Uncontested divorce in New York exists when both spouses want to get divorced and they agree completely upon the separation of finances and/or children. In most cases if the couple already has children, they already have a court order that dictates the placement of the child. If you and your spouse are in agreement about the terms of your divorce, consider completing the Divorce Settlement Agreement.
A contested divorce is just what it sounds like: one or both spouses contest (dispute) some aspect of their divorce. Therefore, the divorce proceedings take much longer to complete and typically involve greater stress and increased legal fees. With a contested divorce, spouses will have to go through numerous steps before the divorce is finalized, including: prepare, file and serve (deliver) the divorce petition (legal paperwork asking for the divorce and stating the grounds for the breakdown of the marriage) respond to the petition interview and hire an attorney engage in “divorce discovery” – the information gathering process, which involves various legal procedures to get information from your spouse and third-party witnesses (e.g., written questions, subpoenas, and depositions) pre-trial legal motions and hearings settlement proposals and negotiations between attorneys if settlement fails, prepare for trial complete a court trial appeal, if you dispute the trial judge’s decision(s). During the settlement phase, spouses are often unable to resolve issues.
Although the divorce judge may encourage spouses to work things out, when that doesn’t happen the next step is divorce court. During trial, both spouses present witnesses, and their lawyers cross-examine the witnesses and present closing arguments. After trial is over, the court will issue a final order memorializing all of the judge’s decisions, and finalize the divorce.
Divorce—especially ones that are contested—are complex. Therefore, spouses in a contested divorce should definitely speak with an experienced divorce lawyer who can inform them of their legal rights and ensure they are fully protected.