Breaking Down the Divorce Process
If you are in need of a divorce and family lawyer in the Bronx, New York City, or Poughkeepsie, the Law Offices of Diron Rutty, LLC can help. We offer legal assistance for the divorce court process, including legal separation, domestic abuse, modification, or enforcement of support orders. Contact our family lawyer to schedule a consultation.
A divorce involves more than the termination of a marriage. Even if the parties can agree on the grounds for their divorce, they may still be unable to resolve some of their issues through negotiation. Unfortunately, this means that some matters must be determined through litigation.
Although litigation can be costly, sometimes the other party leaves you no other option. In most cases, a family lawyer will continue to negotiate and those negotiations can lead to a settlement even after going to court.
The Divorce Process in Court
Once filed, the case is ready for the court. New York courts require the filing of a special document known as a Request for Judicial Intervention. Once the court is assigned to your case, a Preliminary Conference (also called a PC) date is ordered. The judge will first determine if the parties can agree as to grounds for divorce and if not, an immediate trial on the “grounds” is often ordered. During this time, the party seeking the divorce must prove his or her right to a divorce at a trial.
The Preliminary Conference
At the preliminary conference, the attorneys for the parties will discuss with the judge the issues of the divorce. These may include:
- Equitable distribution
- Spousal support
- Child support
- Child visitation
If the parties are able to agree on any of these issues, each agreed-upon issue will be noted as resolved. The divorce will then focus on the unresolved issues.
If child custody is disputed, the judge at the preliminary conference may appoint a child custody lawyer to represent each child. The judge may also order that a forensic mental health professional be appointed to determine their well-being. The judge may rely upon the report of the forensic mental health professional to make his or her decision regarding child custody and visitation.
At the preliminary conference, if the equitable distribution of assets is contested, the judge may appoint one or more experts to appraise the assets. Assets that commonly need to be appraised include:
- Real estate
At the preliminary conference, the judge will direct that discovery – which is the exchange of financial and other information – take place between the parties and will set deadlines. Depending on the judge and the facts of the case, settlement discussions may take place at the preliminary conference. Even if a final settlement is not reached during the preliminary conference, the discussions may be useful for resolving the differences between the parties.
At the end of the preliminary conference, the judge will issue a PC order, which will include the identification of the issues in the dispute and a timetable for the exchange of financial information.
As mentioned, discovery is the exchange of financial records between the lawyers in the case. This usually occurs after a party or parties make formal written requests. It can also involve some investigatory work when one party suspects that the other is not disclosing their financial information.
Discovery also usually includes depositions, which are oral examinations under oath of each party and sometimes of third-party witnesses. Here is when it will be appraisals and/or valuations discover real properties, businesses, professional practices, and/or other tangible or intangible assets considered relevant to the marriage. Professional evaluators are often retained at the parties’ expense to do these appraisals and/or valuations.
In contested custody cases, a law guardian may also be appointed to represent the interests of the children in the lawsuit. This is when Support and Parenting Access Schedules are arranged. At the beginning of litigation, there are usually issues related to the financial support of one spouse and/or children during the lawsuit. Expenses such as insurance, medical care, child care, school expenses, and the like also have to be addressed.
Many matters, such as abusive behavior or contested occupancy of the marital residences, can become open issues. Sometimes these can be resolved through negotiation or via motions. Motions are applications made to the judge assigned to the case. They are resolved after the filing of papers or after oral arguments and once a decision has been issued by the judge.
The Compliance Conference
If the parties are unable to settle their divorce, the next hearing in court is called the compliance conference. The purpose of the compliance is for the judge to determine whether the parties have complied with the PC order and review the unresolved issues. In addition, the judge will often discuss settlements with the attorneys.
When the parties have completed their discovery and evaluations and the case is still not settled, it goes to trial. The trial may take place before the judge assigned to the case or before a Special Referee to whom all or some of the contested financial issues may be assigned. Depending on the complexity of the open issues, a trial can take days or even weeks to complete.
Contact the Law Offices of Diron Rutty, LLC For Attorneys With Experience in the Divorce Court Process
The divorce court process is not short or easy. If you believe that you want or need to go through this process, be sure to contact the Law Offices of Diron Rutty, LLC. With our online legal services, you can get a head start on your legal proceedings and helps us build the foundation for your case. Upon payment and submission, our family lawyers prepare your documents, make any necessary changes so that your package is completed correctly, and then we notify you once your documents are ready along with additional legal advice and instructions.
Get the support and representation you deserve when going through a divorce case — contact The Law Offices of Diron Rutty in the Bronx. Our divorce litigation attorneys have years of experience to provide you with the skill and delicacy to handle your case so you can move forward.