THE PEOPLE’S LAW SCHOOL What everyone needs to know… Matrimonial Law Tuesday, November 15, 2005 Florence M. Fass, Esq. Charles P. Inclima, Esq. Fass & Greenberg, LLP Biernbaum, Inclima & Meyer, LLP Garden City, New York Rochester, New York Presented by the New York State Bar Association MATRIMONIAL LAW (These materials were originally prepared by Mr. Inclima for a program presented by the Monroe County Bar Association entitled “Divorce Education for the Public”) Introduction While you consider the possible dissolution of your marriage, various issues and questions arise: How does a divorce occur? What is best for my children? What will happen financially? This program is designed to provide general information to aid in your decision making. You shall be making some of the most important decisions in your life (and that of your children). It is hoped that you consider the information provided to determine the best plan for your future. Outline I. Process, Grounds and Models for Representation A. Process B. Grounds C. Models for Representation 1. Mediation 2. Collaborative Law 3. Private Legal Representation II. Children: Custody, Residency, Law Guardian III. Financial: Child Support, Maintenance, Equitable Distribution A. Child Support B. Maintenance C. Equitable Distribution 1. Assets 2. Liabilities 1 I. PROCESS, GROUNDS AND MODELS FOR REPRESENTATION A. PROCESS 1. Determination by you as a spouse: Is your marriage irretrievably broken? If yes, seek assistance (outlined in models of representation below) If no, seek reconciliation (counseling, plan) If "I don’t know”: make a plan, you set the time line to make a determination 2. Legal Process: a. Commencing the Action: A summons is served by one party (plaintiff). The party receiving the Summons (defendant) obtains an attorney who forwards a Notice of Retainer and appearance indicating that he/she is representing the defendant to the plaintiff’s attorney. b. Pleadings: Pleadings are exchanged between the attorneys. Plaintiff serves a Verified Complaint against the spouse constituting his or her grounds for divorce. Defendant serves an Answer and Counterclaim, usually denying allegations of the Complaint and containing his or her claim against the Plaintiff constituting grounds for divorce. Plaintiff serves a Reply which is generally a denial of defendant’s Counterclaim. Motions: At any time after the service of the summons, there may be a need to appear in Court on a Motion, which is a request for some type of help which is needed while the action is pending. There are a variety of Motions in matrimonial actions. Some of the more common ones would be a Motion for Temporary Support, which would result in a Court Order setting forth the terms of support, spousal maintenance and/or child support, temporary child custody and visitation, occupancy of the home, and other matters. Other common types of motions involve financial discovery and occasionally, enforcement of temporary orders. Motions involve the preparation of papers and frequently, an affidavit of the client and at least one Court appearance. The appearance of the client for argument of a Motion is rarely necessary in the eyes of the Court, but the policy of some attorneys is to have clients present, since it is important that you view firsthand what is taking place during all steps of your matrimonial action. 2 c. Financial Disclosure: The law in New York State now clearly provides that there must be full and complete disclosure of the respective financial circumstances of the parties to a matrimonial action. Either after or simultaneously with the exchange of pleadings, as discussed above, there will be an exchange of financial statements of net worth between the parties and most often, additional financial discovery which takes a number of forms, some examples of which are the following: 1. The voluntary exchange of items such as income tax returns, pay stubs, bank records, etc. 2. The production of financial records pursuant to specified requests. d. Judicial Appearance: Upon the filing of a Request for Judicial Intervention, either the matter shall be scheduled for matrimonial conference before a matrimonial judge or referee to resolve issues, or the matter shall be placed on the trial calendar for purposes of rendering decision pursuant to a settlement agreement or after trial. e. Judgment Roll: The Judgment Roll is the set of documentation, which includes, but is not limited to, the proposed Decree or Judgment of Divorce for the Judge to sign. f. Certificate of_Dissolution: Upon the Judge signing the Decree of Divorce, the Judgment Roll is filed with the County Clerk and a Certificate of Dissolution is filed with New York State. 3. Jurisdiction a. Supreme Court only B. GROUNDS Marriage is a civil contract. The state has an interest in preserving marriages. Accordingly, the marriage relationship only can be dissolved by a court, by either a divorce or an annulment. It also may be altered by a decree of separation granted by the court. In any case, there must be a proceeding in the Supreme Court in which the person seeking the divorce, separation decree or annulment must prove “grounds." How does one obtain a divorce, separation decree or annulment in New York State? First of all, “grounds” or valid reasons prescribed by law must exist and be proven to the court, even if both parties agree that the marriage relationship should be altered. Unlike most states, New York will not grant a divorce for incompatibility, “irreconcilable differences”, or for a “dead” marriage. We do 3 not have a “no-fault” divorce in New York State except where the parties have been separated pursuant to a separation decree or a separation agreement for more than year and the party seeking the divorce has substantially complied with the terms of the separation decree or the separation agreement. Four of the “grounds" in this state are based on the fault of one of the parties: cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment for one or more years, imprisonment for three or more years, and adultery. The other grounds: one year of living apart under a separation agreement, and one year of living apart under a separation decree granted by a court, afford New Yorkers a “no-fault” divorce, in which neither spouse is judged to be at fault. 1. Cruel and Inhuman Treatment a. Generally Cruel and inhuman treatment can involve either physical or mental cruelty. To be a reason for divorce, the treatment must have such a serious effect on the physical or mental health of the divorce-seeking spouse, that it is not safe or proper for the parties to continue the marriage. Mere incompatibility between husband and wife is not enough to obtain a divorce in New York. Some examples of acts that courts have held to be cruel and inhuman treatment for divorce purposes include physical attacks upon a spouse; constant screaming, profanity or other verbal abuse; gambling away the household funds; staying away from the house too often without an explanation; having a relationship of a sexual nature with another man or woman; and wrongfully accusing the other spouse of adulterous relations with another man or woman. Alcoholism, by itself, usually is not a sufficient basis for divorce, unless your spouse becomes cruel or violent when intoxicated, so that you fear for your health or safety. Mental illness also is not a sufficient basis for a divorce on the grounds of cruel and inhuman treatment, unless a spouse’s other behavior could be defined as “cruel and inhuman treatment." Also, mental illness is not a defense to cruel and inhuman treatment. Nevertheless, a court may declare a marriage void when a spouse has been incurably mentally ill for a period of five (5) years or more. The courts have held that when there is a long-term marriage (often fifteen or more years married) the acts of cruelty must be more substantial to justify a divorce. What might be cruel in a short marriage may not be a sufficient basis for divorce in a more mature marriage relationship. Each case, however, stands on its own facts. The court decides whether or not these facts justify a dissolution of the marriage. Generally, the 4 acts or conduct on which the divorce is based must have occurred within five years prior to the commencement of the action to be considered by the court. The Plaintiff must show that the defendant’s conduct so endangers the physical or mental well-being of the plaintiff so as to make it unsafe or improper for plaintiff to cohabit with the defendant. b. Burden of Proof c. Pleadings; Other Special Issues 1. Last five years relevant 2. Nature of cruelty a. Physical violence, verbal abuse, threat of violence, emotional abuse, sexual infidelity, drug/alcohol abuse, gambling, false accusations of infidelity b. Not mere incompatibility, dead marriage, irreconcilable differences, lack of communication c. Domestic Violence - Order of Protection 2. Abandonment Abandonment means that your spouse has intentionally left you without your consent, and of his or her own accord (that is, you did not force or lock your spouse out of the house) and without justification. You must also prove that your spouse did not have a good reason for leaving (such as your ill treatment or your consent), that your spouse left with the intention of never returning, and that your spouse did not offer in good faith to return. Unjustified refusal by a spouse to have sexual relations is considered “constructive abandonment” and may also be considered cruel and inhumane treatment. Abandonment must exist for a continuous period of at least one year before the action is started to be a basis for divorce in this state. There is no statute of limitations on abandonment. However, a separation agreement eliminates the ground of abandonment, since by signing an agreement, both parties consent to living apart. a. Actual Abandonment - Defendant abandons Plaintiff for a period of one or more years prior to the commencement of the action which abandonment is unjustified and without the consent of the abandoned spouse. When a wife has established her own career, which would either be terminated or severely reduced as a result 5 of being required to accompany her husband in the event he moves, her failure to move with her husband is no longer considered an abandonment. b. Constructive Abandonment - refusal to have sexual relations for a period of one or more years prior to the commencement of the action which is unjustified and without the consent of the abandoned spouse. c. Defenses 3. Imprisonment a. Defendant’s confinement in prison for a period of at least three consecutive years constitutes grounds for divorce. Divorce on the grounds of imprisonment for three or more years means that the defendant actually must have served three years or more in prison before an action can be brought, even if conviction is later overturned or reversed. 4. Adultery a. Adultery is the commission of an act of sexual or deviate sexual intercourse voluntarily performed by the defendant after marriage with a person other than the plaintiff. Bringing an action on the grounds of adultery, especially if your spouse is going to contest it, is not a simple matter. The proof of adultery is difficult. You are not permitted to testify against your spouse, and you must have a witness ready to convince the court that your mate did engage in sexual relations with another person. b. Defenses. There are four defenses to the charge of adultery. If any of these are proven, the court will deny the divorce: i) “Procurement” or “connivance” - Procurement means that one spouse actively encouraged the other to commit adultery. Connivance is similar to “collusion or “consent" by a spouse to the adultery. ii) “Condonation” or “forgiveness”- Having sexual relations with your spouse after discovery of his or her adultery is an absolute defense to your divorce action based on the adultery. iii) “Statute of Limitations” - this means that there is a time limit (five years) from your discovery of the first unforgiven act of adultery, for you to bring the divorce action. 6 iv) “Recrimination” - This defense means that you, too, were guilty of adultery. No matter how convinced the court is that adultery was committed by both parties, it is forbidden from granting a divorce on grounds of adultery. Thus, if each spouse proves the adultery of the other, neither can obtain a divorce against the other on the ground. 5. Living Separate and Apart for at Least One year Pursuant to Separation Agreement a. Parties have lived separate and apart pursuant to a written separation agreement properly subscribed and acknowledged, and the plaintiff has substantially performed all of the terms and conditions of such agreement. Note: Living apart, without a formal written agreement of separation or a court judgment of separation, is not recognized as grounds for a New York State divorce, no matter how long you continue to live separately. b. A separation agreement is a detailed contract which should be prepared by attorneys, where the parties agree to live separate for the rest of their lives. It should set forth the respective rights and duties of husband and wife with respect to the custody and access to children, support payments, distribution of property, and all other matters pertaining to the marital relationship. Certain vital formalities must be carefully followed, or the written agreement will not qualify as a ground for divorce. Here, the skill and experience of the attorneys for the husband and wife are uniquely valuable in helping them reach an agreement which will be fair, just and reasonable to both parties and their children. According to Ethics Opinion #258 issued by the New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Professional Ethics, it would be improper for a lawyer to represent both spouses at any state of the marital problem, even with full disclosure and informed consent of both parties, not matter how “friendly” the matter may appear on the surface. The agreement or a memorandum of the agreement is filed (with complete confidentiality) with the clerk of the county where either spouse lives. At the end of one year from the date of the agreement, either spouse may sue the other for a “no-fault” divorce. 7 c. Proof: All that must be proven to the court is that the agreement was duly executed and acknowledged and was properly filed; that the spouses have in fact lived apart during the period of the agreement up to the time of the divorce action; and that the plaintiff has substantially complied with the terms of the separation agreement. The court will grant a divorce based on that proof. 6. Living Separate and Apart for at Least One Year Pursuant To A Separation Decree Another form of separation is through a judgment of separation granted by the Supreme Court. This judgment is based on the same four “fault” grounds as for divorce. However, the abandonment may be for less than a year. In addition, “non-support” is a ground for a decree of separation, although not for a decree of divorce. One year after the filing of the court’s judgment of separation, either party may sue for a “no-fault” divorce, based upon one year of living apart. A divorce does not occur automatically after a year. Court action must be taken. C. MODELS FOR REPRESENTATION All divorces involve decisions and choices. Which professionals will assist you, and how you will utilize their help, are some of the first decisions you make. Below are the choices for obtaining professional services in divorce that are available in most localities today. The list moves from choices involving the least degree of professional intervention, to choices involving greater professional intervention. 1. Mediation: A single neutral person, who may be a lawyer, a mental health professional, or simply someone with an interest in mediation, acts as the mediator for the couple. The mediator helps the couple reach agreement, but does not give individual legal advice, and may or may not prepare the divorce settlement agreement. Few mediators will process the divorce through the court. Retaining your own lawyer for independent legal advice during mediation is strongly recommended. Lawyers may or may not sit in on the mediation process depending on the parties’ preference. Mediators do not have to be licensed professionals in most jurisdictions. In mediation, there is one neutral professional who helps the disputing parties try to settle their case. The mediator cannot give either party 8 legal advice, and cannot help either side advocate its position. Mediation may not be appropriate, if domestic violence is present, or the parties do not have fairly equal bargaining power or if one the side or the other becomes unreasonable or stubborn, or lacks negotiating skill, or is emotionally distraught. If the mediator tries to deal with the problem, the mediator may be seen by one side or the other as biased whether or not that is so. If the mediator does not find a way to deal with the problem, the mediation can break down, or the agreement that results can be unfair. Legal advice may come too late if attorneys are not present or consulted during the mediation process. Remember that before you sign any agreement you should have it reviewed by an attorney. Once you sign an agreement it is very difficult to get it changed or set aside. You can check the yellow pages and contact your local bar association to see if there are listings of mediators in your area. You may also check www.NYSmediate.org or www.acr.org for information. Find the best mediator that you can; interview several, and ask for resumes. Ask how many mediations have been handled and how many of them terminated without agreements. 2. Collaborative Law: The Collaborative Law setting was designed to address matrimonial issues of divorcing parties while maintaining a commitment to settlement as the sole agenda. Each side has legal advice and advocacy built in at all times during the process. Each person retains his or her own trained collaborative lawyer to advise and assist in negotiating an agreement on all issues. All negotiations take place in four-way settlement meetings that both clients and both lawyers attend. The lawyers cannot go to court or threaten to go to court. Settlement is the only agenda. If either client goes to court, both collaborative lawyers are disqualified from further participation. Each client has built-in legal advice and advocacy during negotiations, and each lawyer’s job includes guiding the client toward reasonable resolutions. It is the job of the lawyers to work with their own clients if the clients are being unreasonable, to make sure the process stays positive and productive. The legal advice is an integral part of the process, but all the decisions are made by the clients. The lawyers generally prepare and process all papers required for the divorce. You can check the yellow pages and contact your local bar association to see if there are listings of collaborative lawyers in your area. You can contact the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals (web site: http://www.collabgroup.com) to inquire about collaborative lawyers near you. Find the best collaborative practitioner that you can; interview several, and ask for resumes. Ask how many collaborative cases the lawyer has handled and how many of them terminated without 9 agreements. Ask what training the lawyer has in collaborative law, alternate dispute resolution, and conflict management. (www.nycollaborativelaw.com) 3. Private Legal Representation. This traditional approach to divorce resolution occurs when each person hires a lawyer. The lawyers may also work at settling the case at the same time that they prepare the case for the possibility of trial. Each lawyer zealously represents his/her client in negotiation with the other counsel and in presenting his/her case at conference with the judge and ultimately at trial until settlement. The objectives of the legal representation tend to be dictated by the issues of the parties in combination with the input and pacing by the Court. Settlement may occur at any point after retention of legal representation. If settlement is not achieved, a final decision it will be made by a Judge after trial. In summary, the resolution of your divorce, especially if you have children, shall be one of the most important events in your and your children’s lives. It is recommended that you consider carefully your selection of the method for resolution, in addition to the expense (emotional and financial), to achieve a long lasting and equitable resolution for your future. 10 II. CHILDREN: CUSTODY, RESIDENCY, LAW GUARDIAN A. CUSTODY (Joint or Sole Custody) 1. Joint Custody (core decision-making by both parents) 2. Sole Custody (core decision-making by one parent) 3. Standards and Factors Governing Custody Determinations a. Between Parents (biological parents, not step-parents, grandparents) b. Factors - Best Interest of the Children i. Parental fitness Abandonment Neglect or Abuse of Child Indiscreet Sexual Activity/Homosexuality Undesirable Lifestyle Substance Abuse Mental Illness/Physical Disability Low Economic Status ii. Miscellaneous Factors Stability Physical and Emotional Needs of Child Quality of Parent-Child Relationship Child Preference Willful Interference with Visitation Rights of Non Custodial Parent Child Care Arrangements Religion Race Separation of Siblings Prior Custody Agreements Domestic Violence c. Between Parent and Non-parent (step-parent, grandparent) i. Extraordinary Circumstances ii Consent B. RESIDENCY/VISITATION 1. Generally 2. Extent of Visitation a. Regular Time Sharing Schedule b. Holidays/Recesses c. Denial of Visitation 11 d. Wishes of Children e. Custodial Parental Interference with Visitation f. Relocation by Custodial parent g. Grandparents C. PROCEDURAL POINTS 1. Standing 2. Right to Counsel 3. Court-Ordered Evaluations, Investigation and Reports 4. Necessity for a hearing 5. Temporary Custody D. GUARDIAN AD LITEM/LAW GUARDIAN 1. Court Appointed Panel Law Guardian - Family Court 2. Court Appointed Law Guardian - Supreme Court E. DISCOVERY 1. Dental Health (Forensic) Evaluation 2. Health Records 3. Physical or Mental Examination (especially if mental illness or substance abuse is alleged. 4. Adverse Expert Witnesses 5. Blood Tests (if paternity not established and disputed) 6. Examination Before Trial (deposition) 12 III. FINANCIAL: CHILD SUPPORT, MAINTENANCE, EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION A. CHILD SUPPORT 1. Basic Child Support (Child Support Standards Act). The basic child support obligation to be paid by the non-custodial parent is based upon a percentage of the combined parental income. For one child the amount is 17%, for two children 25%, for three children 29%, and for four children 31%. 2. In addition to the basic child support obligation, the non-custodial parent may be obliged to pay: a. for his portion of the child care expenses related to the custodial parent’s employment or education which would lead to employment; b. The non-custodial parent also may be directed to pay for educational expenses. c. Health care expenses for the children are apportioned between the parents based upon their combined parental income. d. If the amount of the basic child support obligation is unjust or inappropriate, the non-custodial parent’s pro-rata share of the child support obligation may be determined by other factors and not by the percentages mentioned above. The parents may avoid the use of the percentages in determining the amount of child support by executing an agreement setting forth the amount of child support which they believe to be fair. An agreement determining the amount of child support must satisfy certain technical provisions of the Child Support Standards Act. A lawyer can help the parties comply with these technical provisions. e. Neither parent has any obligation to support a child once the child reaches 21 years of age. Consideration may be taken if your child attains age 21 while in his/her final semester of college. Child support may end before 21 years of age under certain circumstances such as the gainful employment of the child or the child’s willful refusal to maintain a relationship with the non-custodial parent. Child support will be awarded by a Family Court as part of a child support proceeding or by Supreme Court as part of a divorce, separation, or annulment proceeding. Even if there is no matrimonial judgment awarded, the court will make an award of child support to the custodial parent. 13 3. Applying CSSA To Arrive At The Support Amount a. Generally i. Formula ii. Initial Element - Child Support Percentage iii. Statutory Cap ($80,000 combine parental income) iv. Duration - until emancipation, constructive emancipation v. Shared Custody b. Actual Income; Tax return Income i. Voluntarily Deferred Income and Ancillary Actual Income ii. Self-Support Reserve iii. Most recently filed tax return c. Net Investment Income Not In Tax Return d. Discretionary Imputed Income e. Perquisites and Fringe Benefits f. Third-Party Beneficence g. Mandatory Imputed Income i. Imputed Earning Capacity a. Past income or demonstrated earning potential ii Excess Depreciation Deductions b. Depreciation not allowed as deduction from income iii. Excess Travel and Entertainment Deductions h. Statutory Deductions i. Unreimbursed Business expenses ii. Maintenance to Nonparty iii. Maintenance to Party iv. Child Support to Nonsubject Child v. FICA i. Educational Expenses i. Reduce basic child support - room and board contribution ii. Educational resources j. Presumptive Status of Formula i. Variance Standard - Unjust or Inappropriate ii. Variance Factors a. Financial Resources b. Standard of Living 14 c. Tax Consequences d. Income Disparity e. Needs of Nonsubject Children f. Extraordinary Visitation Expenses k. Opt-Out Agreements/Stipulations i. Disclosure/Variance Factors Delineated 1. Administrative Review and Adjustment i. Child Support Enforcement Unit m. Duration of Child Support n. Retroactivity; Recoupment i. Date of commencement - credits for payments made 4. Health Insurance a. Added Expense for Health Insurance for Children b. Uninsured Health Expenses for Children c. Each Parent Responsible for His/Her Own Insurance and Uninsured d. COBRA e. Extraordinary Circumstances 5. Child Care Expenses a. Family/Third Party Care b. Custodial Parent Working or Custodial Parent Not Working c. Invoices 6. Life Insurance a. Employer Provided/Pre-Existing b. Amount c. Beneficiary and Trustee Designations B. MAINTENANCE 1. Standards, Determinants, and Factors Spousal maintenance may be awarded to either party based upon a number of factors including the prior standard of living of the parties, the present and future earning capacity of the parties, and the ability of the party seeking spousal maintenance to become self-supporting. The spousal maintenance awarded may be for a limited period of time or for an indefinite period of time. The parties may, by written agreement, waive the right to spousal maintenance. a Generally b. Respective Resources 15 c. Duration of Marriage, Age and Health d. Earning Capacity e. Ability To Be Self-Supporting f. Presence of Children g. Tax Consequences h. Standard of Living 2. Amount and Term C. EQUITABLE DISTRIBUTION Division of assets and the fixing of support are covered by the Equitable Distribution Law. The statute is founded on the philosophy that a marriage, especially one of long term duration, is an economic as well as a social partnership. Two classes of property were created, known as “marital” and “separate” property. Marital property is all property acquired or accruing as well as appreciation of property during the marriage (regardless of how title is held), except inheritance, gifts from third persons, compensation for personal injuries and property acquired after the start of a divorce action. Marital property and marital debts are distributed between spouses in a dissolution action on flexible and equitable principles. Valuation of marital property may require expert advice. The distribution of marital property and the award of support as a result of matrimonial negotiations or proceedings may involve complicated and vital tax consequences to both parties which require expert advice. 1. Marital/Separate Property a. Classification, Generally i. Equitable Does Not Necessarily Mean Equal ii Equal Division iii. Unequal Division (neglect, abuse) b. Time of Acquisition i. Date of marriage to Date of Commencement of Divorce or Agreement ii Post-Commencement or Post-Agreement iii. Based on Pre-commencement Earnings or Not c. Source of Acquisition - Inheritance d. Source of Acquisition - Gifts i. Documentation ii. Commingling e. Source of Acquisition - Personal Injury 16 f. Specific Assets - Lottery Tickets g. Specific Assets - Disability Benefits h. Appreciation of Separate Property i. Improvements ii Marital Funds Used To Reduce Indebtedness iii. Solely Due to Market Forces i. Burden of Proof i. Party Who Claims Separate Property Bears Burden 2. Assets a. Marital Real Property i. Fair Market Value, Mortgage Balance(s) ii. Sold or Kept By One Spouse b. Pension/Retirement Benefits i. Pension/Annuity ii. 401(k), IRA, Profit Sharing Plan iii. Majauskas Formula c. Household Property i. Inventory ii. Center for Dispute Settlement (mediation) d. Miscellaneous i. Bank Accounts ii. Vehicles iii. Business iv. Stocks/Bonds v. Licenses/Degrees 3. Liabilities a. Identify Marital/Separate and Amount b. Apportion Responsibility i. Remove Other Party From Liability c. Third Party Creditor - Need Approval for Removal From Liability d. Bankruptcy Filing - Supremacy 4. Taxes/Dependencies 17 a. Filing Status i. Tax Liability Prior To Divorce ii. Filing Status Last Year of Marriage a. Refunds/Liability 5. Attorney’s Fees a. Judicial Discretion b. Income, Disposable Asset, Abuse of Process Conclusion: Considering elements of your divorce in a measured and reasonable fashion will enable you to make practical and beneficial decisions during one of the most emotional and stressful times of your life. Be sure to enlist support to assist you in this difficult transition. Also, be assured, that with each decision, you will ultimately reach resolution and a new future. 18 ABOUT TODAY’S PRESENTERS Florence M. Fass is a member of the Garden City, New York firm of Fass & Greenberg, LLP, where she concentrates her practice in the areas of matrimonial and family law. Admitted to practice in New York and Vermont, she is a graduate of New York University and Fordham Law School. She is a member in the New York Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. A Certified Mediator, she has been designated by Digital Press International as one of “The Top Ten Leaders in Matrimonial Law on Long Island.” Among her bar and professional affiliations, she is active in the Nassau County Bar Association, serving on its Board of Directors, and is a member of the Executive Committee of the New York State Bar Association’s Family Law Section. She is a regular lecturer for lawyer and community groups on all aspects of family and matrimonial law. Charles P. Inclima, partner in the law firm of Biernbaum, Inclima & Meyer, LLP in Rochester, New York, concentrates his practice in the areas of matrimonial and family law. He is a graduate of St. John Fisher College and the University of Toledo School of Law. A member of the Executive Committee of the New York State Bar Association’s Family Law Section, Mr. Inclima is a Past President of the Monroe County Bar Association and is also a former chair of its Family Law Section and Dean of the Monroe County Bar Association’s Academy of Law. He is a duly elected and designated Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Mr. Inclima is a frequent lecturer for seminars presented by the New York State and Monroe County Bar Associations, and the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. He is currently Chairperson of the Grievance Committee for the Seventh Judicial District. He is a former Adjunct Professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology.