Preparation is crucial to winning your case. The most critical aspect of preparing for court is gathering relevant evidence to prove your claims. The judge will not accept assertions as being valid unless they're supported by proof.
Up until the time your divorce decree is finalized, your spouse can legally inherit a martial share of your estate if you die. For those who are older or ill, this can pose a problem for heirs. When an individual is in the process of divorce and dies before it's complete, the spouse inherits the marital share, even if a Will specifies it should go to others. A crafty husband or wife who knows that a spouse is very ill and may pass away before a divorce is consummated might attempt to delay the decree, in hopes of gaining estate assets. This is just one of the reasons why when you decide to divorce, it's generally advantageous to complete the process as expeditiously as possible. Needless to say, being acrimonious and getting involved in bitter litigation do not speed things along. If you want to divorce but are not well, and have something to leave to your kids or others, consult your lawyer about a strategy to get the process done and over with.
If you have an order of protection shielding you from domestic violence, you can obtain a court order that terminates your lease before its end date and releases you from further rent payments. You are first required to attempt to get your landlord to voluntarily end your lease obligations. If your request is refused, you must then give the landlord ten days notice that you'll be seeking the court order, and pay all rent due through termination, before you can be released by the judge. In court, you should be prepared to show that you, or one or more of your children, are at risk of harm if you continue to reside in the premises, and that moving is a significantly safer option.
Good planning is required to get the best possible result in a divorce. One important area to consider is insurance coverage and health care.
Individuals and families who are about to be evicted due to rent arrears may be able to obtain a public assistance grant or loan. In New York, at least three emergency assistance programs are available from the Human Resources Administration: Emergency Assistance to Families, Emergency Assistance to Adults, and Emergency Safety Net Assistance. To get this help, you primarily need to show that you'll be able to pay future rent if you receive assistance now, and that you have no alternate housing. It's worth looking into if you've run out of other options. Call 311 and ask the operator for the local Public Assistance Office for your Zip Code. Also, in New York City, Catholic Charities and Northern Manhattan Improvement Corporation administer Federal Emergency Management Agency or "FEMA" grants of one month's rent to prevent eviction. There are other organizations with similar offers - the Citywide Taskforce on Housing Court (212-962-4795) provides referrals to charities that give financial assistance to tenants facing eviction. If you can scrape together the money for a consultation with a Tenants' lawyer, you may also get some good advice on buying yourself the extra time you might need to get everything coordinated.
Many leases say that if there is litigation, you must reimburse the landlord for the cost of legal fees. However, unless you agree to do so, only the court can actually order you to pay these expenses. Sometimes landlords get perturbed about not getting back money they had to pay to lawyers. If that issue gets in the way of hammering out a workable settlement, bring the argument to the attention of the judge or law assistant and explain that you've been trying to resolve the dispute in good faith. If that's the only obstacle to settling, the court may intervene and ask the landlord's lawyer to drop the demand that you pay attorneys fees.
Good research is essential to maximize your chances of winning your case and protecting your rights. In Landlord Tenant litigation, you should always check the following three sources for information that can help you.
In child custody cases, a New York Court will sometimes appoint a guardian for the children. A guardian is usually an attorney whose job it is to represent the child or children, and to express their needs to the court. You need to keep in mind that any conversations you have with the guardian are not privileged attorney-client communication, and whatever you say, write or do can be used against you. Even things that you would expect to help you may be damaging. For example, it's not a good idea to make criticisms about your spouse to the guardian. This gives the impression of a tendency towards parental alienation, something courts take a very dim view of and can hurt your case.
If the conditions in your building are horrendous and the landlord has been egregiously negligent in addressing them, you may want to consider initiating a 7A proceeding. This is an action in which you ask the Court to remove control of the building from the landlord. A Court-appointed administrator is then assigned to make the necessary repairs and manage the property. You'll need to have at least one-third of the building's tenants participate in making the request. In this instance, it pays to organize a Tenants' Association, since if the conditions are extremely bad, you probably will be considering a rent strike as part of your legal strategy to enforce your rights. However, once a 7A administrator is appointed, tenants have to pay full rent - there aren't any rent reductions for bad conditions because all funds collected will be used for repairs. From a practical perspective, each building's situation needs to be individually evaluated to see whether it's best to pursue rent reductions and a court order forcing necessary repairs, or getting a 7A administrator involved.
Retaining the right matrimonial attorney can make the difference between whether you get a good outcome or not, and whether your case proceeds smoothly or turns into a costly nightmare. So what constitutes the "right" lawyer for you? Here are a few points to consider. Essentially, there are three basic criteria to evaluate.
If your landlord is attempting to evict you in Housing Court, you will receive a legal document called a petition. In response, you must file a document referred to as an answer. Your initial answer can be the most important element in your entire case for two reasons. First, it is frequently the first thing a judge will look at when examining a tenant's side of the case. Second, if you do not assert all relevant defenses and claims in it, you may lose the right to do so later. If you rely on the Court Clerk to help you fill out your answer, not all of the applicable defenses or claims may be included. The Clerk isn't your lawyer, doesn't have time to analyze your case, and is very busy. Even if you're going to represent yourself, you should at least try to get together the funds for a consultation with a Tenants' attorney, so that this very critical document can be filled out properly from the start. Your case and tenancy may depend on it.
All court documents have to be completed properly for the landlord to succeed against you in Housing Court. Otherwise the case can be dismissed. However, you have to raise effective objections to defects in the papers to get a dismissal. There are three easy challenges to landlord papers you can immediately raise in your defense, if applicable.