In New York, when a divorce case has been assigned to a judge, the court is required to order a preliminary conference that must be held within 45 days. Last August, the courts began using a revised form, which has helped streamline the process by clarifying what will be required of the parties at the conference.
The main purpose of the preliminary conference is to help the parties identify unresolved issues for trial. Because this is done under the court’s direction and both parties are actively involved, these conferences end up saving parties a significant amount of time and money in the long run. The recently added provisions help achieve this purpose by:
- Ensuring that both parties are aware of the maintenance guidelines;
- Providing notice of automatic orders prohibiting the parties from selling assets or incurring additional debt; and
- Preventing a party from unilaterally discontinuing the proceedings.
Preparing for the Preliminary Conference
The form also requires additional information, including:
- The date of the marriage;
- The names and birth dates of any children;
- Whether there have been orders issued against one of the parties;
- Whether the parties have entered into a separation agreement; and
- The contact information of both parties’ attorneys.
Completion of the new form also requires the parties to clearly state whether the following issues are resolved or unresolved;
- The grounds for divorce;
- The division of parenting time;
- Issues related to decision making;
- Property division;
- Child support; and
The form also gives the parties the opportunity to describe any additional unresolved issues. It is important to carefully complete this portion as a judge will not allow any issues to be raised that were not listed unless the party can demonstrate that there is good cause for doing so.
Finally, the form includes a provision stating what documents the parties are required to bring to the conference, which includes:
- Federal, state, and local tax returns;
- Credit card statements;
- Both individual and joint checking account statements;
- Brokerage account statements; and
- Savings account records.
It is hoped that these changes will decrease the likelihood that additional issues will be identified at trial, which will, in turn, create a more streamlined and efficient litigation process.
Contact an Experienced Syracuse Family Law Attorney Today
If you and your spouse live in Syracuse and have decided to separate, please contact Bombardo Law Office, P.C. by calling 315-488-5555 and a member of our dedicated legal team will help you schedule a consultation with an experienced divorce attorney who can help explain your options.