How Do I File for Divorce in New York?

How Do I File for Divorce in New York?

divorce in new york

When contemplating a divorce in New York, you must first understand the basics of the divorce laws in your state.  In New York, the Supreme Court is the only court that handles divorce proceedings. The spouse who initially files for the divorce is the Plaintiff, and the other spouse is the Defendant. Here is a breakdown of what filing for divorce entails:


Initially, if you are looking to file for divorce in a New York court, you must be able to prove residency. There are a few ways to meet the residency requirement:

  • Both you and your spouse are current residents of New York State when filing for divorce and the grounds for the divorce occurred in New York State.
  • You or your spouse have lived in New York State continuously for at least two years prior to filing for divorce.
  • You or your spouse have lived in New York State continuously for at least one year prior to filing for divorce and (1) you were married in New York State, or (2) you lived in New York State as a married couple, or (3) the grounds for your divorce occurred in New York State.

Grounds for Divorce

You must allege a ground or reason for your divorce. Pursuant to Domestic Relations Law Section 170, there are seven grounds on which you can be granted a divorce in New York:

  1. Irretrievable breakdown of the relationship for a period of at least six months (also known as a “no-fault divorce”)
  2. Cruel and inhuman treatment
  3. Abandonment
  4. Imprisonment of 3 or more years
  5. Adultery
  6. Divorce after living separate and apart pursuant to a legal separation agreement or judgement of separation for one year or more.

Preparing and Filing the Required Forms

There are many forms that must be filled out during the divorce process in New York, which vary if you have children.  Garden City divorce lawyers, Fass & Greenberg, LLP., can help you figure out what forms are necessary for your situation. You will need certain information to complete the forms, such as your name and address, copies of your marriage certificate and any agreements that you have reached with your spouse, a list of the property owned by you and your spouse, debts incurred by you or your spouse, and a copy of any Orders for Protection that may exist. Once you have gathered the relevant information, filled out the proper forms, and made sure that they are correct and complete, the next step is to go to your county clerk’s office and file a Summons and Complaint. Some courts allow you to file electronically using NYSCEF, depending on the county you are filing in. This is all important information that the divorce attorneys at Fass & Greenberg are privy to and have a great deal of experience in.

Serving the Forms

Next, your spouse must be served with the divorce paperwork in person. This service must take place within 120 days of filing the divorce paperwork. There are some rules that must be followed for the service to be proper, such as that you cannot serve your spouse personally. Instead, another individual who is a New York resident and is at least 18 years old must serve the papers on your spouse.

Your Spouse’s Response `          

If your spouse agrees to the divorce, they must complete a form and return it to you within 40 days of receiving the divorce papers. If your partner does not answer, it is assumed that they have defaulted. However, if your spouse files an answer disputing anything in your divorce papers, the divorce becomes contested.

Uncontested vs. Contested Divorces

Divorces can be either uncontested or contested. An uncontested divorce is one where the opposing spouse agrees with all aspects, i.e., grounds, finances, custody, etc., of the divorce. Often in these cases, the two spouses have worked out some sort of settlement agreement that details all of the important issues. On the other hand, a contested divorce is one where the spouse does not agree to the actual divorce, and/or child custody or finances.  The spouse could disagree with the division of property, how child support or custody was decided, or they could plainly just not want to get a divorce. Contested divorces can become very complicated, so it is important to contact Fass & Greenberg, LLP., experienced divorce attorneys, to obtain the best outcome should you and your spouse fail to reach an agreement.  

Regardless of the type of divorce, a judge will not sign the judgment of divorce until all issues are worked out, including financial and parenting issues. An attorney can help you navigate the best way to come to an agreement on these issues, whether that be in court, through mediation or arbitration, or through a written agreement.

Obtaining A Court Date for Your Case

The next step is to get your case on the court’s calendar if your spouse agrees to the divorce or defaults by failing to answer. You must fill out the remaining appropriate forms to get your divorce case on the calendar and then file the relevant documents with the clerk once completed. The court will issue a divorce decision if the judge approves.

Overall, it is best to engage the services of the divorce lawyers at Fass & Greenberg. They understand the intricacies of New York divorce proceedings and can help you navigate issues as they arise along the way. It’s always best to go the safe route and hire an experienced attorney for the most successful outcome in your divorce.

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