Long Island Divorce Attorney Answers Divorce FAQ

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Elliot Schlissel, a Long Island Attorney for over 30 years whose practice area includes divorce, estate planning and many others, recently provided us with answers to some of the frequently asked questions he receives about divorce such as what is costs, how long the process takes, what an attorney can do to help and what types of issues he sees on a consistent basis.

Question: How much does a divorce cost in Long Island?

Answer: There are various filing fees and disbursements in New York in order to obtain a divorce and those are approximately $300. In addition to that, if you use a process server, there’s a fee which could be anywhere from $50 to $80. If it’s amicable and the parties come to my office in an uncontested matter, I will serve the summons and complaint upon the other party in my office, so they save the process service fee.

If you’re going through a contested divorce and there’s a deposition before a shorthand stenographer, you have to pay for the stenographic record and that could be anywhere from $300 to $700 depending on how long the deposition takes. There may also be other expenses related to subpoenas. Going to trial could also be an expense. Although most cases settle, I’d say between two and five percent of the cases go to trial in New York. It would cost a minimum of $10,000 to take a case through trial.

Attorneys in New York State must be paid on an hourly basis. They can charge a flat fee for an uncontested divorce, but if things don’t work out, then they’re paid on an hourly basis. The hourly rates for attorneys, depending on the level of experience and competency, run anywhere from $200 to $500 an hour. Generally speaking, more experienced and highly regarded attorneys will be charge more money. However, in a capitalist system, you very often get what you pay for!

Question: How long does the process take?

Answer: Uncontested matters, those in which both parties agree to the terms with regard to fault, distribution of property, support, maintenance, custody and visitation, can be done in as little as two or three months. If the parties don’t agree and there is litigation, it can go on for a year’ and in some cases as long as two or three years. However, the courts now put pressure on the parties and their attorneys to try to resolve these matters as quickly as possible.

Question: What can a Long Island Divorce attorney do to help?

Answer: The matrimonial and family law area is a complicated especially in New York. Very often, it takes an attorney 15 or 20 years to develop a sufficient level of experience to deal appropriately with these issues. Many divorce attorneys will only handle simple matters. You need to find an attorney with a level of experience necessary to deal with these issues, whether they are complex or simple.

Question: What types of issues do you see on a consistent basis?

Answer: Children are always innocent in divorces. Parents divorce each other; they don’t divorce their children. Even in the most hostile of relationships, parents should avoid putting the children between them. They should avoid lobbying the children or turning them against one of the parties.

Children only have two parents and they are designed to love both of their parents. Even in the most hostile or difficult divorces, parents should avoid damaging their children by saying negative things about their spouse in front of their children or acting inappropriately in front of them. Parents get over the divorce, but it lingers on with children. They are simply innocent victims of parties not getting along.

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