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Answer Your Long Island, NY Divorce Petition the Right Way

by | Sep 19, 2023 | Divorce Long Island, NY

If you were blindsided by your spouse serving you with divorce papers, you might not be sure what to do next or how you should respond. Below, we go over what you need to know and how our Long Island, NY divorce attorneys can help you navigate the process of dissolving your marriage.

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Step #1. Note How Long You Have to Answer the Divorce Petition

In New York, you have a certain amount of time to respond to a divorce petition. If you fail to do so within the specified window, you essentially forfeit your right to contest the divorce terms your spouse has already laid out in the divorce papers.

If you were personally handed your divorce papers by someone like a police officer or a process server, you have 20 days to file your response to the petition. If you received your summons any other way, you have 30 days to file a response.

Step #2. Obtain The Verified Complaint

When you are served, you may receive either a “Summons with Notice” or a “Summons and Verified Complaint.” If you get the latter, you can respond directly to the verified complaint. If you only receive a “Summons with Notice,” you will need to file a “Notice of Appearance and a Demand for Complaint.” This tells the court presiding over your case that you will be submitting your own request for relief and that you want a copy of the verified complaint.

Step #3. Look At the Grounds for Divorce

Once you receive the verified complaint, you have 20 days to answer it. The first thing you want to look for is what your spouse has listed for the grounds for divorce. Even though New York is a no-fault divorce state, the way the laws are written requires a formal reason to be given. The most common is “irreconcilable differences,” which is essentially neither spouse’s fault, or “no fault”.

If you disagree with the grounds for divorce, you can contest it and provide your own account as to why things went south. However, this may or may not be something you want to put your energy into depending on your circumstances. For example, it might not benefit you much to argue fault if your spouse listed irreconcilable differences, unless you have proof that they cheated and there’s a prenuptial agreement that affords you more alimony in the case of infidelity.

Step #4. Admit Or Deny Each Section

Arguably, the most important parts of the verified complaint are the sections in the relief category. These are the issues that will actually impact your life and the lives of your children, if you have them, after the divorce is finalized.

Look for the numbered paragraphs in the complaint that state your name, your spouse’s information, the date you were married, and other basics that you most likely won’t need to contest. Next to these paragraphs, so long as you agree with everything in them, you will write “agree.” Then, there will be paragraphs about how you’ll divide assets, custody, etc.

If you disagree with any of the statements your spouse has made, you’ll write “deny.” You can also write “deny knowledge of” if you don’t know whether or not the claim is true. If you want to challenge any of the claims, you’ll need to file an “Answer and Counterclaim.” This allows you to provide your own claims as to what happened or things your spouse did and they will have 20 days to respond.

You and your spouse may go back and forth for some time before arriving at a point where all of the paragraphs in the verified complaint are agreed upon by both parties. And you may not ever agree, in which case divorce litigation will be necessary to decide the facts and outcome of your case.

Were You Served with a Long Island, NY Divorce Petition? Call Now

If you were served with divorce papers on Long Island, you need to start getting things in order as soon as possible. Don’t wait – there’s only a limited time in which you have to respond.

Veteran New York divorce lawyers Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. can help you understand your rights and fight for a favorable outcome. Call now to schedule your free initial consultation and case evaluation at 631-923-1910 or contact us via our short web form and we’ll get in touch with you as soon as possible.

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About the Author

Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., Founding Partner, Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.

  • Over 20 years practicing matrimonial law
  • Over 1,000 cases successfully resolved
  • Founder and Partner of Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.
  • Experienced and compassionate Long Island Divorce Attorney, Family Law Attorney, and Divorce Mediator
  • Licensed to practice law in the State of New York
  • New York State Bar Association member
  • Nassau County Bar Association member
  • Suffolk County Bar Association member
  • “Super Lawyer” Metro Rising Star
  • Nominated Best of Long Island Divorce Attorney four consecutive years
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee Contributor
  • Collaborative Law Association of New York – Former Director
  • Martindale Hubbell Distinguished Designation
  • America’s Most Honored Professionals – Top 5%
  • Lead Counsel Rated – Divorce Law
  • American Institute of Family Law Attorneys 10 Best
  • International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
  • Graduate of Hofstra University School of Law
  • Double Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy, Politics & Law and History from SUNY Binghamton University
Divorce Lawyer Long Island New York
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Melissa Rappa
Melissa Rappa
18:09 08 Feb 24
At one of the hardest and most stressful times of my life, it was so comforting to have a team at Hornberger and Verbitsky who ALWAYS responded in record speed to my questions, phone calls, emails or texts and who I felt really cared about helping me through this difficult time. It was a long few years and I am grateful to all of you. Thank you so much Rob, AnneMarie, Christine, Patty, Joan and Lawrence. Your guidance, professionalism and expertise is appreciated beyond measure.
Paul Carmichael
Paul Carmichael
16:21 11 Dec 23
I would give 6 stars if I could. I can't say enough good things about Robert and his firm. We were in a situation for over 2 years and I could have never made it through without Robert's experience and knowledge. He guided me through tough times when needed and his expertise could "read" the situation and make the next best move for me. He was tough when he needed to be tough (thankfully) and at the same time guided me through the process to make me feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. I would not want to go through this process without Robert and his team having my back. he helped move the case along and not waste any time or money. One last time, I 100% endorse Robert and his expertise.

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