How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in New York?

Even under the most amicable of circumstances, divorce is difficult. It involves major changes to a person’s life, plus dealing with the legal system can be a headache in and of itself. This is why one of the most commonly asked questions about divorce in New York is, “How long is this going to take?” Most people are looking to get one finalized as quickly as possible. 

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce in New York?

In truth, the answer to this question is: it depends. There are several factors that can seriously impact the amount of time it takes to finalize a divorce in New York. Some of these factors include:

  • Whether or not children are involved
  • Whether there are substantial assets involved
  • What the spouses agree upon
  • What the spouses disagree upon
  • The willingness of the spouses to work on coming to an agreement
  • The court’s schedule

Whether the spouses agree on these issues is one of the biggest factors. In an uncontested divorce, the spouses agree on all issues incident to the divorce. On average, this will take approximately 3 months to finalize.

The process begins by filing the necessary forms with the clerk of court’s office. The petition for divorce must be served to your spouse and he or she has 20 days to respond to the petition. The spouse being served has 30 days if he or she is served out of state. If your spouse fails to respond to the petition, you can file for a default divorce. You must wait for the court to review your request which usually takes at least a month. If your spouse responds to the petition and you have a written agreement that settles all issues, your divorce should be finalized, depending on the court schedule and processing time, within a few months.

If your spouse responds to the petition and the two of you are unable to reach an agreement, then it becomes a contested divorce. This takes, on average, much more time than an uncontested divorce. In fact, it may take at least 9 months to resolve. A contested divorce will move along much faster if the spouses have a willingness to cooperate and work together to reach mutually agreeable solutions to the issues they do not see eye to eye on. Without reaching an agreement on the issues, litigation will be necessary, which will also cause the process to be even longer.

Syracuse Family Law Attorneys

Whether you are facing a contested or an uncontested divorce, the dedicated family law attorneys at CDH Law are here to represent your best interests the entire way. We are here to support you, stand by your side, and walk you through the whole process. Contact us today.

What Does It Mean to Be an Equitable Distribution State?

Property distribution is a major issue that needs to be addressed during divorce proceedings. Should the divorcing spouses be unable to agree on how property will be divided, a court will do so for them. In order to do this, the court will adhere to the laws of the state. The State of New York used to be a “common law property” state. This meant that property was distributed based solely on which spouse’s name appeared on the title. Now, New York is an equitable distribution state.

Understanding an Equitable Distribution State

Equitable distribution means that, in a divorce, property will be equitably divided between the parties. Equitable does not mean equal, but sometimes property will be equally divided. Equitable distribution means that the court will aim to divide the property in a manner that is fair. In order to do this, the court will weigh a variety of factors, including:

  • The duration of the marriage
  • The income and property of each spouse when they married
  • The income and property of each spouse when they filed for divorce
  • The age and health of each spouse
  • The value of benefits such as health insurance or retirement accounts that either spouse will lose due to the divorce
  • Any alimony that will be awarded
  • The contributions of either spouse made in the form of labor, support, or money
  • The contribution either spouse made to supporting the increase of the other spouse’s earning potential
  • Whether the marital assets are liquid or non-liquid
  • Tax consequences of the distribution
  • Wastefulness of either spouse
  • Any other factor the court finds to be relevant in reaching a fair distribution of the property

Essentially, the court weighs each spouse’s contribution to the marriage and what each will need to move forward after the divorce.

Does Equitable Distribution Include Separate Property?

Only property that is deemed marital property will be subject to equitable distribution. Each spouse retains his or her right to separate property. Marital property generally refers to the property that was acquired during the course of the marriage. It does not matter who actually holds the title to the property. There are certain exceptions to property acquired during the marriage being considered marital property. Separate property not only includes property either spouse had prior to marriage, it also includes some kinds of property acquired during the marriage, including:

  • An inheritance or gift the spouse received individually that was not from the other spouse
  • A personal injury settlement
  • Property characterized as separate property in a prenuptial agreement or another contract
  • Property acquired with the proceeds or appreciation in the value of separate property (with some exceptions)

New York Divorce Attorneys

The way in which property is distributed in your divorce can have a huge impact on your financial future. At CDH Law, we protect your best interests throughout divorce proceedings. This includes seeing that your financial interests are protected during property distributions. This is a critical element to thriving in life after divorce. We are here for you. Contact us today.

Summer Divorces

Memories of summers when you were growing up may bring images of beach time, backyard barbecues, family vacations, and freedom. You rarely see all of the effort that was put into these activities until you are a grown-up with a family of your own. The financial pressures of paying for a vacation, the extended time spent in close quarters with your spouse and family, and juggling the logistics of everything in between can be stressful, to say the least. If you are not all in on your marriage, it can also act as a catalyst pushing you closer and closer to taking steps to divorce.

Why Are There So Many Summer Divorces?

In 2016, a study was presented at the American Sociological Association that revealed a pattern of divorce rates increasing in August and March. The research to support this was conducted by sociologists at the University of Washington. Researchers reviewed divorce filings in Washington state over 14 years between 2001 and 2015. There was a consistent increase in divorces in August and the filings usually continued to increase up to when kids go back to school in September.

The authors of this 2016 study speculated about what could cause these kinds of patterns, and they came up with several possibilities. The divorce filings increased around school holidays, vacation times, and Valentine’s Day. Vacations and holidays are often used as a benchmark of happiness for people, especially those that may be discontent in their marriages. They may view a holiday or trip as one more chance to see if things can go right. When expectations are not met, they may be ready to finally take the plunge into seeking a divorce. The high expectations for these times all too often set people up for a hard fall.

Combined heightened expectations with the increased stress of the holidays and planning a vacation and it may no longer come as a surprise that these are times when divorce rates increase. If you and your spouse are experiencing problems, spending more time together on a family trip is almost certain to exacerbate things in a nonproductive way. This is one reason why the study may reveal the uptick in divorce rates. People start to consider divorce and then, by the end of summer, they have made a decision.

If you are considering a divorce, there are several things you will want to do to protect yourself, including:

  • Taking inventory of all bank accounts (including how many and how much is in each)
  • Taking inventory of credit cards (including how many and the balance on each)
  • Taking inventory of stocks and investment accounts
  • Collecting records about all of the above
  • Reviewing property records and ascertaining who is on the title
  • Bringing together a support system that includes counselors, family, loved ones, and trusted advisors to help you down the road ahead

New York Divorce Attorneys

No matter what time of year it may be, you will want a trusted attorney by your side throughout the divorce process. CDH Law will join your support system as trusted legal counsel always advocating for your best interest. Contact us today.

Preparing for Divorce

Divorce is a major transitional time. Whether it is uncontested or contested, divorce will bring major life changes. If you are in the midst of a divorce or are even considering a divorce, preparing for the divorce process can help you cope with what lies ahead.

Preparing for Divorce: What Can You Do?

One of the best things you can do to prepare for divorce is to take a good look at your financial situation and get things in order. This means getting copies of all of your financial statements, including:

  • Recent tax returns
  • Bank account statements
  • Investment account statements
  • Insurance statements
  • Credit card statements

Getting an overview of the state of your finances, such as your assets and liabilities, will help you make informed and intentional decisions as you go into divorce proceedings. 

Reviewing your finances will also help you prepare a budget. One of the biggest practical changes in divorce is that, instead of a single-family, dual-income home, you and your spouse will have a single household, a single income situation. This is a big change. Establishing a possible budget based only on your income can alleviate a lot of future financial stress.

Also in line with your new living situation is where you will be taking up residence. Think about whether or not you will need to get a new place. If this is likely, consider investigating the housing market. This will give you a good idea of housing costs. If you are considering staying in the marital residence, evaluate whether or not it will still be a good fit for you as well as whether or not you will be able to maintain the living situation on your income.

If you have children, there will be other big decisions that you should begin thinking about. Consider what type of custody will work for you and your spouse. If you are looking to gain majority custody of your child or children, think about how you will advocate for this. If you are not aiming for majority custody, remember that you will likely have to pay child support and make sure to include this in your budget calculations.

Another very important part of preparing for divorce is making sure you have a solid support system in place. This means surrounding yourself with family, loved ones, and trusted advisors. Find a divorce attorney you trust and one that you feel comfortable with. You need to feel like you can communicate openly and honestly with your attorney about some personal subjects.

Syracuse Divorce Lawyer

At CDH Law, our team of experienced Syracuse divorce lawyers is here to provide you with the legal counsel you can count on. We protect the best interests of our clients and provide zealous advocacy. Whether you are considering divorce or are in the midst of divorce proceedings, CDH Law is here for you. Contact us today.

Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial agreement is often a sensitive topic to broach with your significant other. As you plan for marriage and a future together, couples often shy away from discussing such an agreement as it plans for a future in which they are separated by divorce or death. Prenuptial agreements, however, can bring a great deal of comfort and peace of mind by setting up expectations and responsibilities relating to the marriage. Every couple is different and, therefore, every prenuptial agreement is different. Terms will vary depending on the situations and circumstances of the individuals who are a party to the agreement.

What Should Be Included in a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement is established between two future spouses. In New York, the agreement takes effect as soon as the couple marries. Instead of preparing for divorce, the real purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to set expectations for a couple’s future together. It can help them manage their assets and established expectations for what kind of lifestyle they will have. While the terms of a prenuptial agreement will vary depending on a couple, there are certain terms everyone should consider including.

  • Assets acquired and liabilities incurred: A prenuptial agreement can address how property and debts should be distributed in the event of death or divorce. This includes those assets and liabilities that were acquired either individually or as a couple.
  • Other property rights: The couple should think about the rights to buy, sell, or transfer ownership rights of property. Additionally, if there is a business involved, a prenuptial agreement can address any rights each spouse may have in owning and managing the business. 
  • Alimony: The agreement can address any details regarding spousal maintenance. This may include how much will be paid as well as for how long the payments will be made. A couple may also choose to waive having an alimony clause in their prenuptial agreement.
  • Social media: With social media becoming such a big part of our everyday lives, more couples are electing to include social media clauses in their prenuptial agreement. These types of provisions may refer to what types of pictures may be posted on social media as well as what kinds of posts may be made. There may also be a provision for allowing to post certain content only with the consent of the other person.

There are many other provisions that you may wish to include in your prenuptial agreement. Some people choose to include provisions about who will care for a pet upon the couple’s separation. The primary terms of a prenuptial agreement, however, usually refer to the current and future financial plans for the couple. Addressing financial considerations and making financial disclosures upfront will set the tone for an open path of communication for the marriage.

Syracuse Family Law Attorneys

For all of your family law needs, the experienced family law attorneys at CDH Law, PLLC are here for you. Contact us today.

New York No-Fault Divorce

If you have looked into getting a divorce in New York, you have probably run into some complicated legal jargon. One of these terms may have been “no fault” divorce. There is enough to deal with when you are contemplating divorce without having to worry about the complexities of the legal process. Here is an explanation of what it means for New York to be a “No-Fault” divorce state. For all of your divorce questions and concerns, CDH Law has answers for you.

What Does It Mean That New York is a “No-Fault” Divorce State?

New York adopted no-fault divorce in 2010. It was the last state to do so. Prior to this, New York was a fault state which meant that, in a divorce, one spouse must be “at fault” for the divorce. A party to the divorce would have to prove that the other spouse engaged in one of the qualifying reasons, such as adultery or abandonment, to be deemed “at fault” for the divorce. You can understand why at fault divorce can be highly contentious. It sets the foundation for a fight right from the beginning. This led to messier, more expensive divorces.

With no-fault divorce, neither spouse has to be found to be “at fault” for the divorce. Neither spouse needs to be held responsible for the divorce. No one has to prove fault. It was a long-awaited relief to many couples looking to divorce simply because things were not working out. The no-fault divorce option allows couples to forego extended trials to prove an at fault ground for divorce.

A no-fault divorce means that one or both of the parties is asserting that “the relationship between husband and wife has broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months.” The parties need not agree that this is the case. Only one party needs to swear to this under oath. With the no-fault divorce option, the parties are freed from the burden of fighting over who was at-fault and who had enough evidence to prove fault. The soon to be former spouses can focus on important issues such as spousal support, child custody, and child visitation, among other things.

Although no-fault divorce has been adopted in New York, the state still allows for fault-based divorces. The parties to the divorce may assert grounds for divorce which include:

  • Adultery
  • Abandonment
  • Cruel and inhuman treatment
  • Legal separation for over a year

Although fault-based divorce is still an option, most people opt for a no-fault divorce as it is much easier to do so.

It is also important to distinguish between a no-fault divorce and an uncontested divorce. A no-fault divorce relates to the basis of the divorce. An uncontested divorce means that both parties to the divorce have agreed to all key terms of the divorce. The parties must agree on everything from spousal maintenance to division of debts, and division of assets. A divorce can be both no-fault and uncontested.

Trusted Divorce Legal Counsel

At CDH Law, we are dedicated to representing the best interest of our clients. If you are considering divorce, our trusted divorce attorneys are here to answer any of your questions and provide you with the legal support you can count on. Contact us today.

Five Things You Should Know About Divorcing With Kids

Some parents stay together even after their marital relationship has ended because they believe that it is best for the children. However, being in an unhappy relationship can make home a tense, miserable place for everyone to live. If you are contemplating divorcing with kids, a New York divorce lawyer can help you ensure your children’s best interests are protected during the divorce proceeding. Below are five things that might help you as you take steps to end your marriage while continuing to raise happy, well-adjusted children.

1.     You can end your relationship with your spouse while you continue to co-parent.

Children typically benefit when parents work together to co-parent. It allows the parents to develop a time-sharing schedule that is tailored to the needs of the children. Co-parenting also helps maintain a close relationship between the children and both parents. While it may be challenging, especially if you and your ex-spouse do not get along well, you can succeed in co-parenting with patience and dedication.

2.     Child support is based on guidelines.

Both parents are expected to support their children financially even though the marriage has ended. New York has Child Support Guidelines that the court uses to determine each parent’s financial obligation to their children. However, a judge may deviate from the Child Support Guidelines for a variety of reasons. Typically, the parent in whose home the child resides for the majority of nights receives the support payments.

3.     Be careful when discussing issues related to divorce and finances.

Children may typically ignore a parent’s conversations with other individuals. However, when parents separate, children may begin to pay more attention to conversations their parents have with other individuals because the children are curious, frightened, or worried. Refrain from discussing the divorce and financial matters when your children are home unless you are absolutely sure your children are not somewhere in the home where they can overhear your conversation.

4.     You may need to split holidays and other special occasions.

If parents cannot get along well enough to share holidays and special occasions, a time-sharing schedule will alternate these days each year. In some cases, parents may need to split a day so that each parent has access to the child, such as on the child’s birthday. It is best for the child when parents can work together to avoid disputes related to holidays and unnecessary shuffling around between homes.

5.     Your children may need professional counseling.

Even when parents are on good terms with each other and a divorce proceeding is amicable, children may experience a variety of emotions they are unable to process. In some cases, children need professional counseling to work through their feelings about the divorce. Children benefit when parents are supportive of counseling and encourage children to be honest about their emotional needs during a divorce proceeding.

Call a New York Divorce Attorney for Assistance

Divorce can be very disruptive for a child. However, parents who are patient and communicate with their children can help them transition from a two-parent home to a separate home. If you have questions about custody, contact one of our New York divorce attorneys today.