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Judge Sunshine spreads light on updates in matrimonial law

Mr. November Returns to Bay Ridge Lawyers for Annual Update

December 5, 2016 By Rob Abruzzese Brooklyn Daily Eagle
For its final monthly CLE meeting of the year, the Bay Ridge Lawyers Association (BRLA) invited Justice Jeffrey Sunshine (pictured right with BRLA President Stephen Spinelli) to give his annual lecture on matrimonial law. Eagle photos by Rob Abruzzese
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The Bay Ridge Lawyers Association (BRLA) hosted its monthly Continuing Legal Education (CLE) meeting where Hon. Jeffrey Sunshine gave his annual matrimonial update at the Pearl Room in Bay Ridge on Wednesday night.

“Justice Sunshine hates this nickname, but everyone around here knows him as our Mr. November because he comes every year to give us an update on matrimonial law,” said Rosa Pannitto.

Justice Sunshine, the supervising judge for matrimonial matters in the Kings County Supreme Court, is also the chair of the Chief Administrative Judge’s Matrimonial Practice Advisory and Rule committee, and the chair of the board of advisers for the Center for Children and Families and the Law at the Maurice A. Deane School of Law at Hofstra University.

He began his lecture by giving updates on how the court itself is running. He bragged that the process for uncontested divorces is down to approximately four and a half to five months, which he estimated to be the best in the state.

Justice Sunshine then started getting into actual changes in the law. He discussed changes to maintenance guidelines, and spent a good portion of time discussing a new rule change that went into effect in October — state Supreme Court matrimonial actions will now have the same standard of contempt as family court actions.

“Family court actions, you need not exhaust all your other remedies before somebody can be held in contempt, for example, for non-payment of support,” Justice Sunshine said. “But in the Supreme Court, the judiciary statute in the DRL (Domestic Relations Law) provided the Supreme Court standard you had to prove that there were no other adequate remedies of the law.

“So the scenario that we saw all too often was, unfortunately, a woman wasn’t being paid child support, the spouse would come in, and to serve contempt you would have to jump through all of these hoops to prove that there are no other remedies in the law…You have to try to find bank accounts, garnish salaries, go through all of these other steps before the last step of — bring your toothbrush because it’s incarceration time.”

The Bay Ridge Lawyers will host its annual holiday party this year at Encore on Fourth Avenue in Bay Ridge on Dec. 15. After that it will not meet again until its next monthly CLE on Jan. 25 when attorney Mark Longo will give an ethics lecture.

The BRLA winter seminar will take place on Jan. 19 and Jan. 20 at the Tropicana in Atlantic City. The annual five-credit CLE lecture will feature five judges as speakers: Hon. Lawrence Knipel, Hon. Patricia DiMango, Hon. Barbara I. Panepinto, Hon. John G. Ingram, Hon. Matthew A. Sciarrino, Jr. and Hon. Joy Campanelli.

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