If you are considering ending your marriage, you might think that the first step down that path is to file for divorce. However, the divorce will go more smoothly and quickly after filing if the dissolution can be classified as uncontested. That means that the terms of the divorce have been agreed upon.
Most divorces do not end up in dramatic court fights, but many couples need legal help in crafting comprehensive and fair divorce settlements. At Samuelson Hause PLLC, we offer three methods for reaching an agreement before officially filing for divorce:
- Divorce Mediation: In divorce mediation, a neutral mediator guides spouses in constructive conversation to resolve the divorce issues. All three parties are typically in the same room (or remote if needed). The spouses can have their separate attorneys provide insight and review any draft agreements that result from mediation.
- Collaborative Divorce: In collaborative divorce, the spouses commit to resolving their issues outside of court. Each spouse has their own collaborative divorce attorney to negotiate on their behalf. The process is less confrontational as neither spouse anticipates taking the case to court. If that happens, however, they will need to hire new attorneys to represent them in court.
- Settlement Negotiation: Settlement negotiation is the least collaborative option (outside of court) but can be the best choice for some couples. Each attorney negotiates for their client with the opposing counsel. The spouses do not need to be on good terms. In the other methods, both spouses can share experts such as accountants or appraisers. Here, each side hires experts and professionals to support its side of the case.
The goal of all three paths is to produce a settlement agreement.
Divorce Matters to Resolve Before Filing
Whether you use mediation, collaborative divorce, or settlement negotiation, you can resolve all the issues required in a divorce settlement:
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Spousal Maintenance
- Property Division (Equitable Distribution)
- Debt Division
Some terms might be easier than others to reach a compromise, but all disagreements are typically resolved without court. Any deadlocked issues can be decided by a New York Supreme Court judge.
Uncontested Divorces Are Concluded More Quickly
Litigated divorces leave both sides at the mercy of the court’s schedule. Negotiations outside of court are done according to the schedules of the spouses and their legal representation – typically a more accelerated schedule. A litigated divorce includes various motions and other actions that take time and money. Keeping the case outside of court is less costly and time-consuming.
Uncontested divorces are filed as no-fault divorces. New York does offer divorce grounds, but these must be proven in court.
Filing an uncontested divorce requires documents to be filed with the county clerk:
- Summons with Notice or Summon and Compliant
- Notice of Automatic Orders
- Notice Concerning Continuation of Health Care Coverage
- Settlement Agreement
The other spouse will need to sign and have notarized the Affidavit of the Defendant, in which they agree not to contest the terms. Once that is complete, the case is put on the court calendar. You will not need to appear in court. The county clerk’s office or the Supreme Court will let you know when the judgment has been signed, usually between 6 and 12 weeks from when the case was put on the court calendar. The judgment is filed with the county clerk. The plaintiff can pick up a copy of the judgment, and the defendant must be served a copy.
Speak with an Attorney Before Filing for Divorce
Reduce the likelihood of a stressful and arduous divorce by talking to the legal professionals at Samuelson Hause PLLC.
Every divorce is unique. Based on the specifics of your case, we can advise you on the best plan forward. We have the experience and knowledge to support you through negotiation, mediation, or collaborative divorce.
The first step is to schedule a consultation to discuss your case. Reach us online or call (516) 584-4685.