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BETTER THINK TWICE BEFORE HIDING THE JEWELRY

Nov 11

H. Michael Stern, Esq., a New York matrimonial and family law lawyer and mediator with over 30 years of experience suggests that one must be careful not to conceal or hide property of any kind, including jewelry, collectibles, antiques or other movable valuables from the opposing party or the Court in a divorce case.

In a recent case determined by the Appellate Division, 1st Department in New York, the wife had been found to have engaged in what the Court found was egregious economic fault, for, among other things, allegedly secreting her valuable jewelry before trial. But, that is not the most fascinating aspect of the case. The Appellate Court approved of the lower court’s acceptance of a jewelry appraisal based on a hypothetical fair market valuation. It is not clear from the decision whether the lower court relied on insurance appraisals, purchase documents or photographs in the trial level determination. What is clear however, is that the appraisal was accepted without a visual inspection of the actual jewelry. Now, that is really a remarkable development!

JewelryI had a case many years ago involving a divorcing couple from a south Asian country. In their country of origin, it was a tradition for the bride to adorn herself in copious amounts of 22 carat gold jewelry. The wedding photos showed the wife wearing many tens of thousands of dollars of stunning jewelry. The husband claimed the jewelry were wedding gifts and marital property. The wife claimed the jewelry was valueless costume jewelry for the most part and produced only a few pieces for appraisal. The jewelry shop in the village where the gold jewelry was acquired was half a world away. The prospect of being able to use a hypothetical fair market valuation in that old case would have been extremely beneficial. The law was different then and has evolved to address these kinds of situations. It is now easier for a Court to economically punish a divorcing spouse who decides to hide jewelry, collectibles, antiques or other movable valuables by granting a disproportionately lower equitable distribution award. The Court may also deny maintenance to the offending spouse.

Focusing on the needs of the client, the complexity of the case and the results sought have always been a hallmark of my Long Island practice over the past 30 years.

Feel free to contact me, H. Michael Stern, Esq., a Long Island divorce and family law attorney, if you are interested in discussing your matrimonial, divorce or family law matter at hmsternesq@gmail.com or by phone at 516-747-2290.

My office is conveniently located adjacent to the Roosevelt Field Mall ring road at 666 Old Country Road in Garden City, Nassau County, New York.

written by: H. Michael Stern, Attorney At Law


The above offers general information for educational purposes. It does not provide comprehensive or complete legal analysis. Any information that I provide should not be relied upon as legal advice or legal opinion on any particular facts or circumstances. Outcomes and results described do not mean or suggest that similar results or outcomes can or could be obtained in any other situation. Each legal matter should be considered to be factually unique and subject to varying results. The invitation to contact the author is not a solicitation to provide professional services, nor is it a statement of availability to perform legal services in any jurisdiction other than the State of New York.

IT IS NEVER WISE TO WAIT UNTIL THE STATUTORY DEADLINE DATE TO FILE FAMILY COURT OBJECTIONS

Nov 04

family courtH. Michael Stern, Esq., a New York matrimonial and family law attorney and mediator with over 30 years of experience suggests that one must be careful to file specific written Objections with proof of service to New York Family Court Orders, made by Support Magistrates, well before the statutory deadline approaches.

The law permits either party to file written specific Objections (with proof of service) to an Order made by a Support Magistrate. The Family Court Act provides that a party filing Objections must serve those Objections upon the opposing party, and that proof of service must be filed with the court at the time that the party’s objections are filed. If the opposing party is represented by an attorney, then the opposing attorney should also be served along with the opposing party, within the statutory deadline as well. The proof of service filed with the Court should reflect service on the opposing party and his or her attorney, if the opposing party was represented. By statute, the time frame to file the specific written Objections with the Clerk of the Family Court, in the County in which the Order was made, must be within 30 days of personal service of the Order or, if the party did not receive the Order in Court or by personal service, within 35 days after the Order was mailed. While the Court does not have to strictly adhere to this deadline, it does so in virtually all cases.

The Court will typically dismiss the Objections as untimely filed if the deadline is missed. The Courts, only in the rarest of cases, find that extraordinary circumstances permit late consideration of untimely filed Objections (or untimely filed proof of service where the Objections had been filed timely).

In a recent case a litigant had to get an upstate Appellate Court to over rule a Family Court Judge’s decision to dismiss the objections. Even though the litigant arrived at Court during posted hours of operation on the very last permissible day to file her objections, she found the Court was closed. The New York State Courts website showed hours of operation until 5:00 PM for the Court and the litigant arrived at 4:45 PM.

The wisdom to be drawn from this case and the others that preceded it is NEVER to wait until the last permissible day to serve and file a complete set of Objections together with a validly prepared proof of service on the opposing party and counsel.

I never tempt fate and always timely file the proper paperwork with the Family Court Clerk several days in advance of the statutory deadline. I file all of the paper work with the Court days before the deadline, even if the minutes of the case are not yet available due to delays in transcription of the recorded record of proceedings.

Focusing on the needs of the client, the complexity of the case and the results sought have always been a hallmark of my Long Island practice over the past 30 years.

Feel free to contact me, H. MICHAEL STERN, ESQ., a Long Island Divorce and Family Law Attorney, if you are interested in discussing your matrimonial, divorce or Family Court matter at hmsternesq@gmail.com or by phone at 516-747-2290. The initial consultation is free.

My office is conveniently located adjacent to the Roosevelt Field Mall ring road at 666 Old Country Road in Garden City, Nassau County, NY.

Written by: H. Michael Stern, Attorney At Law


The above offers general information for educational purposes. It does not provide comprehensive or complete legal analysis. Any information that I provide should not be relied upon as legal advice or legal opinion on any particular facts or circumstances. Outcomes and results described do not mean or suggest that similar results or outcomes can or could be obtained in any other situation. Each legal matter should be considered to be factually unique and subject to varying results. The invitation to contact the author is not a solicitation to provide professional services, nor is it a statement of availability to perform legal services in any jurisdiction other than the State of New York.

THE DANGER OF TAKING INCONSISTENT POSITIONS

Oct 28

 

H. Michael Stern, Esq., a New York matrimonial and family law attorney and mediator with over 30 years of experience suggests that one must be careful to avoid taking inconsistent positions in completing paperwork and official governmental forms (under penalty of law or perjury) in unrelated Court cases, which may be at odds with claims made in their divorce case.

Inconsistent PositionIn a recent case determined by the Appellate Division, 2nd Department in New York, the wife had previously filed for two bankruptcies (and it can be assumed that her debts were discharged on each occasion). In those petitions, the wife had alleged, in part, that she was not entitled to any alimony, maintenance, or support payments. Thereafter, in the divorce case, the husband asserted that the wife was not entitled to any maintenance because of her prior inconsistent positions in the Bankruptcy Court cases. The wife was awarded maintenance by the lower Court and the husband appealed.

The Appellate Court did not agree with the husband and awarded the wife lifetime maintenance. The Appellate Court looked at the timing of the bankruptcy cases in relation to the divorce case. The Appellate Court determined that the parties were still married at the time the bankruptcy petitions were filed, and the wife did not have to list any possible future rights to maintenance payments in her bankruptcy petitions, which were filed years before the divorce judgment was issued by the lower Court.

I often wonder whether doing such mundane tasks as participating in a real estate tax reduction administrative hearing (which is commonplace here in Nassau County) could result in prohibiting the party in a divorce from claiming their real property is worth more than the amount adjudicated as the value at the administrative hearing. This blog does not suggest an answer to this question, as I am unaware of any cases which may have addressed the point.

This is just one example (of many potential instances that come to mind) where the Court could prohibit a party from taking a position in their divorce case which is inconsistent with a position previously taken in another adjudicated case. Thus, any person contemplating or participating in a divorce case in New York should evaluate positions they have taken in other litigation with their divorce attorney, as they may have a bearing on the outcome of their divorce case.
Focusing on the needs of the client, the complexity of the case and the results sought have always been a hallmark of my Long Island practice over the past 30 years. Feel free to contact me, H. Michael Stern, Esq.,a Long Island divorce and family law attorney, if you are interested in discussing your matrimonial, divorce or family law matter.

Please contact me by phone at 516-747-2290 or by email: hmsternesq@gmail.com.
My office is conveniently located adjacent to the Roosevelt Field Mall ring road at 666 Old Country Road in Garden City, New York.

written by: H. Michael Stern, Esq.


The above offers general information for educational purposes. It does not provide comprehensive or complete legal analysis. Any information that I provide should not be relied upon as legal advice or legal opinion on any particular facts or circumstances. Outcomes and results described do not mean or suggest that similar results or outcomes can or could be obtained in any other situation. Each legal matter should be considered to be factually unique and subject to varying results. The invitation to contact the author is not a solicitation to provide professional services, nor is it a statement of availability to perform legal services in any jurisdiction other than the State of New York.

THE IMPORTANCE OF PREPARATION FOR THE PRELIMINARY CONFERENCE IN A NEW YORK MATRIMONIAL MATTER THE FIRST IN A SERIES

Jul 01

 

Divorce Attorney Long Island
Written by, H. Michael Stern, Esq. Divorce Attorney & Mediator
Matrimonal
In matrimonial litigation, the most important court appearance before trial is the preliminary conference. The preliminary conference is usually the first appearance following the assignment of the judge. It is the first time the court will hear the facts of the case. Many attorneys do not adequately prepare for this conference. Many lawyers are ill prepared to briefly and concisely summarize the case, their client’s needs, or the financial disclosure that must be obtained to effectively present the client’s case at a trial.

Oftentimes, one party will control the finances of the marriage, while the other party will be in the dark as to the value and extent of the parties assets. The party controlling the assets may be reluctant to disclose those assets by providing a sworn Statement of Net Worth prior to the preliminary conference. The strategic reason for this is that it places the non-titled party at a disadvantage as he or she does not know exactly what to request at the conference. While the Court rules are clear that the Statement of Net Worth must be produced at the preliminary conference, many judges do not enforce those rules and give counsel for the titled party an extension of time to do so. Opposing counsel may mistakenly elect to complete the preliminary conference Order form at the conference without the information in the Statement of Net Worth.

The proper course of action is to request a postponement of the conference pending receipt of the Statement of Net Worth, or a specifically reserve the rights of the client as to what discovery can be requested once the Statement of Net Worth is received.

During my career, I have had to battle through such tactics, particularly in high net worth cases where discovery is obstructed at every turn. I am a highly experienced matrimonial attorney with over 30 years of matrimonial and family law experience.

If you would like to discuss your divorce issues with me, or wish to schedule a consultation, please call my office at 516-747-2290.


The above offers general information for educational purposes. It does not provide comprehensive or complete legal analysis. Any information that I provide should not be relied upon as legal advice or legal opinion on any particular facts or circumstances. Outcomes and results described do not mean or suggest that similar results or outcomes can or could be obtained in any other situation. Each legal matter should be considered to be factually unique and subject to varying results. The invitation to contact the author is not a solicitation to provide professional services, nor is it a statement of availability to perform legal services in any jurisdiction other than the State of New York.

Divorce Attorney on Long Island- How to choose the right lawyer: Part 1

Oct 19
Choose Right LawyerSo you have decided that you need a Long Island based attorney. There are literally hundreds at your disposal. What do you do now? Let’s consider your options. Do you know people who have been recently divorced on Long Island that may be able to refer you to an attorney? If the answer is yes, then by all means you should get as many details as you can and meet with all of the attorneys to see if any of them are a good fit for you. If you are still unsure of your selection after meeting with the referred Long Island attorneys, then you are going to have to educate yourself. Attorneys market themselves in several ways. They write books or articles, engage in peer review, self promote their successes, or their aggressiveness and ferocity. Unfortunately, none of the above is a determinative predictor of the results the attorney will obtain for you. As I noted in my prior Long Island attorney blog: “The lawyer’s reputation for past results cannot provide any firm promise of a similar outcome in any new client matter. That is why so many personal injury attorney advertisements that show high settlements and verdicts have disclaimers stating something like “ THE CASE RESULTS DESCRIBED HERE DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE WE UNDERTAKE.” The same is true in any matrimonial or family law matter. Matrimonial and family law cases have idiosyncratic differences that make them unique.

While there may be prior legal precedent, outcomes can never be predicted with any degree of certainty in many
cases. There are usually too many variables involved for an outcome to be accurately predicted.” So, the next question is what am I looking for in an attorney? Are you looking for a Long Island attorney who is: an accountant that has a strong financial background (important in cases with closely held corporations and the like); or, someone with knowledge of mental health and medicine (useful in child custody cases); or, someone who is accessible and available (which may not be the case when an associate of the chosen attorney is given responsibility for your case); or, someone who is a fierce and experienced litigator; or, is someone who is merely promising to keep fees low.

It may be that you have additional or other multiple criteria which I have not mentioned in this blog. However, once you have a self-understanding of what YOU want in a lawyer, then you can begin to carefully parse through all of the local Long Island attorney advertising, marketing and rating services in both print and online. Select the attorneys who are of interest to you and schedule your appointments. Of course, whatever you do, be sure to go in armed with the questions that you want answered concerning the attorney-client process. The attorney-client process (as I refer to it) relates to how interactions occur between you and the lawyer (by phone, email, text, Apple Facetime, or in office appointments) and how you are billed for all services and costs. While the Statement of Client Rights and Responsibilities sets forth many attorney- client process requirements, there are many others that should be discussed with your prospective attorney. You may know nothing of the issues or your rights in the divorce, but you can and should have a frank discussion with the attorney that you are interviewing about the attorney- client process. If you are comfortable with the attorney’s qualifications and the explanation of process, then you are ready to decide. Focusing on the needs of the client, the complexity of the case and the results sought have always been a hallmark of my divorce attorney on Long Island practice over the past 29 years. Feel free to contact me, H. Michael Stern, Esq., if you are interested in discussing your matrimonial, divorce or family law matter at hmsternesq@gmail.com or by phone at 516-747- 2290.


The above offers general information for educational purposes. It does not provide comprehensive or complete legal analysis. Any information that I provide should not be relied upon as legal advice or legal opinion on any particular facts or circumstances. Outcomes and results described do not mean or suggest that similar results or outcomes can or could be obtained in any other situation. Each legal matter should be considered to be factually unique and subject to varying results. The invitation to contact the author is not a solicitation to provide professional services, nor is it a statement of availability to perform legal services in any jurisdiction other than the State of New York.

Divorce on Long Island- Do I need a lawyer?

Oct 05

If you are contemplating divorce or have been served with divorce papers, the first question that comes to mind is: “DO I NEED A LAWYER?” In my opinion , the answer is always a resounding YES. New York’s divorce laws are exceedingly complex and are ever evolving. In fact, my experience is that attorneys who practice in other fields of law, particularly here on Long Island, will not take the plunge and prosecute or defend a divorce action because of their lack of familiarity with matrimonial law. Accordingly, a lay person should never undertake to be self-represented in a pending divorce case. There are rights that you don’t know you have that must be asserted or Divorce Courtprotected in every single case. I will provide an example on the simpler end of the spectrum, involving a situation where there are no children and there is no property. Would the unrepresented lay person know that they have the right to resume the use of a maiden or former surname upon divorce and that this relief must be requested before the judgment is signed? Would the unrepresented lay person know that if there is a hardship upon loss of health insurance from the other spouse, that a request can be made to the Court for a brief delay in signing the divorce judgment to enable the spouse to secure his or her own coverage? I could go on and on. This was a simple example. So, just imagine what must be weighed and considered in cases with children and property rights. The point that I am making is that legal representation is a necessity in every divorce case. Focusing on the needs of the client, the complexity of the case and the results sought have always been a hallmark of my Long Island practice over the past 29 years. Feel free to contact me, H. Michael Stern, Esq., if you are interested in discussing your matrimonial, divorce or family law matter at hmsternesq@gmail.com or by phone at 516-747- 2290.


The above offers general information for educational purposes. It does not provide comprehensive or complete legal analysis. Any information that I provide should not be relied upon as legal advice or legal opinion on any particular facts or circumstances. Outcomes and results described do not mean or suggest that similar results or outcomes can or could be obtained in any other situation. Each legal matter should be considered to be factually unique and subject to varying results. The invitation to contact the author is not a solicitation to provide professional services, nor is it a statement of availability to perform legal services in any jurisdiction other than the State of New York.

Avoid Deception Through Familiarity With The Official Form – Net Worth: Divorce Mediation Long Island NY

Aug 07

The Statement of Net Worth is an official form which is set forth in the New York Rules of Court. It is compulsory and mandatory financial disclosure in all contested divorce cases. It contains schedules for expenses, income, assets and liabilities. In situations where couples are trying to settle their cases out of court, most lawyers and many mediators will suggest the exchange of the official form Statement of Net Worth before negotiations commence. Matrimonial lawyers typically use software programs, or a pre-prepared form for use in word processing program, in preparing the Statement of Net Worth. The appearance of the official form is radically changed in these products. Thus, it is always important to compare the content in these commercially prepared templates with the official form.

Divorce Mediation

Here is the reason why this is so important. I recently had a case where a party, who owned corporations, deleted the entire field of the document dedicated to corporate assets. The attorney submitted that Statement of Net Worth to me and the court with the omitted field. When the omission was brought to the attention of the court, the lawyer preparing the form claimed inadvertence and the judge accepted the explanation without any hint of outrage. The lawyer promised to correct the defect. However, I do not believe for a single moment that the omission was anything but deliberate, meant to conceal the existence of the corporate holdings of his client. Had I not been familiar with the official form, the omission would not have been noticed. This is a method of hiding assets.
The lawyer may have been able to certify the defective document as truthful, as it did not contain the entire field relating to corporations. While the ethics of doing so is highly questionable, he nearly got away with it. The lesson to be learned from this blog post is to know the contents of the official form so an unscrupulous party cannot tamper with it and eliminate fields which would reveal the existence of valuable assets.

If you are considering divorce, you can contact me at hmsternesq@gmail.com or 516- 747-2290 to discuss your concerns.

Author: H. Michael Stern, Esq. 

Divorce Mediation Long Island NY


The above offers general information for educational purposes. It does not provide comprehensive or complete legal analysis. Any information that I provide should not be relied upon as legal advice or legal opinion on any particular facts or circumstances. Outcomes and results described do not mean or suggest that similar results or outcomes can or could be obtained in any other situation. Each legal matter should be considered to be factually unique and subject to varying results. The invitation to contact the author is not a solicitation to provide professional services, nor is it a statement of availability to perform legal services in any jurisdiction other than the State of New York.

Long Island Divorce Attorney- Some Unexpected Costs of a Contested Divorce Trial

Jul 22

Once a divorce case has progressed to the point of the assignment of a presiding Justice, it is imperative that the divorcing party obtain a copy of the Judge’s rules. These rules explain the procedures in the Judge’s Part. Adherence to these rules are mandatory, so it is worthwhile to examine them thoroughly as some Part’s have rules, particularly relating to trial. In some instances Part rules impose high out-of-pocket compliance costs which must be funded before the trial even begins. For example, a non-exhaustive list would include the: (1) preparation of worksheets for the Court on support and property issues; (2) formal accounting of support arrears; exhibit and witness lists; trial notebooks (which contain all trial exhibits which may be introduced at trial and in some instances, must be exchanged with the other party beforehand); multiple copies of deposition or pre-trial hearing transcripts, prior court orders and insurance policies must be made and in some instances exchanged with the other party); written trial closing arguments; and written post-trial memorandums must be prepared. This list does not include the requirements in the State’s Rules of Court which also require the preparation, exchange and filing of a Note of Issue and Certificate of Readiness and the Statement of Proposed Disposition before trial.Costs

Clearly, if a divorcing party is made aware of the Judge’s particular Part Rules, then that party becomes better informed as to whether settlement is preferential to trying the case. The costs of accommodating certain Judge’s Part Rules can run into the many thousands of dollars and can result in ‘sticker shock” when the attorney’s bill arrives. I once had a discussion with a Judge (who is now retired) about a client who could not afford to pay the costs associated with compliance with the Judge’s Part Rules. I asked him whether I could make a motion to the Court for relief from the Rules in future cases due to financial hardship. His response was that he would consider it and that he found it interesting that no one had ever asked him that question before. Thus, having a frank discussion with your attorney about these costs and financial implications to you is critical in trial planning and decision making.

You need a Long Island divorce attorney on your team. To discuss your family law related issues with me, please call my office at 516- 747-2290.

Author: H. Michael Stern, Attorney at Law


The above offers general information for educational purposes. It does not provide comprehensive or complete legal analysis. Any information that I provide should not be relied upon as legal advice or legal opinion on any particular facts or circumstances. Outcomes and results described do not mean or suggest that similar results or outcomes can or could be obtained in any other situation. Each legal matter should be considered to be factually unique and subject to varying results. The invitation to contact the author is not a solicitation to provide professional services, nor is it a statement of availability to perform legal services in any jurisdiction other than the State of New York.

Long Island Divorce Attorney- The Importance of Record Keeping Throughout the Marriage

Jul 14

The maintenance of complete financial records throughout marriage can prove invaluable to the divorcing couple. While such records can be the undoing of a spouse or couple engaged in illicit activities, for most, the maintenance and retention of bank statements, cancelled checks, credit card statements, property purchase and sale records and Federal, State and local tax returns (at a minimum) become an indispensable resource for the divorcing couple.
In the contexts of mediation and collaborative divorce, the retention and production of financial records provide the professionals assisting the couple with the information needed to advise them individually, or collectively, as the case may be. Exchanging such records in those contexts is commonplace and typically leads to equitable and fair outcomes.Keeping Throughout Marriage
In the context of a contested divorce, where the couple is at odds over money, property, support, or other financial issues, the Court will direct and enforce the mandatory exchange of financial records between the parties. This is referred to as “discovery”. There are few limits on discovery of spousal financial records in divorce cases. Courts insist that the process be completed at which time the Court will certify the case as ready for trial.
Where one party has assumed the role of the bill payer for the household, that party may also assume the role of the holder of financial records for the family. This may lead to an inequitable situation where one party has a far greater knowledge of the financial dealings of the family than the other. The trusting relationship regarding financial activities which is established during marriage typically deteriorates in divorce settings. Often times, divorce attorneys will authorize an overt or clandestine raid of the records maintained by the record keeping spouse to gather information about diverse assets, accounts and property ownership. When there are gaps or inconsistencies in the records, what is commonly referred to as a “fishing expedition”ensues, which is unavoidable and necessary in many circumstances and a profound waste of time, energy and legal and accounting fees in others. An incidental concern is that the attorney has a duty to be thorough in discovery (or run the risk of a legal malpractice claim being asserted against the attorney). These considerations often times must be balanced against the high cost of obtaining information and documents. [A simple example is where funds are maintained in overseas foreign bank accounts which cannot be obtained through a subpoena.] The divorcing party (without the records) is then provided with options by the attorney and then must decide on the appropriate path to take to obtain an equitable and fair outcome.
Thus, it is critical in any divorce context that record availability and transparency is an important issue to be addressed immediately with the divorcing party’s attorney or the divorce mediator.
If you would like to discuss your divorce issues with me, or wish to schedule a mediation consultation with a Long Island divorce attorney, please call my office at 516-747-2290.

Author: H. Michael Stern, Attorney at Law


The above offers general information for educational purposes. It does not provide comprehensive or complete legal analysis. Any information that I provide should not be relied upon as legal advice or legal opinion on any particular facts or circumstances. Outcomes and results described do not mean or suggest that similar results or outcomes can or could be obtained in any other situation. Each legal matter should be considered to be factually unique and subject to varying results. The invitation to contact the author is not a solicitation to provide professional services, nor is it a statement of availability to perform legal services in any jurisdiction other than the State of New York.

Understanding the Matrimonial & Family Law Attorney Hourly Rate

Mar 24

hourly rate
Matrimonial retainers and family law case hourly rates for legal services in New York are set by the individual attorney, and are skyrocketing.

In a sense the attorney’s hourly rate is a statement by that attorney of his or her belief as to what the value of an hour of his or her legal services is worth. This amount is purely subjective and is not regulated or reviewed by the State Bar or any regulatory agency of the State of New York or the Federal Government. Attorneys can base their hourly rates on what they perceive is fair and reasonable, their professional accomplishments, or what the market (for lawyers) will allow. Many attorneys will base their rates on peer ratings, exclusive organizational affiliations, publications and lectures given, or a combination of these and other factors.

The point is that the legal services provider is creating a perception of a certain value for their time and expects that the legal services consumer will not question that value.

But why shouldn’t that hourly rate be questioned?

The lawyer’s reputation for past results cannot provide any firm promise of a similar outcome in any new client matter. That is why so many personal injury attorney advertisements that show high settlements and verdicts have disclaimers stating something like “THE CASE RESULTS DESCRIBED HERE DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE WE UNDERTAKE.”

The same is true in any matrimonial or family law matter. Matrimonial and family law cases have idiosyncratic differences that make them unique.

While there may be prior legal precedent, in many cases outcomes cannot be predicted with any degree of certainty. There are usually too many variables involved for an outcome to be accurately predicted.

Thus, if a legal services consumer is presented with a high hourly rate, that rate is based upon a perception that the lawyer, through his or her personality, experience, and skills, can meet the client’s expectations regarding an anticipated favorable result. Because this perception is purely conjectural and there is no empirical basis to guarantee that favorable result, legal services consumers can and should question the hourly rate and more when interviewing prospective counsel.

I have never set my hourly rates on what other lawyers are charging or what the market will allow. Instead, my practice over the past twenty-nine years has been to focus on the needs of the client, the complexity of the case, and the results sought.

Please contact H. Michael Stern for a Free Consultation if you are interested in discussing your matrimonial or family law matter.

email: hmsternesq@gmail.com or by phone at 516-747-2290


The above offers general information for educational purposes. It does not provide comprehensive or complete legal analysis. Any information that I provide should not be relied upon as legal advice or legal opinion on any particular facts or circumstances. Outcomes and results described do not mean or suggest that similar results or outcomes can or could be obtained in any other situation. Each legal matter should be considered to be factually unique and subject to varying results. The invitation to contact the author is not a solicitation to provide professional services, nor is it a statement of availability to perform legal services in any jurisdiction other than the State of New York.