How long does a divorce take?

The average contested divorce is Suffolk County takes twelve to eighteen months. It takes approximately two to four months from the time the divorce papers are submitted to the court to be reviewed and signed off on by the assigned judge.

Will I be able to stay in my house?

Depending on many factors, including the amount of equity in the residence, the ages of the children, and the cost of alternate housing, most custodial parents can stay in the marital residence until the youngest child graduates from high school.

What is the amount of child support I have to pay?

Child support is statutory, and based on a percentage of the parents’ combined incomes. For one child, it is 17%; for two children it is 25%; for 3 children it is 29%; for 4 children it 31%; etc. The court first applies the percentage to combined income up to $141,000.00, and then has discretion to apply the percentage to income over that amount. Additionally, the court will order each parent to pay a proportionate share of medical expenses (including premium), education expenses, and day care.

Am I entitled to maintenance?

On a temporary basis, during the pendency of the divorce litigation, the court applies a formula to determine whether maintenance should be granted. Depending on when your divorce action was commenced, permanent maintenance, after the divorce, will either be based on many factors, including the length of the marriage, the need for additional training or education, and the equitable distribution of the assets or the court will apply a formula. The formula takes into consideration whether or not there are children of the marriage and is only applicable up to an income cap. Maintenance on income in excess of the cap is left to the court’s discretion, after considering all factors.

Do my children get to decide who they live with?

Children do not decide who they live with; either the parents decide or the court will make a decision. Based on the children’s age and maturity, the court will consider the children’s opinions, but will ultimately make a determination based on what serves their best interests.

Does my spouse have to pay my legal fees?

There is a presumption that the monied spouse should be liable for the other spouse’s legal fees. However, there is no guarantee a court will award counsel fees, and will consider each parties’ assets, their income, and the complexity of the case.

Will my case go to trial?

The majority of cases are settled without the necessity of a trial. More often than not, parties that have not reached a final agreement will settle either the day of the trial or during the trial.

If I inherited money during the marriage, do I get to keep it?

The court determines whether assets are “marital” or “separate” property. Typically all assets acquired during a marriage are considered “marital” unless they were received from an inheritance or as a gift from a third party. However, if the inheritance or gift was ‘co-mingled’ and deposited into a joint account, and you cannot trace the funds to establish where they originated, the court may determine that the once separate property is marital property subject to equitable distribution.