hello & welcome

You have a lot of questions
– we will help you find answers.

Thank you for visiting Darwish Law Offices, PC. We invite you to spend a few minutes here, to get to know us, and to schedule a free consultation so we can get to know you.

Your family matters.

 

 

about the firm


Our Philosophy

Darwish Law Offices, PC is located in Syracuse, New York. We are a family and matrimonial boutique firm. In other words, our firm is dedicated to divorce and family related legal matters: child custody, child support, spousal support, legal separation, and asset allocation. Diane E. Darwish Plumley, Esq. chose this boutique model for her firm because the practice of divorce and family matters, and the courts that hear those cases, are filled with nuance, local procedural custom, and ever-changing law; navigating those waters is technical and complex. We have handled 100s of these cases… other attorneys may have only had 10s. While we were busy analyzing and working through 100s of fact and legal permutations in divorce and family law cases, they were busy with other types of legal matters. The defined practice of Darwish Law Offices, PC allows us to handle your family law or divorce matter nimbly, efficiently and confidently.

Diane E. Darwish Plumley, Esq. believes in giving her clients peace of mind and strength by empowering them with information and clarity. How many of your friends or colleagues, later on after having an office visit with their attorney or participating in a court appearance, told you that they don’t understand what happened? So long as you are a client of Darwish Law Offices, PC, that overwhelmed client will not be you. This is your life. This is your family. Diane E. Darwish Plumley, Esq. and her staff will provide the structure such that you may make clear, informed decisions about your legal matter and for your family.

Diane E. Darwish Plumley Esq. spends as much time as is necessary to educate her clients in the various processes that are available to resolve their divorce or family matter, as well as the law. Did you know that there are at least four ways to get divorced in the State of New York? (Be sure to visit the Collaborative Process section of this site!) Do you recognize the huge impact that process can have on your legal matter and your family? Darwish Law Offices, PC does; we will work together to choose the process that is best for you.

Attorney and counselor at law. Diane E. Darwish Plumley, Esq. takes her role as “counselor” just as seriously as she takes her role as “attorney.” Divorce and family legal maters are multi-textured and severally layered; Diane E. Darwish Plumley, Esq. understands that the law is rarely the only factor at play in resolving divorce and family matters. Together, we will thoroughly explore all circumstances associated with your divorce. Not only will this empower you (us) to make better decisions, but it will also help us to formulate better legal strategy.

Darwish Law Offices, PC offers creative, flexible representation. The needs of all people and families are not the same. Likewise, there are many different ways that Diane E. Darwish Plumley, Esq. can represent you. Most commonly, start to finish. But this may be more than you’re looking for.

  • Do you want to represent yourself?
    Diane E. Darwish Plumley, Esq. will answer your questions, explain paperwork to you, and help you draft your pleadings.
  • Not sure how to get started?
    Spend some time with Diane E. Darwish Plumley, Esq. and she will educate you.
  • Nervous about talking to the judge?
    Diane E. Darwish Plumley, Esq. will stand by your side and advocate for you in the courtroom.
  • Just received a separation agreement in the mail and unsure about your rights and the next steps?
    Diane E. Darwish Plumley, Esq. will review the proposed agreement with you and make recommendations.
  • Filed your own family or divorce paperwork and it was rejected?
    Visit Darwish Law Offices, PC and we will explain how to properly access the courts.
  • Going through mediation and want to know where you stand?
    Diane E. Darwish Plumley, Esq. will hang out on the sidelines and advise you accordingly.

Thank you for taking a few minutes to get to know us. You have more questions. Let us help you. Together, we will work through your divorce and family law questions thoroughly and methodically. We will start at the beginning and end at the end.

But, Darwish Law Offices, PC can’t help you unless you make the call. We are ready to move forward as your legal counsel. Call us today to schedule a free consultation so YOU can determine if we’re a good match. We can’t wait to meet you!

 

Diane E. Darwish Plumley, Esq.: Her Practice, Our Community

Diane E. Darwish Plumley, Esq. has been practicing law in Central New York for over 10 years. Diane attended Syracuse University’s College of Law, and graduated with honors in 2001, not only having earned her Juris Doctor, but also with a Masters of Science in Telecommunications and Network Management from Syracuse University’s College of Information Studies. Broad academic foci, which also included intensive, successful study in mathematics, economics, technology transfer and intellectual property, affords Diane the ability and skill to draw from and apply great diversity in analytical and creative thinking to every legal matter that she handles. Diane still enjoys keeping her feet wet in intellectual property and technology transfer as a guest lecturer in the College of Engineering and Computer Science at Syracuse University. Diane has also been a guest speaker at the CNY Skeptics in the area of family law.

In addition to devoting her law practice to families and children, Diane has dedicated the vast majority of her personal time to our Central New York families and youth since 1999 as an active local volunteer. As a board member of the Technology Alliance of Central New York (TACNY), Diane became Chairperson of the TACNY Junior Café Scientifique series for middle school children in Spring 2010. In Spring 2014, Diane also became the TACNY Chair of Programs. Additionally, since 1999, Diane has been on the organizational committees for the following local youth STEM events, and design and build competitions: CNY Bridge Build ‘Em and Bust ‘Em, the Regional VEX Robotics competition, the CNY Science and Engineering Fair, and the CNY Rocket Team Challenge.

Our CNY community has graciously recognized Diane’s long-term volunteer efforts with several awards and honors: 2013 CNY 40 under Forty Award, 2013-2014 VEX Robotics Competition Volunteer of the Year, 2013 distinguished volunteer of the MOST (the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science and Technology), 2014 10-year honored MOST volunteer, and 2014 Presidential Gold Award for volunteering.

In her relaxation time, Diane enjoys raising honeybees, producing honey and beeswax candles, raising chickens and producing eggs, making maple syrup, hiking, running, camping, and otherwise enjoying the out of doors with her husband and step-sons.

 

 

collaborative process

The Collaborative Process for Your Divorce and Family Matters

And out of the ashes arose the Phoenix.

The Collaborative Law Process is an alternative to traditional courtroom divorce litigation that is exponentially increasing in popularity for all of the reasons that you are about to learn... 

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The Collaborative Law Process allows spouses and partners to avoid the public spectacle of a contested family matter litigated through the courts. It drastically reduces the costs, both emotional and financial, of traditional litigation, which are often enormous and create deep rifts in a family long after your divorce has concluded. Divorce agreements or custodial agreements that are reached using the Collaborative Process are negotiated in a peaceful, structured environment of trust, respect and teamwork, and therefore typically, result in long-lasting, secure outcomes. Your family, your way.

 

How does the Collaborative Divorce Process work?

First, we assemble your dedicated collaborative team. Your collaborative team is committed to guiding you to a well-reasoned, fully informed divorce settlement. The collaborative team includes specially trained collaborative lawyers, collaborative coaches, and team financial neutrals. There are many local team members to choose from: http://cnycollaborativepractice.com/find-a-professional/

Please take a moment to get to know the collaborative team:

  • The Lawyers
    Practicing family law and matrimonial law attorneys who are specially trained in the Collaborative Process and who represent each spouse throughout the process. At all times, collaborative attorneys zealously balance your legal rights with your familial and practical interests and priorities, using skills that are collaborative, not combative.
  • The Coaches
    A mental health professional, usually a licensed clinical social worker and a licensed marriage and family therapist who is trained in the Collaborative Process and who has experience in his or her own practice counseling individuals and families through interpersonal conflict. The coach is present at the team meetings throughout the collaborative process, and is available to the parties together or individually. The role of the coach is to address communication styles or soothe individual emotional perspectives that may hinder the collaborative process such that the team may continue to move forward throughout the collaborative process.
  • The Financial Neutrals
    A financial professional, usually a CPA, who is trained in the Collaborative Process and available to you to help you reason through financial concerns and obligations related to divorce, and help you arrive at short term and long term financial decisions and solutions for your family.

Second, the team of collaborative professionals begins working for you and your family. We will ensure you and your spouse a safe, peaceful, productive, and empathic environment in which to proceed. Meetings take place at the convenience of the clients in a comfortable, respectful environment (coffee and bagels, anyone)? For example, meeting locations may be alternated among both lawyers’ offices and the coach’s office. At all times during work on your matter, you and your team work together according to the terms of the Collaborative Participation Agreement.

What is the Collaborative Participation Agreement? The Participation Agreement is a written contract that is reviewed, discussed and signed by all team members at the start of the collaborative meetings. The Participation Agreement details the ground rules for the collaborative process, and defines interpersonal and communicative goals and boundaries among the participants and the collaborative team. For example:

    “…in spite of differences in incomes, knowledge, access to materials, or positions of authority in the marriage, neither party will take advantage of the other’s shortcomings or knowingly withhold any pertinent data during the collaborative process.”

    “The parties intend to communicate with each other effectively so that they can economically and efficiently settle the issues arising from the likely dissolution of their marriage.”

    “The parties may discuss resolution of issues outside of the settlement conference setting only with the consent of both parties.”

Third, the collaborative team employs their training in the Collaborative Process and the law to resolve your divorce. Creativity. Cooperation. Honesty. Safety. Integrity. Full disclosure. Information sharing. Listening. Critical thinking and reasoning. There is no mountain too high or river too deep. Your family, your way!

Fourth and finally, we let the papers do the walking! In other words, your separation agreement goes to court, and you do not!

For more information on the Collaborative Divorce Process, please visit:

https://www.nycourts.gov/ip/collablaw/faqs.shtml
http://www.cnycollaborativepractice.com/
https://www.collaborativepractice.com/

There is so much to share with you. Darwish Law Offices, PC looks forward to helping you, and looks forward to hearing from you. Call us now to schedule a free consultation. We can’t wait to meet you!

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child custody & support

Child Custody

From the legal perspective, child custody has two overarching components. The first is legal custody and the second is physical custody. In a nutshell, the concept of legal custody addresses decision-making for the child in the areas of education, medicine and religion...
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The concept of physical custody refers to the allocation of parenting time with the child between two parents. Both aspects are addressed in what is often referred to as a Parenting Plan or a Custodial Arrangement.

The good news is that parenting plans can be as flexible, detailed or restrictive as parents and children want them or need them to be. At the end of the day, decisions by courts and by parents hinge on the best interests of the children. Despite a popular misconception, New York State law does not give mothers a preference for physical custody, and more and more frequently, parents are agreeing to and judges are awarding shared physical custody, whereby mothers and fathers have equal or nearly equal parenting time with their children.

While it is not unusual that custodial arrangements are determined through the litigation process or by a judge, this is not the parents’ only choice of process for resolution. For example, parents may negotiate a parenting plan outside of court and enter into a contract known as a stipulation, use the Collaborative Process or mediate a parenting plan for their children.

 

Relocation

To answer your immediate question, NO, the custodial parent cannot relocate with children without the consent of the non-custodial parent or without permission obtained through the courts. The non-custodial parent has the right to regular parenting time and access to the child.

When making a determination on whether to allow a parent to relocate with children, a judge will consider the following factors:

  • Impact on the quality of the child’s relationship with the non-custodial parent
  • After the relocation, whether the child will continue to have meaningful contact with the non-custodial parent
  • Whether relocation would enhance the child’s life economically, emotionally and/or educationally
  • Whether a permanent award of physical custody to the non-custodial parent would not be better for the child than relocation
  • Whether relocation of the child is in the child’s best interest
  • Whether the non-custodial parent has consistently provided for the child’s financial needs

 

Parental Alienation

Is parental alienation happening in your family? Take a few moments to examine the following indicators:

  • The child aligns with the alienating parent, building a wall against the alienated parent comprised with bricks of denigration and hatred
  • The child cannot rationalize or understand his or her hatred, which appears frivolous or absurd
  • The child’s feelings toward the alienated parent show no ambivalence
  • The child takes ownership over the alienation, in other words, insists that the decisions to reject the alienated parent are his or her own
  • The child defends and is defensive of the alienating parent
  • The child has no regard for or recognition of the feelings of the alienated parent
  • The child uses concepts and makes language choices that are distinctively characteristic of the alienating parent
  • The child’s animosity extends to the alienated parent’s extended family and friends

There are serious psychological and legal consequences to parental alienation. The custodial parent has an affirmative obligation to foster the relationship between the child and the non-custodial parent. If the custodial parent fails in this regard, and takes the next step of alienating the relationship with the non-custodial parent, the law takes drastic measures to accommodate this egregious situation, and your child custody arrangement as well as child support obligations can change drastically.

 

Grandparent Custody and Visitation

The State of New York affords grandparents the legal right to seek custody and visitation of their grandchildren. Because mothers and fathers have a superior right to custody, and in order to transfer custody to a non-parent, the petitioner-non-parent, in other words, a grandparent, has the legal burden to prove extraordinary circumstances.
Grandparents must have what is referred to as legal “standing” to seek custody of their grandchildren. Standing means that an individual must meet certain requirements before they can bring an action in court. In the situation of grandparent custody, a grandparent has custody if either or both of the child’s parents are deceased, or if extraordinary circumstances justify the court’s decision to intervene and hear the matter. After standing has been established, usually through a successful allegation then showing of extraordinary circumstances, the Courts next seek to determine the best interests of the child, in other words, whether awarding a transfer of physical custody to the grandparent is the best outcome for the child. The courts will consider the child’s wishes, the child’s established relationship with the grandparents, the reasons why the parent opposes a transfer of custody, among other factors.

Diane E. Darwish Plumley Esq. has represented hundreds of parents, children and grandparents on a wide variety of custody matters and circumstances. We look forward to helping you. Call Darwish Law Offices, PC and schedule a free consultation. We can’t wait to meet you!

 

Child Support

In New York State, both parents are legally obligated to financially support their children until their children reach the age of 21 (unless earlier emancipated). Both parents share in the cost of day-to-day needs for their children, e.g., mortgage or rent payment, safe vehicles in which to transport the children, food, furniture, bedding, toys, clothing, diapers, school supplies, musical instruments, soccer gear, etc. Both parents must provide for their children’s health insurance and medical care, and depending on your family, day care and education. The non-custodial parent’s obligation is satisfied by payments made to the custodial parent, in other words, payments are made to the parent who the children live with most of the time.

Often, the amount of the child support obligation is basic math. The equation is narrated in New York State’s Domestic Relations Law and Family Court Act, which is a codification of the “Income Shares” model for calculation of child support. The premises of the Income Shares model is an estimated percentage of household income that it takes to raise a child (not the actual cost of raising a child) and that the child’s standard of living is as if the parents were not separated. These premises are likely why courts may impute income to an underemployed or unemployed parent, why a parent may still be required to pay child support even if parents share physical custody, and why the child support recipient is not required to provide a specific accounting of how child support monies were spent.

Sometimes, the amount of the child support obligation is not simple math. The equation may be treated as a mere guideline. For example, the court may determine that the result is unjust or improper. The court may deviate from the original number (referred to as the presumptive amount). You and the other parent may agree to a different number and payment plan that better meets the needs of your family, or you may agree to use different gross incomes, or different pro rata shares. There is room for flexibility! (The collaborative process is a great tool to use to come to a number that makes sense for your family.)

As you have likely concluded on your own, child support agreements and determinations after trial range from the straightforward to the complex. Diane E. Darwish Plumley, Esq. welcomes the opportunity to guide and advise you through the math and the various permutations and outcomes that follow, taking into consideration the unique circumstances of your family. Call us today to schedule a free 15 minute consultation so that together, we may move forward!

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modification

Modification and Enforcement of Child Custody Orders, Child Support Orders, Judgments of Divorce

Diane E. Darwish Plumley, Esq. and the staff at Darwish Law Offices, PC understand that no matter how carefully you have planned for the future, foresight is not 20/20 and life happens...
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Unforeseen, fundamental and monumentally impactful changes to families happen every day – maybe you saw it coming, maybe it took you by surprise. It could look something like this:

 

    Parent 1: Our oldest two children just moved in with me.
    Parent 2: Our oldest two children refuse to come home.
    Children: Parent 2 makes us eat vegetables every day, get all of our homework done before we can play, and thinks we’re too young to have a Facebook account.

     

    Parent 1: My children have lost interest in spending time with Parent 2, they refuse to spend time with him/her.
    Parent 2: Parent 1 is brainwashing our children, they refuse to spend time with me.
    Children: Parent 2 doesn’t live anywhere near to our friends, and Parent 1 lives only one block from the coolest kid in school. When I ask Parent 2 if my friends can sleep over, Parent 2 says, “no.”

     

    Parent 1: I am obligated to pay child support, but I shouldn’t have to follow the order because I pay for our children’s clothes, extra-curricular activities, and give them money whenever they ask.
    Parent 2: Parent 1 stopped paying child support.
    Children: Are our parents fighting because of us… again?

     

    Parent: I have been away for two years and entrusted Caregiver to temporarily care for my children.
    Caregiver: Parent worked in another state for two years and left me to raise his/her children.
    Children: We love our rooms, our friends, our school, and our life with Caregiver. We are angry, sad and confused that Parent left us, did we do something wrong?

     

    Parent 1: I lost my job and can’t afford to pay child support or spousal maintenance anymore.
    Parent 2: Parent 1 lost his/her job and I haven’t received spousal maintenance or child support for several months.
    Children: We are so tired of hearing our parents being mean to each other and fighting. Even when they try to hide it, we know how they feel. We hate both of our parents, and don’t even want to be home most of the time.

     

    Parent 1: I have primary custody of our children and I need to relocate.
    Parent 2: Parent 1 wants to take our children away from me.
    Children: We are afraid that we will never see Parent 2 again, but we feel sad for Parent 1 because we see Parent 1 cry every time collectors call and threaten to turn off our heat and take our car away from us.

 

And so on…

At Darwish Law Offices, PC we understand that things change, often unfortunately and unexpectedly. Yes, it can happen to you. We would appreciate the opportunity to help you put your legal rights into motion to deal with this change. Please do call us today to schedule a free consultation. We can’t wait to meet you.

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