Photo Of Attorney Jane K. Cristal

Protecting Your Rights And Best Interests

In Divorce And Other Family Law Matters

Litigator For Contested Divorce Cases In Nassau County

Although there are many times when divorces may be resolved without court intervention, that is not always the case. Many times, spouses cannot reach an agreement on key issues in the divorce because one party may press for an unfair resolution or be unreasonable in his or her demands. Under such circumstances, the possibility that the divorce can be easily resolved diminishes, and litigation becomes necessary to bring the matter to a close.

The Three Stages In Litigation Of Divorce

When it is necessary to address a divorce in court through litigation, there are three basic stages to the process. The first stage involves the drafting and serving of pleadings. This document will outline the grounds for the divorce and the relief that the client is seeking in the divorce. The process is crucial for the plaintiff, who, with the assistance of a skilled Nassau County divorce lawyer, will decide whether they should be filing for divorce or for a judicial separation.

There are legal shortcuts that can be taken in this process, which could include purchasing what is termed an “index number” and drafting and filing a Summons with Notice as opposed to a Summons and Complaint. This can be a faster and more efficient approach, as your attorney will need information when filing with grounds. When filing a summons, your attorney can avoid creating more conflict with the other party or inflaming the situation by filing a document with the filing and service of a complaint, as a complaint exposes the reasons behind the necessity for divorce.

If the other party in the divorce or separation action has legal representation, that attorney then prepares a document called a Notice of Appearance, in which they become the attorney of record for the defendant. In cases in which a complaint was filed, the opposing counsel prepares an answer which will often include a denial and counterclaims against the plaintiff. The next step is for the matrimonial lawyer to file a verified reply in which the plaintiff either affirms or denies the counterclaims in the answer.

Discovery: Finding Out The Facts Of Your Case

The next step in the legal process is a full financial discovery. At this point, it can be possible to begin negotiations to resolve the matter without the intervention of the court. When this is not of interest to the defendant and a resolution through negotiations is impossible, the process moves forward to the next step, which is an application for a preliminary conference, which is the first conference that takes place in court. This conference allows the court to make decisions and an order that will outline the responsibilities of each party while the divorce moves forward. Each attorney can file requests for information about financial matters with a demand for a statement of net worth, as well as a Notice of Discovery and Inspection, interrogatories, an examination before trial, expert demands and other filings that could be necessary, based upon the exact circumstances surrounding the case. This part of the divorce is termed “pre-trial disclosure” or “discovery” and is part of any litigated marriage dissolution.

During this process, either party can seek interim relief with regard to child custody and support, spousal support, matters regarding visitation, the family home and other matters. This can be a complex process, as the two former partners often do not agree on these matters and could require several status conferences in court. It is often possible to negotiate a settlement of the matters at this point, allowing the matter to come to a resolution. When no agreement can be reached with regard to custody of the children, an attorney for the children could be appointed. There could be the necessity of arranging for an examination of the children and parents by a psychologist to come to a decision regarding child custody.

What Happens At Trial?

The third stage of the divorce is trial. A date for trial will be assigned. Each attorney will present their evidence to the court that supports their case and their demands, and the court will make a judgment and both parties are bound by that decision and the order of the court. The only opportunity to change this order is through filing an appeal. When there are changes in circumstances of either party requiring a modification of the court order, this can be sought in court at a later time.

Contact a Nassau County divorce litigation lawyer from Jane K. Cristal, P.C., for insightful and effective legal representation in contested divorce cases.