- Contested Divorce Cases: Chapter 2: How to Effectively Use the Family Court to Save Thousands and Thousands of Dollars In Your Divorce Case
- January 22, 2015
- Law Firm: Henry Lung - Mineola Office
(Please view my Facebook page 'Law Office of Henry Lung, PC' to see supporting documents to this article)
I am using Facebook to not only discuss the legal system (using previous cases that I’ve handled with successful results) but to actually HELP people, including my new friends on FB and their friends, relatives and colleagues. I do not believe in ripping... clients off and lying to people; I do not believe in karma, I just believe in treating people well and hopefully they will speak well of me after it is all done. I have actually heard divorce lawyers brag about how much money they have been paid from 1 single contested divorce case, with fees going upwards of $25K, $50K, and $100K. I have personally met at least 5 different people who have paid over $70,000 in lawyers’ fees; I did Not represent any of these 5 persons. I often wonder what goes through a person’s mind after burning through the first $10K, then $15K more, then $50K, then oops there goes your retirement funds and the feverish borrowing of money begins. I always knew that there had to be a better way and yes there is, although I doubt that other lawyers mimic what I do because it actually takes money OUT of my own pocket. But I have slept well all my life and that is not going to change. I also believe that you and I are blessed if we treat others well and do not steal their money.
From now on, whenever I post a new article, I will create an Album for the documents that the article refers to. So after you finish reading the article, go into the Albums section and click on the album that has the same title as the article you just read - thank you.
I have been working on my own since Sept. 2000. I am a self-taught lawyer and after working at a landlord-tenant law firm for 10 business days in 2000, I had enough of that nonsense and I went out on my own. The words in each of these articles are all my own, along with the documents that I always attach to my articles. Each document that I use as an example is from an actual case that I have worked on and the results from these cases are ‘confirmable’ to a certain extent, even if you and I Never meet each other. In NY, divorce cases and Family Court cases are accessible only to the parties themselves and the lawyers involved. But the SPEED with which I have blasted through these cases can be confirmed, if you know the index/docket number of each case and the Court and the county in which the case took place. I also would be happy to show you these files, so long as I hide the parties’ names. Once the parties' identities are shielded, the remaining information can be inspected and discussed.
If you are heading into a divorce case but the divorce has NOT been filed yet, remember that so long as you and your spouse do not live together, the NY Family Court has the authority to preside over the following issues from your divorce case: A) child support; B) maintenance a/k/a spousal support a/k/a alimony, all of which mean the exact same thing; C) paternity, which is somewhat rare but it does pop up; D) the issues of ‘discretionary expenses’ for your children, (music lessons, summer camp, babysitter(s), sports trainer, and other items that fall outside of what is defined as ‘basic child support’ (referring to food, shelter (rent) and essentials).
The only portions of a divorce case that the NY Family Court CANNOT adjudicate are the following: 1) marital assets, including the marital residence, division of retirement account(s), money in the bank, and marital debt (mortgage, credit cards, etc.) - this is known as ‘equitable distribution’; 2) the actual grounds for the divorce and the issuance of the Judgment of Divorce; 3) procurement of life insurance for each of the children; 4) other issues that I don’t have the space to get into with this article, since I am writing about using Family Court to your advantage. Otherwise, the Family Court CAN address the issues listed in the previous paragraph. Furthermore, in NY the appointment of a law guardian a/k/a ‘attorney for the child(ren)’ in the Family Court does Not cost either party a single dollar. Ever hear of someone who has gone through a contested divorce case (just say ‘I wasted Tens of thousands of dollars’ over and over again), including the paying for the irritating ‘attorney for the child(ren)’ in Supreme Court for his/her fees, just to learn at the very end of the case that the attorney for the child(ren) was completely AGAINST your application for custody all along? Do not forget that in NY, NO party pays any fees for the ‘attorney for the child(ren) in Family Court. This is true as of Jan. 2015 (when I am posting this article) and it has been true going back to at least 2001, when I began to learn about the vastly complicated area of law known as 'domestic relations' a/k/a 'matrimonial law.'
For my friends in states Other than NY, you must have a ‘Family Court’ equivalent where you live. In NY, once a divorce case is filed, ALL matters relating to the divorce case must take place in the Supreme Court, with the only exception being that either party can seek a quick Temporary Order of Protection (leading to a Permanent Order of Protection) in the Family Court. Either party can seek an Order of Protection - this is what ‘restraining orders’ are called in NY - in the Supreme Court, but Supreme Court is very slow. It’s like taking the Throgs Neck Bridge from Queens to get into lower Manhattan, when any smart Asian driver like me would take either the Williamsburg or Manhattan Bridge to get into Greenwich Village or the Wall Street area.
I hope you will enjoy reading these ‘case summaries.’ My style of writing is unique because I am very critical of other lawyers, many of whom do not seem to care about finishing their clients’ cases quickly and with the best results possible. So you might say, why do I approach my cases this way and how can I finish these cases so quickly when everyone else’s cases are taking so long? The only answer I can think of is that I have been described as a ‘lawyer with a pastor’s conscience.’ This nice compliment was paid to me by Pastor Dave Corson a few years ago, who used to work for the Nassau County DA’s Office. Pastor Dave is currently preaching at a church in Suffolk County (Medford, I think) and he does not practice law on his own anymore (I think). But I intend to keep on pushing away at this line of work (‘domestic relations law’ a/k/a ‘matrimonial law,’ which has Zero To Do with keeping the marriage together) and hopefully the heavens will give me the energy, patience and strength to provide excellent service to my clients. It is an extremely difficult and sometimes disgusting line of work, but someone has to do it, I guess.
I take this job very seriously, unlike plenty of lawyers, politicians, even some police officers and other persons in our society who have been given a ‘license’ to do certain things that not everyone is entitled to do. Now it is up to you to understand what I am describing here, look at the documents, think about what other people who have gone through these awful contested divorce cases have told you, talk to other lawyers who Do Not share my approach, and decide for yourself if what I am telling you is the truth or just made up baloney. But what I am sharing with you is the truth and I don't weave lies into my practice of law.
Case Study #1: Contested Divorce Involving an INDIAN-AMERICAN couple and a Forced a/k/a Arranged Marriage
This article was posted on Wed., Jan. 7, 2015. I could not get the documents that are referred in this article to load properly (maybe because there are so many), but you will find the documents in my post from Jan. 8. Just skip over the cartoon and you'll see the 'Contested Divorce Article #2 with about 40 photos, which are all of documents from the case below.
I grew up with many friends whose parents came from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh and I thought I knew these cultures very well. But this case really taught me a lot about the Indian culture that I had no idea about. I am letting you know that you might find some of these details hard to believe, as I did when my client (the wife) hired me. But in the end, I took over her case only 1 week after she had paid another law firm the sum of $8,000, I actually WITHDREW her already-filed divorce case, I filed a Petition in the Nassau County Family Court, and from the time that she hired me in May, 2012, she was divorced by June of 2013. I did all of this for Less than $20,000 and I even managed to sneak away and attend the closing ceremonies at the Summer Olympics in Aug., 2012. Then again, we had appeared in the Family Court in both July and in Aug. of that year, so I did not miss anything and I certainly did not send anyone else to Court to represent her. I always do my best to make all of my court appearances for my cases myself.
The year 2012 was when I realized that I had emerged as an very efficient lawyer and this case was critical in my development into such a lawyer. In this case, the wife’s Father was so intent on blocking her desire to get divorced that he himself actually paid for his son-in-law’s divorce law firm, which just happens to be easily 1 of the 10 to 15 most prominent divorce law firms on Long Island. In fact, the principal lawyer at this firm has given ‘Continuing Legal Education' lectures for the New York State Bar Association since at least 2006. This lawyer is consistently asked to speak at these lectures. Many people will brag about how well-known their lawyer (in divorce or some other area of law) is known by everyone. Well let me tell you something: the NYS Bar Association is by far the most prestigious Bar Association and less than 50 people are asked year after year to speak in any given area of law that their CLE courses are offered in.
All lawyers in NY are required to take at least 32 credits of ‘Continuing Legal Education’ classes every 2 years in order to renew our biannual registration with NYS. No matter how prestigious your lawyer/ law firm is, chances are that the lawyer is not asked by the ‘NYSBA’ to speak at any of their CLE lectures. I am telling you that this law firm that the father of my client paid to represent my client’s husband is big-time. At our four (4) way meeting, this lawyer slipped up and exposed the check that my client’s father had written to that law firm. Both my client and I saw the check clearly with her father's signature on it.
I have attached copies of the CLE brochures that this lawyer has been asked to speak at. I also want to give some background for my client’s arranged/forced marriage to her husband that took place in India. Once again, I do Not vouch for the truthfulness of this description because I often doubted some of the details myself. But I was hired to get her divorced and not to decide whether she is/was an actress or not, so in the end I kept my doubts to myself and pushed forward. If you don’t care to hear the marriage’s background, skip down and just read the legal analysis.
THIS MARRIAGE’S BACKGROUND:
My client (the wife) is an intelligent, hard working woman in her 30s who has several post-college degrees, born in India but immigrated to the US as a child and became a US citizen. She said that when she was in her early 20s, she was tricked into going back to India because she was told that her grandmother was seriously ill. After she landed in India with her parents, she said that her father took her US passport and refused to allow her to fly back to the US until she got married. At the time, my client was dating someone in NY, so what happened to her is all the more heartbreaking because when she left NY for India, she was dating an New Yorker of her choice but when she returned to NY, she was married to a man who was not only a stranger to her, but who had to wait another approx. 12 months in order for the ‘permanent residency visa’ to be processed and approved. Since I practice Immigration law, I am telling you that you cannot go to some other country, marry someone and then expect to return to New York with your spouse - that is Not how our Immigration system works. The Fastest method of getting your foreign spouse into the US is to FIRST apply for a ‘fiance visa’ (K-1 visa), then once the processing is complete, your beloved spouse will enter the US and you have 90 days in which to marry your fiancé. That is the correct and faster way to handle this situation.
I have worked on my own for 14+ years and I work from 11 to 14 hours every day. All this time has allowed me to work in various areas of law and to see how some cases - divorces, for example - overlap onto other areas of law such as Immigration law, Bankruptcies, Criminal Defense, Landlord-Tenant law, etc. The only one of the previous areas that I do not work in is Bankruptcy law (but I can provide you a referral if needed). Many people do not realize that once a person has entered the US legally (‘with inspection,’ which means having passed through an airport or border checkpoint with a valid visa), that immigrant Does Not have to return to his/her native country if he/she marries a US citizen or US permanent resident and is sponsored for permanent residency. But if you are marrying someone who resides outside of the US, the Slower way to get that person into the US is to travel to that person’s country, marry your fiancé, and then return to the US to apply for a ‘permanent residency visa.’ The Faster way is to apply for a fiancé visa. If you know of someone who paid a lawyer to utilize the former method, just grind your teeth because it is not faster.
Back to my client’s divorce: she said that before her ill-fated trip to India, she had moved out of her parents’ house after her father threatened to kill her, a threat that he had made before (she is the oldest child). When she left, her dad said that she was no longer his daughter. Her dad said that someday, ‘the city morgue will call to claim [her] body and [the father] would say that [he] does not have this daughter and they will throw you out in the garbage.’
After they had returned to India to see my client’s supposedly ill grandmother, my client’s father became very violent and threatened to kill her (again), but this time in front of her cousins and they had to restrain him from hitting her. Then her father placed an ad in the local newspaper (in India) looking for ‘alliances,’ meaning a future husband for her. Of course my client was against this but nobody was interested in how she felt about it. My client told me that she did her best to discourage all the men that her father tried to introduce her to. But soon thereafter my client was forced to meet the relatives of the man that she would eventually marry. The relatives of this man - her future husband - brought a picture of him, but once again my client told her father that she was not interested and not to have this man come down to see her, since he lived in another province in India. But her father was undaunted and he arranged for the future husband to meet my client.
When my client met her future husband the 1st time, they spoke for 10 minutes. She remembered asking him what is your degree in, do you smoke, and do you drink? Then her dad knocked on the door and said, ‘that’s enough because that’s all the time you will need to decide if he is the right person or not.’ My client then screamed that she did not want to marry him. But her father refused to listen. Then she measured this man’s height with 5 different pairs of shoes in the hopes that he would be turned off by her and leave for good. But he did not leave. She then argued and slammed doors hoping he would get the hint. He still did not leave. My client was afraid to come out and tell her future husband that she was being forced to do this because at that point, she just felt helpless. Her father finally said to her, ‘if you don’t marry him you will not leave this country and I will leave you here.’
Since my client had moved from South Asia to the US at a very young age, she was essentially in a foreign country. She was at the mercy of the people there and realized quickly that a young woman, left on her own, can be raped and/or sold into a brothel. My client tried to get her cousins to talk sense into her parents, but to no avail. She also tried to talk some sense into her mother, but that did not work either. Even on the day of the engagement, then even on the day of the wedding, she did her best with her parents to quash this awful idea, but the wedding did in fact take place.
On the day of the engagement, my client’s father said to her, “everyone is unhappy in the beginning and eventually you will love him.” Her father encouraged her to smile for the pictures and to be happy. My client prayed that her father was right; her parents were in fact church attending Christians who had always brought their children to church every Sunday. But what they were doing was hardly Christian behavior.
My client was married in her country of birth, just 2 days after the engagement. She then came back to America alone, since it would take some time before her husband would be approved for his permanent residency visa. Since all of this was a complete surprise to my client, after she came back to NY she sheepishly said goodbye to the non-Indian man that she had been dating here. She told the guy that she was married and he asked her to annul the marriage. She told him she could not and then left. About 1 year later, my client became pregnant with her first child with the new husband.
Years later, after having another child with her husband, my client finally decided to see a lawyer for a divorce. In the years of their marriage, she had thought about filing for divorce on several occasions, but she felt that now was the time to get it done after her father (again) came into her house and told her husband to call the police so that they could arrest her and take her to a mental institution because she, ‘had to be bipolar for having the crazy idea of wanting a divorce.’
After filing for divorce (with her original law firm before she hired me), my client’s children said to her that their own father (my client’s husband) had threatened to abandon them and return to his native country, ‘if your mother decides to divorce me’ and that it would the fault of the children for choosing their mother over him. The children even said to my client, ‘Mommy you can’t tell the lawyer that we told you this or the judge.”
The above comments are very typical statements that many parents, regardless of their ethnic background, will say to a child in order to guilt the child into making this or that decision. If you have read this background completely or even a portion of it, yes it does sound like all of this took place back in the Middle Ages. But this marriage took place towards the end of Pres. Bill Clinton’s 2nd term.
When my client had hired her original law firm, she paid an $8,000 upfront retainer deposit. 1 of the 2 ‘named partners from this law firm spent all of 1 hour speaking to her about her divorce case and that was it. The law firm then filed the divorce case and had her husband personally served, which as I explained in my previous article that was posted in Dec. 2014, is an incredibly embarrassing thing to do to your client’s spouse. I am convinced that most law firms do this because not only are many lawyers not very creative or inventive, the end result of having your adversary served in public causes that same person to become humiliated. It makes that spouse want to destroy the spouse who filed the divorce case. DIVORCE and FAMILY COURT CASES ARE ALL ABOUT EMOTIONS. When both parties ease up, get tired of missing days from work and tired of throwing their money away on lawyers and other things, that is when I have seen many cases settle. But this is how other lawyers’ cases eventually end. As for me, I have learned to Outrun and Outmaneuver the other lawyer, many of whom are too busy trying to bleed their own clients for every last dollar. Hopefully this case summary and my other articles will convince you that I can do this again and again in very difficult divorce cases with successful results.
NO initial consultation between the lawyer and the client in a hotly contested divorce case, especially where the issues of custody and visitation a/k/a ‘parenting time’ are the linchpins of the case, can last ONLY 1 hour. So after her 1 hour consultation with the original law firm and writing out the $8,000 check to that firm, my client felt so uncomfortable that she contacted me just 1 week later. I met with her on a Saturday afternoon and after our 3 hour consultation, she hired me. The following week after I delivered the ‘Consent to Change Attorney’ form to her original law firm, I received a check, payable to me as my client’s escrow agent, for a little over $7,400. I was very surprised by this because I thought that they would try to fraudulently invent some made-up work that they had supposedly done for her case in order to justify retaining more of the $8,000. But considering that the filing of all divorce cases costs $210 and the process server’s charge must have been $75 to $150, I basically recovered 100% of my client’s original retainer deposit.
To review, my client hired me after her original law firm had filed the divorce case but Before her husband (the beneficiary of my client’s father having paid for his law firm) had actually met with his soon-to-be lawyer. As lawyers say, my client’s husband had not APPEARED in the divorce case yet. I convinced her to withdraw her divorce case and quickly file a Petition in our local Family Court seeking sole custody of her children, which she did. I am sure that she was confused why I was doing this and why the money that had been paid for her divorce case and the process server was being abandoned. I did all of this in late May/early June of that year. By early December of that same year, the issues of custody and visitation had been completely resolved in Family Court and 100% in my client’s favor.
After the Family Court case was over, I asked her several months later if she had talked about her case with other people that had gone through contested divorce cases. She said yes and told me that other people were surprised that her case went so quickly and was so cost-effective. She told me that some of her friends who were involved in contested divorce cases that had been filed long before she met me were still neck-deep in their own contested divorce cases when the Judgment of Divorce in her own case was signed.
Please see the documents that I have attached. As I am writing out this Article in the dead of the night on Wed., Jan. 7, 2015, I’ve realized that the only document that I am missing is the check for $7,400 that my client’s original law firm forwarded to me. I know where it is and I’ll scan it as an attachment later this week so that it connects with this article.
When I can see that the issues of custody and visitation a/k/a parenting time (these 2 issues always go together in the Courts of New York) are the true linchpins of the entire divorce case, I always aim to litigate and resolve those issues in NY Family Court and not the Supreme Court. I see that 99% of all lawyers will normally do the exact opposite. This is why and this is the absolute truth: a law firm can only justify its large initial retainer fee by filing your divorce case FIRST, MEANING IN SUPREME COURT. Once a divorce case is filed in the Supreme Court, all matters relating to the divorce case MUST be litigated and resolved in Supreme Court, with the sole exception that any party seeking an emergency Temporary Order of Protection can always seek it in the Family Court. Here is the true rub about filing a Petition in Family Court first BEFORE your divorce case is filed: once your Petition for custody and visitation a/k/a ‘parenting time,’ child support, paternity and/or maintenance a/k/a spousal support a/k/a alimony is/are filed in the Family Court (these are all Separate Petitions, not 1 massive single Petition), the subject matter of your Petition(s) MUST BE LITIGATED and RESOLVED IN THAT SAME FAMILY COURT. Remember this about NY Family Court: it is CHEAPER and FASTER than the Supreme Court. I have taken the steps that I’ve described in this article time and time again and these steps have always worked without fail.
These steps that I am describing ABSOLUTELY DO NOT WORK if you and your spouse (OR the parent of your children, in case you are not married) are living together, meaning at the same address. If you and he/she are sharing the same address, most likely the judge in Family Court will kick out the Petition(s) that you have filed. If you are in the very rare situation of living at the exact same address as your spouse (or the parent of your child(ren) but in separate apartments at that same address, I would definitely go and file in the Family Court. For your trouble you might wind up saving thousands of dollars and shortening your divorce case by YEARS, not just months.
This article is now 7 pages long (on Microsoft Word), single spaced and I have been writing it for about 4 hours. Thank you very much for reading it and looking at the documents that I’ve attached. I have also attached documents from other cases and once I get some sleep, I will finish this article or start a new article to discuss other cases where I have done essentially the same thing. But from the posting of documents from my other cases and the brief description I wrote about them, hopefully you will see that I have had the same successful and very quick results in other divorce situations where I have used the NY Family Court to help my client basically outrun his/her spouse. I do not go to either Family Court or the NYS Supreme Court to make friends with the lawyer representing your spouse or to otherwise entertain myself. I am there to represent you and I really do not care who your spouse’s lawyer is.
In the case I have described involving my client who is of Indian-American descent, I embarrassed her husband’s lawyer so badly that this lawyer withdrew from the case altogether and I never saw this person again for this case. This lawyer not only had an associate from the law firm handle the remaining portions of the case, but that associate actually ‘whited out’ the law firm’s name from the final ‘Stipulation of Settlement’ that the parties signed in Family Court that ended this case. That agreement was signed in early December of the very same year that I had met her, that being in May of that year. The following February, meaning barely weeks later, the ‘Stipulation of Settlement’ for the entire divorce case (regarding the issues of life insurance, the division of the marital residence, cars, the marital debt, the retirement accounts - this all falls under the principle of ‘equitable distribution - were resolved and the entire ‘uncontested divorce packet’ was filed with the Supreme Court. The Judgment of Divorce was signed in June of that year, which was a little over 12 months from when I first met my client, since I met her in late May, 2012.
A hotly contested divorce that lasts barely over 12 months is NOT what most people are accustomed to. If I actually told you the law firm that represented my client’s husband, people who are familiar with the Long Island matrimonial bar would be very surprised. This case showed me that if I work hard, meaning make sure that I have my client's complete trust and confidence, and work fast, I really can outrun my adversary.
I am happy to discuss this strategy that I used with you. My email address is [email protected] and my office # is (888) 539-2015 or (516) 248-8253.
Lastly, if anyone who reads this article decides to take on Family Court on your own and if you are successful, I will be happy for you! Please send me an email to [email protected] and let me know what eventually happened with your case. And when your adversary’s lawyer looks at you in a puzzled way and tries to convince you to ‘transfer’ your case to the Supreme Court where the divorce case is taking place, JUST SAY NO. Think about it, somebody a long time created the Family Court for a reason. It’s not there to just take up space and waste tax dollars, that is for sure.
The information and materials contained in this article and all the articles in this Facebook account have been prepared by The Law Office of Henry Lung, PC for general informational purposes only. None of the contents of this newsletter is intended and should not be considered to be legal advice or a legal opinion. Please note that the transmission, receipt or use of this article or any of the other articles does not create an attorney-client relationship between the reader and The Law Office of Henry Lung, PC. Therefore, The Law Office of Henry Lung, PC makes no representations or warranties regarding any of the information contained herein. You should not rely or act upon any information provided herein without first consulting with Henry Lung, PC. The Law Office of Henry Lung, PC disclaims any responsibility and liability in connection with any actions taken based upon the content in this newsletter.
Once again, all the names have been changed and altered for privacy reasons. But I encourage anyone who has read anything from my Facebook account and has questions or comments about any topic to email me at [email protected] or call me at (516) 248-8253 or (888) 539-2015.
If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in any type of litigation or know of someone who is, please accept my sincere wishes that your case ends as quickly as possible and with the best possible results!