A divorce can be a tough, emotional, and challenging process, especially when some of the factors involved are minor children, property, pensions, and businesses. It is important to speak with an attorney before starting a divorce action, so you are aware of your rights and what you are entitled to or possibly entitled to from your spouse during the course of your marriage. Hence, it is urgent to start the process as soon as possible.
A divorce action commences once there is a filing of a summons with notice, a summons and complaint, or a summons and verified complaint, in the supreme court of the county where at least one spouse resides. Not all cases are the same. Hence, the divorce process and time frame vary from case to case. Two factors that could affect the time frame of the divorce action are whether or not one knows where their spouse resides and whether the spouse will agree to the relief requested and sign the necessary divorce paperwork.
Once the court clerk receives the initial divorce paperwork, it is processed, and an index number is assigned to the case. In some counties, an attorney can file paperwork electronically. It is important to file as soon as possible as the commencement of the divorce action can affect certain relief requested, such as child support and pensions.
Does the COVID-19 pandemic affect the filing of a divorce action? Yes, it does as Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks issued an Administrative Order on March 22, 2020 regarding what type of paperwork the court will accept for filing during COVID-19. The list can be found here (PDF).
However, the New York courts, starting April 13, 2020, have resumed working on non-essential matters as well, which includes matrimonial actions. The court will conduct conferences remotely with the parties and counsels. See Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks April 6, 2020 Press Release, which can be found here (PDF).
Once the courts start to accept the filing of matrimonial actions again, your case can be filed shortly afterward, provided all the necessary paperwork is prepared, reviewed, and signed prior to such time as well as all the necessary payments are provided. Hence, the divorce process should start now, so everything is ready and just waiting to be filed. Additionally, this could prevent your paperwork from being buried in the bottom of the court’s caseload once it is filed.
If you need to speak with an attorney regarding a divorce action or any other action, then now is the time to do so. Jayson Lutzky gives free consultations and can be reached at 718-329-9500. He has been practicing law for over 36 years in the Bronx and can help you with your legal matter. During the COVID-19 pandemic, an electronic meeting can be scheduled at your convenience via Skype, Zoom and FaceTime.