If you decide to use this packet and
to represent yourself:
You will not have the benefit of an attorney's
expertise and advice concerning issues related to divorce
proceedings, including, for example, division of marital
property, liability for joint debts, child custody and support,
spousal maintenance, insurance benefits, and orders of protection
or enforcement of the provisions of the divorce judgment
that deal with these issues.
You may risk losing certain rights stemming
from the marital relationship that are not readily apparent
to a person who is not an attorney.
Example: If your spouse is entitled
to a pension at his or her job and if you do not seek your
share of it in your divorce proceeding, you may lose your
right to claim a share of it in the future.
In addition, if you do not know where
your spouse is and you are unable to have the divorce summons
served upon him or her personally, there may be alternative
methods of service for which you may need the services of
an attorney. If you are unsure, after reading the instructions,
whether you have grounds for divorce or whether you meet
the residency requirements, you may need the services of
an attorney. The same is also true if you already have a
foreign divorce (one granted outside the State of New York),
if there is another matrimonial action pending or if you
are under the age of 18 years. You should consult with an
attorney in any of these circumstances before using
the procedures outlined in this packet.
If you decide you need an attorney and
you do not know of one, you should contact your local bar
association for a referral to a matrimonial attorney. In
addition, the New York State Bar Association provides a lawyers'
referral service for individuals seeking attorneys in a variety
of areas, among them matrimonial law. The State Bar Association's
toll-free telephone number is 1-800-342-3661. If you meet
certain financial and other eligibility requirements, you
may be able to obtain advice or representation from your
local legal aid organization.
Employees of the New York State Courts
are not allowed to give legal advice, although they will
certainly assist you with informational requests concerning
the processing of papers.