White Plains Litigation Attorneys
Skilled Representation in Westchester County, NY
Ending a marriage, in addition to being an emotionally stressful event, requires a great amount of planning and negotiating. Each spouse likely has their own list of goals regarding things like spousal maintenance, child support, property division and other issues. If you and your spouse are unable to come to mutual agreement, it is crucial to speak to an experienced family law attorney for guidance.
Here at Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP, our lawyers will always first work through mediation, collaborative law, or negotiation to attempt to resolve divorce matters. However, for some couples, these methods simply don’t work and must move to litigation. Our experienced divorce attorneys can guide you through the litigation process efficiently, strategically and with the intent to provide you with best outcome possible. Talk to us today.
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How Does the Litigation Process in Westchester County Work?
Unfortunately, sometimes it’s impossible to secure a fair divorce settlement or agreement without litigation, which can be thought of as “going to court.” When moving to litigation, you and your spouse each must retain separate counsel. Our legal team handles all types of family law and matrimonial litigation, from complex asset division to child custody disputes.
Litigating your divorce or family law issue proceeds much like any other civil trial. The best way to begin a successful case is to ensure you understand the process, which is where your Westchester divorce attorney comes in. We understand that often, in or outside of court, you may hear a lot of confusing legal terms.
Following are some key phrases and issues to become familiar with when considering divorce litigation:
When you and your attorney take a divorce to court, the first phase of the process is called discovery. Much like it sounds, discovery is the exchange of documents and information between both parties. Here in Westchester County, during discovery you and your spouse meet with what’s called a Court Attorney Referee (CAR). This is a system unique to Westchester and is designed to reduce the workload of judges. Discovery can include depositions of both you and your spouse, as well as third-party witnesses.
Discovery is a crucial part of the divorce litigation process, especially in cases of high-asset divorce, to ensure each party discloses all of their financial information.
Court Attorney Referees (CAR)
The most important thing to understand about a CAR is that they are not a judge and cannot make any legal order regarding your divorce. However, a CAR handles the majority of court conferences, including preliminary, compliance and pre-motion conferences. They don’t handle hearings or trials, and don’t have the power to issue any legal orders – the only entity that can issue binding orders regarding your divorce in court are the Supreme Court judges.
Do note, however, that CARs do make reports and recommendations to judges, and judges have the discretion and authority to take these reports into consideration when issuing orders. Court attorneys may also strongly guide parties to reach agreement among themselves, particularly on preliminary and discovery issues. Your attorney and your spouse’s attorney will also receive copies of the CAR report.
The preliminary conference is scheduled about 30 to 45 days after your attorney files a Request for Judicial Intervention regarding your divorce. The goal of this conference is for the CAR to identify the specific issues in dispute, determine how complex the divorce is likely to be and set a deadline for the discovery phase.
When your marital assets include things like property, businesses, or professional practices, it may be wise to retain professional evaluators to appraise their value. This helps ensure you’re entitled to your equitable share during division of property. Additionally, in cases of contested child custody, forensic and psychological experts can evaluate your family situation and work for the best interests of your children. Our family law attorneys are familiar with many such experts, including those who practice primarily in Westchester County.
Support and Child Custody Schedules
In addition to division of property, other contested issues during divorce involve spousal maintenance and child support and visitation. You, your spouse, and your attorneys must address details and responsibilities regarding health insurance, education expenses, childcare, medical expenses, and day-to-day living. You must also make decisions regarding custody of the children and a mutually beneficial parenting plan.
Sometimes, these issues can be worked out through negotiation or mediation and signed off on in court. However, they often involve motions.
A motion is a formal request to a Court to grant a party certain relief. A motion is made on paper, and includes both a legal and factual argument, as well as exhibits. In most jurisdictions, parties in a divorce case can file a motion at any point during a case. In Westchester, however, the filing party must first request a pre-motion conference (unless in the rare case of emergency). Neither your nor your spouse’s attorney can file a non-emergency motion without permission from the CAR.
The judge may schedule a pre-trial conference with both attorneys in Judge’s Chambers. Although you and your spouse will probably not be allowed to attend this meeting, you both will be required to be available. During this conference, each attorney will speak to the judge and advocate for their client’s position. The judge then offers their input, which may include recommendations as to how to resolve a case. Your attorneys will then discuss the judge’s recommendation with you and your spouse to determine if you can settle your divorce case before trial.
If your case still isn’t settled, it is time to move on to trial. Depending on the circumstances and complexity of your case, your divorce could take anywhere from days to months to complete. During trial, your Westchester County divorce attorney presents the facts, argues, and advocates for you. We explain why the courts should decide in your favor, and we work to ensure a favorable outcome.
Many people think that divorce litigation always means a trial. This is simply not true. Settlement is possible at every stage of the litigation process and, in fact, many divorces often settle before even going to trial. If you believe your divorce will be contested, or if you have complex issues to sort out, you may benefit from consulting with skilled divorce litigation attorneys.
Westchester County Divorce litigation lawyers
Divorce litigation requires a high amount of skill, experience, and dedication. At Berkman Bottger Newman & Schein LLP, our attorneys understand the law and local court procedures. We provide personalized and effective representation, but know how to be aggressive in the courtroom. Schedule a consultation today by calling us at (914) 308-3435 or contacting us online. Our office is located in White Plains.
Westchester County Office
445 Hamilton Ave,