We’ll Help Preserve Your Assets — and Your Sanity
Matrimonial law and family law are complex processes with unique procedural rules. The outcome of your case can affect your entire life—or lives if you have children. Your legal situation is made even more complex by unique procedural rules. New York, in particular, has many distinct laws regarding divorce, child support, and custody which often involve knowledge of the Rules Of Evidence, Family Court, and other related statues. Like all legal matters, each divorce case is different and must be evaluated on its own facts. Reach out to the Rochester, NY-based office of Thomas A. Corletta, Attorney & Counselor at Law, to have experience on your side.
Note: Clients are required, under New York State law, to receive certain disclosures from an attorney at the beginning of the representation. Any attorney/client relationship in a domestic relations case must have a Written Retainer Agreement and payment of retainer based on hourly rate.
New York has distinct rules concerning child support and child support-related expenses and has a distinct and unique body of case law for custody and visitation issues..
New York also has a new and unique statute with respect to maintenance (alimony) which contains a formula and 19 different factors to consider.
New York also passed a no-fault divorce law in 2010.
Property settlements are governed by the so-called “Equitable Distribution” law that went into effect in July of 1980. This governs the distribution of marital real and personal property. Said distribution is no longer based upon fault and is instead based upon the concept that marriage is an economic partnership contributed to by both parties. Equitable distribution does not always mean equal distribution.
Case Study 1
Anonymous v. Anonymous (Mon. Co. Fam. Ct., 3/2022)
MR. CORLETTA DEFEATS “EQUITABLE ESTOPPEL” CLAIM IN PATERNITY PROCEEDING
Respondents in Paternity proceedings have it difficult enough. Paternity proceedings are quasi-criminal. If Respondents lose, they face a support obligation for 21 years. If they deny paternity, they are required to obtain a DNA sample, which may exonerate or incriminate them.. If they do not do so, an “adverse inference” is drawn against them at any trial or hearing.
In addition, many putative mothers and/or Attorneys For the Child attempt to employ the doctrine of “Equitable Estoppel”; particularly when there is no solid proof of paternity, such as a sworn birth certificate, etc.
They argue that Respondent “held himself out as the father”, and therefore should be “estopped” from denying paternity, or getting a hearing.
This is what happened in one of Mr. Corletta’s cases, where the client’s alleged daughter, now almost 20 years of age, asserted a paternity claim though her mother in Anonymous v. Anonymous (Mon. Co. Fam. Ct., 3/22). The client had a minimal, if any, relationship with the putative daughter, and questioned paternity, because he was married to someone else at the time she was born.
When the Paternity Petition was filed, the “child” was almost 20 years old. The client had not seen the “child” in over 5 years, and had little or no relationship with her. The client denied paternity and requested a DNA Test, stating that if the DNA test was positive, he would admit paternity and pay child support.
That was not good enough for the mother and Attorney For the Child, who said that a simple DNA buccal swab would somehow “traumatize” the 20 year old “child”. They wanted the client barred from denying paternity, based upon affidavit of the child, claiming the client was her father.
By utilizing this artifice, they tried to prevent Mr. Corletta’s client from having a DNA test and/or an Evidentiary Hearing to determine the truth. Mr. Corletta fought the Motion for Summary Judgment, citing numerous cases that held that such cases cannot be resolved on the basis of conflicting Affidavits.
Both Petitioner and the Attorney For the Child attempted to portray Mr. Corletta’s client as a dishonest individual attempting to evade his parental obligations. They could not answer why an individual attempting to evade his obligations would request a DNA test that could incriminate him. The Judge saw through this subterfuge and denied the motion. Mr. Corletta’s client will get the Evidentiary Hearing he deserves.
The case was further evidence of Mr. Corletta’s depth of knowledge in several key areas. Mr. Corletta does not just “dabble”. He has specialized knowledge in Family matters, Criminal matters, DWI matters, and Bankruptcy matters, and works to apply that specialized knowledge gained in over 40 years of experience, for every client’s benefit. Mr. Corletta is no “general practitioner, but rather a highly experienced attorney with knowledge crossing several areas of law, with the ability to not only apply it, but cross reference it and apply it in multiple situations where these areas overlap.
Case Study 2
G.A. v. M.J. (Mon. Co. Fam. Ct., 8/22).
MR. CORLETTA OBTAINS SUBSTANTIAL CHILD SUPPORT AWARD FOR PRO BONO CLIENT
Mr. Corletta often volunteers his time to local volunteer legal services organizations. He generally has at least one active case at all times for which he does not charge fees.
Such was the case in G.A. v. M.J. (Mon. Co. Fam. Ct., 8/22).
In that case, the client, while working, full-time, had a small child but was low income. The client had a valid child support claim against the other parent, who is self-employed and simply refused to pay. Every excuse was rendered, although the individual had substantial income as a truck driver.
Mr. Corletta aggressively pursued discovery and the other parent’s tax and business records. He faced obstruction all the way; from both the other parent and opposing counsel, who even claimed that her client “didn’t know how” to keep records, although self-employed.
Mr. Corletta finally obtained the requested information, obtained a Temporary Order for Support, and prepared for trial.
Mr. Corletta exposed the other parent as a deadbeat, who just did not want to pay, and actually went on public assistance to avoid paying while working “under the table”.
Mr. Corletta persuasively argued that income should be “imputed” to the other parent based upon their last known employment and that they had the ability to earn income and pay child support. He also argued there was no good reason for the other parent to be unemployed, that they chose to be seld-employed, and that they had made no good faith effort to obtain regular employment when their self-employed income dried up.
Mr. Corletta prevailed and obtained not only current child support, but a substantial arrearage award of nearly $6,000.00. The client now has a baseline from which to work, and from which to pursue this child support scofflaw in the event they continue to fail to pay.
Mr. Corletta has devoted over 40 hours of time to this case, without charge, in order to obtain this very favorable award and result.
Case Study 3
MR. CORLETTA SUCCESSFULLY RESOLVES MARITAL CRIMINAL CASE
People who are married usually own personal property together. People who are married usually own houses together. People who are married incur debt together. Generally, it is not a crime to “steal” marital property, because it is presumed to be jointly owned. Nor is it a crime to enter a marital home against the wishes of another for the same reason. Similarly, it is not a crime to borrow money using a spouse’s name. It is frequently done for credit purposes.
In New York, any debt incurred during a marriage, irrespective of whose name it is in, is marital debt. Any property acquired during a marriage is marital property, unless gifted or inherited. Sorting these issues out is best left to the matrimonial courts.
Nonetheless, Mr. Corletta’s client found themselves in hot water, because during the midst of a divorce, the client’s spouse claimed the client borrowed money in the spouse’s name without their consent. As a result, of dubious decision making by police and prosecutorial authorities who ignored basic principles of matrimonial law, the client was charged with Felony Forgery and Felony Grand Larceny, thereby interjecting criminal court into what was essentially a marital dispute that should be settled in divorce court. Further, a criminal prosecution was unfairly used to obtain leverage in a civil matter.
Acting quickly, Mr. Corletta pointed out these principles to the Prosecutor and opposing counsel in the matrimonial case, both of whom stalled. Mr. Corletta made clear his client would not consider entering a plea to any crime as a result of this marital debt. The response from both the Prosecutor and opposing counsel was to continue to stall, as they expected a quick rollover.
Over 4 months passed until Mr. Corletta, daring the prosecution to present the case to the Grand Jury, received an email from the Prosecutor stating they were suddenly consenting to reduce the charge to the equivalent of a traffic ticket, thereby validating Mr. Corletta’s position, and leaving the matter where it belongs; in the matrimonial courts.
The only injustice was that the client had to pay the cost of Mr. Corletta’s fee to defend what essentially was a frivolous prosecution. The client however, was greatly relieved, as their job was threatened by this felony prosecution.
Thomas A Corletta Attorney at Law
Rochester NY 14614
Monday – Friday
9:00 A.M. – 5:00 P.M.