Although every divorce is unique, many wonder what the contested divorce process is comprised of. Contested divorce cases involve court intervention to resolve, and below is a general overview of the process in New York State:
1. Summons and Complaint: A contested divorce begins when a spouse files a divorce action with the court. Once this action is filed, the spouse has 120 days to serve the other spouse.
2. Answer: Once the spouse is served with the Summons and Complaint, he or she has 30 days to respond. It is important to receive advice from an attorney once you are served with a Summons and Complaint.
3. Request for Judicial Intervention (RJI): An RJI is usually filed early in the case and that is when a judge is assigned to your case.
4. Statement of Net Worth: Each party must exchange a statement of net worth, which must be filed 10 days prior to the court’s preliminary conference. A statement of net worth is a document where each party lists their monthly expenses and assets.
5. Preliminary Conference: A preliminary conference is typically held by the court within 45 days of the RJI filing date. At this conference, the parties usually must be present and the judge will address both parties.
6. Discovery: Once your spouse files for divorce, the financial discovery process begins. This can be a tedious process that requires each spouse exchanging financial information with one another that includes: bank account statements, credit card statements, finances, assets, pensions and other information. If a spouse refuses to respond to these demands, most law firms such as Capetola & Divins, P.C., will then instead serve discovery subpoenas on third parties to obtain this information.
7. Trial: Trial is often long and expensive. Couples should attempt to negotiate a settlement prior to trial in order to avoid the expense that accompanies a trial. The positive aspect of settling prior to trial is not only the fact that you save money, but you also control the process. If you and your souse can not agree on material issues, you will proceed to trial and at this stage of the divorce process you put your future in the court’s hands to decide. Trials are often tedious and complex, so it is important to be represented by attorneys, such as the attorneys at Capetola & Divins, P.C. who are experienced and there to represent your best interests to the court.