Getting Divorced in Westchester County, NY | How to Start
Like all other civil actions, an action for divorce in Westchester County, NY begins with the filing of a Summons with Notice or a Summons and Complaint at the Clerk’s Office of the Westchester County Supreme Court located at 111 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., White Plains, NY. The spouse who commences the divorce action is the plaintiff and the spouse who is served with the action is the defendant.
Usually, the Summons with Notice or the Summons and Complaint for divorce will be served personally on the defendant spouse. Once service is complete the defendant spouse has 20 days to appear (respond) to the allegations of the action.
After the divorce action has been commenced and service complete, each party (or spouse) will be required to exchange financial information and records regarding marital assets, debts, income, and expenses. The exchange of the financial information takes place during the “discovery” stage of the divorce action. Throughout the divorce process in Westchester, it is typical for the attorneys for the parties to discuss a possible resolution or settlement. If a settlement cannot be reached, the matter will proceed and eventually the issues of the action will be heard by a judge at a trial.
Whether or not the divorce action is settled or determined by a judge at trial, the matter is concluded when the court issues a Judgment of Divorce.
Getting Prepared for a Westchester Divorce Case
Before commencing a divorce action with your lawyer and initiating the divorce process as outlined above, there are things that you should do in order to prepare yourself.
1. Preparation – Get your documents, papers and affairs organized. A good start would include:
- maintaining an expense journal;
- keep all receipts, including expenses related to your children;
- work to establish good personal credit;
- create a bank account solely in your own name;
- keep all inheritance money apart from the marital estate;
- check on the ownership (title) of your property, cars and accounts;
- maintain your employment (do not quit your job);
- locate a safe and secure place for important documents, jewelry and personal belongings.
2. Emotional Support and Planning – Divorces are emotional and having a network of support is important. Friends, family and professional counsellors can help relieve the emotional burden. Unless there is a threat to your safety and/or the safety of your children, it is important not to move out of the marital residence. If it becomes necessary, you should not move out of the martial residence without your children and without speaking with your divorce lawyer.
3. Consult a Divorce Lawyer – Before taking any legal action on your Westchester divorce, it is crucial that you meet and consult with an experienced Westchester County divorce attorney. Prior to the consultation, collect all of your financial documents. Importantly, NEVER sign any papers, documents, agreements, or contracts until you have consulted a divorce lawyer.
Contact a Top Westchester Divorce Lawyer
Whether you are looking to get a divorce or if your spouse has recently commenced an action against you, having a proven and experienced divorce attorney will make a difference. The divorce lawyers of Proto, Sachs & Brown, LLP have been serving the interests and protecting the rights of their clients in Westchester divorce clients for years. We will help you at every step in the legal process and work to get your life back on track.