Long Island Family Law Attorneys Explain How to File for Divorce in New York

Guiding families through divorce

Much of the anxiety Long Islander’s feel about divorce comes from a lack of understanding about the process. Consulting a knowledgeable attorney can help your peace of mind, since you’re liable to discover options you didn’t know you had. With more than 29 years of experience helping Nassau County residents through divorce, Simonetti & Associates appreciates how important your decision-making is to the resolution of your case, and how much you depend on good information and sound advice. We take a personal interest in the outcome of your case and strive to achieve the best results possible. We value communication during the divorce process, so we provide constant updates throughout your case. Our dedication to client care minimizes your stress as we help you finalize your divorce in the most amicable manner possible.

Filing for a contested divorce in New York

Filing a contested divorce in New York is very similar to filing any other civil lawsuit. You, as the filer, are the plaintiff, and your spouse is the defendant. The required steps are as follows:

  1. The plaintiff files a summons and complaint or summons with notice at the county clerk’s office. The complaint must allege grounds for the divorce (including no-fault grounds) and make a request for how the plaintiff wants ancillary issues, such as spousal support, property division and child custody, handled. Fees apply.
  2. The plaintiff directs a qualified third party to serve a copy of the filed paperwork to the other spouse, the defendant, within 120 days of the filing.
  3. The defendant has 20 to 30 days to file an answer or face a default judgment. The defendant must serve the answer to the plaintiff.
  4. The plaintiff has 45 days to file a request for judicial intervention (RJI). A fee applies. However, if both parties file a notice of no necessity, the plaintiff has 120 days to file.
  5. The court schedules a preliminary conference within 30 to 45 days of the filing of the RJI.
  6. The plaintiff and the defendant must exchange net worth statements no later than 10 days prior to the preliminary meeting.
  7. Both parties attend the preliminary conference. The judge decides on temporary measures, such as spousal support and child support, during the divorce process and determines whether an order of protection is necessary. The judge also sets the schedule for the exchange of financial documents and other information during the period of discovery.
  8. The court may schedule a compliance conference to ensure that both parties are on schedule with their required exchange of information, though often a compliance conference is not necessary.
  9. After the compliance conference, if the court is satisfied that discovery is complete, the judge will direct the plaintiff to file a note of issue and a certificate of readiness. The court will then set a date for trial, usually no later than six months from the date of the preliminary hearing.
  10. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement to settle the material issues, the case goes to trial before a judge, who then decides the terms of the divorce.

Exploring your alternatives to a contested divorce

The traditional contested divorce is the costliest and most time-consuming form of divorce available in New York. Since Simonetti & Associates is determined to provide quality service while controlling costs, we often recommend measures that expedite the process:

  • Uncontested divorce: Couples who agree that their relationship is over can dissolve their marriage through a negotiated process. Usually, the process begins before either party files. Both spouses retain an attorney to negotiate all the ancillary issues, such as child custody, asset division and spousal support. If they succeed, they can present the court with a signed divorce settlement agreement. If negotiations stall, they’ve still got a partial agreement and can mediate the remaining issues or ask the court to decide.
  • Collaborative divorce: This is another method of achieving an uncontested divorce, but instead of traditional negotiation, where the threat of litigation hangs overhead, each party and each party’s divorce lawyer pledge not to take the case to trial. Instead, they work cooperatively toward a mutually beneficial resolution. The goal is to forge a divorce settlement agreement the court can approve.

Call Simonetti & Associates for a free consultation about the divorce process

If you are going through a divorce on Long Island, call 877-385-2560 or contact us online to arrange your free consultation. We offer flexible office hours at our offices in Woodbury and New York.