Divorce litigation on Long Island is a treacherous burden for both parties and it becomes increasingly expensive when emotions run high. By its very nature, the process of arguing over kids and finances is onerous and when negotiation between both parties is impossible, litigation in court may be the only remaining solution. In most cases, the attorneys have attempted to negotiate the divorce agreement prior to litigation but have not been able to come to terms due to unreasonable requests from the other side.
Litigation typically entails many visits to the court. A great deal of preparation is involved prior to the first appearance. Although both spouses will travel to court with their attorneys, the attorneys usually meet with the judge privately while their clients wait outside the chambers. The divorce process is rarely resolved in a single visit to the court; it often requires many subsequent visits that can be scheduled several weeks to months apart. And that is why the litigation process can drag divorce out for an exceedingly long time.
When the client pays by the hour, that also includes travel time to and from the courts as well as waiting time to appear before the judge. A client can run through his or her retainer very quickly in the preparation leading up to court. By the time the couple finally signs the divorce papers, they may have each accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in debt. Often couples find they must rely on the sale of their homes to free up the cash to pay their hefty legal bills. Long Island divorce litigation comes with a hefty price on the couples’ bank account, mental health, and the welfare of the children.
The Divorce Litigation Process
Because a couple must declare grounds for divorce in the state of New York, the filing attorney will prepare paperwork to submit to the court requesting a separation for the couple which will indicate the reasons and any relief the client is seeking. It is common to first complete the separation process and seek a legal divorce afterwards. This allows the couple to live separately and resolve the matters of finances and custody later.
As the process drags out in court, emotions run high. Lawyers tend to use colorful language depicting the other side in an unfavorable light to win more money and assets for their clients. This is a trying experience that can be avoided through mediation. Chances are, if the couple knew in advance what they would face both emotionally and financially, they would have preferred the more peaceful process of sitting down to discuss their plans with someone trained to quell emotions rather than fan them.
When Emotions Flare
The preparation of the summons spelling out the complaint can include personal and sensitive information about the other person. The opposing party will prepare a Notice of Appearance, responding to those complaints. If the complaints are inflammatory, they tend to lead to fiery responses. And then a reply will follow from the other attorney. This series of responses is likely to heat things up and prolong the divorce process, causing legal fees to rise.
A discovery entailing the detailing of finances should follow. Each attorney can request documents from the other party. If both parties comply, a child support order can be established. Sometimes this process becomes complicated when one party refuses to turn over information. In cases where income is earned “off the books,” determining that person’s income becomes difficult to prove. All the paperwork and depositions put together at this stage are done in preparation for a pre-trial appearance before the judge.
Disagreements about finances and assets can lead to many visits to the court during this period. Leading up to the trial, both parties still can negotiate the terms of their divorce and can settle out of court if they can come to terms.