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Advice for Couples Filing for Divorce During the Holidays

Filing for Divorce During the Holiday Season

While you may want to enjoy the holidays without thinking about your relationship, you may choose to talk to your spouse about the expectations you'll have of each other once your divorce is finalized regarding child support, child custody, and asset division. This can help settle your case and avoid a legal battle in court — resolving the matter quickly and saving more time for holiday celebrations.

When filing for divorce in New York, many couples ask their attorney how fast their divorce can be filed — especially during the holidays. This answer typically depends on the type of divorce being filed.

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

If you and your spouse are able to agree on the causes and terms of your divorce, you can file an uncontested divorce. This means that you will not need to go to court to settle the important terms of your divorce.

In New York, this means that the couple must decide on the following agreements:

  • Child custody and visitation schedules
  • Child support
  • Division of all debts and assets
  • Alimony amounts
  • Tax deductions and exemptions

You’ll need to legalize your choice in writing — whether on your own or with the help of an attorney or mediator. Couples who file an uncontested divorce in New York can then finalize their paperwork in as little as weeks. However, on average, most New York uncontested divorces take about 3 months.

What is a Contested Divorce?

While some couples may agree on the terms of their divorce amicably, others may not. Whether you disagree on the need for a divorce or the divorce terms, such as child custody and alimony, you can file a contested divorce.

Couples who file a contested divorce require the help of an attorney and the New York family court to resolve essential matters in their divorce. Because of this, a contested divorce case in New York typically takes much longer than an uncontested divorce.

Does the Cause of Divorce Affect My Filing Status?

New York is a no-fault state, which means that it views divorce as the dissolution of an economic partnership, and the cause of the divorce does not legally matter. The process begins when either spouse files a divorce action with the court.

That partner has 120 days to serve their spouse, who then has 20 to 30 days to answer. In total, it typically takes nine months to a year for a contested divorce to be finalized, with complex cases taking more time.

Arranging Child Support and Child Custody

Getting your kids used to a set holiday schedule following your divorce can be a challenging task. Making a plan ahead of time can develop a sense of normalcy and routine for your kids — even if it's temporary until a formal decision is made during your divorce trial.

Tips for Holiday Visitation Schedules

We all want to make the holidays as magical as possible for our children. Here are some tips to help keep the joy in the season for the entire family:

  • Agree to your holiday visitation schedule in advance.
  • Account for travel, school, and work schedules.
  • Talk to your ex about which gifts you’re purchasing.
  • Keep your holiday traditions intact as much as possible.
  • Don’t stress — focus on spending this quality time with your children.

If you’re struggling to arrange your holiday schedule, reach out to your attorney to help mediate between you and your co-parent.

Marital Waste and Your Assets

When couples decide to divorce, one main category of their life comes under the spotlight — their assets. A spouse's spending habits during their marriage can have a large effect during the divorce process, regardless of the holidays.

These financial behaviors can be used to assign assets and award child and spousal support. However, when New York courts analyze how to distribute a couple’s assets, they look for the wasteful dissipation of assets — also known as marital waste.

If you’re filing for divorce in New York this season and believe your partner has spent your marital funds unjustly, here’s what you should know.

What is the Dissipation of Assets?

Also known as the dissipation of assets, marital waste is defined as the intentional destruction or depletion of marital assets by one spouse, which would otherwise be split between the couple during divorce proceedings. Though New York is an equal distribution state, proving marital waste can affect the equal splitting of assets and lead to assets being forfeited to the affected spouse.

Examples of Marital Waste

As defined in New York, your marital estate comprises all assets, liabilities, real and personal property, and goods at the time of a divorce.

If a spouse wrongfully commits any of the following actions, dissipation of assets may be proven:

  • Spending marital money on extramarital affairs.
  • Transferring martial funds to another person before a separation.
  • Spending unreasonable amounts on business expenditures.
  • Selling marital assets below the market value.
  • Spending money on illegal activities such as gambling, drugs, or prostitution.

Several questions go into deciding marital waste. During a divorce hearing, the court may ask the following:

  • Did the spouse intend to spend the money solely on themselves?
  • Did the spouse attempt to hide the withdrawal of funds?
  • Did the spouse benefit or profit from the transfer of funds?
  • Did the spouse spend high amounts of money close to the divorce?
  • Did the innocent spouse agree with or consent to the spending?

However, using marital money for living expenses within reason is not considered marital waste. If you believe your spouse is spending your marital funds improperly, it’s essential to rely on an experienced attorney to help fight for you.

Seasoned Lawyers in New York

Whether you’re filing an uncontested or a contested divorce, our experienced and determined team of attorneys at Levi Divorce & Family Law Attorneys can guide you and your family through the process.

To book a consultation, visit us online or call our office at (718) 215-0121