Barbara J. Schaffer, PLLC

Matrimonial Practice

Ms. Schaffer’s matrimonial law practice ranges from cases where parties are in relative agreement as to the terms of their divorce to those where conflict and emotions are highly charged. Her clients span the economic spectrum as well, from the one percent to the solid middle class.

In all cases, she pays close attention to her client’s goals and is skillful in achieving them within the boundaries of the facts and the law through negotiation and litigation practice. Matrimonial cases involve many issues, most commonly valuation and equitable distribution of marital assets, spousal support, child support, custody, parenting time, awards of attorney’s fees, and orders of protection.

Not all divorces are over upon a judgment or a signed agreement. Many times, there are unresolved issues such as property transfers, real estate sales, asset allocation, and problems with stipulation provisions. Ms. Schaffer prides herself on practicing careful follow-up and making sure that all matters are thoroughly concluded to your satisfaction.


Issues of child custody between married parents are often litigated as part of a divorce in the New York Supreme Court. There’s been a trend by the matrimonial courts to try to ‘dial down’ the litigation aspects of resolving custody and amp up negotiations by mandating that each parent complete a proposed parenting plan containing their proposal for decision-making about their children and for the time that each parent spends with the child, with the goal being that parenting plans will be exchanged by the parties, and there will be enough common ground for the parties to work out an agreement, rather than litigate.

Absent extraordinary circumstances, parenting plans must be submitted by each parent before an attorney for the child and/or a child custody evaluator is appointed—which does not happen in every matrimonial proceeding. In Family Court, there is no requirement to submit parenting plans, and attorneys for the children are more frequently appointed at the beginning of a custody case. Also, absent extraordinary factors, Family Court referees and judges may hold several conferences in custody proceedings, encouraging settlement over litigation.

Ms. Schaffer has litigated and often settled many complex custody matters, including interstate and international relocation disputes, in both Family Court and Supreme Court.

Barbara J. Schaffer, PLLC
Barbara J. Schaffer, PLLC

Prenups and Postnups

Prenuptial agreements are not the first thing you may be thinking about when you are getting married, the first time. For those entering into second marriages, for people who are getting married after having established a successful business or career, or those who have accumulated substantial assets, or those who have inherited assets, thoughts of prenuptial agreements may become more pressing. Agreements in writing, which are signed with certain specific formalities, made before (prenuptial) or during a marriage (postnuptial), are legally enforceable.

Prenuptial agreements should be done well in advance of the wedding date for several good reasons: you and your prospective spouse have more of an opportunity to discuss the terms of an agreement, work through the thorny parts, and disclose your financial situations to each other—all of which are integral to making sure that the agreement can withstand prospective challenges.

And who wants to be late to the rehearsal dinner because you are at your lawyer’s office signing the final draft of the agreement? Ms. Schaffer has negotiated and skillfully drafted many pre-and post-nuptial agreements.

Same-Sex Family Law

With New York’s passage of the Marriage Equality Act, same-sex couples can marry— the first marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples in New York on July 24, 2011. Same-sex marriage and divorce is a new and constantly evolving area. Ms. Schaffer has represented parties in same-sex divorces and drafted prenuptial agreements and separation agreements for same-gender couples.

Barbara J. Schaffer, PLLC