Whether a case is settled before it is filed, after some litigation, or a Judge decided it, at the conclusion of the case a number of documents must be prepared, signed and filed with the court in order for the divorce to be finalized. These same documents are required throughout the state and regardless of the method used to decide the case such as mediation, collaborative law, litigation, or settlement negotiations. Therefore, in my practice as a Long Island Divorce Lawyer, or in my New York City and surrounding area cases, the same forms are used. The first document that always needs to be filed in a case is called the Summons. A divorce can be started simply by filing a Summons with Notice alone, in the local Supreme Court along with the payment of the filing fee to purchase an index number which is $210.00. A Summons is filed along with the Complaint, but when a Summons with Notice is filed the Complaint can follow at a later time. Both a Summons and a Summons with Notice dictate the time period for the spouse to appear in the case by serving a Notice of Appearance. A Summons with Notice must also contain the grounds for the divorce, be it the “No-Fault” or otherwise, along with a description of the ancillary relief that is requested such as child support, maintenance and equitable distribution of marital assets.
The Notice of Automatic Orders and Notice Concerning Health Care Coverage need to be attached to the Summonses. The Automatic Orders essentially provide that the status quo be maintained until written agreements or court orders otherwise are made. For example, retirement accounts can not be drawn upon and insurance that is in place must be maintained to name some of the orders. The Notice Concerning Health Care Coverage informs that upon the entry of the divorce that spouses may not be able to stay on the health insurance of their spouse. COBRA benefits are usually available for a period of time, however this comes at a cost.
A Verified Complaint needs to be filed and served. The Complaint sets forth if the residency requirements are met, the children of the marriage (if any), health insurance plans, grounds, if the ceremony was religious or civil, and the relief sought again. The Verification sets forth that the Plaintiff has read the complaint and that it is true and is signed before a notary public. If the parties were married in a religious ceremony, an additional document called the Sworn Statement of Removal of Barriers to Remarriage must be included in the filing package. Each party signs these before a notary to set forth that they have or will take any necessary steps to make sure the other side can get remarried in their religion. Continue reading →