While no one wants to go through a divorce to begin with, a contested divorce can be even more of a financial and emotional drain than an uncontested divorce. When filing for divorce in the State of New York, your partner has a set limit of time in which they can respond to the filing. If they do not respond at all, the divorce generally goes through without a hitch and responding positively by signing the divorce papers usually leads to simple and expeditious court proceedings. But if your partner disagrees with any aspect of the divorce case, then the divorce becomes contested and can entail a full-fledged legal battle. If you’re a Manhattan resident and your divorce becomes contested, it’s important to get in contact with contested divorce attorneys immediately to help you settle your case in a manner that best serves your interests.
Disagreements that Can Lead to a Contested Divorce
A divorce can become contested in New York for a wide variety of reasons. Basically, if your partner disagrees with any aspect of the divorce as filed, including the divorce itself, then the divorce is contested. Common issues that become contested in divorce are the division of property and other assets, custody of the children, and agreements to financial support such as alimony and child support.
Many other issues can be grounds for contention as well and the bottom line is that if your partner fails to sign the divorce paperwork exactly as you have filed it, your divorce is contested. Having a Manhattan contested divorce attorney at your side to argue your case before a judge can make all the difference when securing what you are rightfully owed at the end of your relationship.
The Process of Contested Divorce Proceedings
The beginning stages of divorce proceedings in the State of New York follow the same process whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. First, you need to file either a Summons with Notice or a Summons and Complaint with the court. This begins the divorce proceedings and marks the effective end of the marriage. You then have 120 days to serve the divorce papers to your partner.
It’s recommended that you don’t serve the divorce papers to your spouse directly. Instead, courts prefer that you contract the services of a Manhattan divorce attorney to take care of this step of the process. Your spouse then generally has 30 days to respond.
If your spouse responds with an Answer or a Motion, the divorce has become contested. Then, it becomes your responsibility to file a Request for Judicial Intervention (RJI). The court takes this as an official acknowledgment from both you and your spouse that the divorce is underway and usually schedules a Preliminary Conference date within 45 days.
The Preliminary Conference is one situation in which you will definitely want to be backed up by your Manhattan contested divorce lawyer. If no agreement is met at the Preliminary Conference, the court will often ask the lawyers representing both sides of the case to meet to discuss potential out-of-court compromises. If no compromise is met, both lawyers enter into the Discovery period in which they try to gain evidence to use against the other party. Discovery must be completed within 6 months, at which point court convenes again to hand down a final verdict. If the verdict is dissatisfactory then an appeal can be filed at a higher court.
Making the Best out of a Bad Situation
Throughout every step of your contested divorce proceedings, it will be up to your attorney to accurately and effectively represent your case to the court and to your spouse’s lawyer. That’s why it’s absolutely essential that you only work with the best talent available when making a decision that could affect the manner in which the rest of your life plays out.
While it’s always worth hoping that a divorce can be completed on amicable terms, the moment your divorce is contested it’s important that you contact Manhattan contested divorce attorneys to help you make the right moves in a complex and potentially life-altering legal environment. Though contested divorces are by definition harder to resolve than uncontested divorces, by hiring the right attorneys you can actually land in a better spot than if you and your partner had come to an initial agreement. With the right Manhattan contested divorce attorneys, you can salvage the most value from a difficult marital dissolution.
Who pays for the divorce?
Contested divorces can cost ten’s of thousands of dollars. Many couples run into financial problems, financing this fight. Simple, uncontested divorce – can cost a trivial few thousands dollars. Unfortunately, contested divorces require court appearances, and tons of back and forth with your attorneys. Spouses can easily spend thousands per court hearing. When you start factoring in other peripheral experts, like forensic accounts – the cost of a divorce can be huge.
In most states, each spouse is responsible for paying his/her legal fees and costs in a divorce. If one spouse earns considerably more than the other, then you have to subsidize the cost of the attorney for the other spouse. Many states order the wealthier spouse to pay the other spouse’s attorney fees and litigation expenses. In other situations, a judge may order you to liquidate some of your assets in order to pay the legal fees until the divorce is final.
Courts generally don’t order one spouse to pay the other spouse’s legal fees if there was a “fault” or “misconduct,” which led to the divorce. For example, if one spouse commits adultery – and you file for a divorce on this ground — the judge probably won’t force you to pay for your spouse’s attorneys fees. If a spouse drags on a litigation by filing unnecessary motions, or refuses to cooperate, the court may order that spouse to pay legal fees of the other spouse in order to compensate for this. In some cases, your spouse may not pay for the entire divorce, but may pay for a part of it.
If the court rejects your request for help, then you have a few options. You might be able to cash in retirement accounts, since it’s considered marital property in most states. You could liquidate assets you and your spouse own jointly. If you tell your spouse you’re going to do this, then you may be able to force him into helping you pay for your legal costs. The court will generally deduct this money from your share of the final property/marital estate agreement when the divorce is final. It’s better to borrow from your family, take out a loan, or figure out some other form of funding.
Another route to go, is getting a lawsuit funding loan. In this day and age, lawsuit loans are huge. Many lawyers ask private investors to fund your divorce – in exchange for a portion of the assets you get when the litigation has ended. Occasionally, a divorce attorney may be willing to take his fees from the final assets you get. This isn’t normal – but it could be done. Alternatively, you can setup a payment plan with your lawyer.