What Does It Take for My Case to Be an Uncontested Divorce in New York?
For a divorce to be uncontested, the two parties have to reach agreement on the various issues involved in the divorce. There are several different ways that all of the issues can be settled, including divorce mediation, meetings between the clients and their counsels, attorney negotiations and collaborative law. Direct discussions between the couple are also a possibility. However, if any of the divorce issues – such as child support payments or the division of equity between the couple – remain unresolved after this, the divorce cannot be referred to as uncontested.
At the same time, this does not necessarily mean that an all-out legal battle will now automatically occur in the case. Instead, it simply means that there are still a few things that have to be resolved. If these issues can be resolved, the case will then be uncontested. Spodek Law group has years of experience dealing with family law and matrimonial cases in New York, Suffolk County and Nassau County.
As practicing Long Island divorce lawyers, our experience has been that many of our cases that start out as contested ultimately see the issues settled and the case becoming uncontested. On the other hand, it’s also true that some divorce cases remain contested through the divorce process. But our firm has a great deal of divorce litigation expertise, and in many instances divorce mediation – in which the parties sit down and work together – often leads to uncontested divorces.
Grounds for Divorce
Grounds for divorce is one of the first things that has to be considered when attempting to achieve an uncontested divorce. There are seven possible grounds for divorce, and one of them must be selected and agreed upon without dispute by both parties in an uncontested divorce. Ever since the passage of the 2010 no-fault divorce law in New York – Domestic Relations Law Section 170(7) – this has been the most frequently selected grounds for divorce. This means that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and that it is no one’s fault in particular. Instead, the marriage is viewed as simply not working and has been irretrievably broken for a minimum of six months.
Other grounds for divorce that might be chosen include:
Cruel and Inhuman Treatment – Domestic Relations Law Section 170(1)
Abandonment – Domestic Relations Law Section 170 (2)
Imprisonment – Domestic Relations Law Section 170 (3)
Adultery – Domestic Relations Law Section 170 (4)
Living Separate and Apart Pursuant to a Separation Judgment or Decree – Domestic Relations Law Section 170 (5)
Living Apart Pursuant to a Separation Agreement – Domestic Relations Law Section 170 (6)
Even if one of these alternate grounds for divorce is chosen, the respondent in a divorce does not actually have to admit that these grounds for divorce are valid. Instead, they can deny the grounds or simply refuse to admit to them. That will be enough for this particular grounds for divorce issue to be considered resolved.
In a situation where the married couple has children below the age of 18, parenting time and custody issues also come into play in the divorce. This issue will also have to be resolved before the case can be considered an uncontested divorce. When it comes to custody, there are several different kinds, such as sole custody, shared custody, joint custody, joint legal custody and residential custody. Check out our website and blog entries to learn more details about these different types of custody.
In New York, alimony is referred to as maintenance. This issue has to be agreed upon by both parties in an uncontested divorce. There has to be a full consensus as to whether there will be any maintenance. Further, the duration of this maintenance and how much it will be also have to be agreed upon. Maintenance can last only a few months, or it can last for many years. The divorce will be contested if there is a failure to agree about any aspect of maintenance.
The above also applies to child support issues, which in New York have to be dealt with if there are any children in the marriage under the age of 21 – unless those children are emancipated prior to turning 21. Again, other blog entries on this website can provide you with further details regarding child support issues. You can also contact us directly if you have any further questions on this topic.
Division of Equity
A fair distribution of equity is another important matter that has to be resolved if a couple wants to have an uncontested divorce. They have to fully concur on which assets are marital property versus separate property. This agreement is necessary to then determine how the marital assets will be divided between the couple. In addition, any marital debts have to be equitably distributed. The status of personal items will also have to be established.
This particular issue can be fairly involved if the family has complicated finances. Pension funds, businesses, retirement accounts, and even the valuation of licenses and degrees earned by one or both parties over the course of the marriage have to be addressed during this division of equity if the divorce will be uncontested. In some instances, this can be as simple as one of the two parties waiving any interest they may have in any assets in their spouse’s name. Often, it’s not quite that simple. If these matters cannot be agreed upon by both parties, then the divorce remains contested.
Arriving at the decision that you need to get a divorce can be painful and traumatic. If you are currently facing divorce and need an experienced lawyer, please feel free to call us for a free consultation. This consultation can be advantageous for both parties in the divorce and can help them determine the best course as they move forward. Contact our friendly staff so we can address any questions or concerns you might have. We look forward to helping you get through this.