Contested Divorces in Westchester County, NY


Special Rules that Apply to Westchester County Contested Divorces

If you are contemplating getting divorced in Westchester County, NY and you anticipate that it will be a contested divorce, it is important to be aware that there are unique rules that apply to the divorce court in Westchester County that set it apart from surrounding counties.

The divorce court in Westchester County is the Westchester County Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is located in White Plains, NY. In Westchester, as is the case with all other New York counties, the process of starting a contested divorce action is the same. A summons and complaint are filed with the county clerk and the other spouse is then personally served with those documents. Thereafter, in order to have a judge assigned to the case, either party may file a "request for judicial intervention" to have a judge assigned to the divorce case and to have a court date scheduled to appear before the divorce court judge. However, at this juncture, the Westchester County divorce court has its own special rules referred to as the "Westchester Supreme Court Matrimonial Part Operational Rules" that set it apart from other divorce courts in New York.

The Westchester Supreme Court Matrimonial Part Operational Rules

In February 2010, by order of the Administrative Judge of the Ninth Judicial District, operational rules were put into effect for the purpose of promoting active and effective management in contested divorce cases in Westchester County. The rules themselves intend to establish procedures for the expeditious resolution of pre-trial divorce disputes. The rules create many differences in how a divorce proceeds in Westchester County as opposed to other counties in New York. These differences can have a tremendous impact on how the divorce case proceeds. As a result, divorce lawyers and their clients must be mindful of these differences and understand them even before the divorce case is filed with the court.

An Important Difference in Westchester County Divorces that Sets it Apart From Other Counties

Rules that Effect Orders to Show Cause.

An Order to Show Cause is a legal document that if filed with the court without notice to the other spouse or spouse's divorce lawyer and seeks immediate, "emergency" relief from the court. Such "emergency" requests may include a request that the court grant such relief which includes, but is not limited to:

  • an order directing that one spouse immediately vacate the marital residence;
  • an order of protection;
  • an order restraining bank accounts;
  • an order granting temporary child support;
  • an order granting temporary spousal support (referred to in divorce cases as "temporary maintenance";
  • payment of carrying costs of the marital residence by the other spouse including, but not limited to, the mortgage and utilities;

In other New York counties, a divorce lawyer can file an Order to Show Cause at anytime. It can even be done simultaneously with the filing of the initial divorce papers with the court. However, in the Westchester County divorce court, a divorce lawyer cannot simply file an Order to Show Cause at anytime. Instead, the rules permit the filing of Orders to Show Cause only "in the event of an emergency that requires immediate relief from a Matrimonial Part Justice" ( Rule E (1) ). This is a very strict rule in Westchester County and unlike other counties the Westchester County divorce court does not frequently permit a divorce lawyer to file an Order to Show Cause. This is a big difference because while in other counties a divorce lawyer can "get right into court" to request and obtain immediate relief from the divorce court without notice to the other spouse or their divorce lawyer, the Westchester County divorce lawyer will typically have to request a "pre-motion conference" with a court attorney referee which is on notice to the other spouse and their divorce lawyer. The court attorney referee is not a judge and cannot "order" either party to do, or not to do, anything. As a consequence, while divorce lawyers and their clients would have a valid basis to file an Order to Show Cause in other counties and obtain immediate relief, the Westchester County divorce lawyer and client may not have such a basis in Westchester County even if the application is for identical relief.

Importance of Retaining a White Plains, New York Divorce Lawyer

In light of the unique rules that affect Westchester County divorces it is vital for person who is filing a contested divorce to retain the assistance of a seasoned Westchester County divorce lawyer who understands the rules inside and out and knows how to successfully navigate through them in order to achieve the most optimal results for their client.


With over 50 years of combined experience the divorce lawyers at our firm, Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP, located in the heart of the Westchester County seat of White Plains, New York, have aggressively and compassionately handled countless contested divorce matters since the Westchester County Supreme Court Matrimonial Part Operational Rules went into effect. As a continuing commitment to our clients we always offer free consultations in all contested divorce matters. Please contact us online or by calling us at (914) 946-4808 to speak with one of our Westchester County divorce lawyers.