While many people think of obtaining a divorce as a long and contentious process, in some instances, parties can dissolve their marriages in a relatively seamless manner via an uncontested divorce. There are certain requirements that must be met for a couple to be eligible for an uncontested divorce, though, including that they must agree on key issues such as child custody, support, and property division. If the parties cannot come to an agreement on such matters, they must proceed with a contested, litigated divorce, and one party cannot unilaterally deem a divorce uncontested. Recently, a New York court explained the grounds for vacating an order granting an uncontested divorce, in a case in which it was fraudulently represented that the divorce was uncontested. If you wish to end your marriage, it is prudent to meet with a knowledgeable New York divorce attorney to evaluate your options and whether you may be able to seek an uncontested divorce.
History of the Case
It is alleged that in 2010, a divorce petition seeking to dissolve the marriage of the husband and the wife was filed in a New York Supreme court and that subsequent documents were filed in the case averring that the divorce was uncontested. Thus, a final judgment of divorce was issued in February 2011. In April 2020, the wife filed a motion asking the court to vacate the judgment of divorce, alleging that the filings were fraudulent in that they contained forgeries of her purported signature.
Reportedly, the court then scheduled an evidentiary hearing to address the wife’s allegations. Prior to the hearing, however, the court received stipulations affirming that the divorce documents did not contain the wife’s or the husband’s authentic signatures. Both parties claimed ignorance regarding how or why the divorce petition and subsequent pleadings came to be filed. Regardless, though, the court concluded that the judgment of divorce was fraudulently obtained.
Grounds for Vacating an Order Granting an Uncontested Divorce
Pursuant to New York law, a court has extensive powers to vacate its own judgments if it finds that such a ruling is warranted due to an adequately set forth reason and to preserve the interests of substantial justice. Further, a court has the authority to vacate a default judgment for numerous reasons, including fraud, misrepresentation, and the misconduct of an adverse party. A court’s authority to vacate a judgment is not limited to reasons set forth under statutory law, however. Instead, a court can vacate a judgment whenever it is necessary to further justice. In the subject case, the court found that every document included a fraudulent signature. Thus, it constituted a fraud on the court and, in the interest of justice, required the court to vacate its own order granted a judgment of divorce.
Speak to an Experienced New York Attorney
Ending a marriage does not have to be an arduous process, and in many cases, a couple can seek to efficiently dissolve their marriage via an uncontested divorce. If you or your spouse intend to legally end your relationship, you should speak to an attorney to discuss what steps you can take to protect your interests. Ksenia Rudyuk is a trusted New York divorce attorney who can meet with you to discuss your options and help you to determine a strategy that will allow you to pursue a favorable result. You can contact Ms. Rudyuk via the online form or at 212-706-2001 to set up a conference.