Navigating the various legal issues that can arise between family members can be uniquely challenging. According to the 2014-2018 American Community Survey, the overall divorce rate in New York State is 5%, which might be lower than the United States’ divorce rate of 10.9% but is still a significant one. Besides divorce, however, there are plenty of situations in which people in New York state need an experienced family law attorney’s assistance. No matter the details of your family law situation, our lawyers have the experience and knowledge necessary to help.


Common Situations When New York Family Law Attorneys are Needed

Some of the most common reasons besides divorce that you might decide to retain the assistance of a family law attorney include:


  • Child custody. The continuation of a strong bond between parent and child is critical to custody decisions. Ensuring that your child has a safe and supportive home is essential to your child’s well being. An experienced family law attorney can make sure your rights are protected.
  • Child support. Parents who do not hold primary custody of a child are responsible for contributing to the child’s financial needs. Regulations in New York State determine the amount that non-custodial parents owe in child support. A family court attorney can help ensure that your interests are protected when navigating Support Courts.
  • Domestic violence. There is a high risk of domestic violence and harassment following the separation of couples, but domestic violence can occur in many other situations. Fortunately, an experienced family law attorney can help victims get an order of protection and help defend those unjustly accused of a family offense.
  • Equitable distribution. Property acquired during a marriage must be distributed fairly and equitably following the terms of New York law.
  • Grandparent’s rights. Besides parents, many children also share important and life-changing bonds with grandparents. A family law attorney can help grandparents protect their right to visitation and make sure they continue to contact their grandchildren.
  • If a court order or custody arrangement already exists, and there has been a change in circumstances between or with the parties, it can be modified with an attorney’s help.
  • Before parental obligations can be established, paternity must first be determined. An attorney can help establish a link and the resulting obligations between father and child.
  • Prenuptial agreements. By retaining an attorney’s services before marriage, a person can reduce both the costs and stress that would occur in the event the couple divorced.
  • Postnuptial agreements. When an agreement between partners is entered into after marriage, this is classified as a postnuptial agreement, and an attorney can help write one.
  • Spousal support. New York law recognizes that after a marriage ends, one spouse is often found responsible for the other spouse’s financial support for some time to make the other spouse’s transition easier.


Why a New York Family Lawyer’s Help is Essential

It is often tempting to navigate family law matters on your own, but in reality, a skilled family law attorney’s assistance is often critical. Some of the factors that make our family law attorneys stand out from the competition to include:

  • If you decide to navigate the family law process on your own, you can quickly find yourself facing questions to which you do not have an answer. By teaming up with an attorney, you can make sure that you have answers to any questions that arise. This way, you are always prepared for whatever lies ahead.
  • Courtroom experience. Litigation experience is not to be underestimated. Family law attorneys have spent an extensive amount of time arguing in family law cases and know what it takes to win even the toughest issues. Years of family law experience give our lawyers the experience necessary to create strong legal tactics and how judges will respond to arguments. While you might attempt to go it alone through a family law issue, it is almost always a much better choice to team up with a seasoned professional.
  • Expert advice. Most family law matters revolve around the advice of various experts and professionals, including financial planners, mental health experts, and physicians. The most seasoned family law attorneys can call on a team of experienced professionals who can utilize their expertise in nuanced areas to support your case and increase your chances of reaching your desired outcome.
  • Knowledge of opposing counsel. Many family law attorneys have interacted in the same court system for years and develop relationships with other lawyers in the field. Our lawyers rely on this knowledge of opposing counsel to make sure that you have the strongest legal strategy possible and increase your chances of reaching your desired results.
  • Skilled at non-litigation options. Family law attorneys can inform clients on several alternatives to litigation, which might be preferable to avoid the stress that going to court can place on relationships. Mediation can be an attractive option because it allows individuals to communicate with one another and reduces expenses. During mediation, a facilitator guides individuals to an amicable agreement. While mediation is not for everyone, many people have used it successfully and found it a preferable option to proceeding to court.
  • Objective planning. Even if you initiate a divorce, you are likely facing many complex and likely overwhelming emotions. The rush of intense emotions can cause many people to make sudden or improperly planned actions, leading to undesirable consequences. By retaining a family law attorney, you can rest assured that you will be given objective advice about which decisions are best to make for the present and the future. An experienced New York family law attorney can also help you avoid any mistakes you would later regret.
  • It might seem counterintuitive, but many people who attempt to navigate family law issues on their own end up paying more in the long run. The most experienced attorneys understand the complexities of family law issues and achieve the desired results for the lowest price possible. Not to mention, our attorneys charge competitive rates.

Speak with an Experienced Family Law Attorney

Family law is full of obstacles, but an experienced attorney can help. Contact Nave Law Firm today to schedule a free case evaluation. A dedicated attorney will remain committed to making sure your family situation resolves in the best possible manner. Contact our law office today by calling 855-349-NAVE (6283).


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Bill Cosby Released From Prison: But Why?

Bill Cosby has been released from prison. He walks among us again as a free man.


No, it’s not because he already served his sentence. It’s not because he was granted parole from his conviction, either. Nor did Pennsylvania’s Governor grant a pardon or issue clemency. Instead, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned Cosby’s conviction on appeal.


Cosby had reached an agreement with a former prosecutor, Bruce Castor, under which Cosby was not to be criminally charged for the incident which eventually resulted in his 2018 conviction. Castor has gained more recent notoriety as being a member of former President Donald Trump’s legal team during his second impeachment trial. In short, though, Castor, while chief prosecutor for Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, had reached a deal with Cosby under which Castor agreed to grant Cosby immunity from all prosecution related to the incident if Cosby agreed to testify at a civil trial initiated by his accuser, which was to take place in 2005.


That accuser was Andrea Constand. Constand accused Cosby of drugging and molesting her at his estate in 2004. At the time, Constand was a Temple University employee, a former professional basketball player who had risen to be the head of basketball operations at the university. Castor chose to grant Cosby immunity from prosecution because he felt prosecutors would have difficulty confirming the forensic evidence from the case, without Cosby’s prior admission to the crimes, at trial.


Instead, by granting Cosby immunity from prosecution, Castor sought to force Cosby’s hand into testifying at Constand’s civil trial against him. As the Pennsylvania Supreme Court wrote in its decision, “Seeking ‘some measure of justice’ for Constand, D.A. Castor decided that the Commonwealth would decline to prosecute Cosby for the incident involving Constand, thereby allowing Cosby to be forced to testify in a subsequent civil action, under penalty of perjury, without the benefit of his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination.” Cosby relied on this immunity while testifying at Constand’s civil trial. As the Pennsylvania Supreme Court noted, he “proceeded to provide four sworn depositions. During those depositions, Cosby made several incriminating statements.”


Yet, years later, a new prosecutor was elected in Montgomery County. Feeling unbound by his predecessor’s immunity agreement with Cosby, new District Attorney Kevin Steele brought charges against Cosby related to the 2004 incident with Constand.


At trial on those charges, Steele and his office used Cosby’s incriminating testimony at Constand’s 2005 civil trial against him. In fact, his testimony became a cornerstone of the People’s case. Ultimately, Cosby was convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault in April 2018. He was sentenced to a term of three to ten years in prison.


On appeal, however, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court found an issue with the revocation of Cosby’s immunity agreement simply because a new prosecutor had taken office. As the Court wrote, “When an unconditional charging decision is made publicly, and with the intent to induce action and reliance by the defendant, and when the defendant does so to his detriment (and in some instances upon the advice of counsel), denying the defendant the benefit of that decision is an affront to fundamental fairness, particularly when it results in a criminal prosecution that was foregone for more than a decade. No mere changing of the guard strips that circumstance of its inequity…A contrary result would be patently untenable. It would violate long-cherished principles of fundamental fairness. It would be antithetical to, and corrosive of, the integrity and functionality of the criminal justice system that we strive to maintain.”


The Court concluded, then, that “For these reasons, Cosby’s convictions and judgment of sentence are vacated, and he is discharged.”


Cosby was released from prison yesterday, shortly after the Court’s decision was announced. A spokesman for Cosby told reporters, upon his release, that “This is what we have been fighting for and this is justice and justice for Black America.” Sentiments were not shared by those in the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office. Mr. Steele, in a statement released Wednesday, noted “Cosby was found guilty by a jury and now goes free on a procedural issue that is irrelevant to the facts of the crime…My hope is that this decision will not dampen the reporting of sexual assaults by victims. Prosecutors in my office will continue to follow the evidence wherever and to whomever it leads. We still believe that no one is above the law – including those who are rich, famous, and powerful.”


Prosecutors could still, should they so choose, seek to appeal the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision. Such an appeal would be to the U.S. Supreme Court, and would likely highlight the issue of due process and argue that retrial of Cosby could be granted should the prosecution refrain from including his 2005 civil trial testimony. The U.S. Supreme Court may elect against hearing the case, however, given its highly publicized nature and its near singular focus on procedural matters.


Yesterday’s decision also gave hope to others entangled in the #MeToo movement’s eye-opening allegations of misconduct against prominent men. Harvey Weinstein’s legal team issued a statement following the release of the Court’s decision, highlighting the Court’s ability to follow the facts and the law under the pressure of a case that garnered much media attention. In sum, the Weinstein legal team noted, “This decision also reaffirms our confidence that the Appellate Division in New York will reach the similarly correct decision in Harvey Weinstein’s appeal, considering the abundance of issues that cry out for a reversal.” Weinstein had previously been sentenced to serve 23 years on rape and sexual assault charges.


The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision overturning Cosby’s conviction can be read here:

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Nave Law wins suit against City of Albany to protect Reverend’s civil rights.


As part of Nave Law Firm’s efforts to give back to the communities we practice in, our own Derek Andrews took action after reading a Times Union article about a local woman’s plight against a local government who stonewalled her efforts to obtain body camera recordings of an incident that involved her.


In 2019, uniformed members of the Albany Police Department wearing body cameras forcibly removed Reverend Cheryl Hawkins, a street-reach minister in the New York Capital District, from a public park as she preached and sang Christian hymns, for which she had received a special event permit from the City of Albany. That removal violated her constitutionally-guaranteed rights to free expression. As part of a lawsuit, her civil rights attorney requested those body camera recordings from the city through New York’s Freedom of Information Law but was rebuffed, having been told that they were protected and confidential because of Civil Rights Law Section 50-a.


Mr. Andrews helped both Ms. Hawkins and her civil rights attorney by filing an Article 78 special proceeding, a type of lawsuit, against the City of Albany and the Albany Police Department, claiming that they violated Ms. Hawkins’ right to free access to body camera recordings of that incident.


Although the city produced those recordings before the conclusion of the lawsuit, Judge David Weinstein of the Albany County Supreme Court agreed with Mr. Andrews’ arguments when he issued a decision at the end of 2020 stating that Ms. Hawkins had substantially prevailed and that the city was unreasonable in originally denying her access. That last part meant that the city Times Union Article, which resulted in a five-figure settlement. Ms. Hawkins will now continue her lawsuit against Albany for violating her civil rights.


When asked for comment by Reverand Hawkins, she responded:

“Mr. Andrews saw the Times-Union Newspaper Front Page Huge Article (February 17, 2020). He then contacted my attorney and wanted to see how he could help.  He felt that I was facing an injustice.  I was already paying another lawyer big money to represent me, and I could not afford a second law firm.  Derek then spoke with the leadership team with Nave Law Firm, and the team decided to take the case at no cost to me.  

I was so grateful that he believed in me enough to advocate for me and cared enough to help me at no cost.

The best part is that he WON THE CASE; he even won the city’s and the cop’s appeal filed in Albany County after winning the case.”


Nave Law Firm is grateful for the opportunity to have assisted Ms. Hawkins in her pursuit of justice.



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Decriminalizing Possession of Hard Drugs

Oregon seems to be leading the way in the war . . . on the war on drugs while New York falls further behind. In a more sizable margin than either Biden or Trump would secure in this election, nearly 59% of citizens in Oregon voted to decriminalize possession of small amounts of hard drugs like heroin and cocaine.

Their decision also supported greater access to treatment for those who need it, which is paid for by the tax proceeds from marijuana sales. New York took a step in the right direction when they decriminalized possession of marijuana last year, but they remain several steps behind a large swath of the country that has legalized marijuana possession outright, including our next-door neighbors. While legislators and Governor Cuomo are interested in legalization, it’s unlikely to happen in the next year or two. Here’s why the legalization of marijuana, and other drugs, is worthwhile: not only would it ameliorate years of disproportionate effects of criminal drug possession on communities of color but it would give those with addictions greater access to higher-quality treatment. It also wouldn’t hurt to make some money by taxing those “products,” which could prove to be cleaner and safer than those cut with harmful and toxic chemicals. By the way, we certainly don’t mean to imply that it should be legal to drive while impaired by a drug, whether it’s legal or illegal. Please don’t do that.

We’re only suggesting that the war on drugs was misguided and that Oregon, and other states who are following suit, are headed in the right direction. Let’s convince New York to do the same.

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