What Are the 3 Things Needed for Divorce to Be Final?
For your Long Island divorce to be finalized, you and your soon-to-be-ex-spouse must agree on at least two things, or three if you have children. Your divorce cannot proceed without reaching an agreement on the following matters and if you can’t, your divorce becomes contested and you’ll need to litigate your divorce. Here’s what you need to know about the three things required for a judge to sign your divorce decree.
#1. Distribution of Assets and Property
You and your spouse must provide full disclosure of all assets, including both marital and separate property. Then, you must agree on how to distribute or divide those assets. Like most other states in the U.S., New York is an equitable distribution state, meaning that the division of property is done equitably, although not necessarily equally.
If mediating your divorce, you and your spouse will need to decide together how you want to divide your assets. If you cannot reach an agreement, a judge will review your full disclosure and make the decision of who gets what for you.
#2. Terms of Alimony or Spousal Maintenance
Before your divorce is finalized, you must also reach an agreement regarding if you or your ex-spouse will pay alimony and if so, how much and when. This is often where a seemingly neutral divorce can become contested, because usually, neither spouse wants to make regular payments to the other after the divorce. The recipient of spousal support may be afraid that they won’t receive the alimony they deserve, while the payor may be nervous that agreeing to a support payment will leave them with too little money to live independently.
Working with a divorce mediator is an excellent way to negotiate spousal support and ideally, you and your ex will be able to either agree that spousal support isn’t necessary or on a payment arrangement that is fair for both parties.
#3. Child Custody and Visitation, If You Share Children
If you and your ex-spouse are parents and have children together, you’ll need to agree on a custody and visitation arrangement for your divorce to become final. This is another matter that tends to be particularly difficult for couples and often, disagreements about legal and physical custody will necessitate litigation. First, you’ll need to decide which parent(s) will have legal custody, or the ability to make decisions about the child’s medical care, education, etc., and which parent(s) have physical custody — where the child will live.
These arrangements can differ greatly from family to family. For example, you and your ex may decide that you both want to be able to make important decisions about your child, but the child will live with one parent and visit with the other 20 percent or 30 percent of the time. Or, you may decide that both you and your ex want equal physical and legal custody. If you can’t reach an agreement, divorce mediation may help and is easier on your children in the long run than litigation.
If there are any allegations of abuse or domestic violence in the home, it may be in your best interest to litigate your divorce and child custody case instead of attempting to negotiate an agreement with your ex out of court.
Get Help from an Experienced Long Island Family and Divorce Lawyer Today
Going through the process of a divorce is challenging for nearly every family. Whether you’re a couple without children or you and your spouse are parents, the above issues must be agreed upon by both parties or determined by a judge before your divorce can be considered final. Often, issues like alimony, property division, and child custody can become heated and cause a relatively painless divorce to turn into a contested nightmare.
At Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C., we can help. We know what areas of focus are the most important when discussing divorce and can help you negotiate for what is in the best interest of you and your family. If an agreement can’t be reached outside of court, we are able to zealously and passionately advocate for you during litigation and will work hard to ensure you receive what is rightfully yours after your divorce. Contact us today for an appointment at 631-923-1910. Your initial consultation with us is free and we’ll let you know where you stand legally and what your next step should be.
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