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New York City Divorce Checklist



If you or your spouse is filing for a New York City divorce, you will want to know about the New York divorce process.

This article will explain the different steps leading up to finalizing your New York City divorce.

Meeting New York City Divorce Requirements

Before anyone can successfully file for divorce in New York City, one or both parties to the divorce must meet certain requirements. One of these requirements is residency.

According to New York City divorce law, to file for divorce, either you or your spouse must meet the following criteria:

  • You and your spouse must have been married in New York State, and either you or your spouse must have lived in the state for one year prior to filing for divorce
  • You and your spouse lived together in the state, and one of you lived in the state for a year prior to filing
  • The reason for the divorce occurred in New York State, and one of you lived in the state for a year prior to filing
  • The reason for the divorce occurred in New York State, and both of you are New York residents at the time the divorce is filed
  • Either you or your spouse has lived in the state for two years prior to filing

In addition to meeting residency requirements, you or your spouse must also cite proper grounds for the divorce. Grounds is the technical term for the reason cited for ending the marriage.

In New York City, the following grounds may be cited as a legitimate reason for divorce:

  • Cruel and inhuman treatment
  • Abandonment for at least one year
  • Imprisonment for at least three consecutive years
  • Adultery
  • The parties have been legally separated for one or more years
  • Irretrievable breakdown in the relationship for at least six months

Irretrievable breakdown means you and your spouse can no longer get along and there is no hope for reconciliation.

Filing for a New York City Divorce

If you meet the necessary requirements to file for divorce in New York City and you have a legitimate grounds for divorce, you can then proceed with filing for divorce.

The divorce process begins when you, with the assistance of your New York City divorce attorney, file the Complaint for Divorce with the Supreme Court in the county in which you or your spouse resides. For New York City residents, the New York Supreme Court has branches in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn, the Bronx and Staten Island.

The other spouse will receive a copy of the complaint and be given a chance to respond.

Uncontested Divorce in New York City

If you cite irretrievable breakdown as the grounds for your divorce, then you are requesting what is known as a no-fault divorce. A no-fault divorce means you are not claiming your spouse committed any specific act of wrongdoing that resulted in the end of your marriage.

If, after being served with the complaint, the other party agrees to all the specifics of the divorce (including child custody, parental visitation, child support and asset and debt allocation), then you can have what is known as an uncontested divorce. In New York City, if both parties agree on all the divorce issues and submit the appropriate papers to the court for approval, the court can grant the divorce much faster than if there is no agreement.

Uncontested divorces are beneficial because they allow both parties to avoid the lengthy trial process. Because they do not take as long, both parties tend to save money on fees and costs, including lawyer expenses.

Contested Divorce in New York City

A contested divorce arise due to a couple of scenarios.

First, a contested divorce can arise if one party files for a no-fault divorce, and, after receiving a copy of the filing, the other party does not agree to the terms of the divorce. In these circumstances, one party usually has a disagreement regarding child support, child custody, parental visitation or debt and asset allocation. If the two parties cannot negotiate and come to an agreement, the court will set a hearing, and a lengthy trial process may commence.

Second, a party in the marriage may file for a fault-based divorce. A fault-based divorce is when you file for divorce citing any other grounds besides irretrievable breakdown. Under these circumstances, the one filing for divorce will have to prove his claim before a judge. This type of divorce can also result in a lengthy and costly trial.

An option for those engaged in contested divorces is to look into New York City divorce mediation services. Mediation services allow husbands and wives who do not agree on the terms of the divorce to civilly and affordably resolve their disagreements without having to spend a lot of time and money in the court system.

Hiring a New York City Divorce Attorney

Whether you or your partner is filing for divorce, you will want the counsel of a New York City divorce lawyer.

To find a New York City divorce attorney, you can ask friends and family members for referrals. Talk to anyone you know who has gone through a divorce in New York City and ask if they would recommend the lawyer they used.

You can also use a site like Attorneys.com. Whether you live in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan or another part of New York City, Attorneys.com can help connect you with a New York City attorney in your area. Just fill out the brief form on this site or call 1-877-913-7222. After answering a few questions, Attorneys.com will connect you with at least one New York City divorce attorney. The lawyer will contact you within two business days, or you can contact him at your convenience.

Once you have at least one attorney you are interested in, set up a consultation. A consultation is an initial meeting where you can get to know the lawyer and his practice, inform him about your divorce and decide whether you want to hire him.

Questions you should ask the attorney include:

  • How long has the lawyer worked on New York City divorce cases?
  • Has he ever worked on a case like yours?
  • Does he have experience with cases that deal with child custody and child support issues?
  • What kind of fee arrangement does he use? How much does he cost?

After the consultation, you should be able to make a hiring decision. Remember to hire a lawyer you work well with. After all, your divorce may take months to finalize.