Family Law

Family Law: What It Is and How We Can Help

Family law is the area of law that deals primarily with marriage, children, divorce, paternity, custody, support, adoptions, guardianship, domestic violence, and grandparent rights. Whether you’re married, living together or just have children in common, circumstances change and you may need to defend yourself and protect your rights.

Our experienced family law attorneys at the Monteleon Law Group can help guide and protect you through this very stressful process. Whether it’s a divorce or a family court matter, our skilled and experienced attorneys can help you.

At times, an individual will need an attorney to draft or review an agreement between spouses that can have a lasting effect. Before marriage, prenuptial agreement; during the marriage, post-nuptial agreement; and if you decide to terminate your marriage, separation or settlement agreement.

Divorce: What Should You Know?

Regardless of the reason, many marriages simply do not end up working out. When a married couple cannot settle their differences, divorce is often the result. The table below displays the steps of the divorce process.

The Divorce Process: Step-by-Step

Step 1Filing for Divorce
Step 2Serving a Summons
Step 3Notice of Appearance
Step 4Completing a Statement of Net Worth
Step 5Settlement
Step 6Going to Court

Step 1: Filing for Divorce

The first step in the divorce process involves one of the parties filing for divorce. To file for divorce, you must notify your spouse with a Summons with Notice or a Summons and Verified Complaint. This document will inform your spouse of the relief that you are desiring in the divorce. However, this does not have to be very specific, but rather you can state in general terms what you are seeking– such as child support.

When filing for divorce, Automatic Orders will be issued by the court. These orders will prevent you from taking any action on property, bank accounts, insurance plans, etc., without your spouse’s written permission.

These Automatic Orders begin following your spouse being served with the aforementioned Summons with Notice or a Summons and Verified Complaint.

Step 2 Serving a Summons

After filing the Summons with Notice or a Summons and Verified Complaint, you must serve your spouse with a copy within 120 days (roughly four months). By New York State law, your spouse must be served via personal in-hand service, meaning that the documents must be served directly to the spouse, not left with anyone else.

Step 3 Notice of Appearance

Your spouse will have 20 days from the time of service to appear in the action, meaning that he or she will need to file a Notice of Appearance or an Answer to Verified Complaint. If your spouse does not do this within the 20-day period, he or she will be considered in default. If your spouse defaults, we can help you navigate the necessary steps to take to obtain a divorce.

Step 4 Completing a Statement of Net Worth

A Statement of Net Worth will present your financial situation (expenses, income, assets, and liabilities). Your spouse will complete their own Statement of Net Worth and the documents will be exchanged between counsel.

Step 5 Settlement

Many divorce processes include a  settlement proposal, in which both parties negotiate in an attempt to agree upon assets, liabilities, child support, etc. The divorce process does not have to include a settlement.

Step 6 Going to Court

If both parties are unable to agree to a settlement, the case will be taken to court.

For more information regarding divorce or other areas of family law, read our Guide to Family Law. If you have a family law issue, it is important that you contact us immediately to help you.