An uncontested divorce is one in which couples have agreed on the financial issues as well as the other divorce issues, such as child custody and support, marital property division, and spousal support.
Despite the fact that the divorce is not contested, the action of filing for divorce is still a legal step, which means you must follow court procedures, have all necessary paperwork, and ensure it is filled out correctly. New York has 30 forms that it lists for uncontested divorces and each form contains its own requirements and instructions.
The New York State Unified Court System strongly recommends that you seriously consider using lawyers, even when you believe your divorce is uncontested.
Understanding and protecting your rights
Aside from the administrative aspect of divorce, you have legal rights that you might not be aware of unless you consult a lawyer. Rights that are important to understand include rights in marital property division, liability for joint debts, spousal maintenance, child support, insurance benefits, and sharing in a pension. If your divorce fails to address one of these issues—say, a pension—once divorce is finalized, you lose your right to share in your spouse’s pension.
Spouses should each have their own lawyer. Lawyers cannot represent both spouses because that would constitute a conflict of interest. Besides, the advantage of consulting a lawyer is to protect your interests and have a legal professional available who can advocate for you if the need arises.
While it may appear that you and your spouse have no disagreements, you may find issues that need sorting out once you delve into the details of the divorce. An experienced New York divorce lawyer can help, especially if your divorce addresses complicated assets or concerns about child custody or support.
Jacqueline Newman joined Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP in 1998 and is now the managing partner of the firm. Ms. Newman’s practice consists of litigation, collaborative law and mediation. She specializes in complex high net worth matrimonial cases and also in negotiating prenuptial agreements. Read more about Jacqueline Newman.