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Divorce Process

The Divorce Process in New York

Understanding the Divorce Process

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce: In New York, there are two basic kinds of divorce, contested and uncontested. In a contested divorce, either one or both of the parties cannot agree about the terms of their divorce, or about getting divorced in the first place. In an uncontested divorce, both parties come to an agreement about the issues involved in their divorce – including child custody, alimony, etc.

Trial Preparation & Discovery: Following a contested divorce filing, the discovery process begins. This will help the parties delineate and value assets and income. Each party may send the other a list of questions, or interrogatories, compiled by their attorneys. The discovery process requires that each of these questions be answered by the spouse under oath or there may be requests for documents and testimony under oath (deposition).

Locating Expert Witnesses: When preparing for trial, your New York divorce lawyer may locate expert witnesses. In the context of divorce, an expert witness is someone who is allowed to express a professional opinion at the trial about the value of assets or reasons for custodial awards.

Divorce Hearings & Trial: Following discovery, attorneys will argue in the interests of their clients before the divorce happens. Each lawyer will present to the person hearing the case with information and evidence supporting their claims.

Divorce Mediation: In some jurisdictions, the law requires that both parties participate in mediation before the trial preparation or discovery process can even begin. The goal of mediation is for both spouses to attempt to resolve their differences under the guidance of a trained mediator. This is generally an excellent idea as it saves money and time about which many couples are not aware.

Divorce Settlement: Once litigation has begun, most spouses will discover that, if they can agree, they can save time, money, and frustration. Most spouses understand, on some level, that they should settle the case instead of fighting it out in court.

Grounds for Divorce

Annulments: Marriage annulments, which state that a marriage never existed, are not as common as they once were. While a divorce signifies that a marriage has ended, a marriage annulment states that, for one reason or another, the union was not an actual legal marriage. These can be complicated.

The Reason for Divorce: In terms of divorce, “grounds” refer to the reasons why you wish to end your marriage. When a party initiates a divorce, they must provide the reason why they want the divorce.

In New York, some of the most common grounds for divorce have included:

  • Adultery
  • Cruelty
  • Abandonment
  • Imprisonment
  • Irreconcilable differences or agreement for a year or more.

Fault vs. No-Fault Grounds: In 1970, California was the first state to enact a no-fault divorce law. In 2010, New York enacted a similar law. Every state now provides the option of no-fault divorce and 33 states still offer fault grounds. In a no-fault divorce, no one is alleging that the other has done anything wrong in the marriage.

Post-Judgment Divorce Litigation

Post-Judgment Litigation: In some cases, former spouses will meet again in court after their divorce has been finalized. If one spouse is unhappy about the terms of their divorce or circumstances have changed—resulting in the need for a modification—post-judgment litigation may be necessary.

Appealing a Divorce Case: If you, your spouse, or both of you are unhappy with the result of your divorce trial, either or both parties may file an appeal with a higher court. When you file an appeal, you are essentially asking a higher court to determine whether or not the trial judge made an error, such as misinterpreting the law or allowing inadmissible evidence or testimony into the trial.

Modifying the Divorce Decree: Once a divorce has been finalized, the court may entertain motions to modify the divorce decree; however, they will only do so under specific circumstances.

We can help you with these issues. Call Lois M. Brenner at (646) 663-4546.

    “Lois is the absolute best”
    Connecting with Lois was the best thing that could have happened during what has been very difficult and fraught divorce. Lois took on my case with knowledge, wisdom and care that have been above and beyond in every way. She recognized abusive and unstable behavior in my ex-husband, and offered both strong legal guidance, as well as personal encouragement and strength to stand up to him. Her support has been invaluable to me, and I am so deeply grateful for everything she has done in helping forge a better more stable future for me and for my son.
    - SC
    “You are extremely knowledgeable and the consummate professional.”
    “You are extremely knowledgeable and the consummate professional.”
    - Ben and Jill
    “"Like at First Sight!"”
    "Like at First Sight!" We consulted Lois on the best, most cost-effective way to get divorced. First, she extended a free in-office consultation to us. It was supposed to be one hour; it was an hour and a half. She was gracious, didn’t rush us, explained thoroughly all the ins and outs of going to court, and answered thoroughly lots of our questions. She also shared lots of great information on divorce mediation, which we really knew nothing about, and now we have decided mediation will be the best route for us. We knew in the first 10 minutes that we really liked and trusted her. We are starting our mediation process with her next week. We are really looking forward to working with her. We feel strongly she is the best person for us.
    - Jen
    “Brenner Divorce Method really works!!”
    I had read about Lois’ unusual divorce method in one of her blog posts. It was refreshing to see someone was working with the psychological issues in divorce. My husband is bipolar and getting him to agree to a divorce and commit to the process was tough. When we met with Lois she really understood him. She immediately identified his mental health issues, and because she has a psych background, she was empathetic to his needs and was skillful at guiding him through her divorce mediation process. It took a while but she really got us to a point where we could actually discuss things without my husband blowing up. Her method is unique and it really helped in our situation. She actually recommended a great psychiatrist who changed my husband’s meds at her urging (she has a medical degree too), and my husband is coping much better. We can’t thank her enough for her compassion and advice! If you need a divorce attorney, especially if mental illness is a part of the fabric of your marriage, go see Lois! Thanks Lois 
    - Lorna P.
    “"Amazing, Skilled Mediator”
    Amazing, Skillful Mediator!!!! We went to see Lois Brenner for a mediation consultation. We had pretty much decided our marriage was over. We just wanted to end things fair and amicably. Lois Brenner spent so much time with us, and gave us great insight as to how the process would help us, we hired her on the spot. Our sessions thereafter were stealth. She organized us, helped us identify and address all the issues. She showed us how to communicate effectively throughout the process. We were able to address all our issues, especially property and finances, arrive at a comfortable settlement agreement, and now we are waiting for the judge to sign our divorce. What an extraordinary process. I highly recommend Lois Brenner and mediation. She’s super, and mediation really works.
    - Maggie & Josh
    “Lois Brenner is a Warrior for men”
    When I first decided to hire a divorce attorney, I thought a male attorney would be best. Lois Brenner really surprised me. Although she has written a divorce book on women’s rights, she is totally an advocate for men as well. She really understood how much I loved my kids, and listened and understood all the horrible things my wife was doing to destroy their relationship with me. She didn’t miss a beat and really went to bat for me. She reached out to my wife’s attorney every time my wife made any attempt to disrupt my visiting our kids and always demanded the best results. She made herself available, even when she was on vacation! Lois has been there every step of the way in these difficult circumstances. I highly recommend her.
    - Sam
    “"High Net Worth Professionals"”
    I am a highly successful money manager and before meeting Lois Brenner, hiring a divorce attorney was a disaster. Two previous divorce attorneys really wasted my funds, and had no savvy when it came to asset and property distribution. Lois Brenner finally fixed the mess I was in. She and her team of financial experts, including attorney Matthew Ehrlich were able to prepare an asset and property distribution that was realistic, keeping in mind tax ramifications, and important distributions and allocations. They negotiated a thorough and financially sound divorce settlement. If you have a lot of assets, just any divorce attorney won’t do. You really need someone with a lot of knowledge. Lois Brenner and Matthew Ehrlich were really impressive. Thanks!!
    - Michael C.
    “An Amazing Experience from Start to Finish!”
    Lois was an absolute pleasure to work with. She worked on a prenuptial agreement for me. Our very first conversation put me at ease. She was interested in my upcoming marriage and wedding. She assured me the prenuptial agreement could be drafted quickly. She made intelligent recommendations to address some of my complex financial decisions. She also made sound suggestions to protect my multi-million dollar portfolio. Our wedding is coming up and will be a lot smaller than we originally thought due to COVID-19, but Lois Brenner got our prenuptial agreement done in time, and made it a lot more pleasurable experience than I thought it would be. I would recommend Lois to anyone seeking a truly skilled attorney to draft their prenuptial agreement.
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