The Divorce Process in New York City: A Guide to Navigating Your Case

The divorce process can be confusing, especially if you’ve never had to deal with divorce before. When can you file, and where should you do it? What documents do you need, and how long until you are divorced?
New York City divorce cases are complex matters, and unfortunately, no two actions will be the same. With that being said, the general divorce process can be broken down into four main steps:

  • Pre-divorce and initial filing
  • Case work and negotiation
  • Divorce trial
  • Judgment of Divorce

What happens during each of these steps, and how can you best prepare to handle your divorce case?

Pre-Divorce & Initial Filing

The first step to beginning the divorce process is to meet with an attorney. A New York City divorce lawyer can help you determine if your case is contested or uncontested, and walk you through the general process. Hiring an attorney isn’t required, but it is recommended to help guarantee a winning case.
Your divorce case doesn’t officially begin until you file a Summons for Divorce. Your Summons can either have a Notice or Complaint attached to it, and your attorney can help you decide which one is right for you.
The next step is to get your spouse served with the Summons. Your spouse needs to be personally served, meaning the document needs to be handed to them. You can’t serve your spouse, but a friend, family member, or process server can. Your attorney will likely have a reliable process server they use, and will handle this for you.

Case Work & Negotiation

The next step in the divorce process involves case work and settlement negotiation. This is, by far, the longest part of divorce, and often includes:

  • Filing additional documents, such as reply papers, discovery demands, etc.
  • Various court appearances, such as a Preliminary and Compliance Conferences
  • Discovery, which includes document production and depositions
  • Drafting and filing of motions, especially for spousal support
  • Settlement negotiation between attorneys

Of course, this is just a general guideline for what may happen during a New York City divorce, and your case will likely be a little different.

Divorce Trials

When a settlement is not met, the next step in the divorce process involves litigation. Divorce trials are tricky, and require the experience of a skilled litigator, who can adequately fight for your rights in court.
Trials are a pain, but luckily, all of the work done on your case so far will be used in your trial. Before your trial begins, your lawyer will file pre-trial documents, and help to prepare you for giving testimony. (Check out our blog for more tips on preparing for a divorce trial.) Keep in mind that settlement negotiations still happen during trials, and it is common for cases to settle before a trial concludes.

Judgments of Divorce

Your divorce trial will end in one of two ways: either a judge issues a ruling, or parties settle. Either way, you’ll enter into the final stage of the divorce process, which is where you are granted a Judgment of Divorce. Congratulations!
Unfortunately, New York City courts are extremely backlogged, and it is not uncommon to receive a signed Judgment months after your case over. The timeline for divorce varies, but hang in there. You’ve made it this far, what’s a little bit longer?

Hire a Brooklyn Divorce Attorney

The exact divorce process will vary depending the specifics of your case. The only surefire way to get a clear picture of how your action will go is to consult with an attorney. To learn more about the divorce process in New York, contact Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. You’ll be glad you did.

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