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New York Matrimonial Trial Handbook

The New York Matrimonial Trial Handbook by Joel R. Brandes is available in Bookstores and online in the print edition at the Bookbaby Bookstore, Amazon Barnes & Noble, Goodreads and other online book sellers. It is also available in Kindle ebook editions and epub ebook editions for all ebook readers in our website bookstore. The New York Matrimonial Trial Handbook is divided into five parts: (1) Preliminary Matters Prior to the Commencement of Trial, Conduct of Trial and Rules of Evidence Particularly Applicable in Matrimonial Matters; (2); Establishing Grounds for Divorce, Separation and Annulment and Defenses; (3) Obtaining Maintenance, Child Support, Exclusive Occupancy and Counsel Fees; (4) Property Distribution and Evidence of Value; and (5) Trial of a Custody Case. There are thousands of suggested questions for the examination and cross-examination of witnesses dealing with very aspect of the matrimonial trial. Click on this link for more information about the contents of the book and on this link for the complete table of contents.

The New York Matrimonial Trial Handbook was reviewed by Bernard Dworkin, Esq., in the New York Law Journal on December 21, 2017. His review is reprinted on our website at with the permission of the New York Law Journal.

Joel R. Brandes, is the author of Law and The Family New York, 2d (9 volumes) (Thomson Reuters), and Law and the Family New York Forms (5 volumes) (Thomson Reuters). Law and The Family New York, 2d (9 volumes) (Thomson Reuters), is both a treatise and a procedural guide. The text analyzes every aspect of New York Family Law. Law and the Family New York Forms, 2d (New York Practice Library, 5 Volumes) provides practitioner-tested forms for New York divorce and family law matters.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Error to Decide Custody Without Forensic Report Where Conflicting Testimony

Error to Decide Custody Without Forensic Report Where Conflicting Testimony Regarding Parties Conduct, and Evidence Suggesting Children Exhibiting Behavioral Problems

In Ekstra v Ekstra, --- N.Y.S.2d ----, 2008 WL 669895 (N.Y.A.D. 2 Dept.) Supreme Court appointed psychologist Lobel as a neutral forensic expert to conduct evaluations and submit a written forensic report on the custody issue. The appointment order provided that "[t]he neutral forensic evaluator's final report shall be admitted as evidence-in-chief without the necessity for independent foundation testimony or evidence, pursuant to 22 NYCRR 202.16(g)." The order further provided that "[a]ny party who wishes to cross-examine the neutral [forensic] evaluator, as permitted by the Uniform Rules, shall bear the cost of the neutral [forensic] evaluator's services in preparing such testimony, travel and testifying unless the Court directs otherwise." After Dr. Lobel's report was submitted, the father's counsel expressed an intention to cross-examine him and asked the court whether the father would be required to bear the costs of his appearance. The court responded that the father would not be required to bear that expense, but made no other provision for payment. As a consequence of not receiving his fee, Lobel did not appear, and the court granted the father's application to preclude the forensic report. Relying largely on its evaluation of the credibility of the witnesses, the court awarded sole custody of the parties' two children to the father. The Appellate Division reversed. It held that the in light of the sharply conflicting testimony regarding the conduct of the parties, and evidence suggesting that the children were exhibiting behavioral problems, the court should not have rendered a custody determination without first receiving the report of the neutral forensic expert it had appointed. Moreover, inasmuch as the father had the right to cross-examine the expert (see 22 NYCRR 202.16[g][2] ), and the expert could not have been compelled to testify without appropriate compensation the court should have made provision for payment to Lobel as it indicated that it would in the order appointing him. It reversed and remitted the matter to the Supreme Court, to reopen the custody hearing, at which time Lobel's report should be received in evidence and, should either party wish to cross-examine him, the court should make provision for the payment of his fee and expenses in accordance with the order appointing him.