Divorce trials can be complicated and stressful for a couple that is divorcing. Often, they bring a lot of difficult emotions to the surface, and it can be challenging to hear testimony that you believe is a mischaracterization or outright lie about critical issues during your marriage, such as your children or your property. Many divorces can be settled amicably, out of court. However, not every issue is wrapped up as a couple would prefer through mediation and negotiation. When pursuing a divorce, it is important to retain an experienced New York City divorce trial lawyer who is familiar with this process. An attorney who is ready to go to trial and experienced in this setting can improve your position in negotiations with the other party and can affect the outcome of many important issues for years to come. Ingrid Gherman is an attentive and responsive attorney with more than 30 years of experience as a divorce lawyer representing clients throughout the New York City metropolitan area.Protecting Your Interests in a Divorce Trial
Contested divorce issues can involve child custody, child support, alimony, or the equitable distribution of property, among others. It may be possible to settle certain issues in a divorce before going to trial, while others are left to be determined at trial. Our firm recommends going to trial only after every effort has been exhausted to resolve a divorce case peacefully and with dignity and fairness through dispute resolution methods such as mediation, negotiation, or collaborative law. Generally, these methods are less expensive and less stressful than a divorce trial. Anything that is not negotiated and settled will need to be determined by the court.
For example, your spouse and you can obtain a “no-fault divorce” where one spouse testifies that there has been an irretrievable breakdown in the relationship that lasts for at least the past six months; there are other grounds for a divorce in New York; they are called “fault grounds” and they include, abandonment for at least one year, imprisonment, cruel and inhuman treatment, and adultery. The spouses may be able to negotiate a property settlement agreement, including a provision for spousal support (alimony), through mediation. However, they may have a bitter dispute about who should have custody of a child and how much child support should be paid. In that case, only the child custody and child support issues would need to go to trial. A divorce trial attorney in New York City could advocate on either spouse’s behalf before the judge regarding these issues.
It is still possible in New York to go to trial over the grounds for divorce; however, the courts generally discourage litigants from doing so, now that there are no-fault grounds. A divorce grounds trial based on allegations of fault tend to exacerbate the spouses’ animosity towards one another. Also, court trials and hearings are expensive and can last for weeks and months, which will interfere with the litigants’ work and other, daily activities. The animosity between the parties can be so intense, so as to prevent them from making rational decisions about their finances, their children and their future. In determining whether to grant a divorce on the basis of cruel and inhuman treatment, judges will look at specific acts of cruelty alleged to have occurred over the prior five years. The cruelty needs to affect the other spouse mentally and/or physical, to such an extent, that it is no longer safe for that spouse to continue to live in the same home as the aggressor spouse. This may have an impact on the child custody arrangement as well. When determining child custody, a New York judge will look at what is in the best interests of the child, and one factor that will be considered is allegations of domestic violence and child abuse by one or both parents.
A divorce trial in New York consists of sworn testimony of witnesses as well as documents that are offered in evidence in support of such testimony. New York divorce trial attorneys will present their client’s case through direct examination.
Direct examination is a series of questions of witnesses under oath, designed to elicit responses that will establish the nature and extent of the parties’ marital property together with a request that the Court equitably distribute such property to each spouse. For example, the parties’ marital property includes the marital residence that they acquired during the marriage; it may also include bank accounts, brokerage accounts, as well as pensions and other forms of retirement benefits that spouses receive as a result of his and her employment. Once the direct examination of a witness is concluded, the other spouse's lawyer can undertake cross-examination of the witness. During examinations, either side may object to the form or substance of a question and they must wait until the judge rules on such objections. If improper questions are not challenged at the time of the trial, the party making the objection may not be able to use their impropriety as the basis for an appeal.
Once a plaintiff presents his or her testimony, witnesses, and evidence, the plaintiff’s case rests. The defendant then has an opportunity to call and examine witnesses. After the conclusion of the defendant's presentation, counsel for each party may present closing arguments either orally or in writing.Retain an Experienced Divorce Trial Lawyer in New York City
Ingrid Gherman is a determined and compassionate attorney who can advocate vigorously for your interests. If you believe that it will be necessary to undergo a trial in your divorce, we can provide knowledgeable legal representation. We will work tirelessly with you to pursue an appropriate outcome rapidly and cost-effectively. Ms. Gherman represents people in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, as well as Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties. To speak to her about your situation, call us to arrange a consultation at (212) 941-0767 or contact us through our online form.