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In New York, divorce is defined as a legal end to a marriage between two people. However, state law recognizes two types of divorces: uncontested divorce and contested divorce. This can create quite a lot of confusion for spouses who just want to end their marriage and move forward with their lives. A couple getting divorce must choose one. The type of divorce they want will depend on specific circumstances regarding why they want a divorce.

Contested Divorce: When One Spouse Doesn’t Want to End the Marriage

Usually, a divorce is contested when one spouse doesn’t want to end the marriage. New York divorce law requires a spouse to file a divorce petition. Within hat divorce petition, they must cite a reason why the state must legally end their marriage. The law outlines specific reasons for getting a divorce in New York such as:

1. Adultery: A person cheats on their spouse.
2. Separation: The spouses are living separate and have signed a written separation agreement for at least one year.
3. Abandonment: An individual abandoned their spouse for at least one year. The abandonment can be physical such as leaving the state or going to prison. It can be sexual abandonment. Sexual abandonment refers to stopping all sexual intercourse or sexual activity with their spouse for a period of at least one year.
4. Inhuman, Cruel Treatment: This means an individual has treated their spouse cruelly during their marriage. The cruel treatment can occur in two ways: mental cruelty or physical cruelty. For example, a spouse who was mentally or physically abused could file a divorce petition requesting a divorce based on inhuman, cruel treatment.

Once the spouse being sued for divorce receives the divorce petition, they must file an answer. An “answer” is a written statement denying the alleged reasons outlined for divorce. The answer places the divorce petition on the New York court docket for a pretrial conference and trial.

Resolving a New York Contested Divorce

Spouses could agree to get divorced, but they can’t resolve divorce-related issues. The term “divorce-related issues” simply means there’s some matter that can’t agree on such as spousal support or division of property.
A contested divorce is resolved in one of two ways. The couple can be resolve disputes such as division of property with the help of their attorneys. Their second option is to let a divorce judge decide the issues. This means the case goes to trial. Each spouse is required to prove their case based on the grounds listed above. Once the issues are decided by a judge, a divorce decree is issued.

Uncontested Divorce: When Both Spouses Agree to Get a Divorce

An uncontested divorce is an option when both spouses agree to end their marriage. New York divorce law still requires one of the spouses to file a divorce petition. Instead of citing one of the four reasons listed for a contested divorce, the spouse only lists one reason: irreconcilable differences.

The main reason why this is an uncontested divorce is because both spouses act in an amicable, reasonable way when working out the divorce details. This makes the process go quickly. Spouses who have an uncontested divorce typically receive their divorce decree faster than a couple who files a contested divorce.

Before obtaining a divorce decree from a divorce judge, a couple must present a written agreement. This written agreement is the foundation of their divorce judgment. It outlines how they’ve resolved each issue such as spousal support and paying off marital debts. This agreement is worked on early with the help of divorce attorneys.

Once the spouse being sued for divorce receives the petition, they don’t send the court an answer. If they don’t want to ignore the divorce petition, they can submit an answer to the court admitting to the reason for the divorce. They can deny the allegations, but agree to the divorce. This causes a default. A default means that the divorce is automatically granted and it isn’t put on the court docket for trial.

Hire a New York Divorce Attorney

Divorce is a confusing process because there are a lot of emotions involved. That doesn’t mean, a divorce must be messy. If you’re getting a divorce in New York, it’s important to understand the two types of divorces and how they relate to your situation. It’s also important to hire a divorce attorney to understand more about the process, how to start it and how to negotiate disputes. Contact us today.

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