Many residents of New York prefer a do-it-yourself divorce to terminate their marriage because of its many benefits. This type of divorce can cost you less money and be faster, which is essential for anybody going through the dissolution of marriage.
Uncontested Divorce in New York: How to Do It Yourself?
Before we dive into the detail, here's a brief definition of uncontested divorce:
If spouses manage to reach a mutual agreement on all divorce-related terms, including child custody, property division, and spousal support, they can apply for an uncontested divorce. In other words, an uncontested divorce is the one where neither party is fighting.
In this case, divorcing couples have the opportunity to prepare and submit their legal divorce paperwork without engaging a family law attorney to represent their divorce case. There are two main ways to file for divorce without the aid of an attorney.
- Soon-to-be-ex-spouses can go to the New York Courts website, where they can find an overview of the divorce process and the forms they'll need to move forward.
- Partners can use services offered by online divorce companies. Usually, these platforms help prepare up-to-date divorce papers in a state-specific format and then provide instructions for you to file them yourself.
Filing Your DIY Divorce Forms For Free
Typically, New York residents are required to make a mandatory court payment when filing divorce paperwork with the court. The Supreme Court charges filing fees for processing divorce documents and requests.
If the person considers court fees a considerable financial hardship, they can apply for a fee waiver. It can be done by either asking the judge to waive this payment or downloading the fee waiver form at the Judicial Branch website.
If the court approves this application, spouses will not have to pay this fee.
In New York, the index fee for a divorce is $210, although the minimum filing fee for an uncontested divorce is $335 in the state. At the same time, this payment does not include attorney's fees, notary fees, transportation, mailing costs, process server fees, etc.
Serving Divorce Papers To Your Spouse
Once divorce forms are filed with the County Clerk's Office, the plaintiff (the person initiating the divorce case) has 120 days to serve them to the other party. Currently, it can be done in one of the following ways:
- Any person unrelated to the divorce case over 18 can personally deliver documents to the defendant.
- By certified mail with postage prepaid
- By hiring a sheriff or process server
- Via publication (if the defendant cannot be located)
If all the divorce requirements are fulfilled, the judge issues a court order finalizing the marriage dissolution process. Once the couple receives a court order, they must comply with the instructions included. Otherwise, the judge can compel the spouse to follow certain instructions.
Signed by the judge, a divorce decree provides information regarding the terms and conditions of the divorce, including the couple's children (custody, visitation, and child support), spousal maintenance, or how marital property should be distributed.
In addition to psychological issues associated with divorce, spouses also need to resolve issues concerning property division, spousal and child support, and other matters. In fact, reaching a full agreement on the financial aspects involved in divorce proceedings often turns out to be the most challenging part for people seeking marriage termination.
Under New York matrimonial law, full financial disclosure by both parties is required. Simply put, both partners need to provide records for all of their financial assets. This includes real property, vehicles, investment accounts, retirement accounts, bank accounts, and a complete list of all debts.
To determine an accurate representation of each spouse's financial situation, each party should complete a Net Worth Statement and Financial Disclosure Affidavit. Considering that any errors or omissions in the financial disclosure statement considerably affect the outcome of the whole divorce, it is essential to review and proofread these forms several times before filing them with the court.
If spouses fail to agree on all divorce terms, they can still go through an amicable route of ending the marriage with the help of mediation. This process allows divorcing couples to discuss and resolve common issues with the help of a trained, neutral mediator.
Even though this option is suitable for most people looking for a way to settle their divorce out of court, there are some cases when traditional mediation isn't likely to work well. For example:
- there's a history of abuse or domestic violence
- there's a high level of emotional conflict, which makes communication between parties impossible
- one of the spouses is hiding money or other assets (or wasting assets)
- at least one of the spouses suffers from a substance abuse disorder and isn't receiving treatment
- the couple applied for a fault-based divorce
Online Do-It-Yourself Divorce
Online do-it-yourself divorce can be described as the process of preparing divorce documents over the Internet. With the advancement of innovative technologies, it has become one of the most popular ways to complete the paperwork following local laws and state requirements.
All you have to do is fill out a simple marriage-related questionnaire. Then, the online divorce company will guide you through each step of generating divorce papers online.
In several business days, you will be able to download a full set of divorce forms for a very affordable price that usually ranges between $130-400. Next, you can bring completed divorce papers to the court, initiating the divorce case.
Frequently asked questions
How to prepare divorce documents yourself?Download the list of divorce papers necessary for your case on the New York Courts website and fill them out with the appropriate information. Or you can use online divorce services to get step-by-step assistance in preparing divorce paperwork.
How to file divorce papers yourself?
- Determine which court to file in. If you're not sure, you can contact the county clerk and ask.
- Fill out the divorce paperwork.
- Bring the papers to the county clerk and pay the filing fee.