What does it take for my case to be an uncontested divorce in New York?
If you are contemplating ending your marriage, you may wonder whether or not you qualify for an uncontested divorce in New York. There are some specific requirements that must be satisfied in order for you to be able to pursue an uncontested divorce in a New York Family Court.
No Property Dispute
The first consideration that you need to bear in mind if you want to pursue an uncontested divorce involves property and debt. If you want to obtain an uncontested divorce in New York, you and your spouse must be in agreement in regard to the manner in which your property and debt will be divided between you. More often than not, an uncontested divorce is a case when a couple has moderate amount of property and uncomplicated debt.
No Dispute Regarding Child Custody, Parenting Time, and Support
You potentially can obtain an uncontested divorce in the state of New York even if you have minor children. The reality is that when a couple decides to end a marriage, it is harder to have an uncontested divorce when children are involved.
A reality about divorce in the 21st century is that if children are involved, the case is likely to be or become complicated. If you have minor children, and you want to obtain an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse must agree on all matters relating to the children. This includes all aspects of child custody, visitation or parenting time, and child support.
Self Help Forms
If you and your spouse truly are at a place where you are in agreement with everything, you can proceed with what hopefully will end up as uncontested divorce in the end. The state of New York makes standard forms available to people who believe they will qualify for an uncontested divorce. These forms are accessible via the court system’s website as well as through individual Family Courts across the state.
The first step you technically must take is filing the initial paperwork with the court seeking to end your marriage. There are also standard financial disclosure forms and other documents that you must prepare for submission to the court, even if you are proceeding with an uncontested divorce.
Ultimately, you and your spouse will need to complete and submit to the court a settlement agreement. The settlement agreement outlines the totality of the agreements you have made with your spouse regarding all issues associated with your divorce. The settlement agreement addresses matters like property and debt division, child-related issues, alimony, and even restoration of a party’s maiden or previous name.
Final Divorce Decree
Once requisite period of time has passed, and all paperwork has been prepared and submitted to the court, a final hearing to obtain a divorce decree can be scheduled with the Family Court. It is at this hearing that the judge will approve or disapprove of the settlement agreement you and your spouse have prepared and submitted to the court.
The court will examine whether the division of property and assets as set forth in the settlement agreement is just, fair and equitable. In addition, the court will examine whether the agreement regarding child custody and parenting time or visitation is in the best interests of the child. Finally, the court will make sure with the agreed child support obligation is consistent with the New Your child support guidelines.
The Derailment of an Uncontested Divorce
New York Family Courts, including in Long Island, are filled with examples of divorce cases that started as uncontested and ended up being hotly contested. The fact is that the marriage dissolution process is both emotionally challenging as well as legally complex.
Because of these realities, you need to keep in mind that even though you think your divorce will be uncontested, emotions and events may intervene that change the trajectory. One tactic that you can consider employing to enhance the chances that a divorce that starts on an uncontested track will remain on the course until the end is to retain an experienced New York divorce attorney.
You may balk at the idea of hiring a lawyer when you sincerely believe that your divorce will be uncontested. However, and as was noted, despite your best intentions, your divorce could take a turn for the worse, leaving your rights at risk if you have not engaged legal representation.
In addition, Family Court procedures can prove to be quite complex. Even if your divorce is uncontested, if you make a mistake in the process, you will needlessly delay your case. This represents another reason why hiring an attorney is wise, even in an uncontested divorce proceeding.
Retain Legal Representation for an Uncontested Divorce
If you think your divorce case will be uncontested, you should consult with a New York divorce lawyer before moving forward. Legal counsel can provide an evaluation of your case, and answer any questions you may have, during an initial consult, typically at no cost to you.