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New York Family Law Blog

The complexities of same-sex divorce

Your right to marry your partner came after much struggle and suffering, as is true with the winning of many important rights. When the U.S. Supreme Court delivered its landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states, you and your partner could enjoy the same protections as opposite-sex couples, including tax benefits, insurance coverage and surrogate authority for medical decisions.

You also now have the right to end your marriage through divorce. While this is often a painful decision for any married couple, you may be one of the many same-sex spouses whose circumstances make for a very complicated divorce.

New York estate planning should be updated regularly

When it comes to estate planning, there are two categories that many people will fall into: those who haven't made any plans at all, and those who have done so but fail to update them. New York residents who have set up a will or have other plans in place may believe that they have no further concerns. However, failing to regularly revisit one's estate plans can be a costly error.

The decision to set up a plan is only the first step toward ensuring that one's wishes will be carried out after death. If the plans are older than three years, they may be outdated and not provide the protection intended. Professionals note several reasons why people may need to revisit their current estate plans. First, tax laws may have been changed and existing plans no longer provide adequate protections. Second, if one has relocated to a different state, existing plans may no longer be compliant with the new state's laws.

Renewal of visa program raises concerns over possible EB-5 fraud

The federal government is considering whether to provide for another extension of the EB-5 visa program. While it is headed into its 28th year, the program does have its detractors who are concerned about the recent lawsuits over alleged EB-5 fraud. The program has provided funding for many successful projects in the New York area, and countless foreign nationals have obtained visas by way of their investments.

This visa was established nearly 30 years ago with set criteria. Developers may solicit foreign investors on their own or may opt to work with a regional center that can facilitate partnerships with qualified investors. The foreign nationals are required to invest a minimum of $500,000 into an approved project that must provide at least 10 employment opportunities for qualified U.S. workers. Investors are also required to allow their funds to remain in the project for the duration of the time it takes for them to obtain their green cards.

Same-sex families take part in celebrations for Adoption Day

For the past 32 years, the nation's capital has celebrated families who have made the choice to open their families to children in need. The most recent celebration of Adoption Day included two same-sex families who were formalizing adoptions of their own. Though many states still make it difficult for these families to welcome adopted children, New York has laws that work to protect these families.

One of the families taking part in this year's event was overjoyed at the thought that they could finally celebrate being a legally recognized family. The couple had been fostering their newly adopted 5-year-old son since he was a weeks-old infant. They expressed their pleasure that they were finally granted official recognition as a family unit. They hoped that this adoption would be an incentive for other same-sex couples who were contemplating opening their homes to an adopted child.

Probate mistakes could lead to litigation

Acting as the executor of an estate puts a great deal of responsibility on your shoulders. When your loved one asked you to take on this role, you may have accepted without thinking too much about the tasks you would need to handle. Now that the time has come to step into this role, you may wonder what is in store for you and the remaining estate.

As you begin the probate process, you may want to gain useful information about the duties you need to carry out. While you likely understand that your responsibilities revolve around completing tasks your loved one left behind, you need to make sure to take the right steps to complete those tasks. Otherwise, your mistakes could lead to probate litigation.

Deaths of celebrities illustrates why estate planning matters

Over the past few years, the unexpected deaths of several celebrities have been a lesson in the fragility of life. These deaths also work to illustrate why some of the more uncomfortable tasks in life -- such as estate planning -- need to be addressed sooner rather than later. New York residents may have several reasons they have postponed this task, but the peace of mind that comes with estate planning is worth the effort involved.

The only fact in life is that everyone dies, and having a plan in place can save loved ones worry and anxiety. Even though the majority of people do not currently have to worry about federal estate taxes since the rates were adjusted, many states may impose their own tax laws that could impact the amounts that heirs can inherit. Furthermore, the tax laws are frequently changed, and the ceiling for these taxes could be lowered in the future. Appropriate planning may allow for the protection of the majority of one's assets.

Bishop defies new directive that allows same-sex marriages

The 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision that extended the right to marry to same-sex couples was intended to ensure that the same protections afforded to heterosexual couples also applies to gay and lesbian couples. Several years later, these rights are still under attack by certain segments of society, including some religious institutions. One New York bishop of a prominent religion stated that his parish would not allow same-sex marriages.

Though many denominations are welcoming same-sex couples, there are several that have refused to recognize these unions. Recently, an Episcopal bishop announced that, in spite of a new directive, he would not permit these ceremonies in his diocese. According to a recent announcement, the Episcopal Church as a whole will issue a directive regarding how it will handle same-sex marriages beginning in early December. In spite of the church issuing a previous decision that permitted recognition of these relationships, many parishes have refused to grant same-sex couples official recognition.

Shutdown of major New York project could lead to EB-5 fraud case

New York City and the surrounding boroughs have often benefited from investments through the EB-5 visa program. This particular visa allows for foreign nationals to invest a minimum amount in a qualified development project that provides a set number of employment opportunities for residents. In exchange, the investors receive the opportunity to apply for green cards for themselves and qualified immediate family members. Unfortunately this visa has been the subject of many civil lawsuits over allegations of EB-5 fraud.

For years, developers have planned to build a giant Ferris wheel on Staten Island that would afford riders a view of several points of interest in the surrounding area. The project was expected to be an anchor for future stores, restaurants and parking structures. Unfortunately, the project's developers recently announced that the project will not come to fruition due to an apparent lack of funding from the city.

Battle over James Brown's estate litigation plays on

When a beloved musical artist passes away, fans often take comfort in the fact that the music they produced will live on. However, in some cases, it seems the estate litigation may also live on, such as the case in the battle over James Brown's estate. Fans in New York -- and elsewhere -- may be surprised to learn that, more than 12 years after the singer's death, the rights to his music and estate remain unresolved.

Less than a month after Brown's death on Christmas in 2006, his estate was opened for probate. The artist's will was drafted before his last marriage in 2001, which led to the battle over the validity of his marriage to his fourth wife, Tomi Rae Hynie. According to the challenges launched by the family, Hynie was supposedly already married to another man at the time of her marriage to Brown. Hynie countered that her marriage to Javed Ahmed was invalid because he was married to three other women in his native country. 

Same-sex couples concerned about protecting marriage rights

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage deserved the same protections as those afforded heterosexual couples. However, that ruling came from a supreme court that had a slightly different composition. The justice who often held the swing vote in more controversial topics recently retired. It is likely that same-sex couples in New York and elsewhere worry what a new justice may bring to the table.

There are many issues that concern the majority of parents. These include worries over adequate funding of public education and protections for the environment. No matter whether a family is comprised of a mother and father or two same-sex parents, parents are the same when it comes to how they want their children to grow up. One mother recently shared her concerns over both the upcoming elections and how the recent confirmation of a more conservative supreme court judge may impact the rights of same-sex couples.