New York State defines any divorce to be contested if you and your spouse disagree on at least one aspect of divorce at the time of filing. While a contested divorce, by definition, can be more complicated than an uncontested one, it is nothing to fear so long as you work with a divorce lawyer and know the general rundown of the procedures ahead of time.
Steps to a Contested Divorce in New York
In New York, the process of a contested divorce usually involves the following steps:
- Initial filing: One spouse or the other files a Summons with Notice or a Summons and Complaint to begin the divorce and mark the official end of the marital period and its economic partnership. The petitioner will have 120 days to serve the summons to their spouse.
- Serving papers: The petitioner is often barred from serving the papers to his or her spouse on their own. Instead, an official third party, such as an attorney, must complete the task within 120 days and then file an affidavit of the service within the following 30 days.
- Responding: The spouse served the papers usually has between 20 and 30 days to respond to the filing, either by accepting or contested the terms of the divorce. In a contested divorce, the response will be called an Answer, or sometimes can be a Motion.
- RJI: New York requires those who have filed for divorce and received an Answer to then file a Request for Judicial Intervention (RJI). This document serves as an official acknowledgement from both parties regarding the divorce and asks for the court to set up a Preliminary Conference date within 45 days of assigning the RJI.
- Preliminary conference: The court will decide which issues of a divorce require its attention and set a date for an official hearing. Each spouse must provide a statement of net worth no later than 10 days before the preliminary conference begins. If there is little signs of any form of agreement, the court may ask that both attorneys representing both sides consult one another to discuss potential, out-of-court compromises.
- Discovery: If no settlement is reached – a likely option in a contested divorce – the discovery period begins, in which attorneys will make attempts to collect evidence to use for their clients or against their clients’ spouse. Depending on what is discovered, attorneys may meet again to discuss pretrial conclusions. Discovery must be completed within 6 months after the preliminary conference.
- Disposition: When a contested court goes to trial, the matter could be settled within a day, or within weeks, depending on the size of the marital estate and the stubbornness of either party. At the end, the judge will issue a ruling that must be followed. If the judgement is inadequate or unsatisfactory, appeals can be filed to a higher court.
No matter how far your contested divorce in New York goes, it pays to start the entire process with the help of a trusted Long Island divorce lawyer. At Hedayati Law Group P.C., we put our clients’ needs and priorities first, working closely with them from start to finish. Discover what that caliber of service, refined with more than 80 years of combined legal experience, can do for you by contacting us today.