The US Constitution lays out the separation of federal and state responsibilities and one of the clear domains of states is divorce, marriage and family law. However in 1986 strict federal laws passed that forced states to build expensive infrastructure for support enforcement in order to receive federal aid. These changes forced states to change their divorce processes and forced the creation of a huge federal industry for child support collection. The Bradley Amendment of 1986 made divorce a federal issue.
The Bradley Amendment of 1986 was a major milestone for President Clinton’s first term and laid out detailed procedures for the administration, collection and enforcement of child support collection. Senator Bradley of New Jersey sponsored this legislation. States must have expensive and sprawling computer systems in place to deduct support from paychecks, tax refunds, lottery winnings and more. Even more systems must be in place to integrate with the US passport system, IRS and other federal agencies as well as to report to credit bureaus. The Bradley Amendment, under the guise of protecting children, required States to install hundreds of millions of dollars of new systems in order to receive federal aid so states had no choice but to comply.
While the Bradley Amendment lays out detailed computer systems requirements it pays no attention to the circumstance of the parent’s debt. It sets a threshold of $2,500 1986 dollars to place a parent into the federal enforcement system. The Bradley Amendment has no appeal system and doesn’t take into account the great variance in state divorce laws and processes. The Bradley Amendment states that parents must make expeditious support modification requests to avoid arrears but this is simply impossible in most state laws. Under the Bradley Amendment parents who lose their jobs or reduce their incomes for any reason whatsoever are placed into the enforcement system and will immediately be subject to lien, wage garnishment, asset seizure, credit reporting, tax refund and lottery intercept and more. In the Bradley Amendment there is no statute of limitations for divorce enforcement, no court in the USA can reduce the support arrears for any reason and the debts survive death, bankruptcy and medical incapacitation. A parent with children in their thirties or forties can retroactively collect arrears under the Bradley Amendment without notification to the offending parent. The Bradley Amendment made a new class of super-debt and has created a new class of debtors that have no civil rights whatsoever.
While the supporters of the Bradley Amendment laud their obvious accomplishments of collecting vast sums of child support, they ignore the victims of the system. Victims of the system are responsible parents who pay support and are present in their children’s lives but who hit temporary income speed bumps. Whether the speed bump is deployment, unemployment, illness, jail or any cause, based on the Bradley Amendment divorce debt accrues and subject to mandatory enforcement actions with no chance of appeal or reduction of arrears. Victims are parents who can’t afford attorneys or appeals. Victims are low income earners trapped in a lifetime of wage garnishment and enforcement action with no hope of ever paying down faultless debt. A family who runs into troubled times may lose their homes, savings and more but under the Bradley Amendment the same family that is divorced may spend a lifetime with an 80% to 90% effective tax rate after wage garnishment for the rest of their lives. There are millions of victims living under the permanent and immutable penalties of the Bradley Amendment.
The strength of penalties in the Bradley Amendment, with due process rights explicitly precluded, has given local divorce courts incredible power. Any divorce ruling is subject to federal enforcement with no questions asked. Judges in the smallest courts with no juries or constitutional burdens will have their verdicts enforced by the massive and extensive systems that states are forced to provide as part of the Bradley Amendment.
We have been living with the Bradley Amendment since 1986 and its successes and atrocities have been well documented. But now in 2013 another New Jersey Senator, Bob Menendez-D, wants to take the Bradley Amendment further with the Strengthen and Vitalize Enforcement of Child Support (SAVE Child Support) Act (S.508.). The SAVE act lays out even more procedures and expensive systems that states must adapt to, in Bob Menendez’s own words, collect support from ‘dead-beats’.
New York and New Jersey are known for their powerful and unfair divorce industries but it seems like too much of a coincidence that New Jersey Senators are so concerned about child support collection that their US Senators must lobby so hard for redundant and expensive federal legislation. Besides the welfare of children, which should be the top priority of every State in the US, what makes it so interesting for multiple New Jersey senators to propose massively expensive and complicated computer systems to further strengthen the federal child support collection systems?
One place to find the answer to this question is to check the lobbying activities behind this bill. A quick search of Opensecrets.org shows that the only lobby for this bill working with Bob Menendez is the National Child Support Enforcement Association.
The NCSEA is the trade organization of the Child Support Enforcement industry and a review of their conference speakers show that this industry is driven largely by payment processors and networks, divorce professionals and employees of state divorce industries. Ultimately state divorce industries and businesses who process payroll and create government computer systems are the ones who see the most financial benefits from massive federal programs that SAVE and the Bradley Amendment mandate and as it turns out, these are the supporters of the NCSEA.
Digging a little deeper ADP, headquartered in New Jersey, is the largest processor payroll in the United States and they play a predominant role in the corporate sponsorship of the NCSEA. The powerful New Jersey senator Frank Lautenberg was the CEO of ADP before entering into politics and this connection has made ADP a very powerful company in New Jersey. Companies like ADP are the ones who see the most financial benefit from massive federal programs that mandate payroll collections and new government computer systems and it makes perfect sense why Bob Menendez, and not Frank Lautenberg, would sponsor a bill that benefits ADP and other payment processors so greatly.
The Bradley Amendment of 1986 has destroyed the lives of millions of innocent parents with draconian penalties that supersede the power of any court in the USA and often times defy logic. The bill assumes that any parent who has arrears of more than $2,500 (limit set in 1986) is a criminal and subject to vast computerized enforcement systems. Senator Menendez and the NCSEA are proud of all the dead-beats they are punishing but they ignore the realities that drive parents to arrears. They ignore the unconstitutional courts that create impossible financial situations that many parents face and they ignore the normal rhythms of life such as illness, recession and unemployment that can lead to arrears.
I’m all for supporting children and being a responsible parent but I’m also for transparency in government and it’s time for Senator Menendez to come clean and admit the true motivation for his bill. Any bills that propose massive federal computer systems that states are forced to join must have a careful cost-benefit analysis before implementation. In this case the cost to tax-payers is extremely high and the beneficiaries are clearly the companies who maintain and create payment networks. A quick review of the sponsors of the NCSEA verify who benefits from strict collection laws including Xerox, HP, ADP, Maximus and other payment processors. A line must be drawn between the interests of children and families and the interest of payment networks lobbying for more garnishments and payment processing rules. Ultimately these companies are lobbying for further federal regulation in State matters and ruining the lives of millions with indiscriminate, computer generated enforcement actions that bypass due process procedures.
For years I've been ranting about the divorce system of New York but as I learn more I realize why integrity matters in the Divorce process in a whole new light. Since learning about the Bradley Act of 1986 I'm finally seeing the true power of the divorce courts. The Bradley Act federalized divorce debt and cements them as immutable for perpetuity until payed. They outlive death, bankruptcy and anything else you can think of.
Once you read this analysis of the Bradley Amendment you can be begin to understand the true power of divorce courts. Anyone considering being Pro Se in New York needs to understand the implications of the Bradley Amendment to truly understand what you're up against. Anyone who's considering divorce needs to truly understand what the Bradly Amendment means to their lives.
What does the Bradley Amendment mean? It means that you will be locked in by the Federal Government to consistent financial performance for the term of your divorce obligations. The slightest slip up leading to $2,500 of arrears puts you in a very terrible bubble of Federal Law. Any asset can be seized, wages can be garnished up to 65% of net - forever, credit is destroyed, licenses revoked and passport revoked. There is no reason whatsoever that your debt will ever be reduced. The Bradley Amendment is what empowers the divorce industry of New York and every state because in order for a State to receive Social Security Administration payments it MUST comply with the Bradley Amendment.
When you are playing with these stakes integrity matters.
As I dig deeper into the civil rights violations that are prevalent and accepted as normal in divorce in the United States it's more apparent that federalizing divorce penalties was a really bad idea. Like any other
dumb federal legislation that tries to paint a wide swath of circumstance with one color many people get screwed when an inflexible policy is applied to all circumstances.
The text of the Bradley Amendment can be found here. The Bradley Amendment of Title42 in 1986 federalized child support and is a prime example of what can go wrong when the federal government tries to get involved in matters specified in the Constitution as powers of States.
There's been a lot written about this act and the scholarly and well researched articles you can easily find on the Internet will blow away any analysis I could provide. However, as a law-abiding, tax-paying citizen who pays many many thousands of support each month via massive wage garnishment for arrears accrued while underemployed I can tell you that the Bradley Amendment blows.
Losing a passport when paying more than most married or divorced fathers sucks, especially when my job requires foreign travel.
Having to file a federal law suit to prove the obvious, that I'm law abiding and a paying and present parent is horribly lame and impossible for me.
Finding so many aspects of life ruined by child support arrears accrued while under-employed is incredibly unfair. Married or single people can work, have bad years and recover but why are divorced parents locked into paying for bad years for decades?
Finally, having the US Government rubber stamp the findings of bullshit, collusive, kangaroo court like I experienced in New York State makes one doubt what the Constitution means.
Here's a good analysis of the problems of the Bradley Amendment and I urge anyone with child support arrears who's lost their passport, seen their credit wrecked or are fighting to reduce unfair child support arrears to check out the source of your problems. The Bradley Amendment. A crappy bill by a crappy basketball player - Bill Bradley.
When looking at divorce industry reform in New York there are many places to look, but only one root cause. The root cause of corruption in New York Divorce is the gargantuan fees that are accepted as commonplace in all facets of the Industry. However, Judges are the gatekeepers of big fees. Therefore, the only way to rid the New York Divorce Industry of fraud and corruption is through transparent and accountable judicial supervision. Without a jury, right to counsel or constitutional protections divorce judges in New York are primarily employment agents for a cadre of professionals required to navigate the arcane systems of New York.
Elected Judges are ordering hundreds of thousands a week to a small group of unregulated attorneys, guardians and evaluators. With no one watching collusive Judges turn courtrooms into bilking centers, children into bargaining chips and civil rights into a joke.
All remedies for judicial discipline must be funded and led by the victims. Often times victims can't afford appeal and the appeals process is shut off to pro se. The only hope for victims is the super secretive Judicial Conduct Commission and this opaque ineffective body is the sole organization that has the power to fix NY Divorce.
The reason that all this matters so much is because of the Bradley Amendment of 1986 . This puts divorce bills in a special federal class of debt can never be erased by any court for any reason. When you are playing with these stakes integrity matters.
Imagine you are in a divorce. You’ve been a dedicated parent and you aren’t a convicted felon or being accused of a crime. Now imagine walking into a local court for a procedural hearing and in a single decree your children are banned from seeing you, speaking to you or communicating in any way based solely on hearsay and allegation. Nothing’s been proven, no due process has occurred to prove anything yet a capricious judge has made a snap decision that changes the rest of your life and your children’s. What would you do?
Unfortunately this scenario is the real life experience of thousands of families across the country. An overzealous or biased Judge makes a snap decision that takes away the most important things in our lives. Whether or not you were the one seeking divorce there’s very little that parents who find themselves in this situation can do. Even when children are banned ‘temporarily’ from their parents, months can drag on to years between court dates and there’s no pause button in life. Milestones go by, alienation grows, bitterness increases and worst of all children experience immense pain and loss. Surprisingly most states have no provisions to intervene when children are banned from their parents yet this is one of the cruelest punishments that a court can levy.
While the US Constitution gives the powers of marriage, divorce and adoption to state civil courts, state civil courts simply ignore their obligations to support the civil rights protections of parents as held in the US Constitution. Parents who can’t afford attorneys can lose their children fighting spouses with access to legal assistance. Children who are the ones ‘protected’ have no say in bizarre custody decisions. Evidence standards are non-existent in family courts in the USA so children can be taken from parents purely on accusation. However, since many courts receive federal aid and recent Supreme Court cases like Turner vs. Rogers have reinforced the concept of due process in divorce many parents are turning to federal courts to seek restoration of their parental rights based on civil rights arguments.
As parent Gary Treistman of Ulster County, New York who recently filed a civil rights suit against New York says, “Losing access to my children for no crime or proven allegations is a violation of my civil rights and my children’s civil rights.” Treistman continues, “I’ve not been convicted of any crime or any wrongdoing, yet a civil court is punishing me and my children more harshly than a criminal court could for most any crime based entirely on hearsay and unsupported accusations.” Treistman knows he has an uphill battle but like so many other parents seeking civil rights protections in divorce he has no other recourse. Treistman is hoping that the Federal Courts will uphold his child’s civil rights to due process and that Title 42 laws will allow him to seek retribution from New York State for taking his children away for years without due process or substantive cause.
As M says, a mother from New York who recently lost her children for no logical reason, “removing my child is the greatest punishment a court could impose yet due process is ignored and I have nowhere to appeal.” As the primary care giver for her young child M was shocked when a Judge made the snap decision to temporarily remove her daughter from custody based on vague and unproven allegations. In M’s case, like so many others in New York and elsewhere the Judge imposed an extra layer of cruelty by forcing the former stay-at-home mom to have her visits supervised. But with ‘visitation’ costing over $200 an hour and visits limited to only a few hours M finds it impossible to maintain a relationship with her young child and her child is under tremendous psychological stress from the situation.
After thirty appearances in Family Court that have led nowhere M decided to file suit in Federal Court for violation of her constitutional rights to due process and parental rights to protect her child. As M states, “Legal Guardians, custody evaluators and attorneys have tremendous unchecked power in New York without the protections of due process we are led to believe we have as Americans.” One baseless allegation to an irritated Judge from a connected attorney can lead to life-shattering decisions that are near impossible to change. With no jury or effective supervision of the courtroom behavior of judges or custody evaluators recommending such harsh punishments families have no guarantees of due process. Once the tables are turned against a parent and child by a Judge, legal guardians or custody evaluators there are no checks and balances ensuring the integrity of the cruel and unusual punishments that family courts can decree.
Though M is realistic about Federal Courts jurisdiction she wants change in the system as much as she wants relief from the pain of being separated from her child. “It’s my hope that this federal complaint will protect parents from their right to fair and speedy trial and raise awareness of the cruel punishments parents face without due process in cases where there are no signs of abuse.” It’s near impossible for children and parents who are banned from each other to contain their emotions in terse, supervised meetings yet New York officials notate every remark, touch, tear and comment and tend to use emotion against the banned parent. M hopes her appeal for due process for both her and her daughter will force New York State to look at evidence and not base their decision on hearsay. After thirty appearances in family and supreme court M has little hope to regaining a normal relationship with her child.
While some parents are seeking civil rights protections under the 14th Amendment and others are seeking compensation for unjust actions under Title 42, still others are seeking RICO prosecutions against groups of attorneys, judges and court appointed experts who work together to bankrupt families. As New York parent Gary says “the assigned Attorney for Child in my case coerced payments from me without providing accounting of her work, or representing my child’s wishes.” Since legal guardians are supposedly critical representatives for children’s legal rights, by refusing to work when payment wasn’t possible Gary and parents like him face tremendous punishments for not being able to pay expensive court-ordered divorce professionals.
In New York for example, where both parents must file for sole custody, the costs of court ordered experts can exceed $50,000 including custody evaluators, guardians and attorney’s fees. Parents who can’t afford to pay find themselves without their children. When groups of judges, experts and attorneys repeatedly work as teams to use child custody as the basis for huge fees that bankrupt families, some parents believe that there is basis for RICO prosecutions. Since the local courts are not bound by due process and ethics enforcement of judges, attorneys and experts is near non-existent groups of divorce professionals can easily use the court system and custody as tools of extortion. Unfortunately for parents, criminal RICO statutes must be brought forth by the US Government and the US Government is unwilling to review the business practices of the divorce industry in many states.
Many parents who face the cruel and unusual punishment of parental rights termination have turned to activism to raise awareness to the lack of civil rights that families encounter in family courts in America. For example, Greg Roberts started the Family Civil Liberties Union (fclu.org) to help parents fight unjust removal of their parental rights. As Roberts’ website accurately states, “Once in the family court system, it can be years and hundreds of thousands of dollars before an average family emerges from the system – broken, slandered, extorted, exploited and forever damaged beyond repair.” Roberts sees the family court system as “sanctioned corruption” that creates “conflict for cash” with no regard for the civil rights of the children or parents involved.
As Roberts site points out, the ACLU and other civil rights organizations turn a blind eye to the atrocious violations of civil rights that middle class families face in family courts. Generally speaking the victims of family courts have enough money to pay attorneys for some time and are religious, heterosexual and often times not minorities. The ACLU is aware of the civil rights abuses that families face in family courts and they have acted on behalf of one family in Montana that they publicize on the ACLU website, however, this was a gay relationship which is an area that is a traditional focus of the ACLU. The ACLU is unwilling to aid middle-class Americans and children even though hundreds of thousands of children see their lives destroyed each year in family courts devoid of due process protections.
Some insight can be garnered on the US Government’s position on the civil rights of families in the refusal of the US to join UNICEF’s Convention on the Rights of the Child. The United States is the only member state of the UN besides South Sudan and Somalia to not ratify this act. This act “combines a right to protection through the State, parents and relevant institutions with the recognition that the child is a holder of participatory rights and freedoms,” states UNICEF. This act acknowledges parents as the primary care givers of a child and vastly limits the cases where a child can be removed from a parent. Since many parents are removed for capricious reasons, this statement from Article 2 of the act would give parents a strong basis to fight unfair removal of custody. ‘States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure that the child is protected against all forms of discrimination or punishment on the basis of the status, activities, expressed opinions, or beliefs of the child's parents, legal guardians, or family members.’ Interestingly enough, many of the conservative groups who lobby hard for the rights of the unborn child oppose this bill and the civil rights of living children because they feel that it will provide basis to interfere with home schooling.
In April, 2013 Russia, in a retaliatory action against the United States, banned a list of important US figures from Russia on the basis of human rights violations. Interestingly enough Russia chose to ban the US Attorney from Southern New York, Preet Bharara. While the reasoning for Mr. Bharara’s ban was not related to children’s civil rights Mr. Bharara and other US Attorneys should rightly be called out for not protecting the civil rights of children. The US Attorney’s office is well aware of the collusion and civil rights abuses that are commonplace in US family courts but because of the deep political protections of the Divorce Industry in most states, the Justice Department is uninterested in protecting the civil rights of children and families in the face of a powerful industry lobby.
The parent-child relationship is sacred and deep and should be defended as strongly as any basic human right but sadly, even though these rights have been explicitly recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court, in the United States and in New York in particular, poorly supervised lower courts and agencies use children as extortion tools for a predatory divorce industry. States have proven themselves unable and unwilling to protect the civil rights of children and families so parents are forced to go to federal courts to protect basic civil rights. The US Government has precedential authority to intervene in local courts to protect the civil rights of the unprotected as they’ve done for minorities, women the disabled and others. It’s time for the US to act for the sake of our children to provide due process and civil rights protections in divorce and child custody. No child should be banned from a parent except in the most extreme circumstances, and it’s time to stand up for the rights of children.
I began the article by asking you to imagine being a parent who has just lost their kids unexpectedly in a mundane and terse court hearing. Now imagine yourself as a young child who is suddenly told by a court that your parent is a bad person and harmful, though they’ve never committed a crime and have been your loving supporter. What would you do?
Sources and further reading:
Increasingly parents are being force to Federal Courts to resolve custody because of asinine custody decisions that collusive State courts are prone to make. This is an area that I'm going to focus on more in the blog since I hear from many people who are appealing their custody to federal courts. Looking for more parents who are starting federal actions to resolve child custody in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut or any State for an upcoming article.
I'm still dumbfounded that the FBI and Justice Department are up in arms about $9,000 bribes in a mayoral race that will ultimately cost more than $100 million while this pocket change for a single case in a New York Divorce fraud. The FBI and Justice Department probably spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on this investigation that is a victimless crime. $9,000 aint buyin no mayoral race in even the smallest of towns and the assertion that these sums are meaningful is absurd.
The New York Time, NY Post, Daily News, BBC, CNN and every other major news outlet is devoting front page coverage to this issue yet the daily corruption and collusion in the divorce courts of New York goes unreported and without scrutiny. Time and time again I will point out the collusion that exists between elected Judges, court appointed experts and attorneys and the readers of this blog will share their own stories of collusion and corruption yet somehow there's no action. We publicly call out elected officials who've caused tremendous emotional and financial damage through illegal and unethical behavior yet there's only silence.
Every day in New York Divorce Courts elected Judges allow undeclared money to pay experts and attorneys. Every day in New York divorce courts Judges order insane fees to 'experts' to scrutinize finances and custody that many families can't afford but are forced to pay for fear of losing their children, homes and savings. I challenge any politician that is living paycheck to paycheck with little saving to come up with $20,000 to pay for a custody evaluation, financial evaluation and law guardian instantly as is typical ordered in a New York Supreme Court.
As I point out time and time again ethics enforcement for Judges, Attorneys and experts is non-existent. New York tax payers fund opaque ethics regulatory systems that have no accountability, relies largely on peer volunteers and has enforcement rates well below 1% of reported ethics violations. Our elected Judges are employment agents for experts who have no regulatory supervision whatsoever and instantly abandon neutrality to solicit plaintiff or defendant for expert testimony services once their 'neutral' report is complete. You don't need to be Nitin Nohria to understand the conflicts of interest that exist when unsupervised elected officials are handing out rich appointments to unregulated experts with no scrutiny. Judicial appointments of experts can yield over $100,000 per appointment and Judges will appoint the same small group of experts over and over again without any scrutiny of the quality of their work.
The time has come for this situation to change and since politicians and law enforcement are happy to support collusion and political corruption then it's up to victims to be vocal for change. So keep reading, keep commenting and keep reporting crimes of elected judges to the Justice Department Civil Rights division. This is a civil rights issue and only loud action will promote change.
Amazing that in this day and age where we are told that everything on the Internet is public and accessible that there's still no FBI scrutiny of the collusion and corruption that operates openly in New York Supreme Court matrimony part. Today the NY Times and others report the FBI arrests Malcolm Smith on some type of corruption probe for pissant sums of money as compared to the sums that a collusive attorney/judge/expert combination can steal in one day in a corrupt court.
Come on US Justice Department and FBI, get off of your asses and investigate the most obvious and damaging collusion you can find in New York. When I write Preet Bharara all I get back is a generic form to file a complaint, that's the extent of the interest to investigate the corrupt NY divorce industry corruption. Even the FBI and the US Justice Department are guilty of victim blaming when it comes to New York Divorce while turning a blind eye to blatant collusion and conflicts of interest for elected Judges.
Somehow the investigation against this inept politician is within scope of the FBI but elected judges colluding with unregulated attorneys and experts to extort massive fees out of scared parents is out of scope for the FBI.
Is this America? Don't we have accountability for the behaviors of elected officials? If a Judge is allowing off-the-books money into their courts to pay experts that they appoint massive sums of money doesn't that ring any alarm bells? I'm not the only one talking about this, many victims speak up on this blog and many people contact me directly who are afraid of having their information public. A few of my readers are in active law suits with the federal government for civil rights violations during divorce in New York. Many people comment on this blog about how illegal money was allowed into their cases and how Judges used their children as tools of extortion to obtain huge fees for unregulated experts and law guardians.
No amount of public exposure seems to make any difference at all. Perhaps we should discuss terrorism or something else that will attract more attention to what's going on in New York Divorce Courts. It's disgusting the FBI is willing to chase politicians who misuse pocket change while letting the billion dollar divorce fraud grow year after year after year in New York with no scrutiny of the elected Judges and tax payer funded ethics commissions that turn a blind eye to the massive damage that this system causes to families.
The two top searches that lead to this site are about Pro Se and New York Supreme Court collusion in divorce. Collusion is a way of life in a New York and a bi product of a broken democracy. New York is more of a socialist state than democratic and its quite apparent when looking at the unchecked civil rights abuses against families and children that are rampant in New York Contested Divorce. Only RICO investigations by the US Justice Department or a successful class action suit could challenge the deep seated collusion and corruption that benefit so many judges, attorneys and court experts who feast on a billion a year of billings with no questions asked about glaring conflicts of interest and ethical and civil rights abuses. As much as we complain loudly about this situation it's just the way it is in our broken democracy.
The first thing anyone going Pro Se must understand is the massive federal legislation that governs divorce - The Bradley Amendment of 1986. This bill created a super-class of debt that accrues no matter what happens in your life. Any support debt over $2,500 puts you in violation of federal law and massive enforcement actions will ensue that can't be alleviated by any court in the USA. Lots on the Internet and my blog on this law but you MUST understand the ramifications of the Bradley Amendment.
So while the New York Supreme Court system will remain a bastion of fraud regardless of what anyone writes on a blog, there is some help to offer for Pro Se in New York divorce. My first advice for those who are forced pro se is to stay out of court. You will lose in court 100% of the time in New York. Period, end of story. Most families settle and you should try damn hard. There are no ethics in New York divorce courts, there's no due process, there's no jury and there's no supervision for those who ignore court rules. It's a 'fee for all' and you will lose in court. So my advice is to stay out of court if you can.
If you are forced to court then I'd advice you to bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is the only thing that can stop a divorce process and its the only sensible course of action if you're pro se in divorce and stuck in a process that could rob you of your kids, sanity and assets. However, once the support and equitable distribution awards are set, there can be no changes.
If bankruptcy isn't an option then keep a few things in mind. As long as your paying up no judge in New York will care how you pay so if you have hidden money use it. If you can get some off the books money from drug dealing or rich relatives it would be a good time to find it to at least pay the experts that the judge will force you to pay. Pay experts first because they have you by the proverbial balls and can take your kids, your money and your future if you dare not pay their rates immediately.
Next piece of advice is to retain the court appointed 'neutral' experts as your witness as soon as the first custody or financial reports are done. The only neutrality court expert have is towards the truth - he who pays more gets what they want. Waste no time and buy these guys off. Whatever they ask for after their neutral report, pay it. They will then be in your back pocket and things will be easy.
If you have too much money for bankruptcy and not enough to pay off the court appointed experts then you are fucked. However, you can minimize the impact by not initiating any court actions. Judges will hold pro se to the highest standards while allowing attorneys to ignore process so you'll lose always.
Best advice is to make a strong settlement offer and avoid the courts b stay calm, expect no logic in any decisions and avoid creating opportunities to fail by not filing any motions. If you truly need a motion you'll need a lawyer to navigate the collusion so hire an insider who has full access to the judges and experts you'll need to pay off. Find illegal money and pay them, never declare the money you spend on your motions.
Appeal is impossible for pro se in New York since CAMP won't meet you do you're fucked even thinking about appeal pro se in NY Divorce.
Best of luck!
A good way to see if you're divorce attorney is overusing the Not For Prejudice footer in letters to their adversary. Not for Prejudice means that the document can never be used in court and isn't really legal work at all. Excessive use of Not for Prejudice communications is a good bet you're being ripped off.