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The Long Island Divorce Process: Everything You Need to Know

by | Aug 20, 2019

Divorce is something few people on Long Island want to experience, but for many marriages, ending it and moving on is truly the best outcome for all parties involved. Because divorce tends to be such a complicated process, it’s crucial that you have a basic understanding about important topics, legal requirements, and what options are available to you. Here’s what you need to know.

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What Is the Difference Between Divorce and Legal Separation? 

Divorce or Legal Separation on Long IslandDivorce and legal separation are essentially two sides of the same coin; one ends a marriage completely while the other affords couples to separate while still maintaining some of the legal benefits of being married. You can get a legal separation before a divorce, but you cannot do the reverse. Once a divorce is finalized, the marriage has completely ended. Learn more about the difference between divorce and legal separation and why legal separation is such a popular alternative to divorce.

Many people ask “should I divorce or separate?” and there’s no one clear answer. The benefits of legal separation include essentially remaining married on paper, which can allow couples to keep their health insurance, life insurance benefits, and more. Separation agreements are usually treated like divorce agreements on Long Island and can be modified or enforced as needed. Read more about modifying a separation agreement or enforcing a legal separation.

Types of Divorce

Once you decide to divorce, you need to consider what type of divorce is most appropriate for you and your family. There are many different types of divorce and which one you choose depends largely on your specific circumstances. Learn the difference between:

No-Fault Divorce

Divorce Lawyer Long Island No Fault Divorce AnswersA no-fault divorce is a type of divorce that allows you to dissolve your marriage without placing blame on the other party. This is a relatively new law in New York state, and the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage was added as legitimate grounds for divorce in 2010. Read this to learn more about how no-fault divorces can reduce your financial and emotional expense.

No-fault divorces allow either spouse to file for a divorce without the need for accusing the other spouse of abandonment, cruelty, adultery, or other egregious actions that constitute grounds for divorce on Long Island. Read more about how no-fault divorce effect the family unit and requirements for filing a no-fault divorce.

Uncontested Divorce

Uncontested divorce better for childrenAn uncontested divorce allows you to dissolve your marriage without costly and time-consuming litigation. An uncontested divorce is possible when you and your spouse are able to reach an agreement about the various aspects of your divorce and can happen a variety of ways, such as through divorce mediation (see below). There are many pros and cons of uncontested divorces, like reducing the time and cost of the divorce process and making the split easier on your family emotionally. However, this type of divorce may not be a good fit for all couples; read more here about what conditions have to be met to get an uncontested divorce and how to find out if an uncontested divorce is the best option for your family.

Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is radically different from an uncontested divorce and simply means you and your ex-spouse cannot come to an agreement on one or more aspects of the divorce and need a judge to make the decision for you. While some contested divorces result in costly litigation, not all of them have to be contentious. Learn how to have a smooth contested divorce by reading this article about ways to keep your contested divorce uncontentious.

Collaborative Divorce

Because you and your spouse are each represented by your own attorneys, collaborative divorce can appear to be the same thing as a contested divorce at first glance. However, in a collaborative divorce, an agreement will be signed at the beginning of the process that states neither party will pursue litigation while attempting to negotiate a settlement. This provides a strong incentive to settle the matter out of court. Collaborative divorce is significantly different from divorce mediation, where there is usually only one mediator. Read more about how to choose between collaborative divorce and divorce mediation and how to collaborate with different professionals to resolve your divorce.

Divorce Mediation

divorce mediation long island nyDivorce mediation, or simply mediation, is a way to dissolve your marriage without going to court and it’s different from collaborative divorce in that you meet with a third-party mediator to resolve your differences (rather than two separate attorneys). The goal of mediation is to reach an agreement on the various aspects of your divorce so you can file the divorce uncontested. Aside from saving you time and money on your divorce, mediation has a number of other benefits. Mediation isn’t necessarily the best option for all families though; read this article to find out if divorce mediation is right for you.

If you have children, mediation is often easier for them to cope with than a traditional divorce. Divorce mediation is often better for children than litigated divorces because there’s less pressure on them to choose a side and less stress in the household. It also benefits you and allows you to make your needs known in a safe neutral environment. Other important questions about mediation include how divorce mediation works and what role your divorce mediator plays during the process. Mediation is hard but often rewarding work that allows your family to move forward in a positive way after the end of your marriage. Read this article to learn more about how mediation can benefit your family.

Issues Covered in Your Divorce Settlement

There are many issues that will be discussed during your divorce. These practical matters of divorce include:

Property Division

Divorce Property Division Long IslandOne of the biggest issues and top concerns for divorcing couples on Long Island is how marital property will be distributed. Who gets the house? How much will I and my spouse get after the divorce will you and your spouse each get after the divorce? Who gets the car, the furniture, and the dog? Fortunately, equitable distribution laws in New York help keep dividing property during a divorce easier. It’s important to understand that equitable distribution isn’t always equal distribution; sometimes, what is fair is not what is equal at all. New York courts use a variety of factors to determine how to reasonably distribute property, such as how much money each spouse earns and what other property each spouse already has. Read this article to learn more about what you need to know about equitable distribution.

Retirement Accounts, Pensions & Social Security

Even though you’re getting a divorce, your ex-spouse could still have some claim to your retirement accounts, depending on how long you have had the accounts and how much you contributed to the accounts during your marriage. Money paid into your accounts before you were wed typically is not distributable, however, money paid into the accounts during your marriage is usually subject to equitable distribution. Divorce may also affect your social security benefits and your pension, so it’s important to discuss your options with a Long Island divorce lawyer. Learn more about how divorce impacts your retirement accounts.

Dividing Your Debts

marital debt long island divorceYou may also be concerned about who will pay for debt you and your ex-spouse accrued during your marriage. In addition to the division of assets, equitable distribution laws also require marital debts to be addressed. You and your ex-spouse are both financially responsible for any debt that you accrued during your marriage and if one of you doesn’t pay, the other might be on the hook for the money. For example, foreclosure after a divorce is a real possibility if your ex refuses to pay the mortgage and you don’t have the money to cover it. Read this article to learn more about the equitable distribution of marital debts in a Long Island divorce.

Child Custody

child custody & visitation Long Island, NYChild custody is a complex family matter that can be simply defined as the right to influence or otherwise direct your child’s upbringing. There are as many different types of child custody arrangements as there are families, and no two couples will have the same custody arrangement. If you have children, you’re likely wondering how child custody is determined and what rights you have to custody. A New York judge will evaluate your circumstances to decide child custody, and if you’re a father, you may be granted father’s rights as well. Like divorce agreements, child custody agreements can be negotiated, modified, and enforced. Learn more about how to negotiate your child custody agreement or how to enforce custody and visitation orders issued by a judge.

Child Support

Child Support Lawyer Long Island Enforcing CPSChild support is a payment made from the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent every month to help contribute toward the child’s financial needs. Courts calculate child support based on how much money the non-custodial parent earns, as well as any special needs the child may have. Many people getting divorced on Long Island are concerned that they’ll either be paying too much child support or not getting enough. Some of the most frequently asked questions about child support include how to reduce or modify child support payments and how to collect current or overdue child support. Read this article to learn more about collecting or paying child support on Long Island.


Child Custody Lawyer Long Island Nassau County Suffolk County Child VisitationChild Visitation is usually awarded to parents who do not have primary physical custody. This means that the non-custodial parent has the right to spend quality time with the child at previously decided times, and neither parent has the right to deny the other access to the child during their parenting time. A number of factors are used to determine how visitation should be scheduled, and today’s parenting plans are far more complex and customized than the every-other-weekend visitations of the past.

Visitation doesn’t always apply only to parents; grandparent visitation is often awarded in situations where one or both parents are deceased, or when equity would favor the grandparent’s intervention. Curious how technology has changed visitation in New York? Virtual visitation is a new approach to issues of visitation when a parent can’t be there physically.

Alimony/Spousal Support

alimony spousal maintenance Long Island NYSpousal support, also called alimony or spousal maintenance, is a payment made monthly from one spouse to the other after the marriage ends. It is designed to help the lesser earning spouse make ends meet while they learn how to live independently. One of the most common questions in a Long Island divorce is “do I have to pay spousal support?” There are a number of guidelines that determine how alimony is paid, including how long the marriage lasted, how capable each spouse is of financially supporting themselves, and which parent is custodial. Although in the past, alimony was traditionally paid to women by men after the dissolution of marriage, this was largely because women didn’t have equal footing in the workforce. Now, women are increasingly likely to pay spousal support to men. Alimony is taxed differently now than it was prior to 2018, when the taxation of support mirrored the taxation of child support. It’s important to recognize that spousal maintenance may not be ordered in every divorce, and it is rarely permanent.

Prenuptial Agreements

Why a Prenuptial Agreement on Long IslandA prenuptial agreement is a legal document prepared before marriage that can help reduce the amount of conflict during the divorce process. It can outline how assets will be divided, how alimony or spousal support will be paid (if at all), and how debt will be paid. Some things, like child custody, can’t be included in a prenuptial agreement, so it’s important to understand ahead of time what can and can’t be added to a prenup. This agreement is important even if you don’t have significant assets before entering into marriage. A prenuptial agreement has value in helping to amicably resolve important matters in your divorce when emotions are high and you’re not able to make sound decisions with a clear head. It can even help strengthen your marriage by preparing you for a future together. It’s critical that you consider the requirements of prenuptial agreements before getting one; you and your spouse will need to each have your own attorneys and you’ll need to make full financial disclosure, among other things. Your lawyer can help you ensure that your prenup is enforceable and answer other frequently asked prenup questions. It’s important that you understand what could make your prenuptial agreement unenforceable and avoid them.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce?

How Long Will My Divorce Take?We’ve all heard the stories about divorces that drag on for many months or even years so it’s natural to ask how long it takes to get divorced before you get too involved with the process. Unfortunately, it’s all but impossible to accurately estimate the amount of time a divorce will take. An uncontested divorce could be over in a few months, while a contested, high-net-worth divorce could drag on for years.

How Much Does Divorce Cost?

How Much Will My Divorce Cost?It can sometimes be difficult to assess how much a divorce will cost ahead of time. Litigated divorces tend to cost more than uncontested splits, but even flat-rate divorces can have added costs depending on the individual needs of the client. As in most things, time is money. You can reduce the cost of your divorce by reducing the time it takes to get through the process. However, fast isn’t always better. Find out why cheap, DIY divorces can cause you more problems in the long run and other ways you can cut the costs of your divorce.

What Are You Entitled To In a Divorce?

One of the most common questions asked in a Long Island divorce is “what am I entitled to in my divorce?”. It can be helpful to know in advance what to expect on the other side of the divorce, especially if your ex-spouse makes an effort to deny what is rightfully yours. Discover if you’re entitled to your house, car, finances, and other assets you may be entitled to after a divorce.

What You Should Do First When Planning to File for Divorce

Taking that first step toward getting a divorce is a decision full of a mixture of positive and negative emotions. It can be difficult to know exactly what you should do first in a Long Island divorce, especially if your divorce is contested. This is why hiring an experienced divorce and family law attorney is crucial to help guide you through the often complex process of dissolving your marriage.

What You Need to Know Before Hiring a Divorce Lawyer

Long Island Divorce GuideFew people want to deal with the time and expense of working with a divorce lawyer, which makes cheaper DIY divorces for couples who agree on their divorce or who don’t have many assets more appealing. However, attempting to dissolve your marriage without the help of an attorney is a mistake that could cost you for the rest of your life. There are many reasons why you should hire a Long Island divorce lawyer, including ensuring you receive everything you’re entitled to once you’re marriage is officially over. If you’re already involved in a divorce but your attorney isn’t providing you with comprehensive legal support, it may be time to consider changing lawyers.

Getting a Divorce? Contact Our Long Island Family Law Firm Today

when to contact a divorce attorney Long Island, NYIf you’re thinking about getting a divorce or you’ve been served with divorce papers by your spouse, don’t wait to secure legal representation. It’s crucial that you have an experienced Long Island family law attorney on your side who can help you navigate through the various challenges of divorce and come out ahead. Contact our divorce and family law firm today for a free divorce consultation to learn more about how to get a divorce on Long Island by calling 631-923-1910.


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