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What is the difference between a contested and uncontested divorce in New York City?

The Gilmer Law Firm, PLLC represents clients in Brooklyn and throughout the New York City area in both contested and uncontested divorces. Lead attorney George Gilmer has in-depth knowledge of the New York Domestic Relations Law and works with clients from all walks of life, including members of the LGBTQ community.

Ending a marriage is never easy, but a contested divorce presents greater challenges than an uncontested divorce. Trust the Gilmer Law Firm to help you explore all your options and guide you through the process so that you can move on with the next chapter of your life. To learn whether a contested or uncontested divorce is the best solution for you and your family, contact us today for a consultation.

How Does an Uncontested Divorce Work in New York

An uncontested divorce is relatively straightforward: the couple agrees to the divorce and resolves the key issues, such as:

  • Division of marital property
  • Child custody and parenting time
  • Child support
  • Whether one of the spouses will pay spousal maintenance (alimony) to the other

Also, the spouses must agree on the grounds for divorce. Because New York State law provides for no-fault divorce, the reason most commonly agreed to is the “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.” This is really a way of saying that the couple no longer wants to be married and the spouses are unlikely to reunite. A divorce is also deemed uncontested when one spouse files for divorce and the other fails to appear for the divorce proceeding.

One of the benefits of an uncontested divorce is that it does not require a trial, which can save time and money. In addition, the issues surrounding the divorce and other family matters remain private. An uncontested divorce can also minimize some of the anger and resentment that comes with a marital breakup.

An uncontested divorce is still a court-supervised proceeding that requires preparing and filing paperwork. This includes a Summons and Complaint which must be filed in the county in which you reside. The divorce papers must also be served on the other spouse who must then sign and return the Affidavit of Defendant.

Once the affidavit is received, the divorce case will be placed on the court’s calendar. But there are other forms to complete and file, including:

  • Certificate of Dissolution of Marriage
  • Divorce and Child Support Summary Form – if minor children are involved.

These papers are then submitted to the court for the judge’s review. Once the divorce is approved, the judge will sign the Judgment of Divorce, which must then be filed in the County Clerk’s Office and served on the divorced spouse.

As you can see, there are a number of steps involved in an uncontested divorce and complicated legal papers to complete. For this reason, it is wise to consult with an experienced Brooklyn divorce lawyer.

A Contested Divorce Is More Complicated Than an Uncontested Divorce

A contested divorce arises when the spouses disagree on at least one major aspect of the divorce at the time of filing. This type of divorce also requires legal papers to be filed, but there are more court appearances required and the process takes longer than an uncontested divorce. The best way to navigate a contested divorce is to have the compassionate representation our firm provides.

A contested divorce starts when one of the spouses (petitioner) files a Summons and Complaint. The petitioner must serve the summons on the other spouse (the defendant) within 120 days of filing. The summons is typically served by a process server, who must also file an Affidavit of Service within 30 days of serving the summons.

The defendant has 20 to 30 days to respond with a legal document known as an Answer. Once the petitioner receives the Answer, he or she must then file a Request for Judicial Intervention or RJI. This document requests the court to schedule a Preliminary Conference, which is usually held within 45 days.

During the Preliminary Conference, the judge will determine which issues need to be considered. Both spouses must provide a statement of net worth at least 10 days before the conference. While the judge may ask the attorneys for both spouses to consider a settlement, this is unlikely.

So, the case will proceed to the discovery phase, which involves each attorney collecting evidence to support their case. Discovery must be completed within 6 months of the preliminary conference. The trial is the last step in an uncontested divorce.

The judge will consider all the testimony, evidence, and arguments and issue a written order finalizing the divorce (decree). If neither party appeals the decision, the divorce decree becomes final.

Contact Our Experienced Brooklyn, New York Divorce Attorney

Regardless of whether your divorce is contested or uncontested, it is wise to have an experienced divorce attorney at your side. At The Gilmer Law Firm, we are widely known for helping families navigate difficult transitions. Once you become our client, we will offer you knowledge, compassion, and put your mind at ease. Contact our office today to learn how we can help.




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| Phone: 718-864-2011

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