Contested Divorce Attorney
The divorce process is emotionally challenging and legally complicated at best. Finalizing a divorce in New York is particularly difficult if you and your spouse disagree on key issues. Navigating legal proceedings can be overwhelming for those who are unfamiliar with New York State divorce laws, which is why it’s important to have an experienced contested divorce lawyer by your side. An effective family lawyer will help determine a fair compromise and reach an appropriate settlement agreement.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
Whenever possible, we recommend that couples work together to file for an uncontested divorce. Uncontested divorces occur when both parties come to the table in agreement upon a variety of issues, including spousal support, division of assets, child custody, and child support. Although there is still a considerable amount of legal paperwork required, an uncontested divorce is generally shorter and less emotionally taxing to divorcing spouses and their children.
However, if even one contested issue exists, then it’s time to go a different route and seek out skilled legal advice from a contested divorce attorney.
Contested Divorce in New York
New York State recognizes two different types of grounds for divorce: no-fault and fault. A no-fault divorce may be granted on the grounds of irretrievable breakdown in the relationship for a period of at least six months (i.e., ”irreconcilable differences”). Fault grounds for divorce include cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment, imprisonment, and adultery. Married couples in New York State may also divorce after a legal separation agreement or divorce after a judgment of separation.
Contested divorces add another layer of difficulty due to the sensitive nature of the matters involved. A typical contested issue may fall into one or more of the following categories:
- Custody arrangements and child support payments for minor children: In some cases, it may be wise to work out custody and child support payments in Family Court, prior to filing for divorce.
- A plan for spousal support: The financial aspect is often a major concern for our contested divorce clients, especially if one spouse has been the primary breadwinner while the other spouse stayed at home.
- Distribution of marital property and marital assets: While the goal is usually to split everything 50/50, that is often easier said than done, especially when the property in question involves major purchases that the couple made together during the course of their marriage.
- Division of shared debt: Whether it is outstanding medical bills, credit card bills, home mortgages, or car loans, many couples find it difficult to determine a fair distribution of debts incurred during the marriage.
When it comes to seeking a contested divorce NY residents should contact a seasoned divorce attorney at a reputable family law firm to help guide them through the process.
What steps are involved in a contested divorce?
Each state has its own specific process that must be followed to file for divorce. In New York, contested divorces typically follow these steps:
- Initial filing: A spouse files a Summons with Notice or a Summons and Complaint to start the divorce process. The Plaintiff (i.e., the spouse who filed) has 120 days to serve the summons to the other spouse via another individual over the age of 18. The server then files an affidavit of service. It is important to note that once the summons has been filed (even before the other spouse has been notified), the economic partnership has officially ended.
- Response to the summons: The other spouse (also known as the Defendant) has 20 to 30 days to respond to the filing, depending on whether or not s/he was out of state when s/he was served. If this is a contested divorce, then the Defendant files a Notice of Appearance.
- Request for Judicial Intervention: The Plaintiff then files a Request for Judicial Intervention, which asks for a preliminary court hearing. Each spouse must provide a statement of net worth prior to the hearing. The goal of the hearing is to resolve any disagreements and come to a mutually approved settlement agreement.
- Collection of Evidence: If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, then the next phase of the contested divorce process is discovery. During the discovery period, both attorneys will gather information to support their clients’ cases. The attorneys have six months following the preliminary hearing to complete discovery.
- Trial: Once both sides have been heard, the judge will issue a ruling. The Supreme Court of the State of New York is the only court that handles divorce cases in New York, but if either part feels that the judgment is unsatisfactory, then an appeal may be made to a higher court.
While some couples choose to use a third-party mediator to achieve a divorce settlement, your contested divorce case may be far more complicated and require a contested divorce attorney who will fight for you. Divorce law in New York is very complex, and attempting to handle it on your own comes with considerable risks, both financial and emotional. Working with an experienced attorney will help ensure that you get the results you deserve. Contact David Carr & Associates today to learn more about our contested divorce services in New York.