Syracuse Divorce Lawyer Protect Spouses’ Interests

Onondaga County New York divorce attorney provides exceptional client service

As an established Syracuse firm concentrating on divorce and family law matters, Bombardo Law Office, P.C. offers strong advice and advocacy to Central New Yorkers going through a divorce. With more than 27 years of experience negotiating and litigating every aspect of marital dissolution cases, I have the knowledge needed to protect your interests throughout the legal process. You can rely on me for responsive legal counsel during this important life transition. As you look to make a new start, I work diligently to secure favorable terms relating to alimony, property division, custody and child support.

What constitutes a legal marriage in New York?

New York outlawed common law marriages long ago, so there are formalities a couple must observe to be legally married. These include the following:

  • Spouses must purchase a marriage license, giving proof of identity and age.
  • Each spouse must be at least 18 years of age, 16 to 17 years with parental consent or 14 to 15 years with a court’s permission.
  • Spouses may not be too closely related by blood.
  • Spouses may not be legally married to someone else.
  • Spouses must sign a contract of marriage in the presence of two witnesses.
  • The marriage must be "solemnized" under the direction of an authorized officiant, such as a clergyman, religious minister, or civil official.

There is no gender requirement to marry in New York.

Uncontested divorce and no-fault divorce in New York

Before New York’s no-fault statute was passed, spouses seeking divorce either had to allege fault grounds or had to live apart for at least a year. Today, under N.Y. Dom. Rel. § 170 (7), a spouse can file for a no-fault divorce, asserting that the marital relationship has broken down irretrievably for at least six months. However, filing no-fault does not ensure an uncontested divorce. The parties must still resolve all their ancillary issues, such as alimony, child custody, child support or the division of property. If they cannot reach a comprehensive settlement, the case is contested and may have to go to trial.

What is a contested divorce?

A contested divorce is one in which the grounds for divorce are disputed or the parties have not reached agreement on one or more issues.

Petitioners who allege fault grounds are accusing their spouse of marital misconduct. In New York, these grounds are:

  • Cruel and inhuman treatment
  • Abandonment for more than one year
  • Imprisonment of one spouse continuously for three or more years
  • Adultery

Unless the responding spouse admits to the misconduct, the issue may have to go to trial.

A divorce can also be contested if there are disputes over essential issues like child custody, child support, alimony or equitable distribution of marital property. In a fault-based divorce, these issues may be harder to settle because of resentment over the fault allegations.

Defenses to a contested divorce

When a plaintiff alleges fault grounds for divorce, the defendant is entitled to respond by filing an answer with the court. The defendant can deny the allegations and can raise defenses. The burden is on the plaintiff to prove that the alleged misconduct occurred. Common defenses are that the plaintiff provoked or condoned the misconduct or was guilty of misconduct themselves.

When a divorce is contested as to ancillary issues, such as entitlement to alimony or a larger share of marital property, the burden is on each party to prove the merits of their claim. Proof of marital misconduct can affect equitable distribution if that misconduct has depleted the marital estate. For example, a court could decide that a husband who gave expensive gifts to a paramour deserves less of a share.

Contested vs. uncontested divorce process

If you cannot reach a negotiated settlement with your spouse over issues relating to custody, property division, child support and alimony, you must litigate the points on which you disagree.

Additional challenges exist when a divorce involves high-profile individuals or a large marital estate. I am committed to protecting my clients' privacy and pursuing a fair resolution out of the glare of the spotlight. Moreover, my discreet approach to contested divorce allows the process to work without placing undue stress on you or your children.

Whatever your situation, my firm will make every effort to guide you toward an equitable and comprehensive result so you can move on with your life without facing the time, expense and hassle associated with litigation.

Property division in New York divorce cases

One of the important issues I litigate is how your marital property will be divided. Under New York’s equitable distribution system, the court has leeway to decide what is fair when parceling out marital assets. I have experience in the distribution of assets that are difficult to appraise and those where the asset value might be reduced in a distribution, such as real estate, stock portfolios, retirement accounts and family businesses. Whatever the size or scope of your marital estate, I can provide the quality representation required to deliver a fair outcome.

Contact an effective Central New York divorce lawyer for a consultation

Bombardo Law Office, P.C. in Syracuse represents Central New York spouses in divorce proceedings and related matters. Please call 315-800-4002 or contact me online to schedule a meeting to discuss your legal options.

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