Welcome to ‘The Ex-Files,’ hosted by Ian Steinberg, a seasoned New York City matrimonial attorney. Here, I provide practical insights and expert guidance on the most frequently asked questions related to divorce. Drawing from my extensive experience, I offer clear explanations and actionable advice to help you make informed decisions during this challenging time. Whether you are considering divorce or already in the midst of it, “The Ex-Files” is here to provide you with the support and information you need to successfully navigate the process.

Q. Does cheating matter in terms of the divorce process?

While infidelity may not matter to a court or a judge, cheating definitely can play a role in the divorce process. In New York, where I practice, the state follows a “no-fault” divorce system, meaning you do not have to prove fault or wrongdoing to dissolve a marriage. However, cheating can often impact the emotional aspects of the process and sometimes influence decisions related to custody or financial settlements. 

A spouse who was cheated on may utilize the divorce process to “get back” at their spouse, and that animosity can make the divorce process more challenging. There also may be concerns related to custody if the paramour stays in the spouse’s life and will be around the children. So, while the legal system might not directly penalize a cheating spouse, the ripple effects can often be felt throughout the divorce journey.

Q. Can I prevent my kids from seeing my in-laws after divorce?

When it comes to deciding who your kids spend time with after a divorce, it’s natural to have concerns. You are moving from a world in which you see your children every day, and have control over who they interact with, to a world in which you are not in control when they are with your ex-spouse. This includes how often your children are with your ex-in-laws.

In most states, including New York, courts use the “best interests of the child” standard, which means decisions about visitation with grandparents or other relatives will be made with that in mind. Courts generally recognize the importance of maintaining relationships with extended family members, including grandparents, unless there are compelling reasons to restrict visitation.

If you have concerns about your kids spending time with your in-laws, it is essential to address them immediately. Open communication with your ex-spouse about your concerns and preferences regarding your children’s relationships with their extended family can often lead to mutually agreeable solutions. If that is unsuccessful, court intervention is always an option. Ultimately, the goal is to create a parenting plan that prioritizes your children’s happiness while respecting everyone’s rights and boundaries.

Close up mother supporting, touching adorable little daughter hands
Child support is still paid in an equal custody arrangement because it is designed to ensure children have access to the resources they need to thrive in both parents’ homes.(Shutterstock / fizkes)

Q. Why do I have to pay child support if agree to 50/50 custody?

While child support laws vary from state to state, and specifics of how it is calculated and enforced can differ depending on the jurisdiction, it is often the case that child support is still paid in a 50-50 custody arrangement. This is because child support is designed to ensure your children have access to the resources they need to thrive in both parents’ homes. It is not solely about the time spent with each parent, it is about balancing out the financial responsibilities based on both parents’ incomes and the needs of the children. 

The idea is to avoid a situation in which, for example, the children do not want to go to mom’s house because it is significantly inferior to dad’s house. Further, the hope is to maintain the standard of living the children would have enjoyed if the parents had remained together. So, while it might feel unfair to pay child support with equal custody, it is ultimately about ensuring your children receive adequate support and resources to flourish in both parent’s households. 

Q. Can I prevent his new girlfriend from seeing the kids?

Ensuring your children’s well-being amidst changes in family dynamics can be a challenging task, especially when new relationships enter the picture. It understandable to want to shield your kids from potential negative influences, especially when it comes to their interactions with your ex-spouse’s new significant other. 

Oftentimes, discussing the introduction of a new girlfriend with the child’s therapist is a beneficial first step.

If you want to restrict or limit the interactions between your ex-spouse’s new girlfriend and your children, a modification of your custody arrangement is necessary. This can be achieved through open communication with your ex-spouse, which can lead to either a change in the new girlfriend’s behavior to minimize your concerns or an agreement to modify custody. Alternatively, this can be achieved through the court system, where the judge would have to determine whether or not the best interest of your children is served by modifying your custody arrangement to restrict contact with the new girlfriend. 

Fostering a supportive and nurturing environment for your children, where their well-being is prioritized, should ultimately guide any decisions regarding their interactions with your husband’s new partner.

Q. How do I get my spouse out of the house?

Navigating the divorce process while still living together can undoubtedly present its challenges, making it crucial to address living arrangements early on in the process. In many states, including New York, unless there are specific safety concerns (at which point court intervention is immediately necessary), both spouses generally have the right to remain in the marital home. 

Initiating a dialogue about who will stay in the marital home early on in the divorce process is essential. Framing the conversation around what is best for your children can facilitate a more productive discussion and help both parties focus on finding a solution that prioritizes the well-being of the entire family. This can lead to creative solutions such as nesting, which is a co-parenting arrangement where the children remain in the family home while the parents take turns living there.

Ultimately, the only ways to address the issue of having your spouse vacate the marital home during the divorce process are through negotiation or by seeking a court order.

Please send your divorce or breakup related questions to Ian Steinberg at editor@theexit.com