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Lawyers Explain the Divorce Timeline in New York State

Queens attorneys describe the steps in the divorce process

If you are amid a divorce, you undoubtedly are wondering how long the process is going to take. The divorce timeline in New York varies depending on your individual circumstances, but the experienced divorce attorneys at Sager Gellerman Eisner Attorneys at Law let you know what to expect and keep you informed throughout the process.

The stages of a New York divorce proceeding

From beginning to end, the steps in the divorce timeline include:

  • Filing the divorce petition — The party seeking a divorce (the plaintiff) starts the process by filing a petition, which is called the complaint, with the court. The complaint states the grounds for divorce, regardless of whether the divorce is no-fault or fault-based. Your divorce attorney can explain the issue of fault before you file for divorce.
  • Service of process — A summons as well as a complaint must be served on your spouse (the defendant). The summons is the formal notice that the divorce action has been filed. A process server must personally deliver the summons directly to the defendant.
  • Spouse’s response — If the summons is filed with the complaint, the defendant has 20 days to answer the complaint. If the summons was served without the complaint, the defendant has 20 days to respond with a Notice of Appearance. Once the defendant files the Notice of Appearance, the plaintiff has 20 days to serve the defendant with the complaint. In either case, the defendant’s response may include counterclaims against the plaintiff, who has 20 days to respond to the counterclaims.
  • Investigation and discovery — The next step in the divorce timeline is called discovery. Discovery is the process of gathering information and documents about any issues that are in dispute. Much of the information sought in discovery deals with the parties’ finances.
  • Negotiations — Settlement discussions often begin at this stage of the process. If the negotiations are successful,  the overall divorce timeline will be significantly shorter. Mediation is often used to facilitate a settlement.
  • Pretrial conference — This is often the last chance to avoid trial. At the conference, the parties and their attorneys get a sense of what is likely to occur at trial. This is often a wake-up call that leads the parties to compromise and reach a settlement.
  • Trial — If the pretrial conference does not lead to a settlement, the case goes to trial. At trial, the judge hears the evidence and legal arguments from both sides and decides the contested issues.

A relatively fast divorce is possible if there are no contested issues. Such a divorce may be settled within as little as 60 days. Contested divorces, on the other hand, may take years to resolve in New York State. Regardless of the type of divorce, our attorneys guide you throughout the process.

Let our law firm work to shorten the length of your divorce timeline

The experienced attorneys at Sager Gellerman Eisner Attorneys at Law are dedicated to making your divorce move as swiftly as possible. You can reach us through our online contact form or call us at 347.625.1038 for a consultation. From our offices in Queens and Forest Hills, we serve clients in Nassau and Queens Counties and the New York City boroughs of Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn.