The Mandel Law Firm - Family Law Attorneys

The Mandel Law Firm - Family Law Attorneys

Firm Overview

Real Solutions in Divorce and Family Law

Steve Mandel, who has successfully obtained millions in compensation for injured clients, is your best choice.

This may be the first time you're facing a divorce, a child custody battle, a spousal support and maintenance (alimony) issue, or another family law matter, but it's not ours. The Mandel Law Firm in New York City offers you individual attention, knowledgeable guidance and experienced, aggressive representation. Contact us today.

Experienced, Aggressive Trial Attorneys

Sooner or later, events in your life may result in a search for an experienced attorney. Our founder, Steven J. Mandel, has practiced law for more than 30 years. He is an aggressive trial attorney who knows when and how to fight hard and when a more subtle approach is more appropriate.

All of our attorneys understand that some cases are more suitable for settlement or alternative dispute resolution, while others must be fought hard in court to the end. We have practiced in state and federal courtrooms throughout the area and have a long track record of achieving successful results for people like you.

We approach legal problems by first trying to resolve them amicably without going through the time-consuming and expensive process of litigation. But if your case is one where litigation is warranted, remember that we are trial lawyers who are not afraid to fight for you, and we'll be with you every step of the way.

Midtown Manhattan Law Office

Our offices are conveniently located in midtown Manhattan, easily accessible from New York City, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Westchester, and Nassau counties. If you need a divorce lawyer or have any family law matter for which you need legal counsel, call The Mandel Law Firm toll-free at (888) 2 WIN NOW (888-294-6669) or locally at (212) 697-7383.

Reduced Fees for AARP Members

Mr. Mandel is a member of the AARP Legal Services Network, offering reduced fees to AARP members.

Schedule Your Consultation Today

If you are struggling with a serious family law problem, we can help you pursue a favorable solution. Contact us to
speak with an experienced New York family law attorney.

Main Office

370 Lexington Avenue
Suite 505
New York NY 10017


(212) 697-7383


(212) 681-6157

Office Information

Office Hours

Mon - Fri: 9:00 am - 5:30 pm

Office Manager

Ellen Mandel

Emergency After Hours


Child Custody

The Mandel Law Firm boasts a perfect record in winning New York City child custody cases because we keep the focus on the child in custody and visitation cases

Keeping the Focus on the Child in Child Custody and Visitation Cases

The Mandel Law Firm works hard to ensure that all parties remember that the real focus in any custody dispute is the child. We work with parents in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Westchester and Nassau counties, and throughout the New York City metro area to reach a result that is in the best interests of the child and works for all parties involved.

Nothing is more heartbreaking than a child caught in the middle of a custody battle. Many of our attorneys are parents themselves, so they understand the joys and rewards, trials and tribulations of parenthood.

Representation in Child Custody and Visitation Matters

Child custody is divided into 2 parts.

Physical Custody (or "Residential Custody") is where the child primarily resides; and
Legal Custody involves decision making surrounding the health, education and general welfare of the child.

Any arrangement of the above is possible by agreement. It is even possible for one parent to have sole physical custody and the other to have sole legal custody; or for one party to have sole physical custody with joint legal custody.

Generally, any agreement the parties can make together as co-parents would be better than anything imposed by a stranger, a/k/a "The Judge".

Visitation (Parenting Time)

Many lawyers refer to the rights of the non-custodial parent to see their child as "visitation". However, we at The Mandel Law Firm beg to differ. We, as parents ourselves, don't believe that a parent "visits" their child. They raise and nurture them. That is why we fight for the non-custodial parent to be able to have as much "parenting time" (as opposed to "visitation") with their child as may be possible.

And remember, grandparents may have rights to visit with their grandchildren.

Here are just a few of the situations in which we can help you:

--Enforcement by a non-custodial parent of a visitation agreement
--Modification of the parenting plan by a non-custodial parent
--Modification of a visitation schedule by a parent with full or primary custody
--Grandparents seeking visitation rights with their grandchildren

Which Parent Will Get Custody?

Who will get custody of your child is not a foregone conclusion. Simply because you're a father doesn't mean you can't get custody of your child and just because you're a mother does not mean you will automatically get custody of your child. You need an experienced, knowledgeable attorney to help you achieve your goals.

Whether you're interested in seeking custody of your children or the other parent is attempting to take custody away from you, we have the experience and resources needed to help you.

Joint Custody or Sole Custody

It is a common misconception that courts will impose joint custody on parents. They will not. Joint custody is an arrangement made between the parents to jointly agree on all issues concerning the health, education and general welfare of the child. In New York, it is not something that will be imposed by the courts upon hostile parties.

Joint custody is a viable option only if the parents have an amicable relationship and can communicate well in matters that affect the child. If the parents are not on friendly enough terms, chances are that the joint decision-making required in "joint custody" will result in more disagreements and conflict. In that case, the court will select one parent to be the sole decision maker, who will have what is referred to as having "legal custody" of the child.

A Perfect Record in Child Custody Cases

Our knowledge and skill in the child custody arena is unquestioned. In fact, we have never lost a child custody case. We take to trial only those cases in which we strongly believe; so you can be assured that when we do accept a case, we will do whatever it takes, within the full extent of the law, to pursue the desired result.

We work with you to set reasonable, realistic expectations about the outcome of your case. If an investigation is required, we consult private investigators who can uncover important information relevant to the habits and lifestyle of the other parent. If necessary, we will ask a psychologist or social worker to evaluate the mental health of a parent or child and provide a home evaluation.

Emergency Applications for Custody

Seeking emergency temporary child custody may be appropriate under the following circumstances:

--If you believe your ex-spouse is going to relocate with your child without your permission or the court's consent
--If you notice signs of abuse or neglect by the other parent
--If the child is imminent danger while under the care of the other parent

Our law firm can help you understand the process of seeking emergency temporary child custody to protect your child. We know how to proceed quickly in these cases to ensure the child's safety.



Steven J. Mandel

The Mandel Law Firm - Family Law Attorneys

Like many of the best and most talented litigators, Steve Mandel has a colorful, varied and exciting background. Born and raised on the tough, gritty streets of Brooklyn, Steve worked his way through college and law school as a professional musician and comedian. On stage performance was training that would later serve him well in representing clients. "Nothing fazes me in court," Steve says with a smile. "After doing standup comedy before 3000 people at a hotel, working in front of a judge, or six people in a jury box, is nothing."

Steve feels it


Bar Number: New York Bar
New York, 1980

Bar Number: U.S. District Court
New York, 1981

Bar Number: U.S. District Court
Pennsylvania, 1999

Bar Number: U.S. Supreme Court
, 1985


Yeshiva University Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law
J.D., 1979

Adelphi University
Bachelor of Arts (Magna Cum Laude), 1976

James Nemia

The Mandel Law Firm - Family Law Attorneys

One thing stands out about Jim Nemia, even more than his formidable legal skills. That's his ability to see opportunity for achieving successful outcomes, where others find nothing but roadblocks. It's a gift only the most talented trial attorneys and negotiators possess, and is something of a rarity among New York divorce lawyers.

Whether it's a matrimonial, family law, domestic violence, or even a business or estates case, Jim is committed to getting a superior result for every client. "The best deals are those where clients get everything they can within the scope of the law, and if possible, avoid the cost, burden and expense of litigation. A lot of times, you can do better at the negotiating table than in court. And when a case is settled, it should be finished and free of future problems," he says.

Never satisfied with less than an excellent conclusion, Nemia believes in carefully refining an approach that's tailored to the unique needs of each client's case. Especially with complicated fact situations, this resourceful edge often rescues the day.

As the divorce lawyer representing a renowned surgeon, Jim recently negotiated a $1,000,000 settlement on his behalf. When domestic violence and other charges were filed against his client, Jim sprung into action, and immediately got the criminal case against him dismissed. In addition to winning a major monetary concession to compensate his client for professional losses that resulted from these false allegations, he also got his child support commitment reduced by half.

Guarding the rights of clients in divorce and family law cases involving domestic violence, spousal abuse and child abuse is high priority for Jim. In representing the wife of a savage alcoholic, he argued for the court to impose special visitation restrictions to protect her child. The father had been in rehab four times, lied to his wife and demonstrated a continual pattern of instability.

Nemia convinced the judge to order supervised visitation, requiring a social worker to be present any time the father spent time with the child. "Sometimes in these cases, the most important work in safeguarding clients and their children starts after the restraining order has been issued," he says.

Jim has also been highly successful in restoring custody of children to parents where children have been removed by child services agencies. These cases require a unique skill-set in communicating effectively with the court and numerous attorneys involved, and often with forensic experts whose opinions may be crucial to a favorable disposition.

While Jim always looks to conserve client resources by negotiating advantageous settlements, he brings the fire of a warrior's heart to the courtroom. With an extraordinary command of all the variables that can be marshaled to prove a case, he uses each as a sharp, swift arrow aimed at a favorable decision. He hits the bull's-eye consistently, as evidenced by his impressive track record of success at trial.

Jim's familiarity with winning is something commercial clients particularly appreciate. Acting as corporate counsel to several thriving enterprises, his focus is always on providing legal protection in a way that facilitates expansion plans, and integrates well with business goals. His experience in representing businesses has also been a major benefit to those who retain the firm on divorce matters, when various types of companies included in marital property need to be equitably divided.

Generous by nature, Jim devotes much of his free time to charitable causes. He and his family have graciously attended to the needs of nursing home residents and soup kitchen guests for many years.

Jim graduated from the University of South Florida, achieving the prestigious Dean's and President's List awards. He received his law degree from Syracuse University College of Law in New York.

He's a guitar enthusiast and a lifelong athlete, and loves jamming with musician friends, along with hiking, skiing, tennis and swimming. A devoted family man, he and his wife have six children.


Bar Number: New York
New York, 1989

Bar Number: U.S. District Court
New York, 1995

Bar Number: U.S. District Court
New York, 1998


Syracuse University College of Law
J.D., 1987

University of South Florida
Bachelor of Arts, 1983

Rafael Gonzalez

The Mandel Law Firm - Family Law Attorneys

What does it take to win when the stakes are high? Skill. Strength. Confianza.

What does it take to win when the stakes are high?
Skill. Strength. Confianza.

Complex cases sometimes seem to have insurmountable odds. Attorney Rafael Gonzalez grew up knowing what it means fight and win, in what many would find to be hopeless circumstances. Raised on the Lower East Side of New York, as a child and young man he felt the sting of poverty, prejudice and injustice. He vowed then to devote his life to combating the conditions that choke off equality and opportunity for others. It's why he became a lawyer.

Whereas devastating early life trauma destroys many people, Rafael turned adversity into advantage. The strength, courage and perseverance it took to survive are the same attributes he brings to practicing law. It's also what has enabled him to transform the most challenging cases into astounding courtroom victories. His tireless efforts on behalf of clients have consistently won major, life-changing decisions in their favor.

Rafael handles matrimonial, divorce, family law, criminal, and immigration matters. His approach combines the fervor of a seasoned courtroom litigator with a sage's discipline for thorough preparation. He is a master at weaving together facts and timelines, turning the chronology of a case into a convincing presentation that wins over judges and juries. It's a talent that has served clients well. He has continually prevailed for those who would otherwise be facing serious consequences.

Family law matters are close to Raphael's heart. "Especially in the circumstances in which I grew up, I know how important family is to survival. A New York family lawyer and matrimonial practitioner has a tremendous responsibility to his clients, because it's not easy to survive here. He's got to win if there's a court battle, and keep things as stable and negotiable as he can between the parties, particularly for the children's sake." Almost any experienced family law attorney in New York City would agree.

Recently, in representing two clients involved in a love triangle that turned into a criminal case, Rafael won their freedom after they'd been arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. The client couple had reconciled their marriage. However, the husband's former lover made a false allegation to the police, saying they'd come to her home and slashed her with a knife as she answered the door. This resulted in their incarceration.

Gonzalez was able to prove that both the husband and his wife were in different locations on the day of the incident, and that the woman's wound was self-inflicted. The case was dismissed, and the former lover was arrested for lying to the police. "It was one of those unusual cases in which being both a family lawyer and a criminal attorney was critical to getting the clients out of trouble. So often it is today that more than one area of the law comes into play when you're solving a problem," he says.

Born into poverty in rural Puerto Rico before moving to New York when he was seven, Raphael knows what it's like to span the bridge between two cultures. It's an attribute the firm's multi-cultural clients are grateful for, as they face the often intimidating court system. They feel he is their advocate, guide and friend. Gonzalez, who is fluent in Spanish, calls it "confianza," or confidence. It refers to a special kind of rapport, where clients feel comfortable entrusting him with critical life issues and more importantly, their futures.

Raphael feels the master key to representing clients effectively is listening. "I listen carefully to what they want, and where they're coming from. Then, together we talk about how to get it, and what it's possible to achieve," he says.

Clients whose fates are hanging by the thread of a court decision are thankful for his efforts in restoring their lives, peace of mind and optimism. In having achieved the American dream of success himself, Rafael guards their rights to do the same, safely leading them through the complex maze of the law.

Raphael's winning methods are discussed in a Special Report just published by The Law Firm of Steven J. Mandel. The firm's attorneys have a track record of success because they rely on proven strategies to achieve results. Divorce Secrets for Tough Times outlines many of the practical approaches Gonzalez and the firm's other lawyers use to help clients. He recommends that every one of his matrimonial and family law clients read it.

Rafael graduated from Hunter College in New York City, and achieved his law degree on full scholarship from Boston University Law School, one of the country's top ten law programs. He is a highly regarded martial arts practitioner of the ancient Fu Jow Pai "Tiger Claw" style of Kung Fu, having won the Eastern Regional Lightweight Championship. He also enjoys competing in chess tournaments and loves novels by famous Spanish authors. He lives with his wife Farida and his teenage daughter.


Bar Number: New York Bar
New York, 1988

Bar Number: U.S. District Court
New York, 1988

Bar Number: U.S. District Court
New York, 0


Boston College Law School
J.D., 1988

City University of New York, Hunter College
Bachelor of Arts, 1981

Donald T. Ridley

The Mandel Law Firm - Family Law Attorneys

When the foundation is solid, so is the case.

When the foundation is solid, so is the case.

When the chips are down and the wolves are closing in, there's no one better to have in your corner than Don Ridley. A brilliant strategist and celebrated appellate lawyer, Don has had extensive experience in successfully arguing many intricate cases at both the state and federal levels.

Don handles divorce, child custody, and family law, as well as legal representation for the firm's business and personal injury clients.

At The Mandel Firm, thorough preparation fuels every case initiative. Methodical and meticulous, Don is the master of the mountain when it comes to building the foundation of each triumphant plan-of-action. He helps develop the potent arguments, integrated with carefully researched legal precedent, that create a fortress of protection around every client. Don's case-winning foresight has shined the light of success on many challenging court battles the firm's attorneys have fought.

Here's a good example. As child custody lawyer in an unusual case, Don won sole custody for a father of his young daughter. The client's estranged wife was a police officer. Upon learning that the father was involved in a new relationship, the wife went to his apartment and threatened him with her service revolver.

A fight ensued with the wife in which he wrestled the weapon away from her, yet when the police arrived, they were reluctant to incriminate a colleague.

Even in confronting the "blue line" of silence, and although in most cases in New York, child custody is awarded to mothers, Don's careful presentation succeeded in convincing the court. In addition, he also attained an award of child support from the wife.

"You've got to be closely attuned to the needs of the client and the children in matters involving child custody. Attorneys have to be more thorough in these cases than almost any other area of the law, because the well-being of a child is at stake," he says.

Don is deeply devoted to helping all his clients, taking a personal interest in each case. "People in serious legal trouble need the assistance of an attorney who cares about what happens to them," he says. "I like to see clients move past their difficulties, and get on with their lives. It makes me feel good when I can lift the burden off their shoulders." And he does.

Where did Don acquire his skills? In addition to graduating law school with honors, Don was chosen for a prestigious two-year law clerkship with the famous federal trial judge and legal author, the Honorable Judge Edward J. Devitt. Only the top law school graduates are selected for these positions in the Federal Court system. It was in this capacity that he honed the exceptional research and writing skills that empower his clients today.

Don Ridley has been a leading advocate in cases involving patient's rights, having successfully argued at the state appellate level many times. He has won decisions that have significantly advanced protection of the right to refuse unwanted treatment.

Graduating from the University of Minnesota, Don worked his way through law school. He achieved his law degree from the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul, alma mater of former United States Chief Justice Warren Burger.

Don and his wife Dawn give graciously of themselves for charitable causes in their community. All those Don has helped are deeply grateful for his support. In guiding them through the most overwhelming times of their lives, he has given them a basis for hope.


Bar Number: New York Bar
New York, 1985

Bar Number: Minnesota Bar
Minnesota, 1982

Bar Number: U.S. District Court
New York, 0

Bar Number: U.S. Court of Appeal
, 0

Bar Number: U.S. Supreme Court
, 0


William Mitchell College of Law
J.D., 1982

University of Minnesota
Bachelor of Arts, 1979

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