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Why a Billionaire Does Not Pay Child Support Based on His Entire Income



In New York, child support for one child is generally 17% of the combined income of the parents combined income. However that does not mean that the child support seeker can get 17% of a billionaire's income. Courts may apply the 17% to the total combined income but they are not required.

The court will generally calculate that child support is 17% of the both parents' combined income up to an income cap.The income cap changes every year to keep up with economic factors like inflation. The 2019 combined parental income cap is $148,000.

It is up to the child support requester to prove why the child needs support calculated on the rest of the income beyond the cap. Generally that is accomplished by proving that the child previously enjoyed a certain standard of living before the parents split, that must be maintained, or that the child has a need for a certain amount of support. 

Child Support not only includes a percentage of the combined income but also includes ‘ad-on’ payments for other things that a child might need such as education, medical care and day care expenses. 

Beware that there is also a Self-Support Reserve which puts a limit on the amount of child support a payor must pay. The 2019 self support reserve is $16,862. The minimum support a payor must pay is $25.00 per month with an arrears cap of $500. If the payor has other children he is paying support for, that amount comes out of his income before a calculation of support is done for the newest child. The requirement to pay child support cannot put a payor below the poverty income level. In 2019 that poverty income guidelines amount is $12,490.

If you are seeking child support or need to defend a petition for child support, contact Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law P.C. to learn more. 

Family Court vs Supreme Court – The Cost Benefit for Custody Proceedings



Even Miranda Priestly had to go to think about the best option to get custody of her twins so why wouldn't you?  Different costs and benefits exist in a decision to start the dissolution of your family unit in family court versus supreme in a New York Custody battle. 

As I mentioned in a prior post, you cannot get a divorce in family court. However, you can get custody in family court and then go to supreme court to finnish off the financial aspects of the divorce. The benefit is that family court has zero filing fees and can be a relatively quicker process than supreme court. As a result your attorney fees could potentially be less if you started the dissolution of your family unit in family court. Also, your children would not be in limbo about what the final custody arrangement ends up being. The order from the family court would be introduced to the supreme court when the divorce action commences as proof that this aspect of the divorce was resolved. 

The benefit of starting the action in supreme court is that the entire proceeding is before the same justice. That justice would get to know the family dynamics of your case that would necessarily impact your finances. You would not have to get used to the particular habits of two different judges. Your divorce lawyer, who would handle the supreme court matter may have more interaction with the supreme court judges than the family court judges. The atmosphere of the family court is more pro se friendly. Family Court judges are more used to dealing with self represented litigants. Although not recommended, this is important if you only have finances to hire a divorce attorney to resolve your financial issues in supreme court. 

If you are considering whether to pursue a custody order in family court or commencing a divorce in supreme court which involves custody issues, call Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law P.C. Two heads are better than one. 

 

When is a Child Support Modification a Bad Idea?



You see your ex in a brand new car and you rush to file a petition for an upward modification of child support in family court. What could possibly go wrong? 

A Child Support Modification is typically allowed every three years, when the party's income changes by at least 15% and only with a substantial change in circumstances. 

When bringing a child support petition it is important to be absolutely certain that the child support payor's income has increased significantly enough that such a motion would be fruitful. Otherwise you will waste alot of time and attorney fees for nothing. Furthermore, if the payor's income has dropped significantly or your income has increased significantly over the years, you may end up being paid nothing. In certain circumstances, where physical custody is shared, you may end up paying the other party child support.

An increase in income  also includes imputed income from other sources that may have caused a dramatic improvement to the payor’s standard of living. For example, the ex may be receiving money from a significant other or their parents which is also part of the child support calculation. 

If you suspect that the child support payer in your life has dramatically increased in their income, contact Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law P.C. for a consultation. She can be your partner in this matter to help you avoid mistakes that cut into your ability to care for your child.

When is a Divorce Settlement Right for You?

Would you rather let a Court, who barely knows you, decide your future or would you rather swallow your pride and decide yourself? Divorce is a very emotional process. The well known epithet that a self-represented litigant has a fool for a client, rings ever more true in divorce. You must have the help of an attorney to help guide to a resolution which makes sense for you even if it requires you to swallow your pride. 

When you are involved in the most intimate issues of your life it is hard to make objective decisions. Never agree to something that would hurt you in the long-run just to get to a settlement, but be reasonable. Being in limbo for potentially years not only hurts you emotionally but stymies your progress in life. It also hurts your children who are put in a place of uncertainty. 

Here are a few key points to consider when you decide if a settlement is right for you:



    1. Will you be able to support yourself and or your children with this settlement? 

    2. Are you settling out of fear or based on rational decisions? 

    3. Will this settlement be a good decision 5 years later? 10 years later? 

    4. Have you laid out the key things you are not willing to compromise over and have you compromised? 

    5. Do you feel at peace? 




If you need help resolving your divorce call Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law. She can be your partner in this very tumultuous period in your life. 

The Heightened Fidelity Requirement in Spousal Contracts



Contracts between spouses have a more heightened requirement for fidelity, otherwise known as loyalty, than do agreements between non spouses such a prenuptial agreements. Unlike a prenuptial agreement, spousal contracts occur after the parties have pledged some kind of fidelity to one another through a ceremony or by the act of getting a civil marriage. If challenged, they are highly scrutinized by the courts to determine whether one spouse manipulated the other spouse to sign an inherently unfair agreement. Therefore they must be done properly. 

The two types of spousal agreements are Post-nuptial Agreements and Separation Agreements. 

Postnuptial Agreements are typically signed where one spouse cheated on the other and in order to save the marriage, the cheater conveys property or money to the innocent spouse. The risk in signing these agreements is that either spouse can turn around file for divorce without the need to return the conveyed property to the ‘marital pot’ for splitting. 

Separation Agreements are typically executed where the spouses are not quite ready to divorce but want to memorialize a new living arrangement. Such agreements may contain provisions for spousal support, child support and child custody, among others. They can be converted to an uncontested divorce after a year if certain requirements are met. 

The spouses should be both represented in such agreements because the risk and effort to run to court overturn them is more than just making sure you are properly represented. 

If you are interested in entering a Postnuptial or Separation Agreement with your spouse or a Prenuptial Agreement with your intended, contact Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law so learn how she can assist you.

The Damages Requirement for a Breach of Contract Claim



You say someone breached their contract with you. Start by determining how you will measure your damages because without damage their is no breach of contract claim. Your case will be dismissed.

In New York, like other jurisdictions, a Plaintiff must prove the following elements to bring a claim for Breach of Contract:

(1) formation of a contract between plaintiff and defendant;

(2) performance by plaintiff;

(3) defendant's failure to perform; [and]

(4) resulting damage

TYPES OF DAMAGES AWARDED BY THE COURT MAY INCLUDE:

Compensatory Damages - Plaintiff is awarded the amount of compensation that would make you whole. For example, price of the contract was $1,000 and as a result of defendant's breach you had to pay $1,500 for the same services elsewhere. Possible court award may be $500 because you would have had to pay the $1,000 at minium anyway.

Restitution - Defendant is required to refund Plaintiff the money Plaintiff paid to the breaching party.

Liquidated Damages - if your contract has a provision which sets the damages in the event of breach that is what plaintiff is awarded.

Nominal Damages - A damage award made where there were damages were unquantifiable but the court seeks to award the bare minimum for the sake of recognizing the harm. It could be as small as $1.00 so its not worth the time, effort and expense.

Quantum Meruit - Plaintiff is awarded payment for work that plaintiff completed if the defendant who hired plaintiff reneged on the contract before it was complete. Typically a service contract scenario.

Equitable Remedies - The Court issues a declaratory judgement ordering the contract canceled or requiring a specific preformance by the breaching party - a rare remedy because it is hard to monitor.

Punitive Damages - An additional award beyond the basic damages award which generally matches the basic damages in amount. It is awarded to plaintiff punnish morally reprehensible behavior by the breaching party.

How Divorce Jurisdiction Can Be Determined by Your Shoes



Sounds crazy but it happened. The couple lived a bicontinental jet set life. The wife tried to commence the divorce in New York County because, unlike Manhattan, Monaco does not have a concept of shared marital property. The husband contested that the New York jurisdiction was the couple's primary residence. One of the arguments made was that the wife kept the majority of her valuable shoe collection in Monaco. Read an article here. The New York Court denied jurisdiction, See, First Department Case here.

How do normal people determine jurisdiction for a divorce proceeding?

According to Domestic Relations Law Sec 230, an action to annul a marriage, or to declare the nullity of a void marriage, or for divorce or separation may be maintained only when:

  1. The parties were married in the state and either party is a resident thereof when the action is commenced and has been a resident for a continuous period of one year immediately preceding, or

  2. The parties have resided in this state as husband and wife and either party is a resident thereof when the action is commenced and has been a resident for a continuous period of one year immediately preceding, or

  3. The cause occurred in the state and either party has been a resident thereof for a continuous period of at least one year immediately preceding the commencement of the action, or

  4. The cause occurred in the state and both parties are residents thereof at the time of the commencement of the action, or

  5. Either party has been a resident of the state for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the commencement of the action.


If you want New York to be your jurisdiction make sure you have proof that you have been living here for the requisite period of time. Start by moving your shoe collection.

If you would like to determine whether New York is the proper jurisdiction for your divorce, contact Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law for guidance.

The Difference between a Contested and Uncontested Divorce



What is the difference between a Contested and Uncontested Divorce in New York? One is cheaper and quicker to accomplish if done correctly. The other can be an arduous painful process lasting years and leaving the wary and unreasonable possibly bankrupt.

An Uncontested Divorce is one where both parties voluntarily sign an agreement which resolves all aspects of the divorce. Every single thing is agreed upon from child custody and child support to maintenance and equitable distribution. Even disagreement on one single issue makes the divorce contested. The parties cannot waive child support and if the calculation of child support is incorrect or unfair, then the court will reject the filing. The time from filing to signing varies between counties. New York County has signed an uncontested divorce order within 3-4 months while the Bronx and Brooklyn has signed it within 6 months. The time periods vary depending on how many people are ahead of you. One mistake can result in a rejected filing which extends the time process.

In a Contested Divorce at least one or more issues is not agreed upon by the parties. A Contested Divorce requires the filing of a complaint for divorce by one party--the Plaintiff---who then serves it on the other party--The Defendant. The Defendant must then either file and serve an Answer to the Complaint or may file a motion to dismiss because they contest jurisdiction. They may, for example, perfer to have the divorce occur in a different jurisdiction that is more favorable to them. Practically speaking it does not matter whether someone is a Plaintiff or Defendant because most divorces are typically filed as no fault, otherwise known as 'irreconcilable differences' or ''irretrievable breakdown.'

If you need assistance in filing a Contested or Uncontested Divorce, Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law can assist you to navigate the minefield of Matrimonial Law Practice. Contact her for a consultation.

Why Can’t You Get a Divorce in New York Family Court?

It seems obvious that family court should handle all things family but in New York Courts that is not true. According to the New York Family Court Act Section 115, the Family Court has exclusive original Jurisdiction or control, over the following:



    • child abuse and neglect proceedings

    • child support proceedings

    • proceedings to determine paternity and for the support of children born out-of-wedlock

    • proceedings to permanently terminate parental rights to guardianship and custody of a child

    • proceedings concerning whether a person is in need of supervision

    • proceedings concerning juvenile delinquency

    • proceedings involving handicapped children

    •  proceedings concerning adoption and custody of children

    • proceedings concerning the uniform interstate family support act

    • proceedings concerning children in foster care and care and custody of children

    •  proceedings concerning former foster children 

    • proceedings concerning destitute children

    •  proceedings concerning guardianship and custody of children by reason of the death of, or abandonment or surrender by, the parent or parents

    •  proceedings concerning standby guardianship and guardianship of the person

    • proceedings concerning the interstate compact on juveniles

    • the interstate compact on the placement of children

    • the uniform child custody jurisdiction and enforcement act

    •  provided that tribal courts of Indian tribes designated as such by the state of New York shall have jurisdiction over such child custody proceedings involving Indian children to the same extent as federally designated Indian tribes upon the approval of the state office of children and family services 

    • concurrent jurisdiction with the criminal court over all family offenses

    • jurisdiction to direct the commencement of proceedings to suspend the driving privileges, recreational licenses and permits, and license, permit, registration or authority to practice of persons who are delinquent in their child or combined child and spousal support obligations or persons who have failed, after receiving appropriate notice, to comply with summonses, subpoenas or warrants relating to paternity and child support proceedings




In order to obtain a divorce, one must file an action in the New York Supreme Courts. The Family Court only has jurisdiction in matrimonial action only when the case is referred to it by the Supreme Court. If you are seeking a divorce you must file a complaint for divorce in the Supreme Court of the County where the parties were married and either party resided for at least one year prior to the filing pursuant to Domestic Relations Law 230.

If you are confused about where to obtain your divorce and need assistance in filing or defending a divorce action, Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law P.C. can represent you. Contact Attorney Diana Mohyi for a consultation.

Why Airbnb is Illegal in New York City



The fight for free enterprise between companies such as Airbnb and Hotels and Landlords has been in the news for a while. There is no Airbnb Law per se so what makes Airbnb and similar business models illegal in New York City?

Short term leasing is prohibited by New York Multiple Dwelling Law Sec 4(8)(a). A 'Multiple Dwelling' is a home rented within a residence with three or more families dwelling independently of each other. Such a dwelling can only be occupied by the same natural person or family for 30 consecutive days or more. However you may allow a non-paying guest to occupy your residence for less than 30 days if they are a non-paying guest.

According to the New York Housing a Maintenance Code 27-2004(14), an apartment is single dwelling unit meant for a single family with lawful sanitary and kitchen facilities for the exclusive use of that family. Under HMC 27-2004(4), a family is a single person with not more than two borders; OR two more persons related by blood, adoption, legal guardianship, marriage, or domestic partnership maintaining a household with not more than two borders; OR not more than three unrelated persons. Furthermore, pursuant to HMC 27-2078, a family may rent to no more than two borders, roomers or lodgers.

When is Airbnb illegal when you are home at the time of rental, which lasts less than 30 days, and the guests don't number three or more?

When a Rent Stabilized Tenant is profiting off the rental. The Rent Stabilization Code prohibits Rent Stabilized Tenants from profiteering off their apartment by Subleasing

When you are creating a liability for other tenants and ultimately the landlord.

Why should landlords care if they get their rent anyway?

The New York City Department of Buildings and Environmental Control Board will issue violations and fines to a landlord if it finds that the short-term leasing law has been violated. Ignorance is not a defense!

Do not confuse these rules with the tenant's right to have a roomate.

If you are Landlord faced with the need to evict a tenant for violating the short term leasing law or a tenant facing eviction for violating those laws, Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law P.C. can represent you.

The Difference between Rent Controlled verses Rent Stabilized Apartments







Yes there is a difference between Rent Controlled and Rent Stabilized Apartments. It's all about the money. Both types of apartments are considered 'Rent Regulated' Apartments. The rent a tenant must pay is generally far below the market rate that the landlord could typically charge for the unit. Therefore these units are valuable to the tenants who have them because the tenancy can be passed on through the family or someone that is considered close to you and has lived with you in the unit. The landlord and tenant cannot contract outside of the governing statutes for these types of units. There are significant differences between the two types of units.





Rent Control generally applies to residential buildings built before 1947 in municipalities such as New York City, among others, which did not declare an end to the postwar rental housing emergency. The rent stays stagnant and therefore it would be possible to pay under $100 a month in rent in such a unit. These are considered the most valuable apartments. There have been 10 room apartments in the upper east side which have rents set at not more than $1000 per month. But good luck finding a tenant willing to give it up!





In NYC, Rent Stabilized apartments are generally those apartments in buildings of six or more units built between February 1, 1947 and January 1, 1974. Rent Stabilized apartments are still much lower than market rate to rent. The landlord has a right to increase the rent in accordance with the landlord's expenses by applying to The Rent Guidelines Board which regulates the rent on Rent Stabilized Units only. Generally, a landlord can convert a Rent Stabilized apartment to a market rate apartment. The landlord must do significant renovation to the apartment, such as a complete gutting of the apartment down to the floor beams, and applying to the Rent Guidelines Board to convert the unit to a market rate apartment. Otherwise, when a Rent Stabilized unit is vacated by a tenant it remains Rent Stablized.





When Rent Controlled Apartments become vacant they automatically convert to a Rent Stabilized Apartment. The landlord cannot unilaterally declare that the unit is now market rate and then start marketing it as such. If a legitimate case for rent over charge is brought against a Rent Stabilized unit's landlord, the landlord can be required to repay all the rent paid by the tenant which was charged above what was the tenant was legally required to pay as well as hefty fines and the tenants legal fees. The landlord must attach certain riders to a lease for a Rent Stabilized Apartment.





If you are a tenant being forced to pay above market rent for your unit or you are a landlord who is defending such a claim, Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law P.C. can assist you to resolve your dispute.





See more on this topic at https://www1.nyc.gov/site/rentguidelinesboard/resources/rent-control.page


Why a Landlord Cannot Evict & Collect Past Due Rent at the Same Time






Usually the parties in a lawsuit resolve all disputes against one another in one proceeding, but Landlord Tenant Law is a different. A landlord cannot both evict a tenant and obtain a judgement for past due rent from the the tenant in the same proceeding. A landlord must send a termination notice to the tenant first before commencing a holdover proceeding to evict the tenant. If the landlord wants to get past due rent from the tenant they must commence a non-payment proceeding to obtain a judgement from the tenant. In most cases, the tenant has not been paying rent because they don't have the money to pay it. In that situation it does not make sense for the landlord to start with a nonpayment proceeding. The landlord would typically commence a holdover proceeding. The landlord must be careful to follow the both the rules of Civil Procedure for a Civil Lawsuit and procedures outlined in the the New York State Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law (RPAPL). If any one of the procedural requirements are not followed, the Landlord essentially gives the tenant's lawyer an excuse to use to have the action dismissed. Therefore it is important for a landlord to obtain the counsel of an attorney who practices landlord tenant law. Otherwise the Landlord will waste time and money commencing an action against a tenant just to restart the process all over again. Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law P.C. is available to represent you in your landlord tenant proceeding whether you are a landlord who is not being paid or a tenant who is being harrassed.






Why The Best Interests of Your Children in a Divorce Are Not Your Interests



When a married couple with minor children seeks a divorce they often forget that their interests are not automatically aligned with the best interests of their child. If they cannot agree on a custody and visitation arrangement, the Court steps in to protect the children by appointing a children's attorney aka guardian ad litem and by appointing at least one forensic psychologist or physician to evaluate which home environment would be better for the children. As you may suspect these paraprofessionals can contribute to a very expensive divorce bill. Therefore it is best that the parties come to a mutual decision about custody and visitation without involving third parties who will be required to approve any agreement the parents make once they get involved.

According to New York's Domestic Relations Law, the parent to be awarded custody is not an automatic assumption. DRL 70 states that "there shall be no prima facie right to the custody of the child in either parent, but the court shall determine solely what is for the best interest of the child.' DRL 240 also echos that language. This concept has been expanded in New York's body of case law resulting in factors which help a court determine what is in the best interests of the child.

(1) The parent who has been the primary caretaker;
(2) The age and health of the parties;
(2) The need for stability and continuity in the child’s life;
(3) The relative financial ability of each parent;
(4) The quality of home environment and the parental guidance each parent provides;
(5) The ability of each parent to provide for the child’s emotional and intellectual development;
(6) The relative fitness of each parent;
(7) The length of time the present custodial arrangement has been in effect; and
(8) The desires of the child.

Ultimately, unless being around a certain parent is inherently bad for a child, a child needs both parents. A child is not property. A child is a human being who only has one set of biological parents. No matter how much a party may hate their spouse, there is nothing they can do to change that so they might as well start by agreeing for the sake of their child.

Why No Fault Divorce Is Always The Best Choice



Even if you are adamant to point the finger at your spouse for the reason you want a divorce, it makes alot more sense to choose the 'No Fault' option not only for the sake of time but also resources.

In New York, it is typical that the parties will file for a 'no fault divorce' otherwise known as 'irretrievable breakdown' because then there is no need to prove the grounds upon which the parties are seeking a divorce. For example, no need to prove the spouse actually cheated on you which not only sounds like it could be messy but it is. Choosing that route will cost alot of time and effort and may even result in you not being able to prove the grounds of your divorce, which is a requirement to obtain a divorce.

According to Section 170 of the New York Domestic Relations Law, there are 7 grounds upon which a divorce may be obtained:

(1) Cruel and Inhumane Treatment

(2) Abandonment

(3) Confinement aka Prison Sentence of a Spouse

(4) Adultery

(5) Judgement or Decree of Separation

(6) Written Separation Agreement

(7) Irretrievable Breakdown for a Period of 6 Months aka the 'No Fault' divorce.

If you choose the 'No Fault' option you won't have to hang your laundry out to dry longer than it should. Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law P.C. can help you initiate the divorce and assist you in coming to a resolution that will help you start the next chapter of your life.

The Changing Attitude Towards Prenuptial Agreements



The prenuptial agreement long carried with it a connotation which was repulsive to young couples just starting out on the adventure called marriage. However, now as couples are getting married later and bring more equal assets to the marriage, they see the document as a wise move. Why might a prenuptial agreement be a wise move? Here are several reasons.

Huge Disparity in Assets Once you marry someone you have chosen to link yourself to another human being in a way that will impact your economic future. You can potentially be put on the hook for their debts but you might also be entitled to their assets. In the stereotypical scenario the young gorgeous gold digger marries the millionaire with missing teeth and stray hairs on his head. Logically she was not in it for love but perhaps he was not either. Although New York Law does put certain limits on maintenance (formerly known as "alimony") and what is deemed to be a marital asset, based on for example the length of the marriage; the mutual contribution to the 'economic partnership;' comingling of previously separate assets, among other factors, it is always possible lose more than you bargained for. Litigation can be unpredictable and the involvement of lawyers can add a great deal of expense---we are not charity workers after all.  Without a prenuptial agreement one must prove certain elements a trial. However, with a prenuptial agreement in place, which was executed in the proper way, much of this hassel is removed.

Protecting Your Children Although New York Law states that child support paid for the children of your prior marriage comes as a priority before maintenance and equitable distribution paid to the next spouse (division of marital assets), the costs of a divorce can be so devastating to one's finances that they may not recover. As a result your children suffer the consequences of your poor choices. You may not be able to provide each and every opportunity to them that you were able to before. Therefore a prenuptial agreement is a wise move to make sure that your loved ones don't come along for the rough ride. I once heard a comedian talk about his formerly rich father and his gold digger mother. It was not his mother that caused him the most grief but his father who lost all his money by continuing to choose the wrong partners.

Protecting Your Parent's Assets As parents get older they may consider placing their assets in joint name with their adult children. New York Law deems that to be a separate premarital asset but try to prove that. If you bring your family to your parents home and your new spouse decided they want to help with the renovations, the spouse may try to argue that it is a marital asset they contributed to. Is that fair to your parents?

Realism Having taken college level statistics, I'm not sure I completely believe the staggering statistic that 50% of all marriages end in divorce. Some of those marriage might be second and third marriages after all. Nevertheless we can agree that the divorce rate has not been decreasing over the years. What better time to decide how to divide up assets than when you are in a frame of mind that you both love and care for each other rather than when you are nursing wounds from being cheated on? I have heard several stories of parents who put assets in the name of their child and his new spouse expecting the marriage to last the 30-50 years that their marriage has gone for. Unfortunately, that is not the trend nowadays. It is time that couples stop being so repulsed at the idea of a prenuptial agreement. In order to have a valid prenuptial agreement the parties must display all assets and liabilities to the other party so you are not being hoodwinked. They can also have a termination deadline called a 'sunset provision' and can be modified later if the parties desire. Not every couple may need a prenuptial agreement but when it makes sense it can bring alot of benefit including but not limited to peace of mind.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone with Laughter



I recently took a standup comedy class Manhattan Comedy School, which ran for 6 weeks. At the end of the class we had a graduation show in which I performed. Click to See my 3 minute stand up comedy bit here.  Initially I had intended to take this class to distract me from my usual. I gained so much more. I learned how people process information so that they can be suprised by your punch line. I also learned how to look at my environment and background for the absurd so that I could bring joy to myself first and then others.

The point I am making here is that it is important to stop taking the world around you so seriously that you cannot even experience joy at the inconveniences which are in fact absurdities. For example, the New York City Subway is like a Three Stooges movie every single morning. Everyone is crammed into a train which is not big enough to fit them. The fact that I occasionally get chased by a pair of expensively bred dogs whose owner's only excuse for that behavior is that they are a bunch hormonal bitc**s. By the way it feels no different than when I'm in court at times.

The inconveniences we experience in life are actually gifts in disguise. They challenge us to stop staying stuck in our usual routine. The same thing happens when one has a business dispute, divorce or landlord tenant issue. Those challenges are merely life's way of shaking things up a little. Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law P.C. can represent you in your civil litigation matter so that the challenge that irked you helps make you stronger and wiser in preparation for life's next challange.

 

 

Declutter Your Life to Sharpen Your Focus and Increase Productivity



According to data presented at my last Tony Robbins Event, most people are only productive 20% of the time while Billionaires are productive 50% of the time. What keeps people from being unproductive? Are they unfocused, uncommitted or simply distracted.

In order to increase the productivity in your life you must do an inventory of at least these three main areas to declutter your life by asking the question: Does this serve me? Does this bring me closer to my goals?

People. Look at the 5 closest relationships you have in your life. Who are the 5 people you spend the most time allowing to influence you? Congratulations you just looked into your future. The 5 people in closest proximity to you are who you will become. Make sure that those people are a good influence on you and that they strive to improve themselves rather than stay stagnant. If you are spending too much time around the wrong people, whether they be toxic or not goal oriented, either cut them out entirely or just spend less time with them.

Environments Always evaluate whether going to a certain event will serve your goals and add to your life. Stop going to events with the same acquaintances who don't add anything to your life and are simply something to do. If you cut out the nonsense events you can replace them with other events you can find on facebook, eventbrite, meetup or you can read a good book off amazon or audible while you hit the gym. I have found that as I got more interested in a topic and learned more about it, I suddenly found myself surrounded with like minded people. If you want to change your ecosystem you have to start with yourself first!

Digital Clutter. I recently made a decision to take a short break from allowing social media on my phone which has turned into a permanent decision. I removed Instagram, Linkedin and Facebook from my phone so that I would not be so distracted all the time with the notifications which did not serve my life. I also unsubscribed from emails which were simply distractions in my inbox. I feel so much better not being pelted with data bullets all day long. I find I am better able to live my journey called life because I am not distracted by what others are doing. Remember life is not a race so looking at what others are doing is simply a distraction which does not serve you.

As you grow and evolve as a person you tend to grow out of the need to involve yourself in certain activities and so it makes sense to do a constant inventory of how you spend your time to make sure that the distractions in your environment, whether it be people or places, do not block you from becoming the best version of yourself and limit your productivity.

Pets are Like Therapists but Still Considered Property



When I hug my family dog during a visit to my family home, I feel like he understands me. Life can be ruff but a family pet can make things feel so much better. He comes over to cuddle with me on the couch and gets in my face when I'm feeling melancholy. The more I study my family dog's behavior, the more I see how much like a human he is. How then can the law still consider Leo a piece of property?

 

Plenty of studies show the therapeutic effects of spending time with an animal. According to the National Center for Health Research, "Companion animals may improve heart health by lowering blood pressure and regulating the heart rate during stressful situations." Plenty of service dogs are allowed into hospitals to help ease the pain of the suffering patients. According to an article in Frontiers on Psychology, human animal interactions are proven to benefit human "...social attention, social behavior, interpersonal interactions, and mood; stress-related parameters such as cortisol, heart rate, and blood pressure; self-reported fear and anxiety; and mental and physical health, especially cardiovascular diseases."

In New York dogs are generally considered personal property, See, Travis v. Murray, 42 Misc. 3d 447 (Sup Ct, NY County, 2013), citing, Mullaly v People, 86 NY 365 [1881]Schrage v Hatzlacha Cab Corp., 13 AD3d 150 [1st Dept 2004]; Rowan v Sussdorff, 147 App Div 673 [2nd Dept 1911]; ATM One, LLC v Albano, 2001 NY Slip Op 50103[U] [Nassau Dist Ct 2001]). However, the standard of "what is "best for all concerned" has been applied to determine which party should have custody of the animal, Travis v. Murray, 42 Misc. 3d 447, 461 (Sup. Ct, NY County, 2013). This factor is similar to the best interests of the child standard which is generally applied across the states in deciding upon child custody.

Although most jurisdictions refuse to extend child custody concepts to pets in their entirety, many have started to apply factors commonly applied to child custody such as the 'best interest' to determine the best placement for the pet Travis v. Murray, 42 Misc. 3d 447, 456-457 (Sup. Ct., NY County 2013). Nearby states have also deviated from the formerly strict view that pets are property, such as Vermont, Wisconsin, SeeMorgan v Kroupa, 167 Vt 99, 103, 702 A2d 630, 633 [1997]; Rabideau v City of Racine (243 Wis 2d 486, 491, 627 NW2d, 795, 798 [2001]. Alaska and Alabama  have gone so far as to award custody of an animal, SeeJuelfs v. Gough, 41 P. 3d 593 (Alaska Supreme Court 2002);  Placey v Placey 51 So 3d 374 [Ala Ct Civ App 2010].

However, courts have stopped short of considering animals to have the same rights or responsibilities as human beings no matter how human they may seem. New York denies that Chimpanzees have human rights Nonhuman Rights v. Stanley, 49 Misc. 3d 746 (Supreme Court NY County, 2015). In fact the owner of the animal still retains liability for the harmful acts of his animal Colombini v. Benitez, 2016 NY Slip Op 31829 (Sup. Ct., NY County 2016). 

Although the Courts have been inching towards recognizing that your puppy is more than just chattal, he does not have the same rights as you do nor does he have the same legal responsibilities.

Improve your lifestyle to improve your business productivity



Over the last several months I have made a few small changes to my lifestyle that have resulted in dramatic improvement to my productivity. I can thank Cameron Diaz for that. The A-List Movie Star is well known for her films 'There's Something About Mary' [1998] and 'Charlie's Angels' [2000]. She recently came out with two health focused books 'The Body Book' and 'The Longevity Book.'


The Body Book: The Law of Hunger, the Science of Strength, and Other Ways to Love Your Amazing Body






 

I enjoyed reading both of these books by listening to them as 'books on tape' through the Audible smartphone application. Audible, an Amazon company, charges a $15.00 a month subscription for a credit towards any book you want or lets you purchase and listen to a book on occasion. Most books are available. I recommend taking at least a day a week to listen to books on topics that interest you and are not directly related to your field.

The Body Book gives an overall picture of the inner workings of the human body and how an out of balance body significantly impacts your life. Being health conscious, I assumed that I would know alot of the content already but I wanted to know what a movie star would do to keep glamorous. I learned that it was the small changes that mattered most. I learned in more detail about the importance of keeping my sleep, nutrition, and exercise in a proper balance and how just getting slightly off balance in one area can make a big difference. This theme repeats in the Longevity Book but with an extra insight into how our body's change as we grow older. Both of these books are useful for everyone because they give a general picture of how aging and health impacts a human body and then give insight into how female and male bodies are different. Here are a few snippets of what I learned that you can easily apply to improve your productivity:

Sleep We all know its important but how can we get better sleep? Studies show we need on average at least 7 hours of sleep. I learned that circadian rhythms are impacted by sensors on our skin and just wearing a mask is not enough. It is important to buy blackout curtains to keep out the lights from outside which are keeping you awake. Also, remove all electronics with blinking lights from your room. I know this seems so simple that it's almost stupid but I'm telling you that it made a 100% difference in my ability to fall asleep. Furthermore, many of us who run businesses are under a high amount of stress already, so it will help you sleep better if you cut out caffeine or at least downgrade the caffeine level to green tea instead of coffee. Also don't eat late at night, your digestive tract needs a rest too. This made a big difference for me.

Water Water is the key to proper functioning of our bodies. It helps all our biological processes keep going and without it we die. It is important to drink a glass of water when you wake up in the morning so that you wake up. Make an effort to drink at least 8 glasses a day throughout the day and you will see an improvement in your ability to concentrate. You will also flush out any toxins that are in your system from not eating 100% healthy like we all should.

Nutrition Nutrition is important for our biochemical processes as well as concentration and mood. Having a depressed mood is actually linked to poor nutrition. The best diet is a mediterranean diet high in protein, vegitables and fruits with various natural oils like olive oil and Omega 3-available in salmon. It is best for you to meal prep your meals each week instead of eating out because you never know what your getting or how long its been sitting out. If you are feeling down, reach for a salad or make yourself a smoothie full of fruit and vegetables, not sugary yogurt. This has helped my mood alot and is a great pick me up when I feel like my concentration is waning in the middle of the day. When you make small changes in your habits each day you will see a world of difference not only in the way you look but how you feel as well. Women need to be cognizant that our natural monthly process drains nutrients from our bodies. We must be sure to eat calcium rich foods more than our male counterparts to supplement the loss of calcium from our bones.

Exercise  If you don't exercise your performance will suffer and I can promise that you will not age well. But, you're never too old to start! As we age we lose muscle mass and our bodies are less able to bounce back from that pizza we ate last night. It is important to fight the effects of growing older by making it a priority to take a walk in the morning or better yet hit the gym for some cardio and weights. Don't try to do a 5 hour routine or else you will never go back. I only spend an hour in the gym. Do weight bearing exercises to fight the effects of loss of calcium with aging which especially impacts women.

Many business people are so busy, they let themselves go, believing that it's worth the sacrifice. In the end you end up being the biggest loser. You cannot help other people around you if you don't make it a priority to take care of your health. If you make small changes in your habits, these will add up and you will see exponential improvement in you performance which will last a lifetime.

Side Hustles – Distraction or Investment Vehicle?



If you are running a small business you have to get comfortable with the word 'hustler.' No, I don't work at a white shoe firm but the important thing is that I make money. Besides practicing law I also have found it useful to generate income in other ways so that I don't fall into the trap of running up a credit card bill in hard times. I have found that an occasional cash infusion from another source, other than my law practice Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law P.C., is less stressful than risking high credit card interest and a bad credit report. Some business people think that side hustles are below them. Sometimes you have to consider that humbling yourself may make the difference between having your own business and having a new boss.

The question does come up however, are my occasional side hustles a distraction from my primary business? Which side hustles can I be involved with which carry minimal distraction? I believe the answer lies in whether the side hustle ads value to your life and whether it can assist your progress. It is precisely the same consideration a business person should think about when considering a new client in their primary business. Will this client add value to my life in terms of money or other opportunities or increased experience in a particular type of project? Or will they be a pain in the butt. Here are a few side hustles you might want to consider:

FILM/TV EXTRA - I know. What am I doing offering myself as an extra when I have no plans--at the moment--of becoming a full time actress? Well it was fun and it helped me appreciate that running my business is fun too. In the spring I signed up for an appointment with Central Casting, a well-known casting agency with branches in New York and Los Angeles. All I had to do was show up, get my photo taken and sign common employment paperwork. I then waited for text messages to come to my phone asking if I would like to submit to various television shows. Eventually I signed up to be a gala guest on a well known series not available in a regular cable subscription. The benefits included two meals a day, getting my hair professionally done and meeting some interesting people from a different ecosystem than my own. After taxes I may walk away with a few hundred dollars. I loved this experience because it was interesting. I got to act and the experience helped me appreciate the opportunities my education and business have given me. For one, the opportunity to explore other realms which were unapproved of by my parents.

Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing If you are a prolific writer you can sell your books without having to sign up with a publisher or get yourself locked into a self publishing contract for little or no royalties. All you have to do is create a pdf of your work and upload it. You can sell your books as Kindles exclusively or Amazon will print the book for readers who choose to buy a hard copy. The set-up is free and Amazon makes their money only when you sell books. They have different royalty programs depending on what you are comfortable with and offer paid advertising.

Ebay - Sell things on the internet. If you are in a suburban town, you are comfortable with the idea of a garage sale. Sometimes people sell things at these garage sales which are worth alot more than what they are selling them for. Some examples are comic books and fine pottery or art work. The trained eye can spot such treasures. Sometimes you also have treasures hidden in your closet which you have neglected for years. Why not sell them and make some cash? If you sell second hand items the sale is generally not taxable. The set up is easy. Create an account, choose a category, upload photos and choose auction, best offer (if you are willing to allow buyers to haggle) or fixed price.

AirBnB - The world's most reputable internet subletting community. Rent a room or a couch. If you have an extra bedroom or even a couch, you could make several hundred dollars for a basic apartment or many thousands if you have an upscale apartment. As long as the perspective subletters have several good reviews it is safe to allow strangers to stay with you or without you. You also get to meet some great people and who knows, a new client. I hear the experience is worth the minimal effort.

Side hustles can do more for your life than just add to your pocketbook. They help you see the world from a different perspective and may be a nice way to break up the monotony in your life.

Thankfulness as a Business Reflective Tool

As we exit the Thanksgiving Holiday and think about wrapping up the final quarter of the year we cannot forget to use 'Thankfulness' to evaluate our progress first. Of course every corporation attempts to use losses to their advantage as we approach tax season. That's allowed but it should never be the first step in reflecting on your business. Otherwise it may depress you! I like to use Tony Robbins' concentric method of thankfulness self reflection by starting with myself and then branching out to others close to me and further away to think of all the things I am thankful for!

Start by listing all the things you are thankful for in your own life. Did you get more educated about the law or your particular business? Don't forget that includes lessons about what not to do. Be thankful that client tried to screw you out of the thousands of dollars they should have paid you for a job well done despite the circumstances -- which were their fault. As a result of that situation, you know you cannot trust that client and that you should take even more steps to fully evaluate the truthfulness of what a client represents to you about their legal situation. Furthermore, you now see the holes in your retainer agreement or business contract. Experience taught you how you can improve it, which comes in handy when you have to use legal measures to collect.

Next you list all the people around you that you are thankful for. For example, that unhumble person you met at the networking event who seems to have had all their opportunities handed to them including their cushy job. Be thankful that your business struggles have humbled you to become a human being. You now can never look at another business person the same way again. In fact you respect them more and and they like you because they know you get them. Voila! rapport built and new client retained.

Next think about the world around you. For example, struggles sent your way due to an economic environment that disfavors small businesses because of massive city state and federal taxes --- New York City. Be grateful that you have learned to be cognizant of all the different ways you can deduct your expenses for your personal and corporate taxes. As a result of feeling the heat you were motivated to attend lectures on bookkeeping and basic accounting held by the New York City Small Business Administration. You are now able to help your business clients navigate the possible mines of getting too creative with deductions.

I promise you that if you make it a practice to think about what you are thankful for first, in evaluating the progress of your business, your mood will be better and you will be better able to keep pressing forward!

Business Tip! Control Your State by Changing It

 

In my last blog post I discussed my experience with the fire walk at Life Coach Tony Robbins' Conference 'Unleash the Power Within', which was held in Newark, New Jersey last weekend. This week I realized that I needed to start developing some techniques to change my state. According to Tony, the most important thing you can do is control your state. That is the only way you will meet your goals. Running any business, such a my legal practice Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law P.C., comes with ups and downs in income. Sometimes the dip is so low I cannot immediately see a way out of it. When I started employing Tony's techniques to change my state, I realized a change in the direction of my circumstances and it can work for you too!

Number 1: When a negative thought comes into your head. Question it. Your bank account is running low and you start thinking "how am I ever going to get another client?" Instead of starting on a downward roller coaster of emotions, you should say, by doing what I did in the past to get clients and developing some new techniques by learning from experts in the field of marketing.

Number 2: Do something to lighten your mood. Try mimicking Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movie. Do it! I bet you that you will instantly start smiling because it's absolutely absurd for a serious lawyer or business person such as yourself to do that!

Number 3:  Move your body. Pay attention to the way your body sets itself when a stressful or unreasonable circumstance comes your way. Do you slouch? Do you tense up? You have to shake it off! Jump up and shout yes! go to take a walk around the block or hit up your gym. You can do power strokes with your hands and shout yes dozens of times in the mirror! You know you've got this, you just have to convince yourself. With the renewed sense of confidence you are sure to see the solution to your problem.

Number 4: Listen to something that inspires you! Tony Robbins and many other great motivational speakers like Jake Ducey, Les Brown and others post both short and long videos that you can take a mere 10 minute listen to for the inspiration you need to continue on with your day!

Running a business can be more painful than fracturing an ankle. But for those who do, the freedom to direct your own life is worth it. The key is recognizing that its the battle of your mind, not those around you, which is the key to success.

 

 

 

Business Success is All in Your Mind




This past weekend I attended Tony Robbin's 'Unleash the Power Within' Conference. Tony Robbins is a world reknowned Motivational Speaker and Life Coach. Mr. Robbins has a created a multi-billion dollar company helping people learn how to use the power of their minds to achieve great things. He has coached some of the greatest minds of finance and business. He currently coaches Billionaire Investor Ray Dalio and has coached such notables as Princess Diana. Attending his event this weekend firmly reminded me that my ability to succeed in business has everything to do with what is in my mind. Running my practice Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law P.C. is my own personal chess game.

For the second time, I participated in Mr. Robbins' famous fire walk. Participants use the power of their minds to walk accross hot coals burning at 2,000-3,000 degrees--without burning. As a reference, a hot stove reaches only around 670 degrees maximum. Although I had successfully completed the walk last year without sustaining life threatening burns, I observed that both my inner voices and the speech of my peers were my worst enemy in completing the task yet again. It was the walk from the stadium to the parking lot, where the coals burned red, which was the most critical part of my journey to success. I had to block them out. I intended to cross the coals this time without the sore feet and tiny blister I experienced last year. I firmly believe that it was my legal training that caused that. Similarly, being trained to look for the negative can be damaging to a struggling business. I knew my success depended on how I used my mind. This was my opportunity to prove that if I did an even better job at blocking out the negative voices, I would avoid any burning sensation whatsoever.

Right before I crossed the threshold was the hardest part. I felt the terror of my peers who started to panic when they saw the burning coals. They started saying 'no' 'no' but I screamed 'yes' 'yes.' I knew that if I did not block out their negativiity, I would fail. It was critical to push back the assault on my mind. I kept chanting 'yes' 'yes 'yes' and swooshed my arms in the assertive position Tony had taught to us. I faced fear in the face like Tony said to and seemed to effortlessly glide accross the hot coals while chanting cool moss, cool moss to counter the apparent reality of the burning coals beneath my feet. When I reached the other side, my feet didn't hurt at all and I had no blisters! What changed? My mind. The only reason I was able to cross the burning coals was that I was constantly telling myself I would succeed and actively blocked all the negative voices around me.

As a business owner, you will only succeed if you protect your mental integrity. If you don't control your mind, you will fail in life and business. Although you cannot control what is in your environment 100%, you can control your mind by what words you allow yourself speak. Don't express everything that comes into your mind. Fight the inner voices and the outer naysayers with a daily practice. Do not allow poisonous clients into your life or else risk losing everything you have built. Although this practice may be challenging at first, you will build a muscle that will strengthen over time. You will be able to give more value to your clients and your family. As lawyers we have a dangerous tendency to assume our education gives us superior knowledge. But just as we must constantly learn the law, we must take the time to learn about ourselves. We must realize that any barriers we think exist are really just in our minds.

PS: Yes those are my feet less than an hour after my firewalk on November 8, 2018. Warning! Do not try this without the guidance of a professional trained in this process like Tony Robbins!

Egypt Changed My Mind About America


I used to think that another country's economic problems could never inspire me to overcome mine. That was before I left on my trip to Egypt where I toured the land of the Pharaohs for the first two weeks of this past October 2018. I run a solo legal practice in New York City. I needed to get out, away from the struggles and challenges of running my practice, Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law, P.C. I chose Egypt as my escape because I knew I would learn something. I planned to forget about my business struggles and gain insight into my life direction.


Egypt is a land rich with history but lacking in prosperity. Until my trip to Egypt I had never seen animals walking around with their ribs exposed. Nor had I ever been in a place like Cairo where it is a way of life for many to never give anything, be it advice or directions, without demanding money. It is not because they are not kind or giving, its because they have nothing. When you have nothing, you find something to sell pretty quickly.


Similarly, when you are struggling in a new legal practice, you have an advantage. Problems force us to find solutions and as Lawyers it our ability to solve problems which we sell. We need to recognize that our problem solving ability is a valuable commodity that should not be given out so freely that we burn out.


I met many people are on my trip to Egypt. I met my peers who had never left their country and yet their humility told me they knew alot about life. They are also sophisticated because they constantly meet people from all over the world who come to see the splendors of Egyptian history. The tour guides in Egypt and surrounding countries must be licensed to guide tourists and are generally well educated. In Egypt the only real industry is tourism. After the Egyptian Revolution in 2011, the lack of tourism was like a plague to the Egyptian economy. My tour guide Nader struggled through the lean years in the tourism industry which came after the revolution, by working in a customer service call center owned by an American company for two years. The American company did not pay well because they knew they didn't have to. Despite having earned a masters degree and having engaged in constant self learning, he was stuck working in a call center. Nader told me it was the worst two years of his life but in hindsight he learned alot about Americans and human behavior in general. He learned that not every American was good but that not every American was bad either. He learned how to be a better business person because he had to constantly deal with people who were calling with a problem.

If you can't deal with people, don't go into business and don't even think about a legal practice. I can not tell you how many times my last experience with a difficult client helped me easily deal with the next one. Improve upon your people skills and you will improve your ability to run a business.

As Americans we have no excuse not to be prosperous. We have every advantage at the tip of our fingers. We can go wherever we want and say whatever we want. Even the poorest of us have access to healthcare, food and clothes. Egypt is a socialist society where in theory everyone is supposed to have equal access to healthcare and other resources. But, in reality the country has a large lower class which considers happiness to be having somewhere to lie their head at night and having food in their bellies. Egypt has little or no middle class and only about a dozen families monopolize the wealth. In America we have the luxury of the ability to complain without consequence about our government and change it. We can use the internet to sell ideas and influence even if we don't have the money to invest in inventory. We can move between societal classes and confidently start a business knowing that the prosperity in our country is not reserved for a special class with special access. American entrepreneurs come from every class and background.

After my trip to Egypt, I realized how spoiled I was. I was complaining about not bringing in enough revenue to a new legal practice while I lived in the East Village and attended several charity events a month--all while paying my bills on-time. I realized I had no excuse not to keep pressing forward. I had to remember that the early struggles of my business were the only ones that were going to prepare me for my later success. I had to remember to 'never look down on your small beginnings.' While I was in Egypt Nader's former professor, the current Minister of Tourism, led First Lady Melania Trump on her tour of the Pyramids. He was well prepared. He began his career has a tour guide. It made be think about what my struggles were preparing me for and I realized that I could never know unless I kept pressing forward.

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P.S. I had a wonderful time in Egypt and I highly recommend that everyone go see Egypt with a licensed tour company. The people are wonderful and the experience will change your life! Check out my trip photos here: Egypt 2018