New York Divorce Reform The Shame of New York


Business Valuation Strategies and Observations in New York Divorce

Owning a businesses can significantly complicate the divorce process in New York. Having gone through this myself and speaking with many others via this blog who have divorced with a business I want to relay opinions and experiences. This is by no means legal advice, but I certainly have practical experience and perspectives in this area that may help others.
The most important factor in valuing a business is not the business itself but rather the mindset of the spouses involved. The best case plays out when the spouse who owns the business makes a fair offer of equitable distribution backed up with documentation substantiating the offer. In the ideal world the other spouse is primarily concerned with preserving assets and reducing conflict, trusts the documentation provided with the offer and negotiates details after consulting with an attorney and financial expert. The worst case has many varied individual circumstances. However, there is some commonality in that bad outcomes will always involve the New York Supreme Court and their clown show of appointed forensic accounting ‘experts’ along with advise from emotional and/or ill-informed advisors.
I caution any business owner to avoid the clown show of the New York Supreme Court business experts. Elected Supreme Court Judges have ZERO qualifications to value your business so they defer to a few hand picked CPAs and force you to pay them $20,000 minimally to begin the process of evaluating your business. The court-appointed-expert business is is a hotbed for corruption of our elected judges because there is no regulation of these relationships and fees can balloon to well over $100,000. No other elected official in New York can hand an individual a stated-enforced blank check like a Supreme Court judge can in the case of court-appointed experts without bidding, checks and balances and accountability.
In the New York Supreme Court financial evaluation scam a judge appoints a ‘neutral’ forensic accountant at $250 or more 23per hour to evaluate your business. The forensic accountant reviews basic financial statements and comes up with a value of the business substantiated by a short letter and a conference call with you and your attorneys. The information is submitted to the judge who can use the recommendation or come to their own opinion.
If either spouse wants the court-appointed ‘neutral’ forensic accountant to explain the business valuation in depth in court, they pay a retainer to the court appointed expert who typically doubles their rate to over $500 an hour. At this point neutrality is done and the court appointed expert is working for the spouse who retained him/her.
If you have to go to trial, the other spouse must now retain a court-accepted financial expert to counter the court-appointed neutral, who is no longer neutral. You can imagine the gargantuan fees that pile up in this mess. This is exactly what I experienced with forensic account Gerald DeFeo and many have echoed my experience.
Valuing a business is very tricky and has many variables. Generally there are a few formulas for small businesses such as 2-3x total economic benefit to a sole proprietor, 1-3x revenue for a functional business with P&L and other formulas you can find on Google. I’m not qualified to delve into these details but I can tell you that there is no one size fits all settlement. Each business is different but in each case a settlement is possible without courts.
So the bottom line is to negotiate and avoid the scam of court-ordered financial evaluates . If you can’t it will be a costly mess. The vast amount of couples avoid this mess with a modicum of trust, qualified advisors, financial transparency and a focus on setting up a new life.


What drives fraud in the New York Divorce Industry?

In a family court case in which the parties claimed more than $5.5 million in attorney fees between them even before the appeal, the Appellate Division has upheld a $1.42 million fee award levied against the plaintiff, including a $350,000 sanction.  Source: NY Law Journal

Insane fee awards are the foundational cause of Divorce Industry Fraud.  No other elected official can award so much state-enforced money to an individual with no questions asked, no competitive bidding, no conflict disclosures, no behavioral standards or any checks and balances than a family or supreme court judge.  Therein lies the fundamental problem.


Ex knew judge personally – lost everything

I went through a divorce in 2011 in Montgomery County NY. My ex bragged all through our divorce procedings that Judge C knows what is going on over and over. He was on the same Church committee with the Judge and they met frequently for coffee. My home, possessions, and 1/2 of the pensions and annuities after a 24 year marriage. I had multiple sclerosis for 20 years. My ex told me shortly after my diagnosis not only that I was hiding it but that he was going to divorce me as soon as the children were grown. When my son was diagnosed with diabetes he blamed that on me. There is five relatives in his family with diabetes and zero in mine. There is a word for it but I can't think of it when a spouse makes your life so miserable he provokes you so you want a divorce. My ex was a bully. He cared about me but he cared about money more and forced me to sign off on an annuity during our marriage from a work injury after I withdrew mine to support him and our two children. After months of police phone calls as I could not handle the bullying anymore and was on medication to control my pain, things fell apart. The love was gone. Now I am a 55 yo female who thank my blessings I can work because I would otherwise be living in poverty. My ex is moving to Florida to buy a condo.

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A Broken System – Father’s Experience in Orange County, New York

This submission needs to be elevated from comment to post.  So sad when children are involved in political corruption.  Preet Bharara rushes to investigate petty political corruption for as small as $10,000 bribes but when children are the victims he's silent.  It's shameful.  It's time for the DoJ to standup to the corrupt Divorce Industry of New York!


We have a problem in the arena of divorce and custody. We have a system that is not impartial and often serves as a breeding ground for disingenuous and unethical actions committed by players in the legal arena and sometimes (knowingly and unknowingly) enabled by the very courts people believe will determine fact from fiction. Many Fathers have an uphill challenge awaiting them as they seek what many others before the law and courts seek...fairness and the right to be heard.

In June 2012 my daughter, who was 6 years old at the time, was snatched one day from her home by her mother (my Ex) and then sequestered at my Ex in-laws where I was prevented from seeing her. The night I came home from work expecting to kiss my kid goodnight she was gone and in her place a mountain of outrageous and disingenuous court filings attacking me as a parent, a father and threatening to take my daughter away.

Having a legal background, my trained eye saw the filings for what they were...old school intimidation tactics from a bulldog attorney looking to profit off of conflict by taking advantage of his own client and myself at a vulnerable time. My emotional side viewed these methods, and the authorization and blessing my Ex gave to give them life, with a sense of betrayal and shock. At no time did these intentionally malicious tactics intimidate or bully me as was the purpose of their design.

Over the years with this ordeal, the opposing party went through the laundry list of stunts and questionable litigation tactics using a child as a pawn for greedy motives fueled with malicious intentions. These actions only served to strengthen my resolve to stand up to the fiction and posturing. Often I would call out the dirty tricks directly and even alerted the Judge of a particular incident of perjury in direct correspondence to chambers....but I learned the courts in divorce and custody look the other way in instances of perjury and that the often used legal jargon cited in affidavits, depositions, declarations and testimony with language stating things like “under penalty of perjury” are proven to be empty, powerless and without weight.

During my own ordeal, I had the unique experience, where I both had attorney representation and represented myself as a pro se litigant when the funds ran out and debts increased.

My exposure in law and politics gave me faith that the judicial system wouldn't ultimately reward dishonesty and unethical practice...I was soon to realize the sad truth in how wrong my belief was but still managed to obtain joint legal custody and almost 50% physical custody of my daughter. Nothing in this ordeal has been easy and it has exposed a lazy court system unwilling to review evidence and shed light on a corrupted matrimonial bar where both entities punish and criminalize many men for being good fathers who seek fairness and equal time in the lives of their children. The court is a breeding ground where a good ole boy network thrives and profits at the expense of parents becoming adversaries and children being hurt. Many of these ordeals are orchestrated events, I know because I often documented my predictions and time stamped them prior to court hearings and meetings with all parties where I accurately predicted what would happen and how things would transpire....I was pretty much on target most times.

My observations and chronicling of my own experience enabled me to document and capture the narrative to this ordeal in a manner like few are qualified to do while enduring it. My situation involves factual evidence in multiple streams validating what transpired with the lawyers, the opposing party and the court in this ordeal. Unlike so many fathers I have read about and spoken too....I am not intimidated by lawyers or Judges.

For over two years I had to keep quiet on so much of what went on, while documenting and cataloging everything. The broader concern I have in going through this is that not many fathers (and mothers many times as well) have the tenacity or persistence to keep going for many reasons and speak out on this issue and what goes on with people. That's what opposing adversarial attorneys and some judges count on...fatigue and that most people will give up and submit to unfavorable outcomes.

These folks can lie to the court, file false allegations and commit unethical actions because the person on the receiving end, more times than not, is playing it clean and being the more truthful party. That is where your character sustains so much damage with deceitful motion practice played out against you for purpose of leverage tactics, threats of contempt, and protective orders all filed at you based on disingenuous substance and falsehoods. This is designed to try and assassinate your character and leave a bad first impression of you on some judges all while putting you in a place where it seems impossible and overly complicated to counter the damage done.

It is “overwhelming” especially when dealing with the challenges and turmoil of major life changes, but that's how they get away with it all... People often get to this point where countering it all seems hopeless and that’s when the other side comes in with a settlement that rewards the side who is often unethical, better financed and aggressive while the other party learns honesty doesn't pay and just wants their life back and to escape a system that criminalized them for being truthful and sincere.

As the receiving end party you aren't supposed to make it 10 rounds or “challenge the system", so that all the lies, hearsay narrative and disingenuous filings against you get washed away at a settlement and never see the light of day under “impartial” judicial scrutiny that would expose the situation for what it is....a work of fiction and bully tactics.

Many opposing lawyers and several Judges don't expect many fathers to go the distance and the longer you are persistent the more adversarial and aggressive they become. On top of that it's not lost on these people that litigation is costly and the emotional stress wears people down where they don't want to deal with the system anymore or the constant passive aggressive threats resulting in anxiety. So those people give up and stay quiet and deal with an outcome less then just or equitable and adverse to their child’s best interest while the court moves through their busy docket and the unethical lawyers go to the next client after milking as much as they can from the parties and a similar merry go round plays out for the next dad.

The amazing thing with these lawyers in the matrimonial bar that no one talks about much is how some decide how far to take a case. Once they have the net worth statements they know how much money their clients have and eventually how much the other side has and in litigation there are ways to manipulate things so the lawyers can bill you out of a lot of money before a case ends at a certain point. There are patterns to watch for. The initial protective orders, the letter writing campaigns between lawyers (easy billable time for them) and all the needless motion filings and hearings (with hours waiting in the court), depositions and preparation time for all these things. Cases have stages and if the money is there some lawyers will make sure things progress to a certain point, damn the adverse effects these greedy motives have on the lives of the client and other parent.

My own situation was made much more frustrating because I was very aware of what tactics were playing out, how the other side was being manipulated by their own attorney and every time and instance where the opposition broke rules of professional conduct, was out of bounds during the depositions and what procedures and rules they were manipulating. The best analogy I can give for the two years in was like I was awake and could see and hear what was going on around me and yet I couldn't do anything to stop it regardless of my truthful and strongly supported filings, strong evidence meeting the burden of proof and being very upfront and honest even when it didn’t always make me look good in every situation.

In family court I was represented by an attorney and managed to get through okay but then was left in large debt and not much left for the next round of court. I then took over my case as a pro se litigant as I knew my skills with discovery and evidence would be stronger at that point then any attorney. At this stage things got very different and a bit concerning when interacting with the court and opposing counsel, it was clear self-representation was frowned upon even when I followed all the rules better than the opposition. In the Family Court we had a Judge who I felt clearly reviewed what was in front of her and did her very best to resolve issues fairly even if I didn’t fully agree with some of them. When we left Family Court, the next round was in Supreme Court and with that a very different Judge and far different dynamic and set of external variables. At that juncture is when I did all my own corresponding with the court and opposing counsel, drafted all my own motions, responses and affidavits and prepared to both be deposed by opposing counsel during the first half of one day, then I turned around and deposed my Ex for the second half of the was at this specific juncture when I did very well to prove my points, catch tons of inconsistencies and outright lies that, that very same day once the depositions concluded things would become more unethical and aggressive on their part....that was the price I paid for doing well at that stage and showing up an attorney who had decades of experience and underestimated my abilities to uncover the truth.

Eventually this all resulted in a bizarre circumstance where I was directly and indirectly threatened to agree to a resolution to things on the day we arrived at court for our trial in September of 2014. These threats sent the message that I would either agree to all terms of my ex-spouse and her lawyer or faced a prospect of incarceration.  These threats were witnessed, and detailed in sworn affidavits, attesting to what transpired and subsequently put on file with the court.

What happened that day in September, and in swearing to the Judge that I was entering an agreement “not under threat”….well that was not accurate….and as I learned the hard way, in courts dealing with divorce and custody the truth is never sought with much effort and is often a problem for the players in the industry.

Unfortunately, while that hearing represented the legal end of the marriage, it would not be the end of the divorce and custody ordeal.   That would move into the post-divorce phase within the court and in conjunction with actions, abuses and behaviors that over the following years would prove to adversely affect our daughter, my new wife and all our children and extended family members.

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"Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life, but define yourself."


How to NOT behave when your divorce judge is unfair

Anyone who has been in family court, Supreme Court or before a support magistrate in New York will probably know how it feels when a judge is behaving unfairly.   The reality is that conduct supervision of elected judges is the leading enabler of the Divorce Industy fraud in New York.  I've written about it extensively in this blog.

A judge can summarily remove children from a parent with no due process. Readers of this blog have lost their children in such a manner. Judges who are in cahoots with an attorney to drive billings in divorce have many simple tactics at their disposal.  They can intimidate and threaten, they can ignore process, they can simply adjourn at the last minute over and over again until the family has run out of money.

The penalties for raising a judges ire in divorce are immense because there are no due process protections.  You can lose your children. You can be forced into bankruptcy or into unlimited legal bills.   You and your children can be subjected to demeaning pseudo-psychological evaluations at $350 an hour of court-ordered hourly rates. Your business and finances can come under court ordered scrutiny for over $500 per hour.   You can lose your home, you can go to jail  and lose your financial independence.  You can incur a 65% wage garnishment, lose your passport, tax refunds, drivers license, professional license and have your credit destroyed.  Bottom line is that pissing off a judge in a New York divorce court is the worst thing you can do because there is no limit to the punishments you can face and there is no scrutiny of their behavior.

There is no proactive supervision of the conduct of elected judges in New York.  Yes, you can appeal an unfair decision but the cost is immense and it can take years.  Meanwhile you've missed your kids childhood or experience other consequences from financial ruin.   Even the secretive judicial conduct commission of New York doesn't monitor the court room behavior of judges so a victim has nowhere to turn.

I learned first hand what happens when you complain about a judge or attorney when your case is active.  After I complained about my judge, in between the decision and judicial- order phases of a trial, child support and distribution amounts were increased considerably with no trial or new motion. That is unfair but nothing compared to parents that lose their children in unfair proceedings, especially when one side has money and the other doesn't.  This is very real.

So moving from the real to the surreal temper  tantrums of the billionaire brat Donald Trump complaining about the judge on a case for his bogus school. The brat is publicly vilifying an appointed judge and behaving like an ass.  This billionaire can afford all the lawyers he needs though.  He can appeal endlessly and intimidate his adversaries and even the judge.  Even if the brat loses he can disolve the entity being sued and avoid personal liability.   He's behaving like a spoiled brat who doesn't get his away.  This is how to NOT behave when you don't like your judge in a divorce in New York.

So I'm issuing a warning to any one who thinks its a good idea to publicly bash their divorce judge in New York - Don't do it! The consequences are severe and you have no recourse after they ruin your life.  Don't do what the billionaire brat trump is doing.  It will not go well. He lives in an entitled world and can insulate himself from any consequence.  Most of us don't live in this world.

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Tell the community your New York Divorce Fraud Story

One of the primary reasons that divorce industry fraud isn't on the radar of Preet Bharara or anyone else in the DOJ  is that there isn't enough data to put this issue on the radar.   Therefore I want to create a forum to post stories about the consumer fraud you experienced dealing with the NY, CT or NJ Divorce Industries.  Have you been ripped off for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars by attorneys with no accountability?  Did you lose access to your children in a preliminary hearing for years?  Did your attorney quit when you couldn't pay?  Are your legal fees stacking up from endless adjournments?  Are you fighting a spouse who has bought a powerful attorney who can get the rules court ignored?  Did you lose your home to legal fees?  Were you court ordered to pay more than your networth in legal fees?  Are you being punished with massive court ordered expert fees?  Here are just a few of the filthy practices of the Divorce Industry.  Here's your chance to tell your story.

Please include legal and expert fees paid and avoid the names of your spouse or children.  All posts will be reviewed and posted.

Tell Your New York Divorce Fraud Story


The NY Divorce Industry fraud marches on

It's very sad that after years of writing about fraud and corruption in the predatory NY Divorce Industry nothing changes.   After many letters to US Attorney Preet Bhrara, who could care less about helping ordinary New Yorkers and children, complaints to the attorney grievance committee, local bar association, judicial conduct committee, the disbanded NY Council on Ethics, NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, leadership of the NY Unified Court System, published articles and the stories of many readers that NOTHING changes and the NY Divorce Industry fraud continues to bankrupt families with impunity and the protection and complicity of elected judges.

Since I've been writing this blog in 2010 the NY legislature has passed two major divorce reform bills but NEVER do they look at protecting the New York consumer.  The most recent reform bill that I covered in my blog was created by the usual attorney and judicial insiders and did nothing but increase the complexity level of maintenance calculations to actuarial levels.   It's no longer possible for an attorney or judge to calculate maintenance formulas without significant actuary skills.  More complexity leads to more litigation which leads to more billing.  All roads lead to billing for the New York Divorce Industry and with no limits on what they can take, BILL THEY DO!   Their bills are backed up with extensive unchecked powers of elected judges and federal legislation via the Bradley Amendment.

A reader recently reminded me why it's important to continue to draw attention to this pathetic situation.  This woman is stuck in the worst of it.  She's fighting a monied spouse who smartly retained a connected attorney.  A connected attorney and complicit judge can wreak havoc on a victim by simply doing nothing.  A harsh temporary ruling can last years when court dates are adjourned at the last minute for months,  process is ignored and there is no escape hatch.  Each court date drives more billings and each is cancelled at the last minute for no reason.  I call this Divorce Industry Pergatory because there is no end until an elected judge arbitrarily decides.  In this cycle the bills keep accumulating and there is no end in sight.

New York Divorce Attorneys have the benefit, backed by law, of knowing every detail of your finances so they can custom bill.  If you have a lot of assets, or they want the assets you have, they can simply bill forever with no limits.  If a slightly less dishonest attorney sees you have limited monthly income, such as spousal support, they can bill to consume 100% of your monthly income and put down the pencil until next month.   When the attorney has the judges cooperation a wink and a nod EARNS a last minute adjournment and the billing drags on with no progress.  The stress piles up and slowly you lose control of your life.

This is precisely the situation that Doreen is in.  Her attorney knows how much support she is receiving, knows how much savings she has access to and bills to scale.   The attorneys have a complicit judge what will wink-nod adjourn court dates for no reason while allowing the monied spouse to skirt the process by not submitting a full Statement of Net Worth.

These seemingly simple mechanisms - adjournment and ignorance of process - are all tools the Divorce Industry needs  to bill ridiculous sums.   The disturbing part of Doreen's story, and others in her shoes, is that there is simply NOTHING that can be done.   You can't easily appeal a temporary ruling, you can't compel a judge to hold a hearing, you can't compel a judge to uphold trial procedures because there is no one to complain to.  Administrative judges are completely powerless over the court room behavior of judges and they don't proactively enforce the trial procedures they create.   You can't appeal an adjournment and after so much sunk costs it's not easy to fire your attorney.  An abrasive judge will destroy a pro se, especially when fighting a monied spouse who has hired a protected attorney who can earn 'wink-nod' adjournments.  I've written about the power of the adjournment in billing corruption in my blog and Doreen offers yet another proof point of how adjournments are used to extract massive billings.

I advise Doreen and everyone who is being ripped off by the Divorce Industry to write about their experiences to Preet Bharara because the DoJ is the only empowered entity to fight the corruption and collusion of elected judges and the Divorce Industry.  So much of divorce is perceived to be he-said, she-said by idle regulators who have ignored their responsibilities to fight corruption so I tell everyone to avoid the he-said, she-said.  Simply tell Bharara that you are in the midst of a ripoff that is costing you x thousands of dollars per month and you have no way out.  The elected judge in your case is ignoring trial procedure by granting endless adjournments and allowing the case to continue when your adversary is simply ignoring the laws of NY, which in Doreen's case, and many like hers, means lack of a Statement of Networth.

I advise Doreen and others like her to tell Bharara that the only remedy that the judge will offer is more court ordered expenses.  Expensive court-mandated forensic accountants, more court-ordered attorneys fees and more redundant billings redoing work for hearings that never happen.   There's no billing limits so the legal fees can consume 100% or more of income.

It seems that PR Bharara will jump into action in a flash when there are news cameras around or big fees to go after.   As soon as a scandal hits the news cycle in NY you can be sure that PR Bharara will find his way into the story.  Many of the cases his office chooses to pursue are petty and the size of the fraud is NOTHING compared to the yearly billings of the NY Divorce Industry, that easily exceeds $2billion a year, much of which is unjustified.

In the case of defending the rights of consumers of the Divorce Industry there is no urgency.  Any attempt at regulation will be thwarted by attorneys claiming to represent the rights of children, fathers, mothers, etc. but in reality, attorneys are simply trying to preserve the status quo where there are no billing limits, no proactive ethics enforcement and complicit elected judges happy to help attorneys and court-appointed experts bankrupt innocent families.

Hopefully Doreen can get out of the cycle of fraud and corruption soon and get her life back.  Hopefully Doreen's letter and efforts to speak to someone in PR Bharara's office will help drive him to look at this unpopular, complicated and ugly corruption of elected officials.


Nothing changes in the backwards thinking of the New York Divorce Industry

One of the most enlightening things I've done over the past few years is to subscribe to the New York Law Journal decision update email.  About 80% of the local stories you read come from the daily decisions outlines in these lists.   One thing that's clear is that divorce occupies a large part of the Appellate court and also produces the most ridiculous outcomes and quotes.

As I've said in this blog a few times, the Divorce Industry is set up against the consumer.  There are many ways to prove this but one of the most obvious ways is to point out the comments and misplaced priorities of some divorce attorneys.    To a divorce attorney a Judge has one purpose - make fee awards.  A good Judge makes big, favorable fee awards.  Now it's easy to say this, but what's broken about the business ethics of the Divorce Industry is that lawyers don't even attempt to hide this conflict of interest.

The title of this article is Abusive Husband's Award Found 'Clearly Inappropriate'.  In this ugly case there were allegations of abuse in an international marriage.   While spousal abuse is a very important issue the key to remember is that most attorneys and judges could care less about the abuse.  The only thing abuse represents is more court ordered fees and bigger bills for all involved. Sounds really cynical but take a closer look at the case title.  Abuse isn't the issue, the issue if the fee aware.

There was a $237,000 legal bill that a NY judge had court ordered that the abused woman was to pay the bill of her estranged husband.  This isn't surprising because it's just another public example of the misguided priorities of the NY Divorce Industry.  However, in this case there was an international element so the abused wife's attorney was able to reverse the fee award in a federal appeals court.

I'm not a lawyer so I don't comment on the law.  But as a vocal critic of the broken business ethics of the divorce industry I point out the ridiculous.  The ridiculousness of this case begins when abuse is secondary to a fee aware and ends with a fabulous quote

"I'm not happy with this decision," Arenstein said. "What it's going to do is dissuade lawyers from handling Hague cases because they're not going to be awarded fees. The circuit didn't even remand the case. It seems like the domestic violence lobby has gotten to the Second Circuit." Read more:

Rather than being embarrassed to admit that fee awards are more important spousal abuse or the life of the child that the parents fighting about the attorney makes no attempt to hide this.  He's pissed because his huge fee award was overturned and his reaction is that attorneys should avoid international abuse cases because a fee award is uncertain.  That's the only concern, the fee award.



NY Spousal support reform – Insular efforts produce familiar results

One of the principal reasons that the New York Divorce Industry has a license to steal is because the Divorce Industry of New York is completely insular with the rubber-stamp approval of the NY legislature.  As per the New York State Constitution lawyers, elected judges and their staffs self-regulate ethics.  Only lawyers set the business ethics rules for lawyers and only volunteer lawyers enforce business ethics rules in New York.   Only judges and lawyers set the rules for judges and only volunteer judges enforce judicial ethics.  The New York legislature enables the system by allowing insiders to create complicated rules for the system.  There is no tax-money for proactive enforcement of business ethics for attorneys and judges so contested divorce is a buyer-beware market where victims must initiate business ethics inquiries – which fail most all the time.

It’s easy to rant, but I’ve come across a real-world example recently in New York Senate bill A-7645 that clearly illustrates my point.  This legislation takes on the much needed topic of spousal maintenance reform in New York.   Great idea and I’m not going to get into the technicalities of the bill because frankly, it’s ridiculously complicated and there are many blog posts about it from actual lawyers.  Neil Kahn has an excellent blog post on this topic, as usual, for anyone interested in the details and you can read the text of the bill here.

What I take issue with is the insular nature of the bill that once again allows the predatory divorce industry to write its own rules without involvement from outsiders.  The bill was initiated by a group of divorce attorneys and judges (New York’s Chief Administrative Judge, The Honorable A. Gail Prudenti, upon the recommendation of her Matrimonial Practice Advisory and Rules Committee. In developing this measure, Justice Jeffrey Sunshine, chair of the Advisory Committee) and was passed with the blessing Gov. Cuomo, an attorney himself.  Sheldon Silver wrote the last spousal maintenance reform bill in 2010 with Hon. Jonathan Lippman and we know about their ethical problems.  My question is why are there only divorce industry insiders involved in the reform effort?  Why not include other voices such as from parent’s rights groups, active scholars in the field, public interest groups or others who could expand the conversation?   It’s great that Governor Cuomo wants to reform spousal support by why does the conversation only includes attorneys and judges?

While the bill does offer potential relief for some cases it is also tremendously self-serving to the attorneys and judges who comprise the Divorce Industry.  You most likely need to hire an actuary to figure out the complicated mathematical spousal support formulas accurately because it’s unlikely an attorney will compute the figures accurately. It’s even more unlikely that two attorneys will come to the same calculation or that a pro se litigant will be able to navigate these formulas.  This bill is so complex you can be assured that attorneys fees will go through the roof arguing about the new formulas.  A new breed of expert at $300-1000 per hour will be needed to compute the formulates, most likely one for each side!  Then of course the new laws have to be tested in appeals which will lead to more costs.

Complication = Litigation = Attorneys and expert fees.

So the attorneys get a nice fee-raising mechanism with very complex formulas, what do judges get?

What blows me away about this bill is section three.  This section illustrates how controlled chaos is used to drive up frivolous billings in this fraudulent industry.  After laying out ridiculously complicated mathematical formulas that will most likely require an actuary to decipher section three allows judges to do whatever the fuck they want.  This section allows the Judge to adjust the order when they feel the amount is ‘unjust’.  Totally cool idea, but why in the fuck put victims though endless expensive legal fights when the judge can do whatever they want if they feel the math is unjust. Imagine the costs of appealing because a judge felt that math was unjust.   How the fuck can you even quantify unjust math when the system itself is unjust? What happens when an insider attorney who’s paying off a judge asks a judge to change a support order because it’s ‘unjust’.  Good luck appealing ‘unjust’!

Section three also allows bench orders for support to be issued which evidently is new.  I have no idea if this is good or bad but anyone who hasn’t gone through the great New York Divorce Fraud couldn’t imagine the high costs of court orders in matrimony courts in New York.  After a judicial decision In New York divorce judges don’t write their orders, attorneys write the orders based on transcripts at $6 a page or terse decision documents.  Before a Judge gets the order to sign divorce attorneys write the orders and typically insert extra crap into the orders.  Then the attorneys argue about it, submit it, change it, resubmit it, argue more and eventually the judge accepts the order and signs it months later.     At $400-700 an simply writing down an a judges order after an decision can drive billings into the tens of thousands of dollars   These fees are not expected by first-time litigants and are never disclosed as potential costs – buyer-beware.

I’ve spared you the mathematical details of this convoluted legislation but let’s just say its complexity is commensurate with the IRS tax code.  Passing such complicated legislation in the federal government would hopefully be called out by opponents but in the broken political system of New York there are no outsiders involved so there are no dissenting voices.  No other opinions count but those who benefit financially from the complexity this bill creates.  We have no opposition in New York state government to the Divorce Industry and with the highest taxes in the country and a wealthy tax base there’s no end to complex government systems in New York.

Despite the noble intentions of this bill and the illustrious team that created it, this bill is a pile of complex crap that will only further the billings of the fraudulent Divorce Industry of New York.  The license to steal continues.

As I end most blog posts I will point out that only intervention of the Justice Department will break up the Divorce Cartel of New York.  Self-regulations isn’t working, volunteer ethics enforcement isn’t working, victim based ethics enforcement isn’t working either and New York legislature is a rubber-stamp for the industry.  The Divorce Industry of New York bankrupts more families than any other corrupt industry and it does so with the collusion of elected judges.  The damage that financial fraud of the NY Divorce Industry causes to children and parents can far exceed the emotional toll of divorce and can even lead to violence and loss of life.   Literally billions of dollars are stolen from New York families by the predatory New York Divorce Industry and this complex bill is a clear example of how it’s done.
Where is Preet Bharara when it comes to the civil rights of New York families?  We aren’t the financial industry with mega fees.  We aren’t an in-vogue group that needs protections that can grab headlines.  We don’t have civil rights of due process in New York civil courts.  We aren’t dirt poor and we generally aren’t effected when we are mega rich – we are mostly middle class victims. In other words, super uncool.  Wake up Preet to the fraud that’s going on around the corner from your federal court offices in White Plains and NYC.


Child Support Reform – It’s not just for criminals

I'm sickened by the Washington Post reporting on child support arrears accrued by convicted felons.  I've been writing  for years about the horrors of the Bradley Amendment and to see Eli Hager  of the Marshall Project turn the horrors of our child support laws into an issue that effects criminals COMPLETELY distorts the picture.   Shame on you Eli Hager for casting the problem of child support reform in this racist tone. Millions of responsible parents are in financial jails due to no fault of their own because of harsh child support laws yet your arrogant group only focuses on the slim-minority.  Read the racist comments in the Post article and you'll see the vitriol that Hager tapped into.

Hager is someone who should be able to understand basic law but I haven't read such a load of crap by an educated person on this topic in quite some time.  Hager is capitalizing on negative stereotypes of parents who are in support arrears to call attention to his political agenda.  The VAST majority of parents with support arrears aren't criminals, just as the vast majority of people who fall behind on bills aren't criminals.  It's amazing that Hager could even get this published with  the negative stereotypes he promotes.

Even more mind boggling is how President Obama took up the rights of prisoners  but refuses to look at the terrible situations the Bradley Amendment creates for ordinary Americans.  Hager's own numbers show that the draconian Bradley Amendment is only collecting about 12% of arrears, yet it's ruining the financial lives of millions.

The only beneficiaries of the Bradley Amendment are the electronic payment networks.  Both the Bradley Amendment and a follow-on, S.508 are sponsored by New Jersey senators. Why?  Because Lautenberg (RIP) was CEO of ADP, one of the largest payroll processors in the world.  Who's going to garnish all those paychecks after all?  Look at the lobbying sponsors for S.508, they are payment providers.  The Marshall Project should be asking why the people who build electronic enforcement systems are the ones driving legislation.

The child support arrears problems can't be solved with a mechanized one-size-fits-all solution as the Bradley Amendment built.  It's a mystery why the Marshall Project resorted to exploiting racial stereotypes to advance this issue.   The Marshall Project further stigmatized people in arrears and did a disservice to hard working parents, while making us all look like criminals.  Regardless of Hager's background and position he is wrong on this issue.  Child support reform should apply equally to ALL, not just criminals.

The Bradley Amendment applies equally to every non-custodial parent in the country.  Period. If you are black, white, yellow, brown, orange, tattooed, striped, pink you are bound by the punishments of the Bradley Amendment if you owe more than $1500 in child support for any f'ing reason.  Yes, jail is one of those reasons but other reasons can include being sick, losing your job, employment gaps, income gaps, being taken hostage, deploying to active duty, being a crime victim, getting into a car accident, death of a parent, or any other unforeseen or planned event you can imagine.

Hager, anyone who owes child support is governed by the same f'ing laws. It's not just criminals.


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