A divorce is contested when the parties involved fail to agree on key and substantial issues. These may include, child custody, visitation rights, property division, debt division, spousal support, and alimony. In most cases, a contested divorce is lengthy and complicated. If you are contesting a divorce in Brooklyn New York, it is wise to consult with an attorney.
The process of contesting a divorce in Brooklyn, New York
The New York divorce process begins with an initial filing where one spouse either files a Summons and Complaint or a Summons with notice. The filing officially marks the end of the marriage and the consequent economic partnership. Once the initial filing has been done, the petitioner has 120 days to issue the summons to their spouse.
After the filing, the court issues serving papers. It is important to note that, the petitioner is not allowed to directly serve the papers to their spouse. A third party such as a divorce lawyer is entrusted with this task. The lawyer has 120 days to serve the papers. The third party serving the papers must also file an affidavit to show the papers were served. The affidavit should be filed within the next 30 days.
Upon receiving the papers, the other spouse is allowed 20 to 30 days to make a response. The spouse can choose to accept or contest the terms. If the terms are contested, the response is referred to as a Motion or Answer.
In Brooklyn, and the entire New York, persons who file for a contested divorce and receive an Answer are expected to file a judicial intervention request. This is an official document that serves as an acknowledgment that both parties are on board and that they are making a request for a preliminary conference. The conference is carried out within 45 days of the acknowledgment of the judicial intervention request.
In the preliminary conference, the courts determine the issues that require their attention and sets a date for the hearing. In New York, both parties are expected to provide a statement of their net worth 10 days before the set date for the preliminary conference. If the courts determine that there is some form of agreement on the pertinent issues, it may direct the attorneys representing the parties to try and find an out-of-court compromise on these issues. This helps to save time and money. In addition to this, an out of court settlement helps the parties to exit the relationship without the antagonism that comes with a court environment.
If the parties through their lawyers fail to reach an agreement, then the discovery period begins. The discovery stage is the phase where the lawyers gather the information that they will use in court. They also collect the information that may be used against their client. Once the discovery period is over, the lawyers may hold a meeting to discuss pretrial conclusions. The discovery period should not take more than 6 months after the official conference hearing.
Once the contested divorce goes to trial, both parties argue out their case. The case can take days, weeks or even months, depending on the contested issues and the adamancy of the parities. At the end of the trial, the judge will issue a rule that is binding on both parties. The ruling can be appealed in a higher court if the parties are not satisfied.
The need for a Brooklyn, divorce lawyer
The very nature of divorce is acrimonious, and this only gets worse in a contested divorce. There are several compelling reasons you should work closely with a Brooklyn, divorce lawyer.
1. Prepare you for the process
Divorce is already hard, even without a court process. To prove their case, the other party will use all means necessary and in most cases, paint you in a bad light. This means that they may call witnesses. These can even be your relatives who you may have confided in. Preparing you for the unpredictable emotional roller coaster is one of the most crucial roles that the lawyer will play. While a contested divorce will elicit negative emotions, it helps to be prepared and braced for the proceedings.
2. Protect your assets and interests
Asset and debt division is one of the most contested issues in a divorce. In some cases, the equitable distribution rules may not apply. A lawyer is well versed with the asset distribution laws in Brooklyn, and they will represent your best interests. The lawyer will also tell you what you can expect and areas that you may have to compromise on. The other party will have a lawyer representing them, in the same manner, you need a legal expert to protect your best interests.
3. Custody and visitation rights
Custody and visitation issues are weighty after a divorce. If the two of you failed to reach an agreement, then you will have to prove to the judge why you deserve custody of your children. If you are the father, then the odds may be stacked against you because in most cases, custodial rights favor the mother. The lawyer can help come up with a joint custody arrangement in a custody hearing that is fair on both parties.
4. Help you with the paperwork and proceedings
A contested divorce often involves a lengthy legal process. On your own, you may not know the necessary documents and the proceedings required to file for a divorce. It is crucial to involve a divorce lawyer right from the onset of the process.
Brooklyn divorce lawyers can make an otherwise lengthy and complex divorce process much smoother.