What Are The Basic Parts Of A Contested Divorce

If it appears that a divorce settlement is not in the near future, this blog will identify the basic parts of a contested divorce. Not every divorce has all of these parts but many do.

Pleadings: Even though NY is a No-Fault Divorce state there still has to be a Summons to officially start the divorce. After the Summons is filed a Divorce Complaint should be filed and the other person should file an Answer and Counter Claim for a divorce. The filing of a counterclaim is important if the person who started the divorce later seeks to withdraw the case.

Financial Disclosure: Both sides will need to complete a Sworn Statement of Net Worth that lists monthly expenses, income, assets and debts. This is the first step to exchanging financial information. Additional required documents include recent tax returns, recent pay stubs, W-2 and 1099 statements.

Document Disclosure: Each side will generally have a similar list of additional financial documents including bank and financial institution statements, credit card statements, employment agreements, life insurance statements, real estate deeds, mortgage documents, real estate closing statements, loan agreements, car purchase agreements, retirement statements whether pension or 401k, union benefit statements, partnership agreements, business records including all of the same type of documents if owned or in the name of the business, appraisals of assets and valuable property insurance riders. The list can be quite expansive and these items are just a sample of what may be requested. Proper equitable distribution will often depend upon compliance with document production requests.

Medical Records: If a person's medical or psychological health will be an issue.

Signed Authorizations: For the release of records from any record keeper related primarily to financial issues.

Interrogatories: These are written questions limited to financial matters that are served and must be answered in writing under oath.

Depositions (EBTs): Not always necessary but usually demanded just in case. This is a proceeding where questions are orally asked and answered with both parties and their attorneys present and a certified transcript is prepared by a court reporter.

Appraisals and Evaluation Reports: If necessary to determine the value of a marital asset that is based upon market conditions. These can be used for real estate, business interests, collectibles, intellectual property and other assets that are uniquely valued.

Custody Forensics: Not always necessary in contested custody cases but where there are allegations regarding the mental health of a parent, special needs of a child, allegations of alienation, addiction issues an evaluation of this type may be requested (but not always granted).

Settlement Negotiations: These discussions can be in writing between attorneys making proposals, there could also be a 4-way settlement conference or if there is a custody dispute a 5-way including the attorney for the child(ran).

Note Of Issue: This is the official filing requesting a trial date and certifying that all discovery/disclosure is completed or waived.

Trial Preparation: This is extensive and will include preparation of a Statement of Proposed Disposition which outlines the case from each party's perspective for the judge. Obtaining documents in proper evidentiary form for trial submission, preparation of witness and expert lists, preparation of direct and cross-examination.