Facts: A constantly squabbling couple was no longer able to deal with the tension in their marriage but both wanted what was best for the children.
You know what it is like when you know you are “done.” We do too. Some of us have been through the divorce process ourselves. To successfully negotiate your divorce, you need to understand your options. These options may involve child custody and/or visitation, child and/or spousal support, property distribution (also known as “equitable distribution”) and “no-fault” divorce. Being informed and knowing your options will enable you to obtain an agreement you can live with – which is the key to a successful divorce.
There are essentially two ways you can get divorced in New York: contested or uncontested. Deciding which way to proceed is one of the most important questions you will answer. It will determine how much time you are willing to spend negotiating issues with your spouse, and how much time and money you are willing to spend fighting over details. Let us explain the different divorce process options.
In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse negotiate and resolve the issues of the marriage between yourselves rather than have the court make these decisions for you. When stuck on an issue, your respective lawyers advise each of you so that you can move forward and reach an agreement that works for both of you. Your lawyers then complete the paperwork needed to obtain your divorce. After you and your lawyer review and sign the paperwork it is filed with the court so a judge can review the documents and sign the divorce judgment. In most cases, the uncontested process should take less than a year from beginning to end.
When, however, you and your spouse have issues you cannot resolve, you will need court intervention to address those issues. These kinds of divorce actions are called “contested” divorces. They take longer and are more expensive than their uncontested counterparts. Your lawyers are there, not only to help you resolve the outstanding issues, but also to write legal documents on your behalf, such as a “motion” (an application to the court for something), and to represent your point of view in court. Your lawyer will also appear in court with you, argue your rights and report how your case is progressing to a judge. Although proceeding in this manner is sometimes necessary, it can require a lot of time and money, and it will likely take more than a year to obtain a divorce.
In the event you and your spouse are able to resolve most, but not all, of the issues between you, the court can be used to facilitate resolution, and/or decide the unresolved issues. Although your case would be in court, the number of times you actually have to go to court would be limited – just often enough to reconcile the unresolved issues. In these circumstances, the court becomes a “tool” to settle your case in a fair and expeditious manner utilizing a time line that is often similar to the faster uncontested divorces timeline.
Regardless of whether your case is uncontested, contested or a combination of both, you or your spouse must be able to demonstrate one of the following seven grounds to obtain a divorce:
Most of the time we recommend that you file for a “no-fault” divorce and state that there has been an “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage for at least six months.” In doing so, you will save time and money because you need only make the statement to the court, under oath, without having to prove anything. If you and your spouse choose this option, neither of you will waste the time and money needed to prove one of the other six grounds listed above at trial to obtain your divorce.
Almost all matrimonial attorneys know how to help clients through a divorce. We do too. We are different from other lawyers in that we prefer that our clients try to go the “uncontested” route first, and resolve as many issues as they can between themselves. Only when negotiations fail do we recommend going to court and litigating to the degree necessary to get the issues resolved. Our way usually leads to a faster, less costly process that results in a set of binding agreements each client can use as a platform to a new, and hopefully happier, life.
We seek to find the best solutions for clients who want to move on from an unsatisfactory marital situation. Please contact our office to learn how we can help you move your life forward in the positive direction you are looking for.