Understanding New York Divorce Laws: Things Every Party Should Know

Suffolk County divorce lawyerAccording to research and statistics, married life in New York, particularly in Long Island, is good. This has been linked to the state’s tough divorce laws. In fact, Suffolk County is always absent from the list of the top counties with the highest divorce rates in the US.

While most couples find New York a happy place to live and grow old together, some others aren’t able to get their happy ending. A certain number of couples still decide to end their marriage and live separately. Reasons vary from couple to couple. Some file for a divorce because of personal and compatibility issues while others do so because of financial disputes. Those couples don’t navigate the process alone. Most of them, if not all, enlist the help of a Suffolk County divorce lawyer.

When relationships fail and divorce becomes the only option, an experienced divorce attorney can provide the legal services necessary to protect a spouse’s rights and interests. Those who are planning to dissolve their marriage must understand how New York divorce laws work.

Below are some of the most important things to know before filing for a divorce in Suffolk County, Long Island.

Types of Divorce

Contested Divorce – In a contested divorce, the parties have a dispute over one or all of the issues involved in the dissolution of marriage. This option is usually prolonged and costly.
Uncontested Divorce – The parties in an uncontested divorce have no disputes at all. They both agree on what will happen to their children and properties after the divorce.

A couple may be in a contested divorce and have some uncontested issues. In some cases, they agree on the following matters:

  • Child custody
  • Child support
  • Child visitation

Parties may have issues regarding the distribution of properties, particularly those acquired during the marriage. An experienced Suffolk County divorce attorney may help resolve such issues in a peaceful manner by acting as a mediator to reach a fair settlement. If legal representation is necessary, a lawyer must be ready to protect the client’s rights in interests in the court of law.

Alternatives to a Contested Divorce

A contested divorce is an emotionally and financially draining process. While lawyers are always ready to provide legal representation when solicited, they may recommend alternative methods to reduce costs and speed up the process. These include:

  • Mediation – The parties meet a neutral professional who will facilitate the discussion to create a divorce settlement. Popular law firms in Suffolk County, including the Law Offices of Ian S. Mednick, offer effective mediation services.
  • Collaborative Divorce – This is somewhat similar to mediation, as it also aims to reach an agreement. Experienced attorneys represent both parties, and everyone gathers to discuss and resolve issues involved in the divorce.

When a Trial is Inevitable

A trial on the disputed issues will be necessary if parties are unable to reach an agreement through the alternative methods mentioned above. During the trial, both parties will present evidence on the disputed issues to prove their claims or complaints. Attending a mandatory conference and exchanging required paperwork are also necessary. Upon hearing the evidence and completing the trial, the judge may issue long-term orders on a range of issues, including:

  • Child support
  • Child visitation
  • Spousal support
  • Payment of legal fees
  • Division of property

Grounds for Divorce

New York divorce laws permit couples to file for a divorce provided they establish one of the following grounds:

  • Adultery – A spouse had sex with another person during the marriage. There are specific requirements to prove this ground.
  • Irretrievable Breakdown of the Relationship – The relationship has been broken for at least six months and it can’t be fixed.
  • Abandonment – A spouse has left or kicked out the other spouse, or has been gone for a t least a year and has no plan to return.
  • Cruel and Inhumane Treatment – This includes continued abuse, which can have a dangerous impact on a spouse’s physical and mental health. This ground requires a detailed explanation.
  • Imprisonment – A spouse spent three (3) consecutive years in prison during the marriage.
  • Property Division Issues – Parties don’t have an agreement when it comes to dividing their properties.
  • Parties may also file for a divorce if they are living separately for at least one year pursuant to a.) a notarized agreement of separation, or b.) a separation decree or judgment of separation.

Residency Requirements for Filing a DivorceThere are certain requirements to meet in order for the court to have jurisdiction to hear a divorce case. The court may not hear, or dismiss the case if it finds that the jurisdictional requirements aren’t met.

According to the Consolidated Laws of New York – Domestic Relations Laws – Article 13 – Sections: 230 and 231, parties may file for a divorce or declare the nullity of a void marriage only when:

  • The parties were married in the state and either party is a resident thereof when the action is commenced and has been a resident for a continuous period of one year immediately preceding, or
  • The parties have resided in this state as husband and wife and either party is a resident thereof when the action is commenced and has been a resident for a continuous period of one year immediately preceding, or
  • The cause occurred in the state and either party has been a resident thereof for a continuous period of at least one year immediately preceding the commencement of the action, or
  • The cause occurred in the state and both parties are residents thereof at the time of the commencement of the action, or
  • Either party has been a resident of the state for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the commencement of the action.

Opening a Divorce Case in Long Island

To start a divorce case, a spouse must go to the County Clerk’s Office and file a Summons and Complaint or Summons with Notice. The spouse must state the grounds for the divorce and the orders he or she is requesting the judge to make. These orders have something to do with the property, financial support, and the children. A strategy is important when filing any paperwork. A divorce attorney may help a spouse choose the most appropriate document and the best time to file it.

Those who want to file a divorce case in Suffolk County may do so in the Clerk’s Office located at 310 Center Drive in Riverhead. Filing the divorce paperwork requires a fee, but a party can waive it if he or she meets certain low-income qualifications. During the divorce process, the parties may encounter additional court costs, which may vary depending on the level of judicial involvement in the case.

Default Divorce

A default divorce occurs when a spouse fails to respond to the paperwork filed by the other party. A court hearing may be held, and the spouse who filed the paperwork must testify about the grounds for divorce and the court orders requested. The other party must file a notice if he or she objects to the divorce or any proposed orders.

Division of Assets

New York divorce laws state that unless there is a prenuptial agreement, each party is entitled to half of the assets acquired or accumulated during the marriage. This is regardless of whether the assets are in one party’s name or in the names of both parties. These assets include bank accounts, real estate, and pensions.

Getting Professional Help

Divorce is usually stressful and emotionally challenging. The parties involved may have to deal with the lengthy, legally complex, and overwhelming process. Making important decisions regarding the children, the properties, and the finances would be easier with the help of a qualified divorce attorney in Suffolk County.

An experienced family lawyer will explain your rights and suggest the best course of action for your situation. It is important to choose the right attorney to represent you and fight for your rights and interests. You need accurate information and guidance throughout the divorce process.

Located in Hauppauge, Suffolk County in New York, the Law Offices of Ian S. Mednick provides legal services to those who need help with their family or divorce matters. As one of the Top 100 Lawyers in New York, Mr. Mednick has become an accomplished trial attorney and mediator. He has helped many people in the Suffolk County and the rest of the state. You can expect quality and compassionate service from an attorney who understands your situation and knows how you can deal with it more effectively.

It takes just one call to get the legal assistance and representation you need. Attorney Ian S. Mednick will be there to help you reach an agreement or get the results you want following a court trial. Working with him is important in making sound decisions and securing the future of your children.

Call 631-787-8322 or fill out an online form to schedule a consultation.