The New York Law Blog: Filing a Contested Divorce in a New York City or County Family Court
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Friday, June 10, 2016

Filing a Contested Divorce in a New York City or County Family Court

If you and your spouse have decided to amicably part ways, you may simply want to consider filing for a New York uncontested divorce.  An article on the uncontested divorce procedure, in New York, can be found at: Grounds for Divorce in New York State Courts.  An attorney is needed, in most cases, to file a uncontested or uncontested divorce.  For obvious reasons, the choice of the lawyer is more important in cases concerning a contested divorce.

In New York, an uncontested divorce is a fairly straight-forward procedure, and is possible as long as both of the parties are over the age of 18, have no children under the age of 18, have been separated at least six months, both agree the marriage can't be saved, and you've already agreed on the division of your assets.

However, if any of these realities don't apply, you will need to apply for a New York contested divorce.  Failure to agree on the following conditions will also necessitate filing a contested divorce:
  1. Property Division in New York.  The question of who gets what when a marriage is dissolved is usually one of the most acrimonious parts of a divorce.  New York is an "equitable distribution" state, meaning, rather than splitting the assets evenly between spouses, the New York courts apply varying different tests to determine who is entitled to what, with a goal to creating a fair split rather than an even split of marriage assets.
  2. Custody of Minor Children in New York.  This is obviously one of the most stressful aspects of a divorce.  While judges in New York family courts will try to divide custody fairly between the parents, it ultimately will come down to the NY judge's determination about what is in the "best interests of the child" in determining which parent will be awarded primary custody.

    When filing for custody of your child(ren), it is important to be able to present a detailed case to the judge indicating how each child will be provided for in terms of family access, education, and living arrangements - among many other variables.
  3. Maintenance and Child Support Payments in New York.  Alimony and child support in New York are usually paid by the primary breadwinner to the primary caregiver in a typical divorce.  In most cases, child support must be paid until the child turns 21 and should take into account a child's living expenses, education and health care costs, and even childcare fees if the caregiver is employed.  Alimony payments, in New York, are typically paid starting from when the divorce commences in order to provide the spouse with temporary living expenses while the matter is adjudicated.  Permanent alimony payments, once awarded by the family court, will typically only cease upon remarriage of the supported spouse or the death of either party. 
In all cases, due to the complexity of the process and the stakes involved, it is always better to have an attorney in New York assist you with a contested divorce.   For more information, please contact one of the lawyers below.
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*Sean Hayes may be contacted at: SeanHayes@ipglegal.com. Sean Hayes is co-chair of the Korea Practice Team and Chair of International Practice Group at IPG Legal.  He is the first non-Korean attorney to have worked for the Korean court system (Constitutional Court of Korea) and one of the first non-Koreans to be a regular member of a Korean law faculty.  Sean is ranked, for Korea, as one of only two non-Korean lawyers as a Top Attorney by AsiaLaw.  He has, also, received the highest rating by AVVO and other legal rating services.