Niagara Falls, NY asked in Divorce, Family Law and Child Support for New York

Q: I need immediate help in New York State I’m a low income veteran i can pay monthly no more than 1k i need help with

A divorce and child custody my spouse has called the cops on me saying i beat my kids and her both investigated nothing found/no evidence just recently i was served with a order of protection from my spouse and kids after I’ve had my kids for two months after she has abandoned us with no explanation just left one day and didn’t return

2 Lawyer Answers
Lawrence Allen Weinreich
Lawrence Allen Weinreich
  • Garden City, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: You should appear in court on the return day of the summons. At that time, you can ask the judge to assign a lawyer to you without charge if you meet the low income criteria. You can also contact the local bar association for recommendations.

Peter Christopher Lomtevas
Peter Christopher Lomtevas pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Dallas, TX
  • Licensed in New York

A: The asker must appear no matter what. The feminist movement caused the U.S. Congress to craft a no-tolerance policy behind domestic violence legislation. We even have two levels of domestic violence prosecutions: criminal court and family court. It appears the asker here has a family court appearance which he must attend at all costs.

Another crucial factor of circumstance is that our legal system will be looking for sins, not successes. The fact that the asker is a veteran will do far more to hurt his case rather than help his case. The woman and the court will make it appear that the veteran is inherently violence, gun toting, fist throwing mad. The automatic and statute driven procedures will grant the woman an order of protection she can use to have the asker repeatedly arrested for subsequent felony prosecutions, and cops will also presume inherent violence because of veteran status despite what military occupational specialty the former soldier had.

The average family court judge nationwide never served in he military. Instead, these were good students who studied well and graduated the schools they started. Amply supported by their families, they became proficient in the SAT to get into a good college, and then the LSAT to get into a good law school. In the U.S., it is not what you know, but rather who you know. Then came ten years of being a lawyer followed by an election. Upstate judges are elected to the family court bench. In most of these cases, military service was the farthest thing from the upstate judge. They did not serve their country but rather served themselves. They cannot distinguish between and airborne ranger infantry combat veteran from a medic veteran.

In New York, the court must consider domestic violence in its custody decision, so this first step by the mother aims to facilitate her receipt of custody. Certainly child support follows the child. In other states like Iowa, their civil domestic violence statute simply hands over everything to the woman: the kids, the home and the couple’s personal property (automobile) on a temporary basis that can last for months. In New York, there are restrictions to the woman’s acquisition of property, but that does not mean the man does not have to prepare.

Assigned counsel is an easily available option. They understand each step of the process and are diligent, even talented, in what they do. One serious hang up is that the judge signs their pay vouchers, so the assigned attorney represents the judge, not the client. Another factor of circumstance is that private lawyers are growing scarce in upstate New York. The combined effects of the pandemic and the Chief Judge's expansion of free attorneys paid by judges have thinned the ranks of private counsel. Supply and demand will dictate the private attorney’s fee, and the fees will not be rosy at all.

Lastly, the process will take a long time. Most family court judges will be looking for agreements by the parties that the man was violent for the imposition of a two year order of protection. The veteran may think he is headed for eventual trial, but that may be the farthest from the truth. The longer he delays his case, the longer his temporary order of protection will be extended by the court, and the two years will be tacked on at the end of the proceedings. Meanwhile, access to the veteran’s child will be restricted as the mother will play up the risk of violence to the child. The veteran should expect delays in visitation, and should be prepared for police visits to the home in search of guns as that is a very popular accusation against veterans which in many cases can catch the veteran of guard and amplify the woman’s claims of violence.

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