Kristen Mackay Pennessi
Kristen Mackay Pennessi is a Westchester lawyer who concentrates in New York Matrimonial Law and Mediation. She is a member of our Matrimonial & Family Law and Collaborative Law groups, and our Mediation & Arbitration Practice Group, She frequently appears before the Westchester Supreme Court and has experience in many areas of the law, including, but not limited to, litigation, mediation and settlement of different types of New York matrimonial law and family law disputes. Kristen has been involved in all aspects of negotiations, settlements and trials on actions or proceedings for divorce, child custody (including child relocation disputes), pendente lite applications, downward modifications, divorces involving business assets, and related matters. In addition, Kristen is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Pace Law School.
Kristen has also been recognized as a New York Super Lawyer as a Rising Star in the area of Family Law.
Areas of Experience
- Advice on and preparation of Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements;
- Preparation of all documents incident to an action for divorce, child custody (including child relocation disputes) and related matters;
- Advice and negotiations regarding prospective settlements of contested matters, including counseling the client on tax consequences of any settlement, for which the attorneys in our Taxation group are available to offer assistance.
- Separation Agreements, Stipulations of Settlement and Uncontested Default Divorces for clients at all income and asset levels.
- Property distributions, maintenance and child support.
- Litigating all aspects of Family Court Proceedings and Divorce Actions, including Orders of Protection, Paternity Disputes, Temporary Support Awards, Restraining Orders, Domestic Violence issues, Exclusive Occupancy of the Marital Residence, Maintenance, Child Support, Equitable Distribution of Marital Property and Establishing Separate Property Claims.
Seven of our lawyers have been selected Super Lawyers in the New York Metropolitan area. Gail M. Boggio has again been selected in the fields of Estate & Trust Litigation/Estate Planning & Probate/Elder Law. Kathleen Donelli has again been selected in the field of Family Law. Dolores Gebhardt has again been selected in the field of Family Law. James K. Landau has again been selected in the fields of Commercial Litigation and Appellate. Kristen Mackay Pennessi has been selected as a Rising Star in the field of Family Law; Frank W. Streng has again been selected in the fields of Estate & Trust Litigation and Estate Planning & Probate. Douglas S. Trokie has again been selected in the fields of Business/Corporate, Closely Held Business, Real Estate, Business and Civil Litigation. Super Lawyers is a listing of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have been recognized by their colleagues as having the highest degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.
As part of the recent expansion of our Mediation & Arbitration Practice Group, we have put a video on our web site. In the video, viewers can get to know better the members of our Mediation & Arbitration team: Hon. Sondra M. Miller, who leads the group, Adam J. Krim, Kristen Mackay Pennessi and Abby P. Rosmarin. The video is set forth below.
Kristen L. Mackay (n/k/a Pennessi), a member of our Commercial Litigation and Matrimonial & Family Law groups, was featured in a “Practitioner Profile” in the April, 2010 newsletter of Pace University School of Law. The article also spoke of Kristen’s involvement with Judge Miller on the Post-Miller Commission for Change. “Since June 2007, Kristen has also served as a representative on the Post-Miller Commission for Change. As a representative, Kristen attends monthly meetings and participates in forums to develop best practices and effect reform in the matrimonial and family law systems in an effort to reduce trauma, delay and cost to parties, children and families.” Click at Report to see the recommendations of the Matrimonial Commission chaired by Judge Miller.
Our matrimonial lawyers often represent clients on financial issues relating to child custody. Here, Kristen Pennessi & Kathleen Donelli won an appeal in the Appellate Division in which the lower court denied a post-divorce judgment motion, brought by the noncustodial parent (the “father”), to stop paying the custodial parent (our client, the “mother”) child support based on constructive emancipation. Under the doctrine of constructive emancipation, New York courts have held that child support payments may be suspended where the “custodial parent unjustifiably frustrates the noncustodial parent’s right of reasonable access.” Kristen and Kathleen successfully argued that our client, the custodial parent, did not deliberately frustrate or actively interfere with the father’s relationship with his children. Therefore, the court ordered that the father continue to pay child support even though his children refused to have meaningful contact with him.[Read in full]
Representation of Wife in Successfully Imputing Income to Husband For Purposes of Calculating Child Support & Maintenance
Matrimonial & Family Law – Pendente Lite Support – Imputing Larger Income to Spouse Than Claimed Salary
Our matrimonial lawyers represent clients on contested Pendente Lite applications. Where the husband dissolved his business and voluntarily stopped working and the wife earned $45,000 per year, Kristen Mackay Pennessi & Kathleen Donelli successfully argued that the Court should impute $150,000 of income to the husband in calculating pendente lite support obligations. Here, the husband had not been paying child support, spousal support or any of the household expenses. The Court ordered the husband to pay pendente lite support in the amount of $5,310 per month, and to make direct monthly payments of the mortgage, HELOC, real estate taxes and homeowners insurance.
Representation of Wife in Successfully Arguing That Husband Pay Pendente Lite Child Support, Maintenance & Wife’s Counsel Fees
Matrimonial & Family Law – Pendente Lite Support – An Award of Pendente Lite Support & Counsel Fees
Pendente lite applications are an important part of the work of our matrimonial lawyers. Where the husband earned approximately $150,000 and the wife earned approximately $75,000, Kristen Mackay Pennessi argued that the husband pay pendente lite support. The Court ordered the husband to pay $988 per month in pendente lite maintenance and $3,293 per month in pendente lite child support. Kristen was also successful in arguing that the husband, as the monied spouse, be responsible for paying the wife’s counsel fees. The Court awarded the wife $10,000 in counsel fees.
Following a Divorce, Representation of Client in a Legal Name Change
Matrimonial & Family Law – Legal Name Change
Our lawyers sometimes represent clients on other matters, like legal name change. Here, where the client wanted to legally change her name, Kristen Mackay Pennessi prepared and filed all the required forms and documents necessary to finalize the client’s request for a legal name change.
Representation of Wife in Successfully Imputing $100,000 in income to Husband in Calculating Pendente Lite Child Support
Matrimonial & Family Law – Pendente Lite Child Support – Imputing Larger Income to Spouse than His Claimed Salary
Our matrimonial lawyers often represent clients on contested Pendente Lite applications. Where the husband claimed to earn only $10,000 per year working as the CEO in his family’s company, Kristen Mackay Pennessi & Kathleen Donelli successfully argued that the Court should impute $100,000 in income to the husband for purposes of calculating pendente lite child support. Specifically, the Court held that, where the family business was paying for most of the husband’s expenses (he was residing at the marital residence in Scarsdale and his statement of net worth showed expenses of more than $10,000 a month), the husband’s account of his own finances was not credible. Thus, the Court found that imputing income in the amount of $100,000 per year for pendente lite child support purposes was reasonable and appropriate.
Representation of Mother in Successfully Opposing Father’s request for Unsupervised Child Visitation & Interim Custody of Children
Matrimonial & Family Law – Unsupervised Child Visitation – Interim Custody of Children
Our matrimonial lawyers often deal with issues on child visitation and child custody. Here, Kristen Mackay Pennessi & Kathleen Donelli successfully argued that supervised visitation between the father and children should continue. After a hearing, the Court held that based on the credible testimony from the son’s therapist, the testimony from the children’s uncle, prior reports of Child Protective Services and the “rehearsed and forced” testimony of the Father and his witnesses, supervised visitation between the Father and the children should continue.
Representation of an Individual In Child Support Matter Regarding Mistaken Identity
Matrimonial & Family Law – Enforcement of Child Support – Wrongful Garnishment of Wages – Mistaken Identity
Enforcement of child support obligations in matrimonial actions is a common issue after a divorce decree is finalized. Where a payor has not paid child support, a Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support may be issued against the payor. However, where a Notice to Withhold Income for Child Support was wrongly issued against an out of state individual, Kristen Mackay Pennessi was able to successfully resolve the case by proving that the out of state individual had been mistakenly identified as someone else. After resolving the mistaken identity issue, Kristen was able to have the individual’s wages repaid (after they had wrongly been garnished pursuant to the Notice).
Representation of Father in Successfully Enforcing Stipulation allowing Father to Make Final decisions on Child’s Religious Upbringing
Matrimonial & Family Law – Enforcement of Settlement – Decisions on Religious Upbringing of Children
Our Matrimonial & Family Law lawyers are often retained to enforce a client’s rights under a settlement agreement made by the client and his or her ex-spouse. Here, the parties had entered into a stipulation giving the father the final decision making authority on a child’s religious upbringing. Kristen Mackay Pennessi and Kathleen Donelli successfully argued in Family Court that the mother violated the stipulation when she refused to allow the child to attend Bar Mitzvah classes.
Representation of Mother in Successfully Opposing Father’s Petition For Downward Modification of Child Support
Matrimonial & Family Law – Downward Modification of Child Support
After divorce or support decrees are finalized, Matrimonial & Family Law lawyers sometimes make or defend against applications for a modification of child support. Kristen Mackay Pennessi successfully opposed the husband’s request for a downward modification of child support. In this case, although the husband was disabled and unable to continue to work as a firefighter, he was still collecting his full salary. Thus, there was no change of circumstances to warrant a reduction in the child support payments.
Representation of Wife in Successfully Arguing that Forgiveness of a Loan to Husband is Considered Income When Calculating Maintenance
Matrimonial & Family Law – Post Judgment Maintenance Calculation – Forgiveness of Loan is Considered Income For Purposes of Calculating Maintenance
Our matrimonial lawyers often represent clients post-judgment for purposes of enforcing or modifying support obligations. Where the husband was required to pay the wife maintenance each year based on a calculation of his income, Kristen Mackay Pennessi & Kathleen Donelli successfully argued that where the husband received an unsecured loan from his employer in the amount of over $5 million, the portion of the loan forgiven each year was constitutes income to the husband for purposes of calculating his maintenance obligation.
Representation of Husband in Successfully Settling the Marital Portion of Husband’s Partnership Interest
Matrimonial & Family Law – Spouse’s Share of Business Interest – Spouse’s Contribution to Business
The value and marital portion of a spouse’s business interest are often essential issues in a divorce action. Kristen Mackay Pennessi and Kathleen Donelli successfully argued that the wife was entitled to only 25% of her husband’s partnership interest, if and when he actually receives any monies for his partnership interest. In this case, it was proven that the wife had only negligible and indirect contributions to the husband’s business partnership.
Representation of Husband in Successfully Opposing Wife’s Claim For Spousal Support Because She Was Allegedly Unable To Work
Matrimonial & Family Law – Spouse’s Ability to Earn Income – Psychiatric Examination Ordered
A spouse’s ability to find and maintain employment is an important issue in divorce actions. Where the wife claimed that she was entitled to spousal support because she allegedly had a mental condition and was unable to work, Kristen Mackay Pennessi and Kathleen Donelli successfully argued that the wife should be ordered to submit to a mental examination to determine whether she was able to work. Ultimately, no mental condition was found and the wife did not receive spousal support.
Representation of Husband In Successfully Opposing Wife’s Egregious Fault Claim
Matrimonial & Family Law – Egregious Fault Claim – Permissible Topics for Deposition
Generally, during a deposition in a Matrimonial matter, questions are limited to the finances of the parties. However, Kristen Mackay Pennessi and Kathleen Donelli successfully argued that questions pertaining to alleged abuse were appropriate at the wife’s deposition where egregious fault was at issue.
Representation of Mother In Favorable Child Support Settlement
Matrimonial & Family Law – Child Support – Under Reporting of Income
An essential part of the work of our Matrimonial & Family Law lawyers is to verify the accuracy of information provided by a spouse and his or her lawyer. Kristen Mackay Pennessi successfully settled a child support issue where the husband had under represented his annual income to the Court by more than $100,000. Through subpoenaed documents from the husband’s employer and bank, Kristen was able to establish the husband’s true income and settle child support at the higher amount.
Representation of Parents in Successfully Opposing a Grandparent Visitation Petition
Matrimonial & Family Law – Grandparent Visitation Petition
Matrimonial & Family Law litigation sometimes involves applications for visitation or other relief by grandparents of a minor child. Kristen L. Pennessi and Kathleen Donelli successfully opposed a petition for grandparent visitation where both parents were fit and loving parents and the grandparents had little to no contact with the child.
Representation of Husband In Successfully Opposing Wife’s Order To Show Cause Seeking Pendente Lite Relief
Matrimonial & Family Law – Opposing Pendente Lite Relief
Pendente Lite applications – seeking financial support from the other spouse during the divorce action – is an important tool for Matrimonial & Family Law lawyers. Kristen Mackay Pennessi and Kathleen Donelli successfully opposed the wife’s Order To Show Cause for pendente lite relief. The wife was awarded zero in pendente lite support and zero in legal fees.