How to Get a Low-Cost Divorce in New York
Experienced attorneys in Nassau and Suffolk help keep costs down
The cost of litigating any civil case, including a divorce, is notoriously high. And, truth be told, a lot of attorneys are more interested in their bottom line than yours. But at Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C., Long Island’s largest and busiest divorce and family law firm, our attorneys are just as cost-conscious as you are. Although we have a reputation for assertive representation, we know how to keep fees down for clients going through the New York marriage dissolution process. If uncontested divorce is appropriate to your situation, we can expedite your legal matter while negotiating favorable terms relating to custody, visitation, property division, child support and alimony.
Filing for an uncontested divorce
The key to reducing the costs of divorce is to stay out of court as much as possible, which means coming to an agreement with your spouse on parenting and financial matters. The key to staying out of court is being able to communicate constructively. When the breakup is not amicable, this can be difficult in the beginning. However, mismanaging the early steps of your divorce can create additional animosity that hinders the entire process and winds up costing you. Whatever problems exist, you should avoid unpleasant surprises or airing your partner’s dirty laundry in public. Instead, we recommend taking the following positive steps before you file for divorce:
- Consult an attorney — Odds are you’re dealing with divorce for the first time. Get advice from an experienced divorce lawyer. This will help you get over your nerves and empower you to talk constructively to your spouse.
- Talk to your spouse about your desire for a divorce — Although there are cases where the request for a divorce comes “out of the blue,” in most marriages, both spouses realize the relationship is over, and many find great relief in having a frank discussion. Choose a moment when you are not angry, so you sound thoughtful rather than impulsive, and be prepared to listen to your spouse’s reaction.
- Talk to your spouse about your goals for life after divorce — Divorce is less about ending your marriage than it is about laying the foundation for your life after marriage. The more you understand where each of you is headed, the easier it will be to work through conflicts toward a mutually beneficial resolution.
- Exchange attorney contact information — Assuming that you’ve told your attorney what you want from your divorce, you should stand back and let your legal representation work for you.
After the attorneys confer, you’ll have a better idea of your chances of achieving an uncontested divorce. You may have to attend negotiation sessions or mediate some unresolved issues, but if you and your spouse have no great conflicts, you should be able to reach a marital settlement agreement that paves the way for a cost-effective uncontested divorce. You might even be able to include your settlement with your divorce filing to the court. Our firm has exceptionally low rates for simple divorces, so you can save time and money, and still benefit from our excellent representation.
Seeking a no-fault divorce
To obtain an uncontested divorce, you want to file on a no-fault basis, declaring that the marriage should be ended because the relationship between you and your spouse is irretrievably broken. You do not want to cite traditional fault grounds, such as adultery or cruelty, because your spouse will likely object to the allegation of marital misconduct and you will have to incur the expense of proving your case in court.
Pre-planning is essential to keeping divorce costs low
Because a quick divorce depends on a negotiated agreement, you should work from the start to reach a reasonable compromise on divorce terms. If you’re unsure about the best approach, a lawyer from our firm can help you get the necessary information in place and advise on healthy ways to communicate your wishes to your husband or wife. Then you can talk to your spouse, explaining that the divorce is inevitable and that everyone will be better off if you cooperate in your dissolution to get it done as quickly and painlessly as possible.
Mediation as a means of alternative dispute resolution
Mediation is an excellent way to control costs. In this process, you and your spouse meet with a neutral third party who guides discussions toward a reasonable compromise. Our attorneys can protect your rights during this process and assist in negotiating a resolution that averts the need for a court hearing.
Proper document preparation keeps divorce cost low
Transparency is a key to avoiding unnecessary litigation expenses. This means you’ve got to produce all documentation related to your assets and debts, such as bank accounts, retirement funds, stock portfolios, IRAs, 401(k) accounts, property deeds and more. Lack of transparency raises suspicion, leading to discovery demands and disputes that must be resolved by a judge, driving up costs. An experienced attorney helps you get this part of the process right.
Common mistakes to avoid that increase the cost of divorce
Though you want to keep divorce expenses down, you don’t want to surrender your rights. Entering the marriage dissolution process with specific goals and reasonable expectations is the key. Many divorces negotiations stall, resulting in higher costs, because parties make unreasonable demands about issues such as:
- Child custody and visitation
- Child support
- Property distribution
The sad truth is that many individuals who make unreasonable demands spend much more on litigation costs only to have the court rule against them. Consulting with a seasoned attorney can help divorcing spouses understand the relevant legal standards and save themselves time, money and heartache.
Filing fees and court costs in New York
Some costs of uncontested divorce cannot be avoided, such as filing fees. In Nassau County, the filing fee for a dissolution of marriage is currently $408. In Suffolk County, you pay an initial $210 to obtain an index number, then there are subsequent fees for various forms. In some cases, it’s possible to get a hardship waiver, but for most petitioners, the fees quickly add up. This is another reason to consult an experienced attorney who knows how to control the costs of a divorce.
For your best results in a low-cost divorce, hire a knowledgeable Long Island attorney
If you want a low-cost divorce without buyer’s remorse, you can trust Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. For more information on our firm's full range of low-cost divorce services, call 1.631.479.3839 or contact our office online. Your first consultation is free.