When will I be divorced (and why does it take so long!)? – NYC Divorce Lawyers Answer
Many people who go through the divorce process become frustrated by the length of time it takes even for a so-called “uncontested” divorce to be finalized. Divorce paperwork for an “uncontested” divorce is filed when a couple agrees on all the issues and desires to simply pay the applicable fees and obtain a judge’s signature – seems simple, right? Unfortunately, there are many behind the scenes steps required that most people are not aware of. NYC divorce lawyers from The Kleyman Law Firm tell you why.
First, whether a couple utilizes the services of an attorney or decides to prepare uncontested divorce papers themselves, many are surprised by the number of items the divorce packet includes and how much information is required to complete them. Depending on the county there can upwards of 25 different documents that need to be prepared – some are fill-in-the-blank documents provided by the court (for example, the certificate of dissolution), but others are documents that are not fully explained on the checklist, and examples are not readily available (for example, the Plaintiff’s and Defendant’s affidavits). NYC divorce lawyers know that if the paperwork is submitted without even one of the items on the checklist – or if any of the papers are missing even one item of required information – the entire packet can be rejected. When these packets are submitted to the court, they need to be logged into the court’s computer system, initially checked to make sure the applicable fees have been paid, and transferred to the correct person to be reviewed. The review of these packets takes some time, so that it may be several months after the packet is submitted before the couple is informed that it has been accepted or rejected. Depending on the county, the paperwork may be reviewed by a matrimonial judge, a clerk working for a matrimonial judge, a “special referee,” and/or an employee of the matrimonial clerk’s office who is trained to review such documents.
Thousands of uncontested divorce packets are filed each year by NYC divorce lawyers and people representing themselves, each of which include several pages of text which need to be checked in detail. A stipulation of settlement, for example, which sets out the terms of a couple’s agreement, can sometimes be over fifty pages – and that is in addition to the other documents submitted. Each page must be checked carefully.
Once the papers have been logged, checked, and reviewed, a judge or referee must sign the documents which are to become orders – the Judgment of Divorce, the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, and, where applicable, other orders such as the Qualified Domestic Relations Order and the Qualified Medical Child Support Order. The judge or referee must carefully review these documents to ensure that they match the parties’ agreement terms exactly, and that all statutorily required language and calculations have been included. If anything is missing or done incorrectly, the papers can be rejected or the NYC divorce lawyers can be contacted for corrections.
While many couples find this process frustrating, it is important to remember the reason that the court staff is so careful and demands such precision – these processes are to ensure that the needs of the divorcing couple and their children are met, and that nothing is left out or incorrect that could potentially cause problems down the road. These papers are the only thing the court will see of a couple who is filing for divorce uncontested – there are no court appearances in an uncontested divorce — and the court wants to ensure they have the entire picture and that everything important has been accounted for.
So, be patient, check in with the clerk’s office from time to time to make sure they have everything they need, and your divorce judgment will – eventually – be signed.