Divorce Law


Each couple faces unique challenges. When a marriage ends, you deserve representation designed to meet your specific needs — guidance from an attorney who does not just dictate a solution, but who asks the question: What is best for you?


At Ostertag O’Leary Barrett & Faulkner, our Poughkeepsie divorce attorneys tailor solutions to each client’s needs. We take the time to learn about you, so we can understand what you want out of the process. We start with the story of your relationship. We continue with your concerns and plans for the future. Then, we develop a divorce strategy that helps you reach your goals by addressing all of the issues that may affect you, such as:

  • Child custody and visitation
  • Child support
  • Spousal support/alimony
  • Division of marital assets and debts
  • Customizing Our Approach to Meet Your Needs

The traditional way to get divorced involves the spouses taking sides against each other in litigation. Our attorneys have decades of experience handling contentious court battles for clients, and we will not hesitate to do so for you if it is necessary.

In a divorce, issues of property division can cause significant conflict. At Ostertag O’Leary Barrett & Faulkner, our goal is to protect our clients’ interests while navigating property division issues. Located in Poughkeepsie, our law firm combines the work of experienced attorneys who use in-depth knowledge of the law on property division to your advantage.

With more than 90 years of combined experience, our lawyers have built a reputation for effective and compassionate legal representation for families throughout the Hudson Valley. At our Poughkeepsie law office, we understand that a divorce can be a difficult and emotional time. However, we also know that it is a time when serious decisions must be made. It is our job to protect your interests and help you make informed decisions.


In New York State, marital property and debt are subject to equitable distribution. In general, “marital property” is property acquired during the marriage, with certain exceptions, such as an inheritance or a gift to one spouse.

When property is divided equitably, courts examine certain factors. Equitable does necessarily mean equal, although it often does. Depending on the circumstances involved in their marriages and divorces, couples experience different results. That is why it is critical to work with a lawyer who can be a strong advocate for you and has a solid understanding of the ever changing law as applied to your unique circumstances.

At Ostertag O’Leary Barrett & Faulkner, we draw upon years of experience to advocate for our clients. AV rated* under Martindale Hubbell’s peer rating system, our firm is well respected in the community. Over the years, our lawyers have gained a reputation for effective advocacy that makes sense for clients, and Ms. Barrett and Ms. Faulkner are Fellows in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

Over the years, our lawyers have gained a reputation for effective advocacy in even the most complex divorces. We have the resources to handle even the most complex division of assets, including division of:

  • Investments
  • Pensions, retirement savings and 401(k)s
  • Real estate
  • Businesses and professional practices


For some couples facing divorce, valuing a professional practice may become a large part of equitable distribution of marital property under New York State law. The attorneys at Ostertag O’Leary Barrett & Faulkner are well equipped for this difficult task.

To effectively represent our clients’ interests, we often partner with highly-respected experts, including accountants, actuaries and real estate appraisers. We also work with forensic accountants and private investigators in cases where hidden assets may be involved.


Valuing a professional practice often involves consulting with knowledgeable experts, like accountants, to do a complex assessment of all the factors involved, which include, among others:

  • What portion of the marriage occurred while the business operated?
  • What was the other spouse’s contribution to the business?
  • What are the Department of Labor statistics on earning capacity?

Our lawyers then review this information with an accountant. We make sure to understand the methodology involved, the assumptions made and the factors calculated. This prepares us to advocate effectively for you.


Each marriage is different, but when the assets and income that formerly supported one household must be divided to support two, financial difficulties can arise. To ease the transition, a judge may award spousal maintenance (commonly called alimony) to be paid by one spouse to the other.

At Ostertag O’Leary Barrett & Faulkner, we have more than 90 combined years of experience in family law, and we have helped thousands of people resolve issues of spousal maintenance. Whether you are seeking alimony or are obligated to pay, we will work hard to ensure that you are treated fairly. Our goal is to help you achieve financial stability following divorce.


In New York, there are two types of alimony (also referred to as spousal support or spousal maintenance) that may be awarded in a divorce case.

They are:

  • Temporary maintenance: This type of alimony is paid while the divorce process is ongoing. The amount awarded is determined according to guidelines established in 2010. The guidelines are flexible, making it critical to work with an attorney who understands the law and can use it to make sure you do not overpay or to make sure that you receive the alimony to which you are entitled.
  • Permanent maintenance: This type of alimony is ordered as part of the final divorce judgment. Although it is called “permanent alimony,” the payments end if certain events take place, including remarriage of the receiving spouse. We also have statutory guidelines in place for determining post divorce or permanent alimony/maintenance.

Further, when determining permanent alimony, a judge may consider many factors, including:

  • Each spouse’s age
  • Each spouse’s education
  • Health
  • Income history and potential employment opportunities
  • Length of marriage


In the United States today, it is more and more common for couples to struggle with a large amount of debt. The cost of advanced degrees, the declining real estate market and the prevalence of credit card debt all play a large part.

When you and your spouse are divorcing, your debt load must be taken into consideration. Working with an attorney who understands division of debt under New York State law can be a serious advantage — significantly impacting your quality of life after a divorce.

At Ostertag O’Leary Barrett & Faulkner, in Poughkeepsie, we use years of experience to take a holistic approach to divorce. We help our clients manage all issues involved — including division of debt — so that their interests are protected.


Because our law firm takes an integrated approach, we can often help divorcing couples take action on issues of debt that other attorneys might just ignore. For some, bankruptcy may be an option. For others, it may be possible to negotiate a debt down to a lower amount. Whatever action we take, we consider every implication — from the tax impact to advantages you may experience.


In New York State, marital property (property acquired during the marriage with some exceptions) is subject to equitable distribution. “Equitable” does not necessarily mean equal, although it often is. It is a distribution based on certain equitable factors. Under the law, debts accumulated during the marriage are similarly taken into account.

Our attorneys spend time reviewing these experts’ work to ensure that division of assets and debts is in your best interests. We believe in reasonable and collaborative approaches to asset division, but this also means that we do our due diligence — making sure that our advocacy is based on thorough knowledge and well-reasoned strategies.


In additional to traditional ways to get divorced, we have found that a relatively new method of family dispute resolution leads too much less conflict and more satisfying outcomes. That method is called collaborative divorce.

In collaborative divorce, you and your spouse are each represented by a family law attorney. Everyone agrees to resolve the issues in your divorce through discussion and agreement instead of going to court. We then work with divorce coaches and financial specialists to reach resolutions that fit each person’s needs. All divorce-related issues, such as custody, property division, and child support can all be resolved using the collaborative process, and it is done without the anger and bitterness commonly associated with the end of a marriage.

We believe in reasonable actions and sensible solutions that protect our clients’ interests. We can use whatever dispute resolution method is best suited to you and your family situation.

Conflict associated with the end of a marriage can be one of the most challenging obstacles for couples. At Ostertag O’Leary Barrett & Faulkner, we not only serve as competent and skillful attorneys but also strive to serve as calm and caring guides through the legal system. Attorneys at our Poughkeepsie law firm assist clients considering divorce or separation. We also help them learn about their options and identify the legal strategies that are best for them.


Effective October 12, 2010, New York State has added “irretrievable breakdown of marriage” for a period of at least six months, as a new ground, effectively permitting no-fault divorce as an additional ground for divorce. This additional ground allows one spouse to unilaterally conclude that they want out of the marriage. The “fault” grounds also continue, including adultery, abandonment or cruel and inhuman treatment.

At Ostertag O’Leary Barrett & Faulkner, we understand that marriages deteriorate for many reasons – sometimes for the “at fault” reasons and sometimes couples just grow apart. If they do, and if they wish to resolve their issues without going to court, or wish to avoid placing blame where it does not belong, they may consider entering into a separation agreement.


Separation agreements are complex documents that deal with all the issues related to the demise of a marriage. They address child custody, division of property and support matters. Couples enter into this agreement and live apart. After a minimum of one year has passed, a divorce may be granted on the ground that the couple has been living separately.

As of October 12, 2010, divorcing couples may also use the additional ground of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage for a period of at least six months as long as all other issues have been resolved, including, equitable distribution, spousal support, child support, custody, visitation, and counsel and expert fees.

Separation agreements should not be confused with postnuptial agreements. Postnuptial agreements serve as a condition to remaining married, where couples lay out their respective rights and responsibilities with the understanding that they are continuing with their marriage. Separation agreements resolve all of a separating couple’s issues without resorting to court intervention and then either party to the agreement may then proceed to seek a divorce.


In July 2011, the Marriage Equality Act became the law in New York. The Act allows same-sex couples to get married and enjoy the same rights that opposite-sex couples have always had. Of course, the right to marriage also implies the right to divorce. Like heterosexual couples, same-sex couples wishing to end their marriage will need the help of skilled, reliable divorce lawyers.

At Ostertag O’Leary Barrett & Faulkner, we welcome all separating and divorcing clients. Our attorneys have more than 90 years of combined experience practicing family law, and we are committed to finding workable solutions to divorce and all of its related issues.


Now that New York law gives equal rights to all couples, the issues that are involved in a same-sex divorce are the same as those presented in opposite-sex divorce cases. Our skilled attorneys can help you resolve things like:

  • Division of property and debts
  • Dealing with business property and professional licenses
  • Estate planning and estate tax implications of divorce
  • Alimony/spousal maintenance
  • Child custody and child support

Some gay and lesbian couples may have signed a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that outlines how some of these issues should be decided. In these cases, we will analyze the agreement and make sure your rights are protected.

We encourage same-sex couples to think about using collaborative divorce rather than traditional litigation. The collaborative process empowers spouses and encourages cooperation, which often leads to a more satisfying outcome for everyone involved.

Sometimes events in marriage lead couples to consider divorce. Many times they believe that divorce is the only option. Though they may hear this from their families or their friends, the messages they will hear from our experienced lawyers may give them a new perspective. At Ostertag O’Leary Barrett & Faulkner, we often help clients create alternatives to divorce, including the creation of postnuptial agreements.


Couples planning for marriage should focus on the joy of a new commitment to each other. However, proactive couples should also consider creating a prenuptial agreement, especially if either spouse has been married before, has children from a previous marriage or has assets that require special protection. Their prenuptial agreement should set out what will happen in the event of a divorce and/or death — just in case.

Once thought of as a sign that a couple did not have faith in the long-term viability of their relationship, prenuptial agreements are now recognized as what they really are: useful tools used to decide how assets should be handled if the marriage ends in divorce. Similarly, many couples choose to live together and share their lives but not get married. In these situations, a cohabitation agreement can be used to spell out what should happen to property if the relationship ends.


A prenuptial agreement is a contract that sets out what will happen in the event of a divorce and/or death. Couples sign them before marriage as part of marriage planning. Prenuptial agreements can be an especially good idea if either spouse has been married before, has children from a previous marriage or has assets that require special protection.

With the passage of Marriage Equality Act in July 2011, which legalized same-sex marriage in New York, gay and lesbian couples now enjoy the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual couples. Same-sex couples thinking about marriage can benefit from a well-crafted prenuptial agreement that defines their rights in the event of divorce.


A cohabitation agreement can be used to protect people who live together in long-term non-marital relationships, whether heterosexual or same-sex. These agreements are particularly helpful when a party wants to take that next step with a partner such as starting a business together, purchasing property and/or commingling assets. Because New York law does not protect unmarried couples the way it protects married couples, a cohabitation agreement can be used to build in protections you would not otherwise have and give you peace of mind.

At Ostertag O’Leary Barrett & Faulkner, we have met the needs of couples throughout the Hudson Valley for decades. We have gained a reputation for effective and compassionate representation tailored to each client’s individual needs. Our depth of family law knowledge coupled with real-world problem solving skills allows us to protect our clients’ interests in ways that often exceed their expectations. If you are considering a prenuptial agreement or a cohabitation agreement, we can help you create a plan that protects your interests.


As time passes and your needs change, certain provisions of your Judgment of Divorce may no longer serve your best interests. Or, as time passes, an order that was once followed may be ignored. In either circumstance, it is best to seek a lawyer’s help with enforcement and modification proceedings. At the Poughkeepsie law firm of Ostertag O’Leary Barrett & Faulkner, we are dedicated to guiding clients through this process as effectively and smoothly as possible.


Orders of child custody and visitation are often modified because courts recognize that family needs change as children grow. At Ostertag O’Leary Barrett & Faulkner, we can assist you through the process to make sure that everything goes smoothly in the interests of your children. Regardless of your situation, we can help. We also represent families with parents relocating within or outside of New York State. The law involving relocation presents significant challenges and requires particular expertise and experience which we have.


New York State will help parents enforce child support, but enforcement is often more effective with guidance from an experienced attorney. At Ostertag O’Leary Barrett & Faulkner, we often help our clients explore options that may not otherwise be available to them. We also represent parents accused of not paying child support.

Our experienced attorneys also represent parents in proceedings for modification of child support. We take a holistic approach to this work, and conduct a full analysis of the potential benefits, or sometimes drawbacks, of seeking a modification of child support.


We assist clients with both enforcement and modification of maintenance (also known as alimony). Modification usually requires an experienced attorney. The attorneys at Ostertag O’Leary Barrett & Faulkner have the experience to review your maintenance award and determine whether enforcement or modification is appropriate.


Sometimes a party will fail to follow the terms of the Judgment of Divorce and may refuse to transfer property, make payments, or will fail to adhere to other requirements set forth in the judgment. If your former spouse doesn’t obey the property terms of your Judgment of Divorce, you can file a motion asking the judge to enforce the Judgment of Divorce. At Ostertag O’Leary Barrett & Faulkner, we often help our clients file post judgment applications to enforce their Judgment of Divorce.

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