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What to Look for When Hiring a Lawyer for a Highly Contested Divorce

What to Look for When Hiring a Lawyer for a Highly Contested Divorce

Getting a divorce in New York requires not only knowing what to look for in a lawyer but also understanding how to navigate certain situations, such as when one spouse won't agree or refuses to grant a divorce, as well as the differences between contested and uncontested divorce. This article will explain these situations, as well as assist you in finding the best attorney for your case.

What Is Uncontested Divorce in New York?

Uncontested divorce occurs when one party sues the other for divorce, and then both parties amicably work out the details of the above decisions of property distribution, visitation, custody, spousal support, and so on.

A detailed written document sets out the agreements on the above items, and then one party defaults. This can be done by acknowledging they neither deny nor admit the contents of the summons they received.

What Is Contested Divorce in New York?

The state of New York loosely defines contested divorce as any divorce in which the involved parties have not yet resolved their marital issues. More specifically, contested divorce occurs when the involved parties cannot successfully agree about decisions which need to be made in terms of custody, visitation, spousal support, distribution of property, and similar items.

When there is a strong opposition between spouses who are high net worth individuals regarding the division of property, spousal support, and other issues, and where agreement is deemed impossible by Long Island divorce attorneys, the result is a highly contested divorce. In this situation, litigation is favored over continued fruitless negotiation, as litigation places the matter in the hands of the court, which has a focus on the legalities surrounding the dissolution of marriage and the substantive issues.

Contested Divorce and Litigation

In a contested divorce, the process begins with an initial filing of a Summons and Complaint or Summons with Notice by one of the involved spouses. This filing officially ends the marital period and begins the divorce. Once this notice has been filed, the summons must be served and filed with the court within 120 days.

Serving of Summons

The serving of a summons is often completed by an unrelated adult third party such as a process serve. The spouse wanting the divorce is not permitted to serve the summons. Once served, the person who served the summons must file an affidavit of the service within 30 days.

Spouse Response

The spouse who was served with a summons must then respond to the serving within a maximum of 20 days.

Judicial Intervention and Preliminary Conference

In New York, it is a legal requirement for the spouse who has filed a divorce and received an answer from the other party to file an RJI, or Request for Judicial Intervention. This request officially recognizes each side's acknowledgment of the divorce and requests that the court sets a date for a preliminary conference with divorce attorneys in Long Island. This date must be set within 45 days of the RJI being assigned.

The preliminary conference will see each spouse presenting his or her statement of net worth for the court to review. These statements must be received at least 10 days before the court appearance. During the preliminary conference, each party's attorney will have the opportunity to discuss with the court the issues in the case as well as options for resolution.

Evidence Collection and Disposition

An important note: A trial is a remote possibility in divorces. Couples rarely go all the way through litigation resulting in a trial, choosing to settle instead. However, the chance of a trial may be more prevalent in a highly contested divorce.

In the event that a settlement is unable to be reached, the collection of evidence begins. This is called the discovery period, which can be a difficult time for both spouses, as it involves the use of collected evidence against the other spouse. Attorneys have a defined period of time, usually established at the preliminary conference, to collect their evidence before the issue reaches trial.

Trials can take anywhere from one day to several weeks. This is because the time needed depends on the ability of the involved parties to cooperate, as well as the complexities of the issues being tried, whether it be custody or dividing the financial net worth of the parties.

Regardless of the time it takes for a trial, the judge's ruling is final, and ruling is mandatory to follow. An appeal can be filed by Suffolk County divorce lawyers if one spouse finds or both spouses find the ruling to be in error.

Do You Need Grounds for Divorce?

In order to ensure the process goes smoothly, you must first research the rules for service of process; then you must follow the rules to the letter. Otherwise, your spouse can block divorce proceedings.

If your spouse doesn't answer the papers served, this can require you to figure out how to move forward with a default judgment, which will require you to file a request for default, attend a hearing, and prove your case.

All of this can add tremendous stress and frustration to an already stressful situation. Because of this, hiring the right attorney is absolutely critical.

Benefits of Hiring the Right Divorce Attorney

The benefits of hiring the right divorce attorney are numerous. The most important benefit of hiring the right attorney is that he or she will be able to separate the business part of the divorce from the emotional. When emotions get involved, some harmful decisions can appear to be feasible. However, making those choices can cause problems for several years after your divorce.

The right attorney will ensure you get the best possible chance of a fair division of assets and a fair amount of financial support.

Another benefit of experienced Long Island divorce lawyers is that the advice you get about your case will be accurate. A divorce lawyer knows every aspect of divorce law. If you are going it alone or trying to get advice from family and friends, you may receive a lot of inaccurate information which may hurt your case.

Choose a Lawyer with Skill

While it may be tempting to contact the attorney who is most convenient, this doesn't ensure that you'll get the one with the right skill set for your case. The right attorney for you is the one who has the most experience, judgment, and skill to get you, and your finances through the process with as little negative impact as possible.

Choose a Suffolk County Divorce Lawyer You Like and Trust

The lawyer you choose should be one you trust and like. You should be able to depend on this lawyer to provide you with accurate advice about your case. He or she should be able to provide you with proof of relevant experience, whether by showing you similar cases or testimonials from previous clients.

Montefusco Lawyers

Letting Your Lawyer Help

There's a lot to deal with in the middle of a highly-contested divorce. Not only will you experience stress and contention from your spouse's direction, but you're also expected to be able to think clearly during this barrage of emotions and flood of legal terms you may not fully understand.

Divorce is a legal process with which your lawyer will be intimately familiar. Once you've hired your Long Island divorce attorney, the final step is to follow his or her advice. Your lawyer will be there to explain each stage of the process to you and can also help ensure your focus remains on the legal aspects of your divorce. As well, your attorney should be able to answer your questions about the process.

Your Situation Is Unique

Every high net worth, highly contested divorce is unique and can take a few months to several years to complete. For that reason, finding an attorney who employs proactive strategies to aggressively represent you and obtain a fair divorce settlement is absolutely critical. Choosing an attorney from The Law Office of Robert H. Montefusco, P.C. can help you realize your ideal result.

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