Rochester Family Lawyer Facilitates Divorce
Ethical representation based on Christian principles
We understand that the decision to seek a divorce — or to oppose it — can present complex issues for Christians, whose marriage vows are rooted in their faith. At the Law Office of Maurice J. Verrillo, P.C. in Rochester, our task as family law counsel is to obtain the best terms possible through a process that is not unduly adversarial. In our practice, we firmly assert our client’s rights while pursuing a course that emphasizes healing. We balance the need for aggressive litigation against the intangible benefits of cooperation, as we work to achieve a favorable outcome.
What is the difference between contested and uncontested divorce?
New York law allows a divorce to be granted when one of the spouses claims the marriage has irretrievably broken down. It is no longer necessary to prove one spouse is at fault, and lack of fault is not a defense. Although traditional grounds of divorce — such as adultery, abandonment and cruel and inhuman treatment — are still on the books, no-fault divorces are now predominant.
Although a spouse cannot dispute the underlying grounds for a no-fault divorce, disagreements often arise over ancillary issues such as alimony, child custody, child support, and the division of property. When that happens, the divorce is considered contested.
A divorce is uncontested when the parties reach a martial settlement, usually through negotiations or mediation, covering all ancillary issues. The settlement is presented to the court for approval and made part of the divorce judgment.
We favor uncontested divorces in our family law practice. They are generally quicker, less expensive and less stressful and the cooperative process of reaching a settlement can be very healing for the parties. If they have children, this healing process can be a major step forward that allows them to effectively co-parent, thereby shielding their children from future emotional tension.
However, uncontested divorce is not appropriate or possible for all couples. If you cannot trust your spouse to be transparent with finances, or if there is a question of a party’s fitness as a custodial parent, aggressive litigation to protect your property rights or your children’s welfare may be necessary.
What does a divorce in New York entail?
To get a divorce in New York, you first must fulfill the residency requirement. This means:
- Either you or your spouse has been living continuously in New York for at least two years.
- Either you or your spouse has been living continuously in New York for one year and 1) you were married in New York, or 2) you lived as a married couple in New York, or 3) the grounds for divorce happened in New York.
- The grounds for divorce happened in New York and you are both residents of New York on the day the divorce process begins.
A divorce case begins by filing a “summons with notice” at the county clerk’s office. The plaintiff spouse then has 120 days to have the summons and other required papers served on the defendant spouse, usually by a professional process server. If the divorce is uncontested, the defendant signs an affidavit agreeing to the divorce, which allows the plaintiff to proceed with calendaring the case for a final disposition. The same process may be followed if the defendant fails to answer within 40 days of the date he or she was served. The court then signs a judgment of divorce, which is filed with the county clerk and served on the defendant in the same manner as serving the summons.
In a contested case, the process starts off the same, but the defendant files an answer that disputes the divorce in whole or in part. This places the case on a track for trial, requiring resolution of all disputed issues such as spousal support, child custody and division of assets and debts. The New York courts encourage such issues to be decided through mediation, either with an outside program or with the court system’s Collaborative Family Law Center. The state Supreme Court must approve any resolution of these issues. If mediation is not successful, the case may go to trial.
We bring our experience and resources to bear in helping our clients take the best path toward achieving a fair divorce with a minimum of stress and financial outlay. Whether you are initiating or defending a divorce case, we provide counsel that is both compassionate and effective.
Contact our faith-based family law practice for divorce representation in Rochester
The Law Office of Maurice J. Verrillo, P.C. in Rochester understands the emotional toll of divorce and seeks to protect your rights while mitigating the stress of the process. Call us at 585-563-1134 or contact us online to receive a free 30-minute initial consultation.