Beginning Divorce Proceedings
How to Begin Divorce Proceedings (When You Feel Ready, That Is)
Download Our Free Divorce Guide
Many marriages fail, and while this is unfortunate, it is nevertheless a fact. Sometimes people grow apart, sometimes a relationship sours, and other times violence and abuse can arise. In these circumstances, moving forward with divorce proceedings may be the best solution; no adult should be mandated to remain in an unhealthy relationship, and no child should have to endure constant disputes among her or his parents.
Once you have decided to file for divorce, you should contact a Buffalo divorce attorney with experience in family and marital law. Your attorney will guide you through the next steps of the divorce proceedings, one of which is your responsibility to legally inform your husband or wife that you have submitted a claim for divorce. This may be one of the most difficult parts of the divorce process, so it is essential to know that there are several ways that you can fulfill this obligation.
1. You Must Notify Your Spouse—Even Though It Can Be Uncomfortable.
After you speak with a Buffalo divorce attorney about your decision, the law obligates you to notify your spouse that you are filing for divorce proceedings. You will present your spouse with a document called a summons with notice. How you contact your spouse to deliver this summons depends upon your relationship. If you can have a frank, in-person discussion, it is highly recommended that you do so. With life-changing choices such as a divorce, it is probably best to avoid a “surprise” situation.
2. If It Is Too Uncomfortable, You Have Options.
If you think that a face-to-face discussion would be ineffective, acrimonious, or even dangerous, you can utilize alternative ways to notify your spouse. You can request that your attorney send a notice in the mail, including an affidavit, in order to avoid an in-person meeting. You may also ask a process server to deliver the summons in person, and you can 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.
3. Whether You Can File in New York Depends on How Long You Have Lived Here.
Most divorce cases proceed in the state in which both spouses live. However, if you or your spouse no longer resides in New York State, there may be a wrinkle in your case. If your spouse no longer resides in the state of New York, a New York court will still have jurisdiction to hear your divorce case under two circumstances: if you and your spouse were married in New York, a New York court will hear your case as long as you have lived in the state for at least one year. If you were not married in New York, you must have resided in New York for two years to be eligible for a divorce in the state.
4. If Your Spouse Does Not Want to Be Found, There Are Still Ways to File.
New York State law requires that all divorce seekers make a “good faith effort” to locate their spouses. If you are separated—officially or unofficially—from your spouse and you have lost track of her or him, you will have to contact friends, relatives, and other associates in order to ascertain your spouse’s whereabouts. 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.
Telling your spouse that you have filed for divorce proceedings is the first major hurdle that you must surmount in order to obtain a divorce. As awkward or even stressful as this notification may be, it is crucial that you make use of one of the options above in order to get it out of the way. Once your spouse has been served papers, your Buffalo divorce attorney will be able to better accompany you through the remainder of the divorce process and ensure that you receive what is rightfully yours in the end.
Download our Divorce Guide by Attorney Randy Gugino for immediate help with your divorce or family law matter.