Divorce & Family Law

If your marriage is over, you can seek to establish all rights and obligations by reaching an agreement that provides for one party to proceed through the court uncontested to obtain a final Judgment of Divorce, or you might elect to sign a Separation Agreement instead. Either way, with divorce or legal separation, you can expect to address and resolve issues you may have relating to child custody, visitation, spousal support, child support, the equitable distribution of marital property, the declaration of separate property, the division of bank accounts, furnishings, the division of marital debts, tax-related issues, and the payment of counsel fees.

At this point in time in New York, a spouse who seeks a divorce is entitled to a divorce. While our law includes fault-based grounds which have existed for decades, New York now recognizes “no-fault” divorce and entitles a spouse to a final divorce if he or she swears under oath that, in their opinion, the marriage is irretrievably broken for a period of six months or more. A spouse who is against a no-fault divorce and does not consent can expect that the divorce will be granted in the end and no trial on this issue will be necessary. The divorce will not be granted until all of the economic and child custody related issues have been determined by the court after a trial or by the parties themselves in a final agreement.


There are limited benefits to a legal separation as opposed to a final divorce. One such benefit is health insurance for a dependent spouse, which can be maintained during the period of legal separation, regardless how long that lasts. In the event of a divorce, coverage as a dependent spouse ends subject to the availability of COBRA extension coverage for up to 36 months as a former spouse at significant cost.

A claim or complaint of a Violation of an Existing Order of Protection, if made to the police department, will result in a mandatory arrest of the alleged offender and criminal charges that can rise to the level of a felony even when the incident did not otherwise seem particularly serious in nature. The Court, police, and prosecutors take these Orders very seriously and, unfortunately, are sometimes duped by individuals who seek to use the Orders and proceedings as a sword rather than a shield. A violation petition can also be filed in Family Court, whether or not a police report was made. The level of proof required in each court is different and, on occasion, both cases stemming from the same conduct can continue simultaneously and even end with different results.

Divorce Mediation Assistance

Many couples benefit from seeking an agreement through mediation. Divorce mediation is designed for a couple to make decisions themselves after working with a neutral third party: the mediator. Mediation can help a couple learn to communicate again, if only for the sake of their children, and make their post divorce relationship better for all involved. Divorce mediation will seek to address and resolve all economic matters and issues affecting children.

A successful mediation results in a final agreement, which is often reached with less hard feelings and possibly saves a tidy sum on counsel fees and litigation. Sometimes agreements through mediation come easy; sometimes they take time and a lot of hard work. It is the mediator’s job to keep the lines of communication open, brainstorm ideas, reality test the couple, teach empathy, and assist the couple in their decision-making process.

A divorce mediator is neutral and doesn’t “work” for either person. That means the mediator cannot give advice to either party and is not there to protect your rights. Mediators strive to remain neutral no matter what the situation. Usually, they don’t even meet alone with either person, only together as a group. This is precisely why Dikman & Dikman assists clients before, during and/or after the formal mediation process. We are not “mediators” but can assure you don’t overlook important issues and claims you can weave into the mediation process, to ensure any agreement you may reach is as comprehensive as required, covers and protects you in all needed areas, and that you have a full knowledge of all matters which need your serious consideration.

Mediation is voluntary. You will not be forced to mediate by a court and cannot be forced to mediate by your spouse. While mediation is a useful tool for some couples bound for divorce, many couples are not good candidates for mediation. If you are a spouse who is concerned about hidden assets and money or largely in the dark about the economics of your marriage, assets, and debts, a mediator will generally not investigate or inform you on these matters and you may well be severely prejudiced in mediation.

If you are contemplating participating in mediation, we urge you to see us first to further educate yourself as to the process and to learn how an attorney can help you obtain the best results you can achieve through mediation.