Guiding New York clients through the divorce process
When a married couple cannot resolve their differences, divorce may be an option they choose to dissolve the relationship. The process of divorce has the potential to be lengthy and complicated, depending on the degree of contention between the spouses. Even though some divorces can be resolved quickly through alternative dispute resolution, there are many instances of couples who see the inside of a courtroom to address the unresolved issues of the marriage. When this happens, it is best to know the general divorce process. Under the best circumstances, an uncontested divorce can be completed within a few months. Contested divorces can take quite a long time to conclude. There are many variables that can and will impact the process, making it hard to know how long your contested divorce may take. When considering divorce, you will have to address any factors relevant to your marriage, including property distribution, maintenance awards, child custody, and child support. Divorce cases are not heard in Family Court. Divorce is a Supreme Court matter. If you need quality legal services from an experienced law firm, contact Penichet & Alberga LLP for a consultation.
In New York, a court cannot establish jurisdiction over a divorce case unless a residency requirement is satisfied. According to New York law, you need to demonstrate one of the following:
- You or your spouse have lived in New York State for at least 2 years immediately before the divorce action.
- You or your spouse were living in New York State on the date of the divorce action and for a continuous period of at least 1 year immediately before the divorce action when your marriage ceremony was performed in New York State or you lived here with your spouse as married persons.
- You or your spouse have lived in the state for a uninterrupted period of at least 1 year immediately before the date of the divorce action and the grounds for divorce happened within state lines.
- You and your spouse are residents of New York State on the date of the divorce action and the grounds for divorce happened within the state.
Grounds for divorce
If the parties can satisfy the residency requirement of New York, they will then have to cite legal grounds acceptable for a court to grant them a divorce. New York is a “no-fault” divorce state, though not a pure one like some others. Courts allow for spouses to cite either fault grounds or no-fault grounds. Fault grounds include:
- Cruel and inhumane treatment
- Living separate and apart after separation judgment
- Living separate and apart after a separation agreement
New York also allows for the citation of “no-fault” grounds for divorce. This means that a couple has had an irrevocable breakdown in relationship for at least 6 months. When deciding between fault and no-fault grounds, couples should consider the implications. Fault grounds can be contested, often making the process complicated before any of the real issues are addressed. Most couples will choose no-fault grounds to avoid any issues and get right to the matter at hand.
The divorce process starts
In order to start the divorce process, one spouse, the plaintiff, will file a Complaint for Divorce. The Complaint will detail grounds for divorce and contain any supplementary relief requested, some of which may include child support, child custody, spousal maintenance, and legal fees. The Complaint must be legally served and the defendant can respond.
Discovery, Compliance Conference, motions, and the trial
After attempts by the court to convince the couple to resolve their matter through alternative dispute resolution, the parties will go through the lengthy process of discovery. This is usually the longest phase of the divorce process. Each attorney and the court requires a clear picture of the financial situation of the marriage. The couple will have to offer net worth statements and anything else that is relevant to the financials of the marriage. After discovery is completed, the Compliance Conference will ensure that everyone has what they need for the trial.
Motions are a request for the court to take action about a certain topic during the divorce process. Most of the time, motions will request assistance with temporary spousal maintenance, child custody, child support, compliance with discovery demands and court-related fees. Once the divorce is finalized, the couple will follow the decision by the court.
Once the trial commences, the court will hear relevant factors from both parties and decide on the matter. Once the judge has heard everything pertinent to the contested issues, he or she will finalize the divorce.
Finalizing the divorce
In order for a divorce to be completed, the court will issue a Judgment of Divorce. The ruling will detail all obligations and orders addressing contested issues. The parties are entitled to appeal the decision or request modifications based on unforeseen, substantial, and ongoing changes in circumstances.
Contact a Westchester County divorce attorney
Penichet & Alberga LLP understands how hard divorce can be on the family. We work to offer our clients tailored and quality legal services to ease their stress and effectively represent their needs. As one of Westchester County’s most esteemed legal team, we are ready to assist you through tough times. If you need our firm to guide you through your legal matter, contact our offices today. Our phone number in White Plains is 914-806-6675