My Name is Paul Matthews. I am a top-rated yet affordable New York City Family Court Lawyer, Divorce Lawyer, and Appellate Lawyer. I Have been handling Trials and Appeals in the Family Court for over 20 years. I also provide affordable uncontested divorces.
All New York Family Law Trials and Appeals
I opened my private Family Law Practice in downtown Manhattan in 1996, specializing in family law trials and appeals. To date, I have tried over a thousand cases. I have also prosecuted or defended over a dozen appeals, and have successfully filed over a hundred uncontested divorce cases.
I believe that attorney fees in New York State, and particularly in New York City, have become way too high. I charge $200 an hour for all Family Court Cases, including child support and child custody cases, as well as for appeals from the Orders of the Family Court. Like all reputable attorneys, I do require an up front retainer on contested cases. The amount of this retainer depends on a number of things, including the type of case, the complexity and difficulty of the case, whether the issues of law are simple or complex, and who the adversary is.
I consider my word, my integrity, and my reputation as my most important assets. My law practice enjoys a rating of A+ with the Better Business Bureau, and I myself enjoy the hightest rating of “10-Superb” with AVVO, the most well known attorney rating service.
I will always be completely honest with you. I will tell you what the law is and I may sometimes tell you things that you don’t want to hear.
Experienced Attorney-over 200 Custody & Child Support Trials
At the present time, my law practice focusses on Family Law Matters. Family Law is a specialty practice which includes:
- child custody
- child support
- orders of protection
- other related cases
(if a child is involved, the case usually is considered to be a family law case). In New York State, except for Divorce cases, which are only heard in the Supreme Court, the majority of these cases are heard in the Family Court
Child Custody Lawyer
How hard is it for a father to get custody of a child?
In the majority of situations, the mother ends up with custody. The exceptions are mostly when the mother is unfit, or when she has left the child with the father for a fairly long period of time, say a year or more. However, there are other special situations where fathers have won. For example, if the mother is preventing the father from having a relationship with the child, or sometimes when older teenagers have a strong wish to live with the father and there is at least one other factor.
How often do Ny Courts award joint legal custody of a child?
NY courts unlike courts in most other states, are very reluctant to award joint custody unless both parents consent. This may change in the future, though.
How important are the wishes of the child to a court deciding custody?
There is case law that says the wishes of the child alone are insufficient. However, when children are older, especially when 16 or 17, their wishes are given greater weight, and courts will sometimes look for some other factor in order to accommodate a mature child's vehement wishes..
Can a lawyer without family law experience do a custody case?
Even non lawyers have won custody cases, sometimes even against experienced family law attorneys. There are also some lawyers who are "geniuses" and can do a great job on any kind of case. That being said, family law is a specialty and, all things being equal, an experienced family law attorney has an advantage.
“Of all Family Law cases, Child Custody cases tend to be the most drawn out, contentious and high stakes of them all.”
Child Custody trials can involve numerous witnesses, and hundreds, or even thousands, of pages of exhibits, such as emails, text messages, photographs, videos, etc. Frequently the Court will order the parties as well as the child or children to undergo a full forensic evaluation by a forensic psychologist or psychiatrist.
The law of custody in New York is somewhat unusual. In most other states when parents of a child or children separate, the law presummes that they will share legal custody. In New York, it can be said that the Law has a presumption against shared custody of a child. New York Courts will almost never award joint legal custody of a child unless the parents get along well together, and in fact most judges will only order joint legal custody on consent.
It is not uncommon for a child custody trial to last a year or more, spread out over numerous court appearances.
Over the years I have tried hundreds of child custody cases in New York, including custody cases against some of the premier matrimonial and family law firms in NYC, such as the Law firm of Raoul Felder, Mayerson, Abramowitz and Kahn, Blank Rome, and others.
In my many child custody cases and child custody trials I have represented mothers, fathers, grandparents, and even the subject child or children. I have cross examined over a thousand witnesses including police officers, therapists, social workers, and forensic psychologists. Because I am always trying to learn new things, I find that, as I get older, I am still getting better.
Child Support Cases
Child Support cases in New York can be very tricky and complicated. Unless you are a w-2 wage earner with a full time job and no overtime, you likely need legal advice and legal assistance from an experienced family law attorney for your child support case. Even then, if your income is either high or very low, you may still need legal help.
What is frustrating for me about child support cases is that the client often thinks he or she can do a child support case themselves, and only contacts me to ask me for help after the trial is over. While it is sometimes possible to fix a botched child support trial, it is almost always very difficult to do so.
About the New York Family Court
The New York Family Court is unique in that it has its own customs, practices, and procedures. While most litigants and even some lawyers may think that the law is the law no matter what type of case, there are special statutes that govern Family Law cases, and over the years a whole body of Family Law Statutes and case law has evolved in New York which apply the law differently, especially when a child is involved.
Another difference is that when the welfare and custody of a child is concerned, the court usually takes a much more active role than in other types of cases not involving a child or children. The court may order investigations by the City Child Welfare or Social Services Agency, may interview the child or children in chambers, and may refuse to sign off on settlements that it believes is not in the best interests of the child or children involved. There is even case law that in certain situations puts the burdent on the court to call witnesses if the parties fails to do so.
Family court cases are also different in that the court will often assign free lawyers to a parent, and will also assign family law attorneys to a child or children. These attorneys used to be called “law guardians” but are now called the “attorney for the child”.
In child support cases the court will want to make sure that the child or children have adequate and sufficient support, despite the agreement between the custodial parent and the non custodial parent.
If you have a case in the Family Court, you would likely be best served by hiring a family law attorney who is intimately familiar with all the unique law, practices and procedures of this special Court, as well as someone who is familiar with all the players. Some lawyers believe that just because they are experienced handling other types of cases in other courts that they can serve clients well in the Family Court on a custody or child support case. With very few exceptions, they are mistaken in that belief.
I have many years experience in the New York Family Court, and am very familiar with the law that applies in child custody, child support, paternity, and order of protection cases. I am well known by many of the Judges, Referees, Support Magistrates, and court staff, especially in Manhattan Family Court.
” I offer a free preliminary telephone or skype initial consultation on all cases, with the exception of contested divorce cases.”
The initial consultation is not for the purpose of giving you legal advice, but instead is intended for me to find out a little about your case so that I can make a determination if I think I may be able to help you. I will also answer basic questions about my experience, my approach, or about fees and expenses. Call me today at (347) 461-0760 to get started.
Affordable Uncontested Divorces
Because the only divorces that I presently handle are uncontested cases, the majority of my divorce clients are on the young side, have only been married for a relatively short time, and usually have no significant issues regarding division of property, such as homes, pensions, automobiles, substantial bank accounts, etc. Most of these cases do not involve a child or children, but some do. These clients are primarily focussed on getting their divorce as quickly as possible with a minimum of expense, stress, and aggravation.
However there may be some issues, such as pensions or retirement funds, that must be dealt with correctly in order to protect the client’s interests, even in uncontested divorce cases.
If your divorce involves a minor child or minor children (which includes “children” between 18 and 21), it is still possible to get a low cost uncontested divorce, provided that the you and your spouse have figured out all of the issues in the divorce, including who is going to get custody of the child or children, and how much child support will be paid. Divorces involving a child require much more paperwork for the lawyer to prepare, but not much additional paperwork for the client to sign off on.
I pride myself on offering clients personalized attention for their uncontested divorce cases. I promise that I myself, not a paralegal or junior attorney, will prepare all of the necessary papers with the help of the latest software which helps avoid unnecessary mistakes and delays.
After the papers are filed with the Court, I calendar your case up and automatically follow up to make sure that the case has not “fallen through the cracks”. My fees are very reasonable, ranging from $500.00 plus court costs for a case with no children, to around $1500.00 plus costs for a case where there are minor children involved. I always try my hardest to prepare and submit the papers as quickly as possible because I know that once you decide to divorce you want to get on with your life.
RESOURCES FOR PRO SE LITIGANTS:
If you can’t afford an attorney for a child support case, you can try Free info for new yorkers who cannot afford new york family law attorneys
Another good resource for free attorneys : new york city legal aid society civil division can make referrals to pro bono family law attorneys and organizations
If you are a new york cutodial parent you can get information about child support services available to you, most free of charge at new york custodial parent services