Contesting a divorce can be confusing, which is why Lawyer Nicholas Hicks of New York explains the steps needed to file.
Filing for divorce can be tricky, especially when one person is not on board. Lawyer Nicholas Hicks explains that when someone wants to say no to a divorce, they must “contest.” There are many reasons for wanting to contest a divorce. The most common reason relates to disagreements over separation arrangements.
If you have gotten divorce papers from your spouse or their attorney, it is time to act fast in order to protect your rights. Lawyer Nicholas Hicks notes that this next step is called responding. The law only permits you 20 days (or 30 days if served outside of New York State) to respond after being served divorce papers. If you choose not to respond appropriately or do not contest appropriately, the divorce can still be granted without your agreement and your rights could be impacted in a major way.
While some people chose to represent themselves in a divorce action (see NYCourts website for forms), Lawyer Nicholas Hicks strongly advises against doing so. “I can’t tell you how many times I have had to turn potential clients away who wanted me to ‘fix’ the mangled legal mess they have created by trying to save a few dollars. Some things are just worth paying for.”
It is also important to know, that although a divorce may be initially contested, most contesting parties will eventually agree to let their spouse proceed with finalizing the divorce assuming that a settlement can be reached. Further Attorney Hicks notes that “a New York Court will almost always grant the divorce even it a trial has to occur to make it happen.” Which is to say, New York does not make people stay married.
In the end however, contesting a divorce isn’t, as a practical matter, about preventing a divorce from occurring. Contesting the matter allows the spouse-defendant an opportunity to protect their best interests, (i.e., asset and debt division; custody and support issues etc.). So if you are served with a divorce action, do not under any circumstances ignore the situation. You should consult with a divorce attorney as soon as possible. The clock is ticking.
About Nicholas Hicks:
Starting from an early age, Nicholas Hicks was rescued from NYC foster care at the age of 5 years old. Nicholas Hicks attended both public and private schools where he eventually graduated from ECC, UB & UB Law School.