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What is Contested Divorce in New York City

Posted on September 10, 2022

Dissolving a marriage can be one of the most challenging decisions a person makes, even in the best situation. When a couple cannot agree on provisions within the divorce, another layer of anxiety is added to an already complicated process.

Whether the disagreement is about child custody, equitable distribution, alimony, or divorce in general, the divorce becomes contested. Contested divorces take longer than uncontested divorces, requiring more negotiation for the couple to reach an agreement.

If you are facing disagreements in your divorce, contact an experienced New York City divorce lawyer like Vivien I. Stark to negotiate in the most amicable way possible. Since we specialize in family and marital law, we have experience in contested divorces and other aspects of divorce.

We work to reach your best outcome quickly and cost-effectively. We aim to reduce stress as much as possible so our clients can get on with their lives.

Grounds for Divorce in New York City

There are seven grounds for divorce in New York City. Most spouses choose to divorce due to an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. This is a no-fault ground for divorce, meaning neither party is blamed for the failure of the marriage.

It is important to note that choosing to divorce on no-fault grounds does not make your divorce uncontested. A no-fault divorce is still a contested divorce until all matters are resolved through settlement or a court ruling.

New York’s other grounds for divorce are the following:

  • Cruel and inhuman treatment by a spouse. The abusive treatment must be within the last five years;
  • Abandonment by a spouse of more than a year;
  • Imprisonment of a spouse for three or more years after marriage;
  • Adultery within the last five years that is unforgiving and not reciprocated. There must be a witness to testify to the adultery;
  • Judgment of Separation given by the court for at least one year; and
  • Written and notarized Agreement of Separation between spouses. The agreement must be in line with New York separation laws and followed accordingly for at least a year.

Remember that choosing fault-based grounds for divorce, like cruel and inhuman treatment or adultery, requires evidence and must be proven in court. Your spouse has the same option to sue for divorce on fault-based grounds.

Reasons for a Contested Divorce

There are several reasons a divorce may be contested. The most common disagreements in divorces are custody arrangements and property division.

However, a divorce may be contested because:

  • Your spouse does not wish to divorce or disagrees with the grounds for divorce;
  • You and your spouse cannot agree on spousal support;
  • You and your spouse cannot agree on visitation rights or parenting time;
  • You and your spouse cannot agree on debt division or equitable distribution; or
  • You and your spouse cannot agree on counsel fees.

Regardless of why your divorce is contested, this means of divorce is often the most costly and time-consuming. Contested divorces require spouses to exchange documents and possibly appraise real estate, retirement assets, or other property. If the parties can still not reach an agreement after the exchange of documents and the completion of appraisals, a trial will be scheduled before a judge who will decide on the outcome.

Not every contested divorce has to be a knock-down-drag-out event. As your attorneys, we do all we can to keep your divorce from escalating to a court proceeding to save you both the financial and emotional wear-and-tear.

We are diligent and determined when it comes to negotiating on your behalf to ensure that you get what is fair, equitable, and meets your goals. If a trial becomes necessary, we are competent and effective advocates who protect your rights.

Contested Divorce Hearings in New York City

Trials typically require several hearings and extensive negotiation. Occasionally, the disagreements can be settled before they escalate to court hearings, but it usually requires an attorney experienced in divorce law.

When preliminary matters require court hearings, an attorney will file a motion for pendente lite relief. Pendente lite motions cover the following and more:

  • Payment of any temporary spousal maintenance;
  • Payment of child support;
  • Payment of marital debt;
  • Occupancy of the marital home;
  • Temporary child custody and visitation arrangements; and
  • Payment of counsel fees.

Both spouses have the opportunity to file pendente lite motions. However, at the law office of Vivien I. Stark, P.C., we take every measure to attempt to settle disagreements outside of court to save our clients time and money. Vivien I. Stark has over 30 years of experience in family and divorce law and represents her clients with compassion and fairness.

If a case does need to be seen by a judge, spouses still need to substantiate their claims surrounding the disagreement. Simply stating a complaint without proof will not be enough to reach an agreement.

Spouses must include details, dates, locations, and other proof of all allegations. If property or asset division is contested, the judge will divide it based on equitable distribution; property is not strictly split down the middle.

The judge determines property division after considering many factors, including:

  • The length of the marriage;
  • The age of each spouse;
  • The health of each spouse;
  • The earning capacity of each spouse; and
  • Any tax implications of property division.

Spousal support is considered in much the same way. However, child support and custody decisions are ultimately based on the best interest of the child.

Of course, if the grounds for divorce or the divorce itself are contested, the judge will require each spouse to think carefully about each side and submit any necessary proof. Because contested divorces can quickly become complicated and cause a great deal of resentment, it is vital to have a skilled New York City contested divorce lawyer.

Contested Divorce Discovery in New York City

Discovery is the exchange of information between spouses. This takes place before trial and is a tool for trial preparation and settlement negotiations.

Discovery may include any of the following:

  • Depositions. These are oral examinations under oath of the spouses or any witnesses;
  • Interrogatories. Interrogatories are written questions under oath about finances, potential witnesses, business dealings, and personal doings during the marriage;
  • Demands for Production. These request any documents to back up statements made in the Interrogatories; and
  • Notices to Admit. These are written statements a spouse may admit or deny as fact.

After the discovery process, the trial may commence. A contested divorce trial may take as little as a few days or months to finish in New York City.

Experienced New York City Contested Divorce Lawyer

Vivien I. Stark navigates the tricky waters for people during the most stressful kinds of divorce settlements. She is aggressive in her ambitions for her clients and a thoughtful listener. She has been practicing divorce and family law in the five boroughs of New York City for 30 years.

At the law office of Vivien I. Stark, P.C., we are deeply committed to the satisfaction and well-being of our clients. We fight for your rights and best interest, along with the best interest of your children, and work to reconcile both sides’ disagreements as quickly as possible.

If your case cannot be resolved, the issues will be determined at trial. Vivien I. Stark has been recognized as a top contributor and a superb member of Avvo and is an accredited member of the Better Business Bureau.

To discuss your needs, please contact us online or call us at (212) 349-1600 to schedule an in office or telephone consultation.

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