Contested And Uncontested Divorce: Experienced New York City and Long Island Attorneys
A contested divorce occurs when spouses disagree on how to divide their marital assets, how to resolve issues of child custody and parental access, and how much child support and/or maintenance should be paid by the monied spouse.
When these disagreements are present, the court must become involved in order to resolve these disputes for the parties. Contested divorces oftentimes become complex and may ultimately result in a trial.
CONTESTED DIVORCE PROCESS
1. Pleadings: First, a spouse files for divorce. This involves the filing of a legal document either called a Summons and Complaint or Summons with Notice. The filing spouse has 120 days to serve the Summons and Complaint or Summons with Notice on the other spouse. Once served, the defendant spouse has 20 days to respond to the Summons.
2. Judicial Intervention and Discovery: If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, one party will file a document requesting a court date called a preliminary conference. At the preliminary conference, the court will become familiar with the issues involved in the case and set a discovery schedule. Discovery involves the process of identifying and valuing marital assets.
3. Temporary Orders: During the litigation process, each side may make motions to the court for a variety of relief, including setting temporary maintenance and child support, awarding interim counsel fees, and asking for exclusive occupancy of the marital home.
4. Trial: If the spouses are unable to negotiate a settlement of all issues involving property and the children, the court will set a trial date. At the trial both sides will present evidence and the court will ultimately render a decision. The divorce ends with the issuance of a judgment of divorce, which finalizes the divorce case and resolves all issues related to equitable distribution of property, child custody and parental access, counsel fees, child support, and maintenance. The court will often separate custody trials from financial trials.