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A New Yorker’s Complete Guide To Divorce and Separation

The process of getting a divorce can be long, complicated, and emotionally-charged. But while there are intricate legal implications to ending a marriage, you shouldn’t be so intimidated or overwhelmed by the process that you remain in an unsafe or unhappy relationship.

Theodore Alatsas ESQ is an experienced and respected attorney who specializes in all aspects of divorce in the state of New York. So, to help you understand the process of divorce and make the best decision for your situation, we’ve created this guide to address frequently asked questions and the various requirements involved in filing for divorce in New York.

Table of Contents

  1. Types of Divorce
  2. Grounds for Divorce
  3. Divorce Timeline
  4. Cost of Divorce
  5. Legal Separation vs Divorce
  6. Divorce and Children
  7. Pre-Nuptial/Post-Nuptial Agreements
  8. Dividing Assets in a Divorce
  9. Spousal Support and Alimony
  10. Arbitration and Mediation
  11. Same-Sex Divorce
  12. Life After Divorce

Types of Divorce

Just as no marriage is the same, every divorce looks and proceeds a bit differently. In this section, we’ll take a comparative look at the various types of divorce.

At-Fault Divorce

One important distinction to make when considering divorce is whether you are pursuing an at-fault divorce or a no-fault divorce. To pursue an at-fault divorce, one party is required to prove that the other has committed something like adultery, abandonment, inflicted cruel and inhuman treatment, or has been in prison for at least three years. You may also be able to pursue this type of divorce if you have been legally separated for more than a year.

No-Fault Divorce

Recently enacted changes to New York law allows for parties to get divorced without proving one party committed an act, or did something to cause the divorce.  In New York, a no-fault divorce is filed when you and your spouse have irreconcilable differences, you become incompatible, or if your marriage breaks down for at least six months. This type of divorce does not require either party to be proven at-fault of anything, but requires ultimately that all issues of the divorce, including custody, visitation, child support, alimony and distribution of property, are resolved before the parties can be divorced

Uncontested Divorce

Another issue to consider is whether a divorce is contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce occurs when neither party is challenging the allegations being made, and the parties have agreed to their settlement terms prior to filing. Uncontested divorces are generally less expensive, but often a client makes the mistake of opting for a quick settlement without understanding the financial ramifications of their settlement over the long haul. It is advisableto work with an experienced divorce attorney for uncontested divorces to avoid court trials and negotiate complex issues like division of assets, child support, child custody, and alimony.

Contested Divorce

However, a contested divorce occurs when one or both parties dispute allegations made by the other party. These types of divorces typically take longer to resolve and require a court trial.

Collaborative Divorce

Rather than “battling it out” to “win” a divorce, a collaborative divorce involves both parties utilizing mediation and negotiations processes to settle the ending of their marriage. This type of divorce requires two willing participants and works well if both parties are in agreement on most issues.

Default Divorce

A default divorce is one of the simplest ways to end a marriage because it typically occurs when one party doesn’t answer the summons within the allotted amount of time. While this non-response may be an accidental oversight; however, some couples actually choose default divorce to avoid extra paperwork and move the process along quicker.

Frequently Asked Questions about Types of Divorce

Understandably, many people have a lot of questions about the types of divorce that exist and which one is right for them. These are four of the most common questions that clients come to Alatsas Law Firm with and also search online for.

What Are the Types of Divorce?

  • At Fault Divorce
  • No-Fault Divorce
  • Uncontested Divorce
  • Contested Divorce
  • Collaborative Divorce
  • Default Divorce

In addition to the most common distinctions described above, there are also other types of divorces and alternate naming conventions you should be aware of to have a full understanding of your options. For example, an uncontested divorce may sometimes be referred to as a summary divorce (this type of divorce is designed to streamline the process for couples that are cooperative), and a same-sex divorce gives legal recourse to same-sex couples who want to formally end their marriages, civil unions, or domestic partnerships.

How Many Types of Divorces Are There?

In this guide, we have already described six different types of divorce processes, which should show you how varied and unique every couple’s divorce really is. Divorces in real life often look much differently than ones portrayed on television and in the movies, and in fact, most of them are settled out of court.

What Is an Uncontested Divorce?

Uncontested divorces are generally less complicated to resolve. With an uncontested divorce, both parties agree on all issues concerning the divorce, thereby eliminating the need for prolonged negotiations, court hearings, and additional legal fees.

What Kind of Divorce Should I Get?

The type of divorce you should get is dependent upon your personal situation with your spouse and other factors, such as whether children are involved, the value of shared assets, and how many issues you agree upon. We welcome the opportunity to talk with you about the specifics of your situation to help you decide which divorce to pursue.

Grounds for Divorce

There are certain requirements to file for divorce in New York State, including being a resident of the state and having grounds for divorce. You cannot file for divorce without a valid reason, and there are actually seven reasons that are legally acceptable for get a divorce in New York.

1. Irretrievable Breakdown in a Relationship for a Period of at Least Six Months

This ground is often the one used in a no-fault divorce in which neither party needs to be at-fault for anything, yet irreconcilable differences still persist. Your marriage must be over for at least six months and all of your shared financial matters (property, child support, etc.) must already be settled to use this ground.  Even if your issues are not resolved prior to filing based on this ground, you may still commence your divorce based on this ground, and work towards resolving all of the remaining issues while the case is ongoing.

2. Cruel and Inhuman Treatment

This ground is used if one party has put the other party in physical or mental danger to create an unsafe living environment. Simple arguments between spouses are not enough to prove this ground, and judges look for cruel and inhuman acts committed within the last five years.

3. Abandonment

For this ground, one spouse must abandon the other for at least a year. Not only can this ground be proven when a spouse leaves the home without intending to return, but it can also involve a spouse that refuses to engage in sexual activity with the other spouse.

4. Imprisonment

If a spouse has been imprisoned for at least three consecutive years, this is also grounds for divorce. To use this ground in New York, a spouse must have been placed into prison after the marriage started. Also, it can be used while a spouse is still in prison or up to five years after the spouse’s release from prison.

5. Adultery

Adultery is a claim of cheating on your spouse by having sexual relations and grounds for divorce if it happened less than five years prior to the divorce filing. To prove this ground, a witness must testify against the accused spouse. The spouse seeking divorce can no longer use this ground if he/she forgives the adultery by having sexual relations after discovering the adultery, if the he/she encourages adultery, or if he/she also commits adultery.

6. Divorce After a Legal Separation

You can use this as a ground for divorce if you and your spouse sign and file a legal separation agreement and live apart from each other for at least one year. Both spouses must sign this agreement in front of a notary and follow legal rules to make it valid.

7. Divorce After a Judgement of Separation

The final ground for divorce in New York is a less common one. To use this ground, the court must draw a judgement of separation, and the couple must live apart for a year. In most cases, couples skip this judgement, which requires similar proof as divorce, and proceed directly to divorce.

Proof Needed for Grounds to Divorce

If you do not prove one of these grounds, the court may deny your divorce and leave your marriage intact despite your wishes. Therefore, many people wonder what type of proof or information is needed to use one of these legally acceptable grounds to pursue a divorce.

Each of these seven grounds has its own burden of proof and required length of time. Some grounds are much easier and more obvious to prove than others. For example, it is easy to prove the length of time a spouse has been in jail but it may be difficult to prove adultery if you can’t get a third-party witness to testify to an adulterous act. For all grounds, it is beneficial to have an experienced divorce attorney on your side.

Divorce Timeline

While the timeline for divorce varies based on the type of divorce you pursue and the proof of grounds for divorce you have, many divorces follow a similar timeline. The divorce process typically begins with hiring a lawyer to write the petition or complaint, which is a document that outlines why the divorce is requested and the desired ways to settle the divorce.

From that point, the lawyer will file the petition with the court and ensure that it is served on the other spouse with a summons that requires a response. The spouse must respond to the petition within the required time frame, which in New York is within 20 days of personal service (which is the required method of service) or within 30 days of when service by any other means which can only be after authorization by the Court. The two parties then exchange documents related to property, income, child support, alimony and other issues and may be able to resolve the divorce through settlement or mediation.

If so, the lawyer will create a settlement agreement to present to the judge, who will provide a divorce decree if the agreement is approved. If the couple cannot come to an agreement about their issues, the divorce case may go to trial, where lawyers on each side present their arguments and leave it up to the judge to make a final decision.  A divorce agreement must comply with a number of rules and requires specific language in order to be deemed acceptable to the Court.

In the following section, we address several frequently asked questions about the standard process of divorce and the types of circumstances that can make a divorce take a longer or shorter amount of time.

How to Begin a Divorce?

The first step to begin a divorce is completing the proper legal documents. In New York, you will need to complete a Summons with Notice (Form UD-1) or the Summons (Form UD-1a) and Verified Complaint (Form UD-2). The correct summons form depends upon your grounds for divorce, and all forms must be brought to the County Clerk’s office for filing. To ensure that the correct forms are completed and filed for your specific situation, contact Alatsas Law Firm.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Divorce?

Every divorce is unique, but on average, an uncontested divorce in New York takes about three to six months and a contested divorce takes about nine months to a year. However, some simple uncontested cases can be resolved in less time than this. Meanwhile, we have been involved in other divorces that take years to get to the point of a judge agreeing to sign a judgement of divorce.  Due to the sheer volume of divorce cases filed in a particular county, the backlog of cases, and budget cuts that have affected the review of cases in some courts, these time frames vary from County to County.

I Filed for Divorce, Now What?

Immediately after filing for divorce, you must be patient and wait for your spouse to respond to the petition that he/she was served with. Upon receiving this response, you should confer with your attorney about the next steps to take based on whether your demands were accepted or rejected.

What Steps to Take for Divorce?

The legal steps to take for divorce depend on whether you filed the action or had it served upon you, as well as the grounds for divorce and to what extent you are in agreement with your spouse. A New York divorce attorney can walk you through the steps to take for divorce based upon your specific situation.

How Long Does a Divorce Take if Both Parties Agree?

If both parties agree on everything with regard to a divorce in New York, this is an uncontested divorce. The average amount of time for this type of divorce to take is anywhere between six weeks and 12 months, depending on the county of filing.

Cost of Divorce

The amount of money that you spend on your divorce will vary greatly depending on how complicated your assets are, how much you agree on, and even which part of the state you live in. However, we want you to be as informed as possible about the cost of divorce so that you can plan ahead for your finances.

Here are some common questions that curious spouses and prospective clients in New York ask us about the cost of divorce:

How Much Does a Divorce Cost?

In New York, the average cost of a divorce is around $17,100. This estimate is according to state-specific Martindale-Nolo Research survey results. This total amount is higher than the national average cost of divorce, which is approximately $12,800. A number of factors contribute to this number, including the prevalence in New York of high net worth divorces, which often skews these numbers.  But based on the circumstances, and our experience, the typical contested divorce in New York ranges anywhere from $5,000 to $37,000.

How Much Is a Divorce?

You may wonder why it costs so much to get a divorce, and rightfully so. The costs begin with an initial fee of $210 to get an index number with a New York court. This number is required by the court to identify your case and place on all documents that are filed with the County Clerk’s Office. If your divorce is uncontested, the cost is at least $335 for court and filing fees, but this does not include notary fees, photocopy fees, mailing fees, process server fees, transportation fees, or attorney fees. Attorneys’ fees include various types of legal assistance including court filings, mediations, and compensation for expert witnesses and consultants.

How to Finance a Divorce?

If you want to file for divorce and have extreme financial hardship, resources for assistance are available. For example, you can ask the County Clerk for information about how to apply for a fee waiver to waive the court fees involved in filing a divorce. Other ways to finance a divorce include tapping into a savings account, using a credit card, cashing in a retirement account, getting a loan from a friend or family member, or contacting a company that specializes in divorce financing.  Our firm can help you with more information on these available funding sources, which often includes low-monthly repayment options.

Legal Separation vs. Divorce

However, it is important to remember that divorce is not the only (or necessarily the best) option for every couple. Legal separation is also an option to consider, and there are both pros and cons of legal separation vs. divorce. Yet both options create legal space between you and your spouse and allow you to live separately with separate finances.

Here is an overview of the differences between legal separation vs. divorce to help you understand when each option works best.

When Is Legal Separation Best?

With legal separation, you and your spouse are still legally married to each other, but you are allowed to live completely separate lives. Individuals who are legally separated are not able to remarry and often still have important legal connections to each other.

This option is beneficial if you want to continue receiving spousal benefits, such as pensions and Social Security payments, or if one spouse needs to maintain the health benefits for their spouse. Other couples choose legal separation over divorce because of religious reasons or to take a temporary break from each other while attempting to work things out.

When Is Divorce Best?

Divorce is a final decision that allows former spouses to remarry and move forward in life as single individuals. Unlike legal separation, divorce must be made on certain grounds and require specific wait periods. In New York, legal separation can be a ground for divorce if you are legally separated for at least one year.

This option is beneficial if you want to remarry and sever all ties with a spouse. However, this option is typically costlier, takes longer, and requires more paperwork than a legal separation.

Divorce and Children

Divorces are almost always difficult matters, but they become even more difficult if there are children involved. Here is some information about the major issues that arise with divorce and children and how to face them.

How to Go About the Divorce Process with Children

Child custody and alimony are major issues that arise when a divorce involves children. Divorce courts are concerned about minor children under the age of 18 in any divorce proceeding, which is why custody must be established in the divorce paperwork.

A sole physical custody judgement means that one parent will have full custody of the children and that the court must approve visitation rights by the other parent. Joint physical custody involves both parents having substantial periods of contact with the children in a shared way. Sole legal custody is an option that involves giving one parent the right to make all decisions for the child while the other parent only has visitation rights. Finally, a determination of joint legal custody means that both parents have decision-making input for the children, which requires a well-established parenting plan.  Joint legal custody requires that the parties can cooperate and communicate with each other, even after the divorce, whereas sole legal custody requires significantly less cooperation.

How to Talk to Children About Divorce

What you tell your kids about your divorce depends somewhat upon their age, but studies show that parents should spend substantial time talking to their kids about what divorce will mean for the family and to encourage questions.

For children under the age of five, provide simple and concrete explanations that involve basic details, such as who will move out and how often children will see each parent. For school-age children, make sure to reinforce the importance of routines and focus on your children’s feelings. For teenagers, have ongoing open and honest discussions about the divorce to keep lines of communication always open.

How Divorce Affects Children

Not only do divorces affect children’s routines, but they may also affect children psychologically and emotionally. Divorce can make a child feel stressed out and worried about who will provide care or where they will spend their holidays. Some children may develop behavioral problems while involved with a divorce if they are not able to communicate their feelings and concerns. However, divorce can also make children more resilient, safer, and even closer with each individual parent. In many families, counseling provided by a therapist or trusted loved one can help children transition through the various stages of divorce and process changes in their own ways.

Pre-Nuptial/Post-Nuptial Agreements

There are a few different legal documents that can influence the divorce process if you and your spouse have them in place, such as pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements. Many couples wonder exactly what is in a pre-nuptial agreement and whether they actually need one. But depending upon your circumstances, a post-nuptial agreement may be the best option for you and your spouse.

In the following sections, we will break down exactly what these agreements are, their benefits, and how they change the way a divorce proceeds.

Breakdown of a Pre-Nuptial Agreement

While pre-nuptial agreements might be labeled a pessimistic way to enter a marriage, they are actually very practical and proactive ways to plan for your financial future. These legal documents specify how assets will be divided if the marriage ends in divorce, which often ultimately makes the process of divorce much quicker, easier, and more affordable.

Here are the things that are typically contained in a pre-nuptial agreement:

  1. The property owned prior to marriage by each partner
  2. The classification of said property after marriage
  3. The treatment of debts in regard to sharing or splitting liability
  4. A statement on bank accounts, including the intention to share one
  5. A statement on child visitation and custody following a divorce
  6. A statement on spousal support and alimony following a divorce
  7. Child support following a divorce
  8. Distribution of assets and property following a divorce

Breakdown of a Post-Nuptial Agreement

Unlike a pre-nuptial agreement that is signed before a marriage is finalized, a post-nuptial agreement is agreed upon and signed by a couple that is already married. Many couples choose this option after the honeymoon phase of their relationship has ended and they begin thinking more practically about finances to ensure peace of mind. Post-nuptial agreements must be in writing, entered into voluntarily by both parties, and not include unjust or one-sided terms. But unlike pre-nuptial arrangements, post-nuptial agreements do not typically involve or enforce issues related to child custody, child support, or routine duties of a marriage.

These are some basic components of a post-nuptial agreement:

  1. A statement of what happens to marital property in the event of one spouse’s death
  2. A statement describing the terms in the event of a divorce
  3. How to divide property and assets in the event of a divorce
  4. Statements that may limit or waive alimony
  5. How marital debts will be divided after a divorce
  6. Establish spouses’ rights following a divorce

How These Agreements Influence the Divorce Process

By agreeing to one of these legal documents, you and your spouse can save significant time and money in the event of a future divorce. Having either a pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement could speed up the timeframe of your divorce proceedings and cost you fewer legal fees in the long-run.

However, there are situations in which these agreements can be overruled or made void. Legal statutes vary between states, and the timing of when the agreement was signed plays a key role in a judge’s evaluation of a pre-nup or post-nup. Also, an agreement can be overruled if it is proven that one spouse put pressure on the other spouse to sign the agreement, if one spouse conceals assets from the other spouse, or if the provisions are lopsided. This is why it’s so important to have your pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreement prepared by an experienced divorce attorney.

Dividing of Assets in a Divorce

One of the most difficult practical aspects in a divorce is deciding how to divide a couple’s assets. In this section, we’ll focus on the most commonly divided assets among couples and answer a few frequently asked questions about dividing assets in a divorce.

Commonly Divided Assets

Oftentimes, a couple’s main shared asset is the house they have built or bought together to make their home. If there are children involved, the house often goes to the parent who has primary custody of the children. However, this is not a guarantee. Many couples also share one or more vehicles that must be divided in a divorce. Even if just one spouse holds the title of a vehicle, it can still be considered community property. Community property is defined as earnings and all things acquired during the marriage, including debts. Meanwhile, separate property belongs to just one spouse and may include things like inheritances, gifts, and businesses owned by one spouse before the marriage began.

Retirement accounts, such as 401Ks, are one of the most overlooked assets in a divorce. Likewise, IRAs and pension plans from previous jobs can be divided using a Qualified Domestic Relations Order and benefit one or both spouses. Debts and investments are commonly divided assets in a divorce, as well as annuities, life insurance, professional practices, tax refunds, bank accounts, real estate, boats, and fine artwork.

You must always remember that, every divorce, no matter how complicated or seemingly straight forward, is different, and the result can often be based on the needs to preserve living arrangements for children, a consideration of the pre-separation standard of living, the tax consequences of any property settlement, and the ability of one party, or the other, to be self supporting.

How to Protect Your Money During a Divorce

If you are planning to get married, already married, or anticipating a possible divorce, there are certain things you can do to safeguard your money. For example, Alatsas Law Firm can help you with a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, which is used by the court to divide up 401Ks and other retirement plans. On a related note, it’s important to know what options your retirement plans allow for and their value after taxes. You may also want to consider stock options and deferred compensation plans in the divorce settlement to protect yourself from tax liability. Opening bank accounts solely in your own name, closing select joint accounts, and identifying your personal sources of cash are also useful ways to protect your money in case of a divorce.

How Are Finances Divided in a Divorce?

As a general rule, property acquired during the marriage is divided based on a legal concept known as equitable distribution.  Because New York is not a community property state, the court considers a number of factors in dividing property acquired during the marriage, including the direct and indirect contribution of each party to the accumulation of the property, the maintenance of it, and the appreciation of value of the property.  This contribution can include money provided to acquire it, but can also include other contributions that are not monetary in nature. For example, a stay-at-home spouse who cared for minor children while maintaining the household, provides a non-monetary contribution to the value of the home, and so will not be precluded from equitable distribution.

What Divorce Settlement Am I Entitled To?

Every marriage and divorce are unique, and rarely does a divorce end up in a perfect 50-50 split. This is because various factors, such as alimony, division of marital assets, and child support, entitle one spouse to more money than the other. The spouse who will be primary caregiver for children may need more funds to provide childcare, but overall, calculating fair and agreeable alimony payments can be very difficult. Contact us to get a clearer picture of what you’re entitled to and what to expect from a divorce settlement.

What Are My Financial Rights in a Divorce?

As a spouse, you likely have financial rights to property, assets, and/or economic support. Depending upon your situation, you may be entitled to receive spousal support, child support, and even money for household expenses. A New York divorce attorney can advise you of your rights so that you get what you deserve under the law out of your marriage.

Spousal Support and Alimony

Post-divorce payments are also a major concern among couples who have decided to end their marital relationships. In the divorce settlement, it is important to outline who, if anyone, will receive spousal support and alimony and for how long.

In the state of New York, there are a few types of alimony that you can receive. Permanent alimony is for basic needs like food and housing, while restitutional alimony pays a spouse for school or training. A third type of alimony, rehabilitative alimony, is the most common form and is used to help a spouse become more self-sufficient for a specified amount of time.

How Long Do You Have to Be Married to Get Spousal Support?

The amount of time that you receive alimony depends on how long you have been married. For example, the end of a 15-year marriage can result in alimony payments that last up to 30 percent of the length of the marriage or for up to 4.5 years. Marriages that have lasted 15-20 years may be eligible for alimony that lasts up to 40 percent of the marriage or eight years, and marriages longer than 20 years could result in a spouse paying alimony for 50 percent of the length of the marriage.  Sometimes, the circumstances and standard of living the parties have grown accustom to, may cause deviations from the standard formula.  The calculation of alimony and its duration are complicated questions, and an experienced attorney can provide you with useful analysis of the impact of any divorce settlement.

How Is Alimony Calculated?

Factors that generally determine alimony include the financial status of each spouse, income potential, and financial contributions during the marriage. A judge also uses his or her discretion when calculating alimony, which means alimony decisions can be unpredictable and vary greatly among couples with seemingly similar circumstances.

According to New York law, temporary alimony between a couple’s separation and the divorce is calculated using the following metrics:

  • Determine 30% of the spouse with a higher income.
  • Subtract 20% of the spouse with the lower income.
  • Ensure that the total award in alimony does not amount to more than 40% of the combined income of the divorcing couple.

An award of temporary alimony, or maintenance, is often the result of a motion in Court, and subject to certain rules and qualifications.  Theodore Alatsas, Esq. has the experience to assist you in evaluating the need for an application, and the likelihood of success.

Pre-Divorce vs. Post-Divorce Alimony

Alimony, or maintenance,  amounts typically change before and after a divorce is finalized. This is because different metrics are used and factors considered with pre-divorce vs. post-divorce alimony. In New York, for example, the temporary alimony is determined using the formula described above, yet subject to override if the amount is deemed to be unjust by the court. Then as part of the final divorce decision, the court will decide on a durational or non-durational post-divorce alimony, which has no set formula. Instead, present and future income, marriage length, age, loss of benefits, and other factors are used to make this financial determination.

How Much Alimony Will I Get?

But ultimately, the big question is “How much alimony will I get?” The New York law regarding how alimony is determined was revised in 2015, but it still focuses on each parties’ income unless there are more important factors than this to consider. With Theodore Alatsas Esq., you’ll feel confident that your alimony payments are fair and equitable.

Arbitration and Mediation

While divorce is the best final solution for many marriages, there are divorce alternatives worth exploring as well. In this section, we’ll look at other ways to end a marriage to help you and your spouse make the best decision for your situation.

Same-Sex Divorce

With the legalization of same-sex marriage comes the emergence of same-sex divorce. Unfortunately, marital differences cannot always be resolved regardless of gender identity or the type of relationship involved. At Alatsas Law Firm, we specialize in same-sex divorce to help couples who identify as LGBTQ move on with their lives after a relationship.Before the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision, same-sex couples faced enormous obstacles in being recognized a legally married and subsequently pursuing divorces. That court decision required all states in the U.S. to recognize same-sex marriages and also allow same-sex divorces. In New York, same-sex couples are legally able to get a divorce if they were legally married or entered into a same-sex civil union or domestic partnership in the state or elsewhere. Same-sex couples are treated the same as opposite-sex couples in the eyes of New York State law, which means that the paperwork and court process are the exactly the same no matter who you fell in love with.

However, the challenges and complexities around these shared processes can be considerably more daunting for same-sex couples. One reason is because in-vitro fertilization and bringing a child from a previous relationship into a new marriage can complicate child custody issues. Meanwhile, LGBTQ couples may face additional legal issues with dividing retirement accounts and pensions. Therefore, same-sex couples can benefit greatly by working with a specialized New York same-sex divorce attorney who can work through these issues and help reach an agreeable resolution.

Life After Divorce

Clearly, there are many things to consider and plan for when you decide on divorce, and this process can feel overwhelming, frustrating, and lonesome. But it is important to remember that there is life after divorce and that it’s never too late to find happiness and do what’s best for yourself. At Alatsas Law Firm, we will be here for you every step of the way to answer your questions, support your needs, and advocate for you with each important decision.

Child Custody Considerations

If you and your soon-to-be-ex have children, your biggest concern may be how divorce will affect them financially, legally, and emotionally. As described in this guide, divorce can be difficult on children, but with support from both parents and lots of love, they can come out of the experience healthy, happy, and more resilient.

One issue that often comes up is how to split up holidays and family events between two parents who are no longer together. Divorce may cause you to have to restructure your family traditions and recreate tried-and-true holiday plans. For example, you may find success having children alternate each holiday between parents or spending a little time with both parents on each major holiday. This might involve having children spend Thanksgiving with mom and Christmas with dad, or perhaps spending Christmas Eve with one dad and Christmas Day with the other dad. If your divorce ends on amicable terms, you may be able to come together again for holiday celebrations for the sake of the children, just as long as the experience isn’t too painful or forced. But overall, this is a great time to create new rituals with your kids and also reinforce important traditions that will never change regardless of who lives in the house.

To make the divorce process easier on children and the whole family at any time of year, it’s essential to keep lines of communication open and encourage kids to ask question and be involved in select family decisions. In many instances, children fare better when they are kept in close contact with both parents, so splitting time fairly between parents is beneficial. If possible, reduce the number of transitions that kids need to go through at the same time, and always take care of yourself so that you are best able to take care of them.

Financial Ramifications to Consider

Among the many financial ramifications that accompany life after divorce, you’ll need to keep up with spousal support and alimony payments or ensure that your spouse is upholding his or her financial obligations. Rehabilitative alimony is only required to be paid until a spouse is able to become self-supportive, so those payments may end after a period of training or education concludes. However, “maintenance” payments may still be warranted for a longer period of time to help a spouse support himself or herself, and this support often depends upon the amount of time that the marriage lasted.

Also, you will need to address any lingering financial connections that you and your spouse still have after the divorce is finalized. Make sure to cancel all joint financial accounts, open new accounts of your open if necessary, change beneficiaries on your accounts, retitle assets in your name, and reanalyze your investments after your divorce is finalized. When you work with an expert Brooklyn divorce attorney, you can avoid many of the unexpected financial surprises that so many men and women are faced with after divorce. These surprises include the high costs of health insurance, underestimating the longevity of alimony, or not being prepared to reenter the workforce.

How to Cope with Divorce Emotionally

While this guide primarily focuses on the legal and financial aspects of divorce, it is also important to address the topic of coping with divorce mentally and emotionally. This is the time to rely upon trusted friends, family members, and professional experts to get you through the tough times and emerge stronger, happier, and more confident on the other side. Also, remember to take care of your own physical, emotional, and social needs rather than neglecting your health, isolating yourself, or diving into new ventures before you’re ready. Allow yourself time to grieve, adjust, and transition, and don’t be afraid to seek the expertise of counselors, therapists, and compassionate divorce attorneys who have your best interests at heart.

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