In this Article:
(click a link below to go right to that section):
- The Definition of Divorce
- Types of Divorce
- Contested Divorce
- Uncontested Divorce
- Legal Separation
- Ways to Resolve a Divorce
- Divorce Litigation
- Divorce Mediation
- Collaborative Divorce
- Asset Division
- Child Custody, Visitation, and Support
- Alimony After Divorce
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Divorces
- Experienced Legal Help from Qualified Long Island, NY Divorce Attorneys
You likely haven’t gone through the divorce process before, but we have — thousands of times. This does not make us less sensitive to your needs, but more. It provides us with the experience to help lead you down the right route for you and your family’s unique circumstances.
We are committed to clear communication and transparent representation informed by more than 50+ years of experienced representation to achieve the best possible goals for our clients.
A divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage by the state of New York. It is usually an emotional experience for everyone involved. Even if you and your spouse agree that it is best for everyone to end your marriage, neither of you thought it would end like this on your wedding day. You likely had many happy years together and the strain of leaving all of that behind is not easy no matter how much you know it’s the right thing to do for your family now.
The divorce process is fraught with many stress-inducing emotional issues for all parties involved. It’s not likely anyone will ignore feelings of loss, anger and betrayal.
Legally though, divorce is about resolving the practical matters of dissolving your marriage so that you and your spouse can move on with your lives. Legally, a divorce is a business deal between you and your spouse. To protect your rights and assets now and for the foreseeable future, you should seek the counsel of an experienced divorce attorney.
There are a few different types of divorce and which category you fall into largely depends on how much you and your spouse agree upon at the outset.
High Conflict Contested Divorce or Simple Uncontested Divorce, We Have the Experience to Help You
Whether you and your spouse are on good terms and are perfect for a simple Uncontested Divorce or Divorce Mediation or you and your spouse are headed for a complex, high conflict Contested Divorce, our attorneys have the experience and know-how to craft a strategy that will help you achieve your goals and set you up for a happier future.
A contested divorce is when you and your spouse want to get a divorce but don’t agree on all of the issues. Or, it can be that one spouse doesn’t want to dissolve the marriage and contests the entire divorce itself. This process is generally adversarial in nature and can be both emotionally and financially draining for everyone involved.
These divorces take longer and cost more money than uncontested divorces, since a judge will need to review evidence and make decisions on each matter that you disagree on. Once a court issues a judgment, it’s legally binding and must be followed by all parties.
An uncontested divorce is when both spouses agree on everything involved in their separation and don’t require court intervention. This includes spousal support, child custody, property division, and all other key components of a divorce.
If any portion of your divorce is contested, and you and your spouse can not negotiate a compromise, you will need to have that matter resolved by a judge. However, you can submit the rest of the terms of your separation to the court so long as you are in agreement on those.
A legal separation isn’t a divorce but can be a first step toward a divorce. This arrangement allows a couple to live apart while continuing to retain the benefits of remaining married under the law. While legally separated, you and your spouse will be considered effectively married on paper.
Unlike divorce, a legal separation does not terminate the marriage. Instead, it formalizes the couple’s arrangement to live separately and addresses important issues like property division and child custody. It outlines the rights and responsibilities of each spouse during the separation period and allows couples time apart to evaluate their relationship without completely dissolving the marriage.
A legal separation is essentially a “trial period” for couples who believe that they want to get divorced. In a legal separation agreement, you and your partner enter into a contract, known as a separation agreement with the help of your divorce attorney.
Under the terms of this contract, you and your spouse will likely agree to maintain separate residences, decide issues of child custody and support, property division, etc. Once both you and your partner sign the agreement and have it notarized, the legal separation is official.
One of the significant differences between a legal separation and a divorce is that legal separations are reversible, while divorces are not. In order to end a finalized divorce you would have to remarry your ex-spouse.
Under some specific circumstances, a marriage can be ended through an annulment, rather than a divorce. Essentially, an annulment has the legal effect of declaring that the marriage never occurred. To be eligible for an annulment in New York, one of the following must apply:
- One spouse had a previous undissolved marriage
- One spouse was under the legal age of consent at the time they were married
- One spouse is physically unable to engage in sexual activity
- One spouse forced the other to marry
- One spouse defrauded the other into marrying them
- One spouse was incapable of consenting to the marriage
There are several methods of resolving a divorce depending on how contentious the couple is and whether or not they can communicate with one another to reach an amicable resolution.
Divorce litigation is the process by which a contested divorce is resolved. This requires filing a petition with the court, after which a hearing is scheduled where both you and your spouse can each present your case in front of a judge.
You can (and should) be represented by your attorney, who will make an argument for a resolution in your best interests. The other side will do the same and then the judge will make a decision based on several criteria, most of all the best interests of any children who are involved in the divorce.
Divorce mediation is a way to resolve a partially contested divorce in a more non-adversarial way than litigation. The goal is to resolve all your issues out of court with the result being an Uncontested Divorce. During this process, you and your spouse both work with a neutral third-party divorce mediator who helps you communicate with each other and can help suggest compromises and potential resolutions.
This is generally a more cost-effective and less-time consuming method of handling differences than litigation and allows you to have more control over the final outcome. Mediation is especially helpful when children are involved because it generally results in ex-spouses who can continue to effectively communicate with each other over parenting issues.
Collaborative divorce may be a good option for couples who need more structured resolution than mediation but still want to try to avoid litigation if at all possible. During this process, you and your spouse will each hire a collaborative divorce attorney and will sign an agreement that during the collaborative period, neither of you will file a motion with the court and are committed to resolving issues on which you disagree. If you choose to end the collaborative process, you can litigate, but your attorney must withdraw and you must hire a new one.
Dividing assets is often one of the most contentious issues of a divorce. In New York this is known as Equitable Distribution. This involves separating property acquired during the marriage, including homes, cars, savings accounts, investments, furniture, and other valuables. The division should be fair and equitable, but this doesn’t necessarily mean an equal split.
Factors like how long you were married, what each spouse contributed to the marriage, and the needs of your kids if you have them also influence how your assets are divided. You may need to have your property valued, so you can negotiate with accurate dollar amounts.
Child custody, visitation, and child support are some of the most significant, and often contentious, matters in divorces that involve children. Parents must decide who their child will stay with, when they will visit the other parent, which parent will make what kind of decisions, and how much money the non-custodial parent will pay in child support.
Both parents are legally required to support their children. The state will intervene in some cases if necessary to ensure this. If parents aren’t able to agree on visitation schedules, co-parenting rules, or other issues related to this aspect of their divorce, litigation may be needed.
Alimony, also called spousal maintenance or spousal support in New York, is the financial support that one spouse may be ordered to pay the other for a period of time during and after the divorce. This typically happens when one spouse has earned significantly more than the other during the marriage and/or the lesser-earning spouse contributed to the home and family at the cost of their financial independence.
How much alimony the higher-earning spouse is ordered to pay depends on how long the couple was married, the standard of living they were accustomed to, the financial resources and needs of each spouse, whether children and child support are involved, and the contribution of each to the marriage.
To help get you started, we have provided the answers to some of the most common questions Long Islanders like you have asked us in the past about the divorce process. Each of the questions and answers below have a link to a more detailed article with more information.
In New York, a divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage by the Supreme Court of the state of New York. Divorce is often called a Matrimonial Action by attorneys and other New York State court staff. As in any legal action, the person who initiates the proceedings is known as the Plaintiff while the entity on the other side is known as the Defendant.
You can learn more about the specifics of Divorce in New York here.
A Legal Separation is essentially a “trial period” for couples who believe that they want to get divorced. In a legal separation agreement, you and your partner enter into a contract with the help of your divorce attorney.
Under the terms of this contract, which is a legally binding agreement when filed with the county clerk, you and your spouse will likely agree to maintain separate residences, decide issues of child custody and support, and settle the responsibility of bills and other monthly expenses. Once both you and your partner sign the agreement, and it is notarized, the legal separation is official.
One of the significant differences between a legal separation and a divorce is that legal separations are reversible, while divorces are not. You can end a legal separation and go back to being married by invalidating the legal separation agreement. You cannot do this with a divorce. In order to end a finalized divorce you would have to remarry your ex-spouse.
You can read more about the difference between Legal Separation and Divorce here.
If you (or you and your spouse) have concluded that your relationship is over and divorce is the only solution, you need to consider your next steps. You may have questions about whether to divorce or legally separate. Did you know that there iss a difference? You should familiarize yourself of the advantages and disadvantages of both so you can make an educated decision about whether a divorce or legal separation is right for you.
You can learn more about Divorce or Legal Separation here.
What are the grounds for divorce in New York?
In 2010, New York became the last state to allow no-fault divorces. No fault divorce means that the petitioning spouse does not have to prove the other is at fault to get a divorce. That said, you can still file for a fault divorce if you have grounds and your attorney recommends it. There are six faults you can claim:
- Cruel and inhuman treatment
- Divorce after legal separation
- Divorce after a judgment of separation
There is a seventh “fault” that is selected for no-fault divorces. This is the irreparable breakdown of the marriage and essentially just means that you and your spouse no longer get along nor wish to make things work.
Divorce is an emotional experience for everyone involved. Even if you and your spouse agree that it is best for everyone to end your marriage, the process is fraught with many stress-inducing emotional issues for all parties involved. It’s not likely anyone ignore feelings of loss, anger and betrayal. Legally, divorce is about resolving the practical matters of dissolving your marriage so that you and your spouse can move on with your lives. Legally, a divorce is a business deal between you and your spouse. To protect your rights and assets you should seek the counsel of an experienced divorce attorney. Learn what you need to know before hiring that attorney.
You can learn more about Where to Go for a Divorce here
Do I need a lawyer or can I represent myself in a divorce?
Everyone knows attorneys cost money. This is their profession, after all, and they deserve to be compensated for their time, effort and experience. Many people believe they can save money by representing themselves in their divorce. This is especially true if they believe that they and their spouse both want the divorce, they don’t have children together and they don’t have a lot of assets to split up. These conditions certainly remove many of the obstacles to a speedy divorce, but does not necessarily mean their divorce will be as simple as they think.
Technically, you can divorce without an attorney, but that doesn’t mean it’s in your best interests. Even if you think you and your spouse agree on everything, you should at least take advantage of our free consultation to go over the basics.
Even uncontested divorces can be very complex and missing one seemingly simple issue can have negative ramifications on your life for years to come. An experienced divorce lawyer can help you prepare the forms required to apply and finalize your divorce and ensure you are legally protected.
How do I file for divorce?
Divorce cases begin with the preparation of legal papers by the plaintiff and their attorney, and then filing these papers with the county clerk in your jurisdiction. There is a fee to file your divorce petition with the court.
The next step is to let your spouse know that you have filed for divorce from them. This must be completed in person by the serving of divorce papers to your spouse in person. Your divorce attorney will normally arrange for this to be handled by a process server.
How long does divorce take?
The simple answer is: it depends. It depends upon how complex your divorce is and how willing you and your spouse are to compromise and agree on the terms of your divorce. The more issues you have to resolve, the more time it takes to complete your divorce. The quicker you can resolve these with your spouse, the sooner your divorce can be over and you can move on with your life.
How do I hire the right divorce attorney?
Even the simplest divorce is not easy. It is an emotional journey for both you and your spouse. Hiring the right divorce attorney is critical to protect your rights and ensure the process goes as smoothly as possible for you. The best attorney for you will help you every step of the way and ensure your divorce is kept as amicable as possible.
It’s important that you and your attorney develop an honest rapport based upon clarity, mutual respect and transparency. Be sure the attorney you hire is dedicated to serving your needs and find a new one if they are not. If you have made the choice to get a divorce, you don’t have to go through it alone. Divorce is never easy, but the right representation can help get you through this difficult time.
We’ve written two books that can help you choose the right divorce attorney for you. “The New York Divorce Guide: What You Need to Know Before Hiring a Divorce Lawyer in New York” and “Successful Divorce Strategies: How to ensure a positive resolution to the end of your marriage”. These are both free for your to download by following the link above.
The attorneys at Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. are all compassionate, transparent, and committed to clearly communicate with you every step of the way. Our in-depth knowledge of New York matrimonial and family law and our experience with the judiciary and other divorce attorneys practicing in Nassau County and Suffolk County enables us to chart the clearest path forward for your particular circumstances.
When you contact us, we will schedule a complimentary consultation and case evaluation with one of our experienced attorneys for you. At that in-person or virtual meeting, your attorney will listen intently to every word you say and give you an opportunity to get answers to your important questions.
Resolving your divorce as quickly and painlessly as possible is our ultimate goal. We understand that the divorce process is overwhelming for you and we will do our best to explain every option every step of the way in a manner that helps alleviate your anxiety and encourages you to make the best decisions for your family now and set you up for a happier, healthier future. Contact us today to learn more by calling 631-923-1910 or fill out the short form below.
We’ve Written the Books on Divorce
We have also published The New York Divorce Guide with all the information you need to find the divorce attorney that’s just right for you. You can download a free copy of this book with our compliments here: The New York Divorce Guide.
We’ve also published another book that can help prepare you for your divorce. Successful Divorce Strategies will help ensure a positive resolution to the end of your marriage and help set you up for a better future. You can download a free copy of this book with our compliments here: Successful Divorce Strategies.
GET YOUR FREE CONSULTATION TODAY
Call 631-923-1910 or fill in the form below
Get your complimentary consultation and case evaluation with our experienced attorneys today.
Your attorney will describe the many options available and determine together which is the right solution for you. By the end of this conversation, we’ll all understand how we can best help you to move forward.
No Cost or Obligation
There is no cost or obligation for this initial consultation. It is simply an opportunity for us to get to know each other, answer your questions and learn if Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. is right the right law firm for you. Give us a call at 631-923-1910 or fill in the short form below for your free consultation and case evaluation.