agreement signed several years prior. In that action, our client’s former spouse sought more than $7 million in addition to what was already due to her in the parties’ divorce agreement. Not only was our firm successful in obtaining dismissal of all causes of action alleged against our client but the judge held that the former spouse would have to pay an award of legal fees on our client’s behalf.

Enforcement of Court Orders

Our firm has handled countless matters involving issues of support enforcement where our firm always takes aggressive measures to secure enforcement of arrears that our due to our clients. In one such instance, our firm obtained a judgment for spousal support arrears on behalf of our client in a sum that exceeded of $240,000, toward which her ex-husband had only paid $50,000. Our firm made an application to the court requesting an order requiring the distribution of funds from the ex-husband’s retirement account to our client toward payment of the substantial arrears still due to her. That application was granted, resulting in the our client’s receipt of a substantial payment toward the arrears due to her that she would not have otherwise received through traditional enforcement measures;

In a decision issued by the Appellate Division in Cristando v. Lozada, 118 A.D.3d 846, our firm successfully defended an appeal filed by the plaintiff who was seeking to prevent enforcement of the trial court’s rulings after our client passed away prior to the entry of a final judgment of divorce. The Appellate Division agreed with our firm’s position, advocating on behalf of the wife’s estate, that the general rule of a divorce action abating upon the death of a party was not applicable because the trial court issued its final decision adjudicating the matter prior to the wife’s death;

During the course of what was a twenty-four day trial, wherein the defendant only appeared for ten full days and two half days in direct violation of an order issued by the Referee, our firm was successful in obtaining an order precluding the defendant from putting on a direct case during the trial;

Protecting our client’s right to payment of the monies they need to support themselves and/or their children is of paramount importance to our firm. In a decision issued by the Appellate Division in the matter of Shane v. Shane, 104 A.D.3d 837 (2d Dept. 2013), our firm successfully defended an appeal filed by our client’s spouse who was asking the Appellate Division to reverse an order which required him to pay $96,200 per year in temporary spousal support and an counsel fee award of $15,000;

After a six-day trial, our firm successfully advocated for the imputation of income to our client’s spouse in the sum of approximately $216,000 per annum, an amount that was more than three times his claimed income at trial, upon which the Court granted an award of maintenance and child support to the wife as well as payment of private school expenses, tutoring and other child support add-ons. Additionally, the firm successfully obtained an order holding our client’s spouse in contempt for his failure to comply with the prior orders of support that had been granted by the court during the pendency of the matter;

In a decision issued by the Appellate Division in the matter of Dvir v. Dvir, 41 A.D.3d 217, our firm successfully defended an appeal filed by our client’s former spouse who was advocating for an interpretation of the parties’ stipulation of settlement and judgment of divorce that would have deprived our client of personal property of significant value. The firm’s successful defense of the appeal ultimately resulted in the filing of enforcement proceedings against our client’s former spouse wherein an order of contempt was issued against the former spouse, wherein our client was granted a $250,000 judgment as a result of his former spouse’s failure to provide him with valuable personal property and wherein his former spouse was required to pay legal fees to our firm on his behalf in the sum of approximately $113,000.

Counsel Fees

Payment of counsel fees can be a matter of significant contention in matrimonial matters. In a decision issued by the Appellate Division in the matter of Straub v. Straub, 155 A.D.3d 919, our firm was successful in its appeal of a lower court order which had granted a counsel fee award to our client, the non-monied spouse, in the sum of $5,000. As a result of the order we obtained from the Appellate Division, the counsel fee award to our client was increased twelve-fold to $60,000;

In a decision issued by the Appellate Division in the matter of Roth v. Roth, 116 A.D.3d 833, our firm successfully defended an appeal filed by their client’s ex-spouse who was seeking reversal of an $18,000 counsel fee award he had been directed to pay to the firm.

Discovery In Matrimonial Matters

One of the most critical areas of matrimonial law is the area of financial discovery where parties must exchange records and information pertaining to their respective finances. This is also an area in which our firm excels in furtherance of zealously advocating for all our clients. For example, in a decision issued by the Nassau County Supreme Court in the matter of Eileen G. V. Frank G., 34 Misc.3d 381, which was also reported in the New York Law Journal, our firm successfully advocated for permission to compel discovery on issues of marital fault, an area in which discovery is typically not permitted, in furtherance of our effort to facilitate our client’s receipt of a larger percentage of the marital estate than she would have otherwise received. The court granted our firm’s request, finding that the circumstances presented were “. . . one of those rare instances in which a court should permit discovery of marital fault as a potential factor in equitable distribution.”Eileen G., 34 Misc.3d at 382;

In matrimonial matters, there are occasions where one spouse may ask the other spouse to execute a confidentiality agreement. However, each case must be taken on its own merits and our firm has extensive experience litigating these issues. In July 2019, our firm successfully defended an application brought by our client’s spouse who sought confidentiality restrictions on all discovery produced, and to be produced, in a contested high net worth matrimonial proceeding.

To secure full disclosure of all assets subject to equitable distribution it can be necessary to make applications to restrain the disposition of assets during the pendency of a matrimonial proceeding. Our firm has extensive experience dealing with such issues including applications to restrain safe deposit boxes to prevent a spouse from disposing of assets contained therein. In making such applications, our firm has successfully restrained safe deposit boxes contains substantial sums of cash, jewelry of significant value, bonds of significant value and other assets of significance to protect our clients’ rights by securing the disclosure of those assets and preventing the dissipation of same pending a conclusion of the matter. We have also obtained orders restraining the depletion of assets in the name of nonparties to whom our client’s spouse transferred substantial assets.

Attorney Disqualification

Attorney disqualification issues have been a ripe area of litigation in matrimonial law. In a decision issued by the Appellate Division in the matter of Cohen v. Cohen, 125 A.D.3d 589, our firm successfully obtained an order disqualifying the wife’s attorney from representing her in the pending matrimonial action because the husband’s brother, who was in business with the husband, previously consulted with the wife’s attorney and had discussed details of a business in which the husband had an interest. The decision issued by the Appellate Division was also the subject of an article that was published in the New York Law Journal on February 9, 2015 entitled “Panel Says Divorce Counsel Should Be Disqualified” written by Andrew Denney. This case has also been cited in a number of orders subsequently issued by various courts as well as in various other legal publications in matters dealing with attorney disqualification.