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Which Method of Divorce Should I Pursue?

There are several different ways that separating couples can choose to carry out their divorce. While these methods all accomplish the same essential task of dissolving a marriage, the exact way that this is settled will vary depending on a couple's unique situation. If you are approaching a divorce, it is important you evaluate your options to determine which method is right for you.

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

Are you and your spouse still on relatively good terms? Is your decision to separate mutual? If so, you may be able to pursue an uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce, spouses cooperate with each other towards a mutually acceptable separation agreement. If a couple is able to negotiate with each other and agree on all aspects of their separation, including child custody, spousal support, child support, asset distribution and debt division, they can potentially have their divorce finalized in as little as six-to-eight weeks.

An uncontested divorce can spare couples from the need for extensive litigation and can save thousands of dollars in legal fees. Additionally, uncontested divorces are much less heated than traditional separations and can leave the possibility open for spouses to have an amicable relationship later on down the line. This can be invaluable for couples who have children together.

What is a Contested Divorce?

If a couple cannot reach an agreement regarding the terms of their separation, litigation will be required to solve any issues that cannot be sorted out through cooperative negotiations. This is known as a contested divorce. Each spouse retains their own separate legal representation and pleads their case before a judge. Divorces oftentimes become contested if the separating spouses have a large amount of marital property or if divorce proceedings are based on the fault of one of the spouses, such as infidelity or fraud.

While these bench trials do not have a jury, contested divorces involve nearly every other aspect of a traditional civil trial, including opening statements, witness testimonies, cross examinations, examination of evidence, and closing remarks. Once both sides have had a chance to make their case, a judge will issue a decision that is enforceable by law. Court decisions can sometimes be modified, though this requires a petitioning party to show a substantial change in circumstances and will vary on a case-by-case basis.

What is Legal Separation?

New York allows spouses who no longer wish to live together the opportunity to file for a legal separation. This option allows couples to live apart from each other, though they will still legally be married. This would be used for reasons of maintaining certain religious or insurance benefits. Legal separation requires a separating couple to establish a mutually acceptable arrangement regarding all crucial issues just like a divorce, though it is not sought through the court system. If an agreement is reached, it must be established in writing and signed by a notary. This agreement is binding and enforceable by law.

Either spouse can seek an official divorce if they have been legally separated for more than a year. This is referred to as a "conversion divorce," with the separation agreement serving as a template for a final no-fault divorce.

Retain Skilled Divorce Representation on Long Island

If you and your spouse are looking to separate, it is vital that you enlist the services of a knowledgeable Long Island divorce attorney to ensure your interests are protected every step of the way. Having represented countless clients since 1994, our skilled attorneys can guide you through the process of divorce and provide the compassionate support you need during this difficult time.

To get started, contact our office online or call us today at (516) 324-3138.

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