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Divorce Primer

As a former Broome County Family Court Judge and New York State Supreme Court Justice, Tully Rinckey PLLC Binghamton Managing Partner Peter P. Charnetsky, Esq. has insights into the divorce process that most other attorneys lack. He is intimately familiar with the divorce process and will strive to bring you peace of mind as he guides you to the next stage in your life.

Call 607-722-1520 or email to schedule FREE your consultation with Binghamton Managing Partner Peter P. Charnetsky, Esq.

1.   Introduction

  • To get a divorce, couples in the Southern Tier must agree to, or have a court issue a determination on, several issues, including child custody, child support, visitation, spousal maintenance, and equitable distribution. While out-of-court negotiations over these matters can save spouses much in terms of time, money and stress, sometimes it is necessary to resort to litigation when an agreement cannot be reached.

2.   Filing for Divorce

  • To initiate the divorce process, a spouse must file a summons, which puts the court and the other spouse on notice of the intent to end the marriage. The spouse who files this legal document is referred to as a “plaintiff.” The summons outlines the plaintiffs demands, including child custody, child support, visitation, spousal maintenance, and equitable distribution.

3.   The Response

  • The recipient of a divorce summons usually has 20 days to respond to it. It is crucial for the receiving spouse, referred to as the “defendant,” to promptly respond to the summons or else the court could grant the plaintiff everything he or she demanded.

4.   Temporary Orders

  • Depending on factors such as the marriage’s duration and the parties’ education and earning capacity, a Judge could temporarily order one spouse to pay the spousal maintenance, also known as alimony, for the duration of the divorce proceedings. Temporary orders may also be issued for child support, child custody and visitation.

5.   Discovery

  • During this stage of the divorce process, the parties must share financial and other information for the case. Depending on whether there are any children and the amount of assets and liabilities involved, this stage can be simple or time-consuming.

6.   Settlement

  • By agreeing to issues such as child custody, child support, visitation, and equitable distribution, parties can mutually decide the terms of their divorce rather than have a Judge decide on those terms for them. Not only can spouses save money by settling rather than litigating their case, they are also more inclined to obey the judgment; thus reducing the risk of having to return to court for divorce decree enforcement. The parties and their attorneys may be required to participate in a settlement conference, which the Judge will also attend, so they can attempt to reach an agreement.

7.   Trial

  • When a settlement cannot be reached, the parties must prove to a Judge why certain issues, such as child support, child custody and equitable distribution, should be determined in a certain way. Doing this requires various documents and testimony from the parties, experts and other witnesses. Trials can be costly and time consuming. The stakes are high, and if one party is dissatisfied with the Judge’s decision, it can be appealed to a higher court.

8.   Tips for the Divorce Process

  • Remain on good terms with your spouse and children.
  • Do not agree to a settlement without first consulting with an attorney.
  • Avoid confrontations and arguments with your spouse and children.
  • Be careful what you say to a spouse or others – the Judge might hear about it.
  • Consult with an attorney before unnecessarily moving or spending money.
  • Keep all records for financial and other important information.
  • Do not hide assets or evidence.

Tully Rinckey PLLC’s family and matrimonial law attorneys can represent parents, spouses, siblings, grandparents, domestic partners, and other parties in Bath, Binghamton, Elmira, Ithaca, Media, Norwich, Owego, Watkins Glen, and beyond. Call today to schedule an initial consultation with one of our family and matrimonial lawyers at 607-722-1520 or e-mail Click here to view a video about our consultation process.

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