- What is a divorce?
Divorce is a legal dissolution of a marriage by a court or other competent body. The New York State Unified Court System provides a wealth of information on divorce.
- If I’m thinking about getting a divorce, what’s the first thing I should do?
Talk to a lawyer. A consultation with a seasoned divorce lawyer can give you invaluable knowledge regarding the ways in which divorce can impact your post-marital life. You will learn about your legal rights, and the rights of your spouse. You will also gain a better understanding of your legal responsibilities, as well as the responsibilities of your spouse. And just as you might seek a second opinion when confronting a serious medical problem, it’s a good idea to speak with a second lawyer, so that you can get a second perspective on your situation.
- How long does it take to get a divorce?
It depends on a number of factors. First, is your divorce going to be a contested divorce or an uncontested divorce? Preparation of the necessary legal documents, and filing them in the appropriate Court, can be a relatively straight-forward process in an uncontested divorce, and can often be done within a few weeks, or months. But a contested divorce can take considerably longer to resolve, since it involves a contest, or fight. Depending upon the number of issues in dispute, the determination of the parties, and the tactics employed by the attorneys, a contested divorce can take years to resolve. Other variables include the county in which the case is heard, and the judge to whom the case is assigned. While some courts have long backlogs of cases to be heard, others are fairly streamlined. And while some judges work quickly, others proceed more deliberately.
- How much is it going to cost to get an uncontested divorce?
If you and your spouse choose not to hire attorneys for your uncontested divorce, the cost for filing for an uncontested divorce in the State of New York will be at least $335 (in court fees). Costs related to other services, such as photocopies, notary, and process servers are additional. The cost for legal representation, should you choose to hire attorneys, would be additional, too, and it varies amongst attorneys.
- How much is it going to cost to get a contested divorce?
A lot. In the traditional approach to contested divorce, each spouse retains, or hires, a lawyer. While the price of legal fees varies amongst attorneys, many divorce lawyers in New York City, and on Long Island, require an advance of legal fees in the amount of $7,500, or more, the terms of which are spelled-out in a retainer agreement, or contract. Generally, divorce lawyers bill hourly for their work, which includes time spent doing legal research, preparing and defending motions, reviewing documents, and communicating with clients, opposing counsel, the Court, investigators, forensic accountants, or anyone else that the lawyer deems necessary. To understand how a divorce lawyer’s bill can mount quickly, and steeply, consider that a contested divorce entails one or more issues in dispute. If a dispute cannot be resolved through negotiations, a lawyer might file a motion seeking judicial relief to resolve the dispute(s). If your lawyer files such a motion, he or she will bill you for the time it took to prepare it, and to appear on your behalf in court to argue the motion. Likewise, your spouses’ attorney will bill your spouse for the time it took to review your lawyer’s motion, to prepare an answer to it, and sometimes, to prepare a counter-motion, and to appear on behalf of your spouse in court to argue the motion. A counter-motion, as you might expect, will require your lawyer to prepare a response, the time for which will be billable to you. In the end, regardless of which side the judge ultimately favors, both clients are sure to pay a steep price for the time it took their lawyers to duke it out on their behalf!
- Are there any alternatives to the traditional approach to divorce?
Yes. In the State of New York, Alternative Dispute Resolution provides two alternatives to the traditional model of divorce. Now, people can try collaborative family law, or divorce mediation.
- How does divorce mediation work?
In divorce mediation, the parties hire a neutral third person to work with them to reach an agreement on the terms of their divorce. While the parties certainly may hire attorneys while they mediate, unlike the traditional model for divorce, the parties do not need to hire attorneys. Nor do the parties need to sign retainer agreements, nor pay hefty legal fees before work even begins on their divorce. Instead, divorce mediators generally meet with clients for an hour, focus on one or two issues, and are paid at the end of the session for their time spent during the session. Typically, each session lasts an hour.
- What does a divorce mediator do?
Generally, divorce mediators sit down with couples seeking a divorce, explain the legal issues, and help couples to reach agreement on each issue, until all issues underlying a divorce are agreed upon. Each mediator has his or her own approach to mediation, and a unique style.
- What are the benefits of divorce mediation?
First, divorce mediation is not an adversarial process. When couples mediate, they discuss all the relevant issues in a safe, and non-confrontational environment. When the parties are committed to the process, reaching agreement on the terms of divorce can happen faster, and cheaper, than in traditional litigation. Second, when couples work together to resolve difficult issues, and they do so in a non-adversarial manner, they often have a better chance of avoiding the anger and bitterness that usually follows contentious divorce litigation, and predictably can cause collateral damage to their children.
- How does Lucks Law & Divorce Mediation mediate a divorce?
Having been divorced, we can attest that, while divorce does, in fact, end a couple’s marriage, it does not terminate a couple’s relationship, especially if they have children, or financial obligations to one another. At Lucks Law & Divorce Mediation, we see a silver lining to divorce. It gives unhappily married couples an opportunity to redefine the terms of their relationship. That, we find, helps couples to have productive post-marital relationships, which is beneficial to them, and to their children.Because the issues in a divorce are deeply personal, interconnected, and have far-reaching consequences for our clients, and their children, we take a holistic approach to divorce. We believe that reducing divorce to a cold calculation of dollars and cents can inhibit a couple’s ability to “see the forest for the trees,” and can ultimately be counterproductive for our clients, and their children. So, we encourage our clients to take a long look at the big picture, as well as each of the small details that collectively make up the big picture.
- Is divorce mediation a good option for everyone?
No, it is not. Generally, divorce mediation is a good option for couples that have decided it is best to separate, or divorce, they trust one another to deal honestly, and they don’t want to squander their life savings, or college fund, fighting over relatively petty details. Additionally, a successful divorce mediation requires couples to put aside feelings that might impede their ability to negotiate in good faith, such as anger, resentment, and bitterness. If either you or your spouse cannot do this, divorce mediation will probably be a waste of time.