Experienced, Understanding Guidance Through the Divorce Process

The Law Firm of D'Arrigo & Cote provides legal help for individuals and couples at all stages of divorce - whether you are just beginning to think about divorce or have been separated from your spouse for some time. Our experience in Divorce Law in New York spans over 30 years, giving us the ability to provide you with the knowledge you need to address the legal matters surrounding your divorce and it's many issues, including:

  • Division of assets

  • Spousal support/alimony

  • Child support

  • Child custody/parenting plans

  • Child abuse and neglect

We work hard to help you achieve the positive results you want and need for your divorce matters.  Whether you want to file a traditional divorce proceeding, take advantage of New York's No-Fault Divorce option, or are interested in starting with a legal separation agreement, we can advise and assist you with the option that is most applicable to your situation.

Uncontested Divorce

Our office is located in Liverpool, New York, however, our matrimonial practice extends to Syracuse, Onondaga County and generally the Central New York area. Our lawyers are licensed to practice in New York State, and have many years experience in handling your divorce.

Flat Fee Schedule

An uncontested divorce where only one spouse has an attorney and all necessary documents are signed by both parties without a Court appearance can typically be addressed on a flat fee basis. Note, all flat fees, costs and disbursements are to be paid in advance. Please contact us for a fee schedule that addresses your specific circumstances.

If you and your spouse agree on the terms of a divorce without contested litigation, we will prepare and file the required documents to commence and finalize a divorce action for you at our modest flat fee rate. In an uncontested divorce in which only one spouse has an attorney, all necessary documents will be signed by both parties allowing the divorce to be finalized without a Court appearance.

If you already have a valid Separation Agreement prepared by a divorce mediator, another attorney or yourself, we can handle the conversion of that Separation Agreement into a final divorce decree. If you have tried to handle the divorce action yourself, but find that you are having difficulty getting the divorce finalized, we can take over the process for you. If you are thinking of handling your uncontested divorce on your own, we suggest you first call our office for a free initial consultation. We can save you hours of work, and time wasted at the Court Clerk's office at a relatively modest cost.

INITIAL CONSULTATION.  We will provide you with a free initial consultation at our offices, to evaluate what paperwork is required to proceed with an uncontested divorce. To get started, you should provide us with copies of all relevant documents such as your marriage certificate (if available) and in the case of divorces with children and/or a property settlement, relevant proof of income, health insurance, existing Family Court Orders, existing deeds, pension information, bank accounts and other property documentation.

Uncontested Divorce with No Children

For divorces without children or a property settlement, it is possible to proceed without an office visit. If it is inconvenient for you to meet in our office, we can provide a free initial telephone consultation to discuss how to proceed with an uncontested divorce. If you decide you want us to handle your uncontested divorce, we will send you forms to complete and the entire transaction can be handled through the mail.

Please note that the offer of a free initial consultation does not extend to reviewing documents that your spouse has arranged to have drawn up for an uncontested divorce. There would be a separate consultation fee for reviewing such documents.

Uncontested Divorce with Children

If you have children, New York State law requires a written agreement (sometimes referred to as an "Opting-Out Agreement") which must contain certain mandatory provisions for custody of the children (either sole or joint), visitation or access to the children by each party, health insurance for the children, and child support. D'Arrigo & Cote will prepare such an agreement for you which will address all of the provisions required for you to obtain an uncontested divorce for a modest flat fee.

Separation and Opting-Out Agreements

If you and your spouse prefer to become legally separated pursuant to a written Separation and Opting-out Agreement, which can be used for a conversion divorce one year later, we can prepare a Separation and Opting Out Agreement for $1,500, plus the County Clerk's filing fee ($5.00) and the cost of obtaining a certified copy of the agreement once it has been filed with the County Clerk. The County Clerk requires that an index number be purchased at the time of the filing of the Separation Agreement. The cost of the index number is $210.00.

New York State Law requires that child support be based on a percentage of the parties' annual income. The annual income is generally the gross income minus FICA (Federal and State Income taxes are not deducted from the gross income to determine child support) and New York City Income Tax (if applicable). The current percentages for calculating child support obligations are: one child 17%; two children 25%; three children 29%; four children 31%; five or more children 35%. The parties can agree to a higher or lower amount, but a specific reason for the deviation must be included in the written agreement and it is subject to the Court's approval.

Child Support

Under current New York State Law, child support obligations continue until the child reaches the age of 21 years, or is sooner emancipated. If daycare is required for the custodial parent to attend employment or an educational program which will be used to obtain employment, the agreement must also provide for the sharing of the daycare costs. The cost of the daycare would be shared on a basis determined by each party's percentage of the total income of both parents.

Under current New York State Law, the party receiving the child support has the right to receive the child support through the party's County Office of Child Support Enforcement. If the party receiving child support elects to use the services of Child Support Enforcement, the party paying the child support would have to send the payments to the Office of Child Support Enforcement on a regular schedule, established by that office. If the party receiving the child support elects not to use the services of the Office of Child Support Enforcement, that party must waive this right in a written statement.

College Expenses

The issue of the payment of college expenses for the children should also be addressed in any written agreement submitted to the Court. The agreement should outline an agreement between the divorcing parties as to their respective responsibilities concerning the payment of college expenses. It is not required that the responsibility of paying for college expenses be included in a divorce agreement, however, if it is not provided for at the time of the divorce, you may not be able to require your spouse to contribute to college costs in the future.

Tax Returns

The issue of claiming children as dependents on income tax returns should also be addressed in a written agreement. Under current IRS regulations, the party who has physical custody of the children has the exclusive right to claim the children as tax dependents on their income tax returns. It is common for parties in amicable divorces to agree to split the right to claim the children as tax dependents. You must provide written documentation of income for both parents. The documentation should consist of W-2s, recent pay stubs and income tax returns.

If there are existing Family Court Orders concerning child support, custody or visitation, you must provide us with a copy of such Orders.

Property Settlement

As a general rule, under New York law, any property acquired during the marriage is considered "Marital Property", which, with some exceptions, must be divided between the parties when the marriage ends. The exceptions are generally gifts from third parties to only one spouse, inherited property and settlements from lawsuits that only involve one of the spouses. Any property that a party owned prior to the marriage is considered to be the separate property of that party. Any appreciation of the value of separate property during the course of the marriage which can be attributed to the efforts of both spouses may also be considered "Marital Property" subject to division between the parties. "Marital Property" may also include pension rights, the value of businesses and the value of professional licenses and degrees acquired during the marriage. In order to properly determine the value of "Marital Property" expert appraisals from pension actuaries, real estate appraisers and accountants should be employed. Under current New York State Law, any "Marital Property" is to be divided under the term "Equitable Distribution".

If you have significant "Marital Property" such as real estate and pensions, you would be making a very serious mistake in not having the disposition of that property addressed in a written agreement. A written property settlement that it is incorporated in the divorce process to divide property is known as a Stipulation of Settlement or sometimes a Separation Agreement. Note, if there are significant assets in a pension or 401(k) plan, you may need to have separate qualified domestic relations order prepared to address the division of such assets, at an additional charge.

If you and your spouse cannot easily agree as to what each party should receive under "Equitable Distribution" then you may wish to proceed with separate counsel on a contested basis and our services may not be appropriate for you. However, if you can agree as to what your property is worth and how it is to be divided, we can incorporate that agreement in a property settlement agreement as part of your divorce.

If you already have a property settlement agreement through the services of a divorce mediator, we can also use that agreement to finalize your divorce. The property settlement agreement should also address such items as credit card debt, car loans, title to cars, life insurance, security deposits and the actual division of personal property such as furniture. If you have credit cards or a car loan for which both spouses are liable and you do not have a written agreement dividing up the responsibility for those debts, you may not have legal recourse if one party stops paying. If you are driving a car titled in your spouse's name and you do not have a written agreement about the transfer of title, you may have no legal recourse if your spouse refuses to transfer title at a previously agreed point in time. If you and your spouse are on the lease to an apartment, you should have a written agreement as to who will have the right to reside in the apartment after the divorce, who will pay the rent and who is entitled to the security deposit. The small additional extra cost in having a divorce with a property settlement drawn up may be appropriate for the extra protection it provides even where there are not major property items such as real estate or pensions to be divided.

Grounds for Divorce in New York State

In order to commence an action for divorce in New York State, a spouse has to be able to allege one of the statutory grounds for divorce. The current grounds for divorce in New York are:

Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
This is New York's no fault divorce. One party has to state that the marriage has irretrievably broken down for a period of six months. All financial issues and custody and visitation has to be settled before the divorce will be granted.

Abandonment for one or more years.
This can include the actual act of one spouse leaving the other for a period of more than one year or the refusal of one spouse to have sexual relations with the other for more than one year (constructive abandonment). Under the grounds of constructive abandonment a spouse can be abandoned by the other even though they still reside in the same residence during the period of abandonment. The spouse who retains our services has to be the spouse who was abandoned by the other. We cannot commence a divorce action for the spouse who abandoned the other.

Living separate and apart for one or more years pursuant to a written separation agreement.
The divorce action can be commenced by either party after one year from the date the separation agreement was signed. A divorce action can also be brought if the parties have lived separate and apart for one or more years pursuant to a judicial decree of separation. In order to obtain a judicial decree of separation, a party has to commence a court action on one of the statutory grounds for separation, which are similar to the grounds for a divorce.

Cruel and inhuman treatment.
This requires a continuous course of conduct by one spouse against the other that so endangers the physical and mental well being of the other spouse as to make it improper for the spouses to live together. In order to obtain a divorce on the grounds of cruel and inhuman treatment there has to be a detailed list of the cruel and inhuman acts in the divorce documents. The acts of cruelty cannot be more than five years old. The allegations that are needed for the divorce action to be successful often make it difficult for the other spouse to consent to an uncontested divorce.

This is rarely used because even in an uncontested divorce action, there is a requirement that the testimony of an independent third party be submitted.

Confinement in prison for three or more years.
If one spouse is in prison for three or more years, the other spouse can commence a divorce action on that basis. The period of imprisonment has to commence after the date of the marriage.

If You Cannot Locate Your Spouse

If you cannot locate your spouse, you may still be able to obtain an uncontested divorce from your spouse. In order to proceed with the divorce action under such circumstances, you have to obtain a Court Order allowing you to serve your spouse with a copy of the Summons by publishing the Summons in a newspaper once per week for three consecutive weeks. The Court will require proof that you and your attorney have done everything possible to locate your spouse before the Court will grant permission to serve your spouse by publication. These steps include contacting any know relatives or friends of your spouse, doing an internet and telephone book search and contacting various agencies such as the post office, the branches of the military, the Board of Elections, Social Security and the Department of Motor Vehicles. The newspaper in which the Summons will be required to be published will be chosen by the Court. The cost of publishing a divorce Summons in a newspaper once per week for three consecutive weeks usually ranges between $800.00 to $2,700.00, depending on in which County the publication is required. If your spouse does not answer the Summons within 50 days of the date of the last publication, you can proceed to apply for an uncontested divorce.

Contact Us

To arrange a confidential meeting to discuss your particular divorce matter, contact our offices by e-mail or call (315) 451-2383.


Office Location

7515 Morgan Road

Liverpool, New York 13090

Phone: (315) 451-2383

Fax: (315) 451-4106

Driving Directions

Email: jp@darrigolaw.com



Uncontested Divorce with Children

Uncontested Divorce without Children

Property Settlement

Grounds for Divorce in New York State

If you cannot locate your spouse

Separation and Opting-Out Agreements




7515 Morgan Road

Liverpool, New York 13090

Phone: (315) 451-2383

Fax: (315) 451-4106

Email: jp@darrigolaw.com

Syracuse, Liverpool New York Law Firm

The attorneys of D'Arrigo & Cote advise clients about Divorce, Landlord/Tenant, Wills and Estates, Real Estate, Vehicle & Traffic Law, Municipal Law, Business and Contract law, Litigation, and Personal Injury matters from offices in Liverpool, New York. The firm serves the needs of individuals and businesses in the Greater Syracuse area and central New York including Onondaga County, Cayuga County, Oswego County, and Oneida County.

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