If you’ve begun to consider a divorce but are unsure of how to get started, or what the laws in New York regarding divorce are, I’ve put together a quick list of the basics that should help. You can also see my other post on child custody and visitation. Please feel free to contact me to discuss your situation.
You Can File for Divorce in New York If:
• You and your spouse were married in New York, and at least one of you has been a resident of New York for at least a year,
• You and your spouse resided in New York as husband and wife, and at least one of you has been a resident of New York at least a year,
• The grounds for divorce occurred in New York, and at least one of you has been a resident of New York for at least a year, or
• At least one of you has been a resident of New York for at least two years immediately before the start of the divorce.
“Fault” & “No-Fault” Divorce:
New York recognizes both “fault” and “no-fault” grounds for divorce. In a “fault” divorce, one spouse will claim that the other spouse engaged in misconduct leading to the divorce.
“Fault” grounds in New York include:
• Cruel and inhuman treatment (mental or physical abuse),
• Imprisonment for three or more years, and
Grounds for a “no-fault” divorce include:
• The “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage, and
• Living apart for a period of one or more years, before or after a legal separation agreement.
“Contested” & “Uncontested” Divorce:
• “Contested” divorce means that there are critical issues in your divorce that you and your spouse haven’t been able to resolve, either with or without the help of lawyers and mediators.
• “Uncontested” means that you agree to all the important terms of your divorce. You’ve decided where your children will live and what the visitation schedule will be, you’ve agreed to the terms of alimony and child support, and you know how you want to divide your property.
A Few More Helpful Facts:
• You can represent yourself in divorce proceedings, although this isn’t always a good idea, particularly if you are unsure of the law, or if you have complex financial or custody issues to consider. Divorces with concerns of child custody, property division, and spousal support can be especially complex.
• Paperwork filed in divorce court in New York is not public. This includes pleadings, affidavits, findings of fact, conclusions of law, judgments of dissolution, and written agreements of separation.
• While New York plaintiffs are entitled to a jury trial, the only issue that a jury can decide on is the grounds for the divorce.
While this covers the basics of New York divorce law, it’s highly likely that you will benefit by seeking legal counsel before you begin divorce proceedings. If you’d like to discuss your particular situation, please feel free to contact me.
James J. Sexton