Few decisions are more difficult and stressful than the one to dissolve your marriage. Before you dive headfirst into your decision to file for a divorce in New York, take a moment to review your legal options, understand the procedure from start to finish, and figure out which kind of divorce is actually right for you and your individual needs.
Contested Vs. Uncontested
One of the earliest steps in the divorce process is determining whether or not your divorce is contested or uncontested. A divorce that is uncontested will involve both spouses easily coming to an agreement about the division of their estate and responsibilities; generally, an attorney will be necessary to draft the divorce paperwork but court appearances are rare. Contested divorces are quite the opposite – one or both parties cannot come to an agreement about any number of important aspects of their divorce, such as custody agreements or debt distribution. If your divorce is contested, you might be in for a battle with your spouse if you do not prepare your case with a professional Westchester County divorce lawyer.
Collaborative Divorce Vs. Mediation
If you want to ensure that your divorce does not go to court – thus, avoiding possible high court costs – you, your spouse, and both of your attorneys can sign a “no court” agreement and go through what is known as a collaborative divorce. More or less, this form of divorce works explicitly with the intent to form agreements through informal meetings and flexible decisions. Mediation is similar yet altogether different, as your mediator – most likely one neutral attorney – doesn’t actually have any real power in the divorce; they are simply there to help you get through it peacefully and quickly.
No-Fault Vs. Fault-Based Divorce
Since 2010, New York State has permitted spouses to file for divorce based on irreconcilable differences alone. Many refer to this as a “ no-fault” divorce, meaning that no specific event has led to your decision to leave your spouse but rather a broken down relationship that can’t be repaired. You may, however, still file for divorce and cite particular faults, such as infidelity or domestic violence. By doing so and backing up your claims with a professional divorce lawyer, you may stand to win more assets during the divorce.
In New York, a marriage can be treated as if it never existed by filing for an annulment. The grounds for an annulment are quite specific, however, and include:
- Underage spouse at time of marriage
- Spouse incapable of sexual intimacy
- Consent to marriage by force or fraud
- Incapability of consent to marriage
There is no time limit for obtaining an annulment in New York. For example, if your spouse lied about their age at the time of marriage and were actually a minor, you could file for an annulment regardless of when you found out.
Make the Right Decision with Confidence
At first glance, your choices could seem overwhelming, if not the least bit confusing. If you know you want to end your marriage one way or another but aren’t sure where to begin, you are encouraged to contact a Westchester County divorce attorney from Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP today. We have more than 50 years of combined experience handling family law and divorce cases for the people of New York. Schedule your free consultation with our team to start taking control of your future.