What Are the Requirements for a Divorce in New York?

When filing for a divorce in New York, you must meet various requirements. These requirements concern how long you have lived in the state, why you are seeking a divorce, and what paperwork you must submit to the court, among other things.

Failing to meet the requirements can slow down the divorce process, and in some situations, may result in your case being dismissed. To help facilitate an efficient process, our team has compiled a list of New York divorce requirements. Of course, although we have provided this information to help you understand what to expect, we are always here to provide the legal guidance you need.

Meeting Residency Requirements for a New York Divorce

Residency requirements refer to the amount of time you or your spouse have lived in the state before filing for a divorce.

In New York, you can meet the residency requirement in a few ways:

  • You or your spouse resided here for two or more years before filing for divorce;
  • You or your spouse lived here for at least one year before seeking a divorce and you were married in New York, lived here as a married couple, or the reason for your divorce occurred here; or
  • You and your spouse lived in New York when you filed for divorce, and the reason you are seeking a divorce happened here.

Providing Grounds for a Divorce

You must ensure that you have a legally valid reason for seeking a divorce.

In New York, there are seven grounds for divorce:

  • Marriage is irretrievably broken: Often referred to as a no-fault divorce, this reason is used when the marriage is beyond repair and has been such for at least six months. Also, all critical divorce-related issues, such as asset division, must be settled.
  • Cruel and inhuman treatment: This ground is based on one spouse's mistreatment of the other. It requires that the harmed spouse is in danger of physical or mental injury and it would be inappropriate for the marriage to continue.
  • Abandonment: To file for a divorce based on this ground, one spouse must have left the other for at least one year without intending to return.
  • Imprisonment: This ground may be used when one spouse was imprisoned during the marriage and had been incarcerated for at least three consecutive years.
  • Adultery: This ground applies when one spouse cheated on the other during the marriage.
  • Legal separation: If both spouses filed a separation agreement and lived apart for at least one year, this ground may be used.
  • Judgment of separation: This ground can only be used when the Supreme Court issues a judgment of separation and the spouses lived separately for at least one year.

Submitting Divorce Papers

The next requirement for a New York divorce is completing and filing the divorce papers. The forms that must be submitted depend on the specific circumstances.

Serving Your Spouse with Divorce Papers

Within 120 days of your filing the divorce documents with the County Clerk's Office, your spouse must be officially notified that the process has commenced.

If your spouse does not contest the divorce and related issues, you can deliver the divorce papers yourself. Your spouse must sign and have the "Affidavit of Defendant" form notarized.

However, if your spouse might contest the divorce and likely will not sign the "Affidavit of Defendant," someone else must serve your spouse with the divorce documents.

Waiting for Your Spouse's Response

After your spouse receives the divorce documents, they may issue a response.

Their response may be one of the following:

  • File an answer with the court, stating that they disagree with the divorce (this would be a contested divorce);
  • Sign the "Affidavit of Defendant," indicating that they agree with the divorce (this would be an uncontested divorce); or
  • Take no action (this is called being in default, and the court will proceed with the matter without hearing your spouse's side)

Attending Trial

If your spouse disagrees with the divorce, your case will be scheduled for trial. During the divorce hearings, the judge will hear your and your spouse's sides and make a final judgment.

Note that if your divorce is uncontested, you will not have to go through a trial. The judge will review your case and, provided your requests are reasonable, approve your divorce and issue a decree.

Various steps are involved in filing for a divorce in NY. To ensure that you meet your obligations and avoid unnecessary delays, speak with a lawyer about your case.

Levi Divorce & Family Law Attorneys can provide the compassionate and sound guidance you need in Queens. Contact us at (718) 215-0121 for a free consultation.