How to File for Divorce in New York

How to File for Divorce
in New York

Divorce is such a short word, but it hides so many secrets. This article will reveal all the elements and peculiarities of the divorce process in New York.

Residency Requirements

To be eligible for divorce in New York, spouses must have lived in the state for a certain period. Each US state has its specific residency requirements. Typically, the law requires couples to reside for three months to a year in the state.

To file for divorce in New York, spouses must meet one of the following residency requirements:

  1. The spouses were married in New York, and one or both spouses had lived continuously in the state for one year before filing;
  2. The spouses lived in the state as a married couple, or one of the spouses lived in New York continuously for one year before application;
  3. The couple did not marry in New York, but one of the spouses lived in the state continuously for two years before filing for divorce;
  4. The grounds for divorce occurred in New York, and one of the spouses resided in the state continuously for one year before the beginning of the proceedings;
  5. The reasons for the divorce occurred in New York, and the couple was living in the state when the divorce proceedings began.

Divorcing partners must meet one of the five requirements listed. If they do not meet the residency requirement, they should consider filing for divorce in another state.

Spouses can verify where they live using the lease, utility bills, proof of rent payments, pay stubs, and their driver’s license.

Grounds for Divorce

Grounds are the legally recognized reasons for the dissolution of a marriage. Spouses can file for a fault or no-fault divorce in many US states. However, in New York, divorcing couples have only recently received such an opportunity.

In August 2010, Governor David Paterson signed a package of bills on divorce allowing spouses to obtain a no-fault, mutual divorce in New York. This order allowed the partners to facilitate the divorce process and significantly reduce its cost.

In addition to no-fault and fault grounds, New York spouses can file for divorce based on legal separation. To be eligible to file for divorce on this ground, the petitioner needs to prove that:

  • the spouses have lived separately and apart under the court order for at least one year, and they have fulfilled all the conditions of the decision received;
  • the couple has lived separately and apart under a formal written separation agreement for at least a year, and they have complied with all the agreement terms.

No-Fault Grounds

To get a no-fault divorce, spouses should state that their marriage has been “broken down irretrievably” for at least six months before filing. Other states use the term “irreconcilable differences” for the same meaning.

It is important to note that in New York, spouses do not have to live apart for six months to prove that their marriage does not work and reconciliation is not possible.

In a no-fault divorce, the court will not make a final decision until the parties involved have reached an agreement and the court has approved the following divorce-related issues:

  • family property division;
  • child custody and visitation;
  • child support;
  • spousal support (alimony);
  • payment for the lawyers and experts’ services (if necessary).

Fault Grounds

A fault-based divorce means that one of the spouses has committed a legally recognized misconduct against the other spouse. New York law recognizes the following grounds for a faulty divorce:

  • cruel and inhuman treatment (physical or psychological abuse) that makes it unsafe or impossible for the spouses to continue living together;
  • abandonment for one year;
  • imprisonment for three consecutive years after marriage; and
  • adultery.

If the petitioner files for divorce due to fault, they need to prove to the judge that the respondent has committed a wrongdoing. The spouse may use photos or video materials, the testimony of witnesses or private investigators, emails, voice messages, and letters as proof.

Prolonged divorce battles in the courtroom usually accompany a fault divorce. In addition, the couple has to answer confusing questions that expose their family’s dirty laundry to the public. Such divorce proceedings often cause a heavy emotional toll on the parties involved, including the children.

Before filing for a fault-based divorce, the spouses should consider all the pros and cons and whether they are ready for a public hearing.

How to File an Uncontested Divorce

An uncontested divorce occurs when:

  • spouses do not have any disagreements regarding child custody, marital assets, and other financial issues related to divorce; or
  • the spouses mutually seek a divorce, or the respondent does not appear in the divorce process.

An amicable divorce allows spouses to have a do-it-yourself (DIY) divorce and use alternative ways to prepare divorce papers, such as Online Divorce New York.

To file for an uncontested divorce in New York, spouses must follow these steps:

  • Prepare divorce papers.

The petitioner can receive divorce papers:

  • by stopping by the court;
  • with an attorney’s help;
  • by downloading them from the official court website;
  • by using an online divorce company.

The couple should initially complete the Summons With Notice or Summons and Complaint, Notice of Automatic Orders, Notice Concerning Continuation of Health Care Coverage, and Settlement Agreement.

Partners should note that the required paperwork varies depending on whether the couple has minor children. If spouses have children, they must complete additional child custody and payment forms.

  • File legal forms.

When spouses complete the required forms, they should submit them to the County Clerk’s Office. If the spouses select and fill out the legal papers correctly and without mistakes, the clerk will accept them and file the case to the court for consideration.

Also, New York residents can use NYSCEF (the New York State Courts Electronic Filing system). However, the petitioner should check if an e-filing service is available in their county.

It’s worth noting that before filing papers with the court, the spouses should make two additional copies of the documents package. The clerk distributes the copies between the spouses after verification, and the original applies to the court.

  • Pay filing fees and receive a case index number.
  • Serve the spouse.
  • Finalize the divorce.

The judge will review the case and the information provided and, if approved, will sign the final divorce decree.

There is no mandatory waiting period in New York, so spouses can receive a court order soon after filing. However, partners should consider their case circumstances and the court workload. So even in an uncontested case, the court can approve the divorce three months after filing.

DIY Divorce

A DIY divorce is one of the possible variations of an uncontested divorce that allows spouses not to hire a lawyer. What does it mean?

In a DIY divorce, the partners run their dissolution case from the beginning to the end, including the divorce papers preparation, filing with the court, representing their interests, and other divorce-related matters.

A couple can do a DIY if:

  • spouses have the time and desire to deal with legal paperwork;
  • both spouses mutually seek to divorce;
  • spouses do not have marriage and breakup-related disagreements;
  • spouses do not have large debts and family assets.

It is noteworthy that the divorcing spouses don’t need to prepare divorce forms independently in a DIY divorce. Instead, they can use specialized services such as Online Divorce New York for fast and high-quality selecting and filling out forms.

In addition, online services like Online Divorce New York often provide detailed filing guides, which allow partners to start their divorce themselves without unnecessary expenses and fuss.

Divorce Without a Lawyer

A family law attorney is a legal representative of a client in court. They help spouses make their dissolution more organized and smooth. The lawyer’s responsibilities include preparing and filing papers with the court and protecting the client.

Lawyers charge between $122 and $485 per hour in New York. It usually makes up the bulk of the final divorce cost that not everyone can afford.

However, in an uncontested divorce, the spouses may refuse expensive lawyer services. In an amicable divorce, the spouses independently agree on the divorce terms, which means they do not need protection.

Also, partners can prepare divorce papers by getting blank forms from the court or court website. However, if the spouses do not have legal training, it may be challenging for them to select and complete the required paperwork.

Online services such as Online Divorce New York have been developed for such cases. Even without a legal background, spouses can easily and quickly generate customized divorce filings.

How to File a Contested Divorce

A contested divorce means that the spouses do not compromise on marriage-related issues and leave the decision to the judge.

In a contested case, spouses need to hire lawyers to defend and represent them. Attorneys take care of most of the divorce process, including preparing legal papers and filing with the court.

A contested divorce can include the following steps:

  • Filing a divorce petition;
  • Serving the other spouse;
  • Responding to the petition;
  • Divorce discovery;
  • Pre-trial legal motions and hearings;
  • Settlement proposals and negotiations between attorneys;
  • Preparing for trial if settlement fails;
  • Hearings;
  • Finalization of the court trial, and
  • Filing an appeal if spouses disagree with the final judge’s decision.

Sometimes the court may order mediation for the spouses to resolve divorce-related issues out of court. In mediation, a neutral third party listens to both parties and offers a compromise solution.

If the spouses believe the decision is fair, they can sign a Settlement Agreement.

If partners in New York decide to do a contested divorce, they should be ready for a lengthy and costly divorce process.

Filing Fees

For filing legal papers, the petitioner must pay mandatory court fees.

The index number costs $210. The index number is the divorce case number indicated in all submitted documents.

In an uncontested divorce, the spouses need to pay at least $335 for court and filing fees.

If the petitioner has financial difficulties and can not pay filing fees, they may apply for a payment waiver by completing the appropriate form. The petitioner may get the paper from the court clerk.

Serving Documents

Within 120 days after filing, the spouse must deliver the divorce papers to the second spouse. The petitioner can serve the respondent:

  • in person;
  • with the help of a New York resident over 18 years of age;
  • using a professional process server.

Online Divorce

Online divorce is an affordable, easy-to-use, legal paperwork preparation service for couples seeking an uncontested divorce.

Online divorce is suitable for spouses:

  • who have an amicable divorce;
  • have a desire to do paperwork independently;
  • do a DIY divorce;
  • want to save on the lawyer’s services.

Online Divorce New York helps spouses generate divorce forms in two business days. You don’t even have to leave the house! Available for any device 24/7.

To use the online divorce service, spouses need to complete an online questionnaire and provide the necessary information about their marriage and the divorce terms. Then, within a few days, they can download ready-to-sign forms and file them with the court following the filing instructions provided.

Couples in New York choose online divorce because it:

  • helps save money, time, and nerves;
  • helps to maintain a healthy relationship with an ex-spouse after a divorce;
  • does not require any legal training.
Here’s how our process works.
Looks complicated?
Get your hassle-free divorce
Qualify for divorce1
Provide your case details2
Get your papers3
File for divorce4