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Uncontested vs. Contested Divorces in Syracuse, NY

May 22, 2023


In Syracuse, New York, the process of getting a final divorce can be best understood by looking at two types of divorces — uncontested and contested. If you are considering divorce, you do not have to navigate this complex territory alone. An experienced Syracuse Divorce Attorney can discuss your case and help you get the best outcome.

What is an Uncontested Divorce in Syracuse, New York?

Uncontested means that spouses have agreed about all the issues involved in dissolving their marriage.

The agreements extend to issues such as how they will divide marital property and debts. They agree about the terms of alimony, in New York, called “spousal maintenance.” This includes terms of how much and for how long the financial arrangement will last. And if they have children who are minors, they have agreed on arrangements such as custody, visitation, and child support.

In some cases, couples settle disputes via mediation. This may be more cost-effective than a lengthy legal battle.

Steps of an Uncontested Divorce in New York

The basic steps of an uncontested divorce include:

  • A signed Affidavit of Defendant. Since both parties agree, this typically is accomplished with a signed and notarized copy of the divorce complaint.
  • The Affidavit of Defendant and a series of other final divorce papers are filed with the court.
  • The County court finalizing the divorce. In some cases, the judge may review the paperwork, and you may not need to appear in court. The county laws vary from county to county, so check with the local clerk’s office where you are filing.

Which type of divorce is right for you?

Contested is a term that is used when you and your spouse have disputes over any issues. This may be child custody, visitation, child support, alimony, property distribution, or debt distribution.

Contested divorces are more complicated and often emotionally charged. Due to their nature, these divorces often incur high legal fees and are extremely expensive.

Steps of a Contested Divorce in New York

divorces require that someone else serve the complaint to your spouse. New York law has detailed methods outlined for how to serve your spouse. (N.Y.C.P.L.R. §§ 306-B, 308, 315 (2022)

The next step is answering the complaint, which must be done in 20 days if in New York or 30 days if outside of the state. (N.Y.C.P.L.R. § 320(a) (2022)

In addition to these forms, detailed financial documents are required. You must disclose finances, accounts, income, debts, and assets. Failure to be completely honest and open may result in possible jail time and fines.

At some point, couples who start in contested cases reach an agreement. In contested divorces, New York now requires couples to seek “alternative dispute resolution,” known as ADR.

The case goes to trial if spouses don’t settle all the issues. A judge decides the final matters. These disputes may cover agreements on child support, child custody, property and debts, and alimony.

Contact a Syracuse Divorce Attorney

considering divorce, you may have a lot of questions swirling in your mind. Get all your questions answered and get the desired results for you and your family. At Nave Law, we understand the challenges of divorce and have years of experience handling divorces. Contact an experienced divorce attorney today.

Nave Law Family Attorney going over paperworkOverview of the Support Process for Family Law in Syracuse, New York
Lawyer talking to client about divorce processOverview of the Divorce Process in Syracuse, New York

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