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High-Asset Divorce

High-asset divorce cases generally involve married couples who own significant assets such as their family home, vacation properties, and luxury cars, or have complex assets such as retirement accounts and investments. High Asset Divorce cases may also involve family-owned businesses and associated property.

Vance & Zeis divorce attorneys have the experience to guide you through the complexities of dividing high assets, including organization, evaluations, and forensic investigations if necessary.

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Complex Separation Agreements

A separation agreement enables spouses to live apart and separate without going through a divorce, or prior to a divorce proceeding. Agreements are signed by the couple voluntarily without involving the courts. Unlike a divorce, a separation does not end the marriage. They provide time to work out problems without the pressure of deadlines or court dates for couples who may be unsure about divorce or perhaps cannot afford a long divorce process.

However, separation agreements are not necessarily as simple as signing a document and moving out of the house. Vance & Zeis can guide you through complex agreements typical in a high asset divorce. We help you understand the obligations of both sides of the agreement, including division of assets, child custody, maintenance arrangements and other important issues.

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Same-sex Divorce

Same-sex marriage has only recently been recognized in the United States, therefore, issues in same-sex divorce are just beginning to catch up. That can mean challenges in same-sex marriage cases, including determining if a domestic partnership had been started, child custody issues, and property transfers.

While every divorce case is unique, Vance & Zeis attorneys are familiar with issues that may arise in a same-sex divorce case. Of course, on the federal level, a married gay couple has the same rights as a heterosexual couple. But fluctuating state laws can sometimes result in complexities in same-sex divorce. We have the experience and knowledge to guide you through.

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Child Custody

For couples with children, child custody can be the most difficult issue in a divorce case. Courts follow a standard that gives the best interests of any children the highest priority. That may be deemed joint custody if both parents are agreeable on how to raise their children and amiable to such an arrangement. In hostile divorce cases, child custody can become much more complex.

Vance & Zeis attorneys understand what factors come into play when determining the best interests of a child in a divorce case. We have experience in negotiating custody and visitation disputes that protect the rights of our client without compromising the best interests of the children.

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Child Support

In a divorce case, child support for any children of the marriage is mandatory and included as part of the divorce process. In New York State, both parents must provide financial support until the child turns 21 years old. This includes providing health insurance coverage until the age of 21.

In general, the custodial parent can get child support from the other parent, the non-custodial parent. A custodial parent is the one the child lives with most of the time. As with child custody, the best interests of the child are priority in determining arrangements for child support.

Vance & Zeis attorneys understand the complex formulas courts often use in deciding on child support amounts. We are particularly experienced with child support issues in high-asset divorce cases to help negotiate the best outcomes for our clients and their children.

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Equitable Distribution | Property Division

High-asset divorce cases often involve complex issues in the division of property between spouses, since they may include assets such as homes, vacation properties, luxury cars, etc. According to the law, marital property is not necessarily split equally but it must be divided fairly.

Vance & Zeis attorneys are experts in negotiating property division disputes and know how to fight to protect our client’s assets and best interests.

Contact Vance & Zeis today for more information on property division.

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Corporations / Partnerships & Business Entities

Individual division of closely held corporations, partnerships and other business entities
(To be developed, interview required)

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Maintenance Arrangements

Once known as alimony, a maintenance arrangement is a payment or allowance made to one spouse from the other. Calculating an award of payment may involve complex formulas based on the length of the marriage, income comparisons and other factors.

Vance & Zeis attorneys are skilled in maintenance arrangement calculations in high-asset divorce cases. We are proficient in the primary types of maintenance arrangements and work to ensure a fair outcome for our client.

Contact Vance & Zeis today for more information on maintenance arrangements.

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Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement is a contract signed by two spouses prior to being married that specifies what each person’s property rights will be after marriage. The agreement can prevent an expensive and contentious divorce if the marriage does not last. Developing a clearly stated prenuptial agreement can be challenging and is often overwhelming for the client, especially in high-asset divorce cases.

Vance & Zeis attorneys can help determine if a prenuptial agreement is right for a client and guide them through the process of creating an agreement in their best interests. Our experience enables us to tailor the agreement to meet unique needs and safeguard their future.

Contact Vance & Zeis today for more information on prenuptial agreements.

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Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRsOs)

The attorneys at Vance & Zeis handle the unique issues related to Qualified Domestic Relations Orders. A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (commonly referred to as a “QDRO”), is a court order, directing the payment of retirement assets from the titled spouse (Participant) to the non-titled spouse (Alternate Payee), pursuant to a divorce Property Settlement Agreement and/or Judgment of Divorce for the purposes of dividing marital property, or to satisfy the payment of child support or spousal maintenance obligations.

Most commonly, QDROs are used to divide retirement assets that were accumulated, in whole or in part, during a marriage. QDROs are necessary to distribute defined benefit pension plans between former spouses, 401(k)s, and other deferred compensation plans. The transfer from the Participant’s account to an account for the Alternate Payee through a QDRO is a non-taxable event.

Often, QDROs are not necessary to distribute Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs) between former spouses and a simple tax free rollover through the use of Plan forms, Letters of Instruction/Acceptance suffice, so long as the Agreement is clear as to what the Alternate Payee spouse is entitled to from the Participant’s IRA account.

Although each Retirement Plan requires the same basic requirements, each Plan has its own rules and requirements with regard to determining whether or not a Domestic Relations Order is “qualified”.

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Mediation & Arbitration

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is an option for separating couples who want to avoid litigation in court.

One method is mediation. In the context of a divorce, mediation is when a couple jointly hires a neutral third party to help walk them through each issue as it relates to their children, support and division of assets, with the goal of arriving and signing a comprehensive agreement, resolving all issues. The mediator does not provide advice, but rather assists the couple in negotiating in a productive and collaborative manner. Ultimately, the couple makes all decisions regarding the terms of their settlement. Both parties are encouraged to hire separate legal counsel, to provide them with legal advice through the process. The attorneys at Vance & Zeis can act as both independent counsel and as Mediator.

Arbitration is the process of submitting certain issues that the parties are unable to agree upon to a third-party Arbitrator who acts in a manner, similar to a judge. The Arbitrator listens to each party’s position and considers the merits and renders a final binding decision that is incorporated into a final court order or judgment. Parties may be represented by counsel during this process or represent themselves. The Arbitrator often attempts to mediate the parties issues prior to an arbitration hearing, which is one of the ways it is unique from a costly, contentious trial. Arbitration generally does not require the same formalities as a trial. Paul A. Vance, Esq. is on the New York State Office of Court Administration list of court certified Arbitrators and has conducted countless arbitrations.

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Individual Division of Closely Held Entities

At Vance & Zeis, we have experience in the individual division of closely held corporations, partnerships, and other business entities including stock of publicly traded corporations.  During complex divorce proceedings we represent a client’s interests in the division of the business assets. Our attorneys work closely with Certified Valuation Analysts, Accountants, Forensic Accountants and appraisers to carefully review and analyze the financial records of a business to determine its marital value.  We will then negotiate and work closely with the opposing party’s counsel to determine what the non-titled spouse may be entitled to and how the asset will be divided or a distributive award paid, to avoid liquidation.  If necessary, our attorneys will litigate the matter in court to protect our client’s interests, both as the business owning spouse and the non-titled spouse.

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