Starting the Divorce Process
If you are looking to get a divorce from your spouse, you may be wondering where to begin. Here is how you can start the divorce process.
After contacting an attorney, the law obligates you to notify your spouse that you are filing for divorce. You will present your spouse with a Summons with Notice. How you do so depend upon your relationship with your spouse. If you can have a frank, in-person discussion, you should do so. It’s probably best to avoid a “surprise” situation. If you think a face-to-face discussion would be acrimonious or even dangerous, let your attorney send a notice in the mail, including an affidavit, or have a process server deliver the summons in person, and provide your spouse with an affidavit to file with the county clerk. You could even have your spouse sign an affidavit in your attorney’s office.
Starting the Divorce Process | Out of State Spouse
If your spouse no longer resides in New York State a New York court will still have jurisdiction to hear your divorce case so long as you have resided here for two years, or for one year if you and your spouse were married here.
Starting the Divorce Process | Missing Spouse
New York State law requires you to make a “good faith effort” to locate your spouse. If you separated – unofficially – from your spouse and have lost track of that person, you will have to contact friends, relatives, and other associates. If you are still unable to locate the person, you can provide an affidavit of your effort to the court. The court might give you an order of publication, allowing you to “serve” your spouse by publishing a notification in a local law journal.
Starting the Divorce Process | Being Served Papers
The first step is to determine what type of documents you now have in front of you.
A Summons with Notice requires you to put in a notice of appearance and retain an attorney within 20 days.
An Order to Show Cause has a different time frame; in this case, you’ll have to file certain documents before you appear in court.
A notice from Family Court also will have a different time frame – and, of course, require you to show up at a different location.
If you’ve been served with any kind of divorce papers, set up an appointment with an attorney, get into his or her office as quickly as possible, and prepare to respond within the specified time frame.
Starting the Divorce Process | What to Bring to Meet the Attorney
Don’t worry too much about what to bring to an initial consultation with your attorney. You could bring tax returns, pay stubs, other income information, quotes on assets and investments, so that your attorney can start to make calculations about the equitable distribution of property, spousal support, and child support.
If you don’t want to make a full disclosure of all that information, that’s fine too. You get to set the pace of your divorce at this point. It would be fine to come in to your first meeting with nothing at all, and simply hold a discussion before you move forward with an attorney.
If you would like to start the divorce process, please call our Buffalo divorce lawyer today for a free consultation.