Matrimonial law refers to anything that relates to the creation or dissolution of a marriage. This includes Prenuptial Agreements, Postnuptial Agreements, Legal Separations, Divorces and Qualified Domestic Relations Orders.
Divorces are proceedings to dissolve a marriage. There are many issues that need to be resolved in a divorce but they can be broken down into seven basic categories, each of which must be resolved before you can get a Judgement of Divorce dissolving the marriage :
- Grounds – A reason under DRL § 170 that you should be entitled to a divorce. This issue is less relevant since the addition of “no-fault divorces” to the statute under DRL § 170(7).
- Legal Custody of Children – Who gets to make decisions about issues relating to the general welfare of the parties child(ren).
- Physical Custody of Children – With whom the child resides and when they reside with them.
- Child Support – A payment of money to the parent with primary physical custody of the child(ren) based upon the parties respective incomes.
- Spousal Maintenance (Alimony) – A payment of money to the less-monied spouse (the spouse who earns less money) based upon the parties respective incomes.
- Equitable Distribution – The process by which everything acquired during the marriage is split between the parties.
- Attorneys Fees – The obligation to pay for either party’s attorney may be apportioned between the parties. DRL § 237 requires the party who earns more money to pay the attorney fees for the less-monied spouse.
Divorces can be uncontested or contested. An uncontested divorce occurs when all parties agree on how to resolve the seven issues above. A contested divorce occurs when the parties need a judge to decide those issues. Uncontested divorces are relatively inexpensive, while contested divorces can cost significantly more.