Initial Steps of a Divorce in Albany
A divorce can be a seismic event in someone’s life. When they decide to move forward with it, knowing where to begin can be the most difficult part. One of our attorneys could help you understand the initial steps of a divorce in Albany so that this process can go as smoothly as possible.
The First Steps to Take
The first step to initiating a divorce in Albany is to set up a consultation with an experienced attorney to get the legal strategy in place and identify realistic goals. From there, the plaintiff files a summons to be served on their spouse. The complaint is then signed, filed with the county clerk, and served to the defendant within 120 days of the filing date.
A divorce complaint describes:
- Names and addresses of both spouses
- Date and location of the marriage
- Type of ceremony
- Children (if any)
- Grounds for divorce
- What the plaintiff is seeking as a resolution
The spouse who was served with the divorce complaint (the defendant) should contact an experienced attorney immediately. There is a 20-day deadline to respond to the summons, and they do not want to risk being in default.
Is There a Timetable a Divorce Must be Completed In?
Most contested cases resolve within 12 months. The court services may differ when there is a more complicated financial matter, when businesses are involved, or when there are complex custodial situations that could extend beyond 12 months. An uncontested divorce, where everything is agreed upon and only minor changes are needed, takes three to six months.
Contesting a Divorce Complaint in Albany
A spouse on the receiving end of a complaint may contest a divorce and deny the allegations. In the case of a no-fault divorce (which many states refer to as irreconcilable differences cases) there is no defense. However, the spouse could contest how property is distributed (known as equitable distribution) or how assets are allocated.
In the event that the defendant contests the divorce, distribution of assets, custody, or any aspects thereof, more legal processes are required. There is a discovery process where documents are exchanged and subpoenas are sent out for retirement financial records, school records, and physician records if there is a custody disagreement. All of these actions can extend the length of the divorce.
What’s the Fastest Way a Couple Can Mutually Obtain a Divorce?
If a couple agrees on all the terms of their divorce, they should retain an attorney even though he or she would technically represent only one of them. Often, the non-represented spouse hires an attorney or chooses to proceed on their own.
The attorney drafts a stipulation of settlement and presents all of the terms the parties agree on. The agreement is signed by both spouses and drafted for the divorce.
The receiving spouse must respond by saying they want to move forward with an uncontested matter. A judge is assigned to the case and, if everything is agreed upon and signed, the divorce can be finalized. Beyond that, the role of a judge in an uncontested divorce is minimal.
Preparing for the Divorce Process
Once the parties gather financial documentation, each person wants to ensure that they understand what assets and debts were earned during their marriage. They need to obtain copies of all retirement statements, property documents, investments, and bank records. They should consider adding an extra layer of security to their mail and email correspondence so the other spouse does not intercept anything. If they are living together, they should be honest about what items come to each other through the mail.
A divorce, even an uncontested one, takes an emotional toll on both parties. People do not go into a marriage planning to get divorced and should have a support system in place to have someone to talk to when things get tough.
Setting the Tone in the Initials Steps of a Divorce in Albany
Regardless of whether your divorce will be contested or uncontested, starting the process on the right foot can make dissolving a marriage much easier. The choices made at the onset of a divorce could have a ripple effect on how the rest of the case plays out. If you need advice on the initial steps of a divorce in Albany, call a dedicated lawyer today to discuss your priorities.