Wednesday, February 26, 2014

How do I acquire my birth certificate if I have a different name than that on the certificate?

Q:  my social and drivers license both have the only name I have gone by all my life. recently I am trying to get a license to drive in NYS and they need a birth cert. I just found out that I was born from a woman under a different name. my mom passed away in '06 and my father is not around my life. I supposedly was born at Elmhurst general hospital in aug. of 1980. if you can help me I will pay anything. I just want my drivers license back.

A:  David's Answer:  If you got your name officially changed, then bring them the change-of-name order from the court. If you did not get your name officially changed, then you'll need to: David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Is it possible to get married without a birth certificate?

Q:  Hello My fiance is currently in prison in dannemora ny the town clerk of this town require a birth certificate for the marriage for myself I'm french I get mine but for him he'from panama and there's no way to get it because he has to go to panama to get it. Can we have a special autorisation from the town clerk to get married without his birth certificate

A:  David's Answer:  You would need to ask the Town Clerk. Alternatively, post this question to that geographical area and/or schedule a consult with a lawyer in that area.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

FAMILY LAW. What website address can I view rules of trial, child support, and local codes in Rochester NY, Monroe County?

Q:  Jurisdiction is Rochester, NY, Monroe County for paternity and child support order. I need to review trial rules and such as listed in my question. Also, Does Rochester operate under the Unified Court system of NY? Is there a website that is set up for Pro Se litigants and /or pro Se information provided by the Family Court, state if NY in Rochester that I could request? I reside in Indiana.
Thank you

A:  David's Answer:  You can consult the civil practice law & rules here: I would nevertheless advise against trying to handle the cases yourself. Call a family law attorney in the Rochester area & schedule a phone consult.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

I live in syracuse new york......where can I get married if im undocumented?

Q:  I live in syracuse new york and my fiance is a legal resident so where can we get a marriage licence or get married if I dont have a social security number o green card??

A:  David's Answer:  You can get married at the courthouse. They do not ask whether you are documented or not - it's irrelevant to applying for a marriage license.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Is it necessary to set up a temporary guardianship in NY to care for my 16 year old stepdaughter in the absence of her parents?

Q:  Mother is working out of the country. Father provides support but lives several hours away.All have good relations.

A:  David's Answer:  If everyone is in agreement, & the arrangement is meant to be temporary, then I agree having a notarized, out-of-court agreement is sufficient for the task. -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Monday, February 24, 2014

How can I find case law to support replacing a law guardian with another law guardian -- google didn't seem to help?

Q:  I just submitted a custody violation petition in family court, and the judge wants to appoint the law guardian from the original divorce & custody action – only he’s the reason my ex now has custody. I’m requesting that the female attorney who spent the most time with my child, now at her own firm – whom I’m calling the de facto law guardian – be assigned instead, for the purposes of continuity for the child. Also because my child is a 15 year old girl and the de facto law guardian is also female. Other factors – I supplied many affidavits witnessing physical and emotional abuse of my older daughter and myself which was ignored in the initial action, but recently there was a police action between my ex and 15 year old daughter – the 5th police action involving my ex over 7 years.

A:  David's Answer:  If you are looking for case law, you're best advised to go to the Law Library at Westchester Supreme Court (9th Fl.) - look for the book publishing by West called "New York Family Law Practice."   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Do i have to pay child support if my son joins the military

Q:  and how do i prove that he did?

A:  David's Answer:  You would need to file a petition to terminate the support if he does enlist. This would generally be a basis for emancipation. You may verify enlistment here: or via Dept. of Defense's website. You should also contact an Orange/Westchester Family Law attorney to schedule a consultation for a full assessment.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Legal name change, or not?

Q:  If my daughter's biological father never signed her birth certificate, can I change her last name? I am now married and her stepfather would like her to have his last name. Her biological father is not involved, and there is no father listed on her birth certificate. Lastly, I was never married to her father, but we did establish paternity in court, he just never singed the birth certificate. Thanks.

A:  David's Answer:  If you established paternity thru the court, then it doesn't matter that his name is on the birth certificate or not - he is the legal father of the child. As such, you must commence a chance-of-name proceeding. Please consult the court's website for further details: You should also consider consulting a Westchester Family Law attorney on the issue.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Friday, February 21, 2014

In NYC is it routine to require a family to visit Social Services if baby has a fractured arm?

Q:  My 8 month old grandchild was taken to her pediatrician yesterday because she was not using her left arm. There was no bruising or swelling but when the doctor put pressure on the arm the baby cried. Pediatrician told them to go to an emergency room and have an x-ray, which showed a small fracture of the bone. At that point detectives were called and the family was kept there for eight hours before they were permitted to go home. My daughter and son-in-law were shocked that they were being treated as if they were criminals. The child had tests that showed there were no other injuries and she was in otherwise excellent health. My daughter was asked to bring the baby into the department of social services tomorrow. Is this routine procedure?

A:  David's Answer:  There had to have been some initial suspicion that the fracture was intentional. Some types of fractures are indicative of child abuse, such as spiral fractures. Thus, if such a fracture appears, it warrants further investigation - and therefore a report of suspected child abuse. At the stage they're at, it would behoove them to immediately consult a Westchester Family Law attorney, particularly one with experience in CPS matters.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Joint Custody Question

Q:  The paperwork my ex's lawyer presented to me (i am pro se) states that my ex and I have joint custody. It does not specify who has physical custody or legal custody….it only states "joint custody". My ex and I have equal access. My child is with me during earning morning until late in the evening and then sleeps at my ex's at night. Since neither of us states who has physical custody….does that mean we both have a shared custody situation?

A:  David's Answer:  If phrased as such, it's a poorly written order. Joint Custody speaks to decision-making - it does not speak to where the kids live. The order should either say "joint & shared custody" or it should say "joint custody with primary physical residence to ________." Schedule a consult with a Westchester Child Custody lawyer for a full assessment.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Children's Rights Society Lawyer won't return calls

Q:  My daughter's father is taking me to court for violation of visitation order. My daughter is almost 15 and just refuses to see him. The family court judge appointed an attorney from the Children's Rights Society to represent my daughter. I have left 3 messages for this attorney over the past 2 months and he does not return my call. It is my understanding that my daughter is supposed to meet with him prior to our next court date which is in early March. I am not quite sure what to do at this point. Any advice is greatly appreciated

A:  David's Answer:  I'd suggest to ask to speak with a receptionist & confirm that lawyer is still assigned to the case. Explain the difficulties in trying to reach him - perhaps ask to speak with a supervisor. Another option would be to write him a letter. Schedule a consult with an Orange/Westchester Family Law attorney for a full assessment.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Do I have a good enough reason to bring my daughter's father to court without upsetting the judge?

Q:  Hi, my daughter's father is court ordered to participate in her early intervention/therapy 2 hours a month, it has been 6 months, he has yet to do so. I agreed to take her out of the church nursery/pre-school as long as he helps with her development (she was special needs/premature) but he isn't...should i hire a lawyer and take him back to court?

A:  David's Answer:   If he's violating the custody agreement, then yes, you should strongly consider filing a modification/enforcement petition. And yes, you are almost always better off with an attorney than without one. Schedule a consult with a Family Law attorney in your area.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

What do you think of this custody proposal ?

Q:  Law Guardian proposed this to father after favorable forensic report
1. Legal custody to father with decision making.
2. Joint physical custody where the time is split equally.
3. 17% of fathers income for child support, plus add ons for medical.
Additional information
Forensic recommendation that father get sole legal and physical custody; mother unemployed
A:  David's Answer:  Its very hard to judge whether this is a "fair" settlement to you, particularly because you didn't identify whether you are the mother or the father. Moreover, there are many other factors which would need to be assessed to say whether this is a fair settlement - other than the results of the forensic. The best thing you can do is sit down with an experienced child custody lawyer in your area & full discuss your case.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Can a support magistrate legally determine emancipation?

Q:  dad stopped cs when my child went out of state to college at age 17 - turned 18 3 months later, comes home to NY every single break, works here during summer but when dad stopped paying child support as soon as child left for college, i took him to court and his attorney delayed court until child turned 18...then asked for child to testify - child said he felt like he lived in the other state where Dad happens to live although son in dorms at college not living with dad which son did testify to that...supp magistrate said son emancipated so dad never had to pay for him since college started and son was only 17 then...i appealed to family court and they agreed with sup mag...and although dad now makes $200,000 was 95,000 in 07 I make $25000 was $20000 i petitioned 2 modify support but lost

A:  David's Answer:  If more than 30 days have not passed since you've been served with the final order (along with notice of entry thereof), then I highly advise that you appeal. I also strongly urge you to schedule a consultation with a Family Law attorney in your area - if you've been representing yourself thus far, it's not working too well.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Add a clause about Tax Dependent Claim …Which Family Court to file with ? Visitation and Custody or Support?

Q:  My ex and I have shared custody of our daughter. Our paperwork does not state who gets to claim her on our taxes. I pay support to my ex since I am the higher earner. Per the IRS, when a child resides with both parents equally, the parent with the higher income is able to claim the child. My ex just informed me that he claimed our child even though I am the higher earner. Should I notify the IRS when I file? Which family court section do I petition a modification with so this doesn't happen again? Any help is greatly appreciated.

A:  David's Answer:  I would not advise to fight this claim with the IRS. Instead, I'd advise to get a modified order which reflects that each of you will alternate the deduction on odd-even years. Speak further with a Westchester Family Law lawyer.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Saturday, February 15, 2014

How to prevent my daughter's father to stop calling my mom, telling her lies about me constantly and calling me anytime he wants

Q:  We were never married, I have full custody of my daughter and i took him to court for child support. He now calls me late at nights and calls me back to back without stopping. When he doesn't get me, he calls my mom and tells her numerous lies about me. He now shows up to my daughter's school to start trouble/confusion with me.

A:  David's Answer:  You may consider filing for an order of protection. At the least, you may write him a letter or e-mail & state if he continues to harass you he will be reported to the police. Speak to a Family Law attorney in your area.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Divorce / custody. What is the penalty is husband violates automatic stays and sells off half his assets? My husband had 878,720

Q:  divorce / custody. What is the penalty is husband violates automatic stays and sells off half his assets? My husband had 878,720 in securities July 2013. Now in February his lawyer admits in court that he has 450k in securities but claims he had a lot of expenses. I don't have a lawyer because I hired five and my husband bought them off to sabatoge me. What is the penalty for violating the illegal stays? I read that the wife gets the money that was hidden is that true? Can anyone give me examples of precedents? I read husband hid he won the lottery so instead of getting half the wife got the whole winning because husband hid it. Thank you!

A:  David's Answer:  There are a couple of different issues going on here. First, your husband would ultimately have the obligation at trial to prove he's using the securities to pay "usual & customary expenses." If he is not, then he violated the court's automatic order. Second, even if he was using the securities to pay HIS "usual" expenses, the issue would be whether they were marital, joint expenses, or just his sole expenses. If they were his sole expenses, then the Court can consider granting you half of what was there before he started the withdrawals. All that said - you assuredly need a lawyer. If he's that rich, then he can certainly hire a very good lawyer. If you're representing yourself, you stand at a stark disadvantage to someone who probably graduated from a top law school & studied for 20-30 years just for this moment. Strongly consider shopping around for good Divorce lawyers in your area - don't hesitate to interview lawyers in Manhattan & surrounding boroughs as many won't hesitate to travel to Brooklyn for the case.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Thursday, February 13, 2014

I am disabled and on a fixed income now is there anyway I can get a pro bono lawyer for my back child support owed to me

Q:  my ex has been dodging the SCU for over 20+ years now and I really need some money from him. He either skips town or quits his job so this way I cannot collect from him. How was he able to buy a house and the SCU did nothing to stop this. I could have gotten his down payment. He owes me well over 90,000.00 and the last money I got from him was $10.00 every 2 weeks that they garnished from him. He is hiding money some where. Someone please tell me what I can do to make this sperm donor pay

A:  David's Answer:  Very few lawyers will work for free, but you can shop around. If you file an enforcement petition, the court can also incarcerate him for up to 6 months, in addition to other remedies you may have. Speak to a Child Support attorney in your area.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Can I share custody of our children if I live CA and she lives in NY?

Q:  1. She currently has full, sole and legal custody that was awarded since I left NY for a job in CA. 
2. We currently have a visitation arrangement set up for me to have them during the summer.
3. I am tired of her having full control of their decisions and anything involved with their wellbeing.
4. They are 6 and 8.

A:  David's Answer:  "Shared Custody" is where you split custody 50-50. I believe you're talking about "joint custody" in which the parents must consult each other on the major decisions. The issue there is if you just recently had a custody agreement done, the court would be unlikely to modify it now. Usually the court wants a year or more to pass before modifying on non-emergency grounds so as to allow the agreement to "breath a little" prior to changing it. Speak further with a Syracuse Child Custody lawyer.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

What form(s) do I fill out to request emergency "quantum merit" attorney fees in family court?

Q:  Need attorney fees paid by the (losing) monied party, on an emergency basis, so I can continue to fight for my daughter's best interests and needs in family court. Underlying multiple petitions is her father's sudden, unexpected relapse, we fled family home, lost all our belongings, dad became violent, we got an order of protection, and he has stopped paying all her customary expenses. Received judgment two weeks for back child support, incl. unpaid medical bills, etc. Judge has not even written order yet, or sent it to the other party. Took $6,700 and over 8 months to get judgment. Need to recover the $6,700 NOW to hire an atty. I still have to fight for upward modification of support and win physical custody. Family court will drag on at least another 6 mos. Forms? Order to show cause?

A:  David's Answer:  Generally an attorney's fees motion must be filed by your attorney. The reason is that the attorney generally needs to submit an affirmation including his/her retainer, invoices as well as a description of what services they provided, their experience & why fees are justified. If the attorney handling your divorce is not willing to do it, then you'll need to hire another attorney to do it. Speak further with a Family Law attorney in your area.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

If parents get incarcarated do teens ages 13 and above get to pick who they live with?

Q:  my 3 nieces have been mistreated by their mother and her boyfriend. If I hotline them and they are found guilty will they be able to voice their opinion on who they want to live with from now on?

A:  David's Answer:  If there is some emergency issue going on, I wouldn't suggest to wait on calling in a reported of suspected child abuse. If they are being neglected, but it's not necessarily an imminent danger, then I'd suggest to file for custody. Whether they are ultimately taken out of their house by CPS, or the decision is made in the context of a custody case, their wishes will still play a great role in where they are placed. The difference is if CPS isn't involved, you'd ultimately need to prove the parents were abusive or neglectful. Speak to a Family Law attorney in your area.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

A house was bought a 15 month prior to getting married in a divorce what is the legal statues of the property?

Q:  We bought the house 1 year before getting married when my wife left over 2 years ago she stooped paying her 1/2 part of the mortgage taxes and insurance. I have been paying the entire bill. Is it still considered a marital residence in a divorce? how should it be split? Does she have any valid claim to the house?

A:  David's Answer:  If the house is in both names, then it's joint property & will need to be divided. Thus, you can either resolve the issue in the divorce action, or start a separate partition action. The fact that she used her maiden name on the original deed is of no consequence. The equity value should presumptively be split 50-50, with due credit for 1/2 of the principal you paid off with your payments. Speak further with a Family Law attorney in your area.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

I filed an o/p against my grandchild conditions to live at home with me she violated the o/p now the judge turned it to a full

Q:  How can I get the o/p dropped? She is nineteen but suffers from anxiety is now homeless and locked up in county jail. She does not understand all the paper work and has called my cell and house number which no is a violation I am scared she never gets out of prison

A:  David's Answer:  You can file an order to show cause for modification, or wait until your next court date & let the Judge know you wish to drop the petition.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Ex bouncing kids between two homes.

Q:  I recently went back to court for a mess of issues with my ex. The judge ordered that my ex provide beds for each of our 3 kids. It says "at each parent's residence". The problem: He says he lives with his mom, where the kids have beds. But, the kids and his friends say he lives with his girlfriend's parents...where they don't have beds. The kids say they all sleep in bed with my ex, the girlfriend, or on the floor. They bounce back and forth between homes without stability or routine. The judge said to bring him back if he violates this, but he claims he's not in violation because it is not his residence. The kids say one thing, their dad says another. I told him we will need to go back to court and he back peddled saying they do have beds at the girlfriends, but the kids say they don't..

Additional information
What do you recommend I do?
A:  David's Answer:  Ultimately the Court can order a home study by CPS or Dept. of Probation - that would seem to get to the bottom of it. Schedule a consult with a Child Custody lawyer in your area.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

My ex has not seen our daughter in over 2 years and has no custody. How do I get his rights revoked?

Q:  She is 3 and has not seen him since she was 4 months old. He has never even bothered to show up to any of the custody hearings. She would not even know who he is and he has 4 other children he has either given up for adoption or refused to see them. I want to do this so I never have to worry about him just showing up and taking her.

A:  David's Answer:  I agree the Court may possibly terminate visitation, but cannot ultimately terminate his parental rights unless within the context of an adoption proceeding. Speak further with a Child Custody lawyer in your area.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

How do I get a vacate order of protection issued by the judge lifted against my husband?

Q:  This order of protection came when someone reported an injury my son had to CPS and they asked me to go to court before the family court judge. I have had domestic violence with him in the past but I did not want a vacate order. We are still married and the incident with my son was an accident according to my son. Now my son is with me, my husband has been gone for almost 2 weeks, we have bills and finances to pay together and my son misses him dearly. I want my husband to get some help with his personal issues, but I don't feel he is a threat to me or my son. The Domestic Violence council has offered me free legal counsel but I have yet to hear back from them. Can I go to court and request this to the judge myself?

A:  David's Answer:  You are entitled to assignment of counsel by the Family Court upon proof of indigency. If you wish to modify the terms of the order of protection, just file a petition to that effect. Schedule a consult with a Putnum/Westchester Family Law attorney for a full assessment.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Bronx Family Law attorney (

I got married in Feb 2013 in NYC. Foolishly I never applied for a marriage license and the affidavit expired after 60 days.

Q:  Now I have to provide a marriage license with the date I got married (Feb 2013). How can I backdate the license?

A:  David's Answer:  You may still apply for a license pursuant to DRL Sec. 25. That said, whoever married you without a license may be guilty of a misdemeanor. Speak to a Family Law attorney in your area for more info.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

I need to know what rights I have regarding my personal property that is at my ex-husband's place.

Q:  Due to domestic violence, I recently had to remove my daughters and myself from a home we were sharing with my ex-husband. I am attempting to get the clothes and other goods left there, but he keeps changing the arrangements and creating obstacles to keep me from getting them. He wants to take my things and put them into storage rather than letting me get them myself so that I can be sure to have all of the important things I need. What recourse do I have?

A:  David's Answer:   Here's the issue: if he's your "ex-husband," this implies you are divorced now. If so, then you are only entitled to those items if they were specified in the judgment or the settlement agreement. If they were not, then those items are his now. Speak to a Family Law attorney in your area for a full assessment.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Hiring a lawyer for family court

Q:  I am going back to family court as a respondent. I am still owe my lawyer a balance from my precious court proceedings. He will not take my case until I pay the balance and put a larger retainer fee. Is this standard practice? Should I just hire another lawyer? I have a feeling that I will be in court for a long time since it is a modification and violation hearings. Thank you.

A:  David's Answer:  Yes, I think its reasonable from a business perspective. I, for one, do not accept new retainers (generally speaking) if a client owes a balance from a prior case.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Thursday, February 6, 2014

File a motion in family court for a mutual mistake on a visitation agreement that was voir dire in front of the judge?

Q:  About 2 weeks ago my sons father and I reached a mutual agreement in front of the judge on a visitation schedule. But once we left court, it appeared that the opposing attorney swapped the weekday visits, from what I thought I agreed to, to benefit his client (whether weekday visits would follow his weekend or come before his weekend was never addressed in the courtroom). The judge has not signed the agreement yet. I sent the judge a letter, as advised by the clerk, explaining the issue and that we in fact are not in agreement. Will that help at all or will I need to file a motion? And, how would I do that? Can I file a motion if the judge didn't sign anything yet? I no longer have an attorney, nor can I afford one. I'm trying to do this pro se.

Thank you!

Additional information
Unfortunately with regards to a pro bono attorney, I contacted a wide variety of companies and I was informed that they can not step in at this point in the case seeing as it is only pending the judges signature. I was advised that I will have to wait until we go to court again and at that time I can request an attorney. I wish I could afford an attorney in the interim however, I am a full time student relying on my loans and grants to get me by, with very minimal child support. Lamentably, I will be in court this Friday to submit my counter-order as advised below. Thank you all for the advice! I am hoping this can get me through until the next court date where I can request council.

A:  David's Answer:  Preliminarily, you should never try to handle such a case on your own - if you cannot afford an attorney, you should always ask the judge to assign you one. That said, technically what you're supposed to do is submit a counter-order, with an affidavit of service, to the court upon receipt of the (incorrect) proposed order. If the Judge signs off on the incorrect order, then indeed you would need to file a motion for re-settlement of the order. Schedule a consultation with a Westchester Family Law attorney for a full assessment.  -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (

Saturday, February 1, 2014

A cps complaint was made against me for walking around in my bathrobe in front of kids. is this illegal?

Q:  My exhusband has contiually called cps on me for frivolous things- all unfounded. However, this complaint is serious? What could happen?

A:  David's Answer:  Assuming you had your bathrobe closed (i.e., were not walking around in front of them naked) then I don't see any issue at all. If you were walking around naked, most likely CPS will just tell you "we advise against doing that" and close out the case. Speak to a Family Law attorney in your area.   -- David Bliven, Westchester Family Law attorney (