New York Divorce Laws and Guidelines

New York state has its own unique set of divorce laws, which can be complex and nuanced. Understanding these laws is crucial for anyone going through a divorce in NY.

If you are getting into a divorce in New York, it is beneficial to be knowledgeable about the divorce laws. Whether you decide to hire a NY family attorney or handle the divorce yourself, you will need to make important decisions and should be aware of what to anticipate.

The courts in NY will consider various factors in the divorce settlement, including property division, NY spousal support, and child custody and support. Ner York is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally.

In this article, we will take a comprehensive dive into everything you need to know about New York divorce laws and guidelines, so you make your best decision while you move along.

Types of Divorce in NY

In New York, there are two types of divorce options available:

  1. No-Fault Divorce: In a no-fault divorce, either spouse can file for divorce without providing any reason for the dissolution of the marriage. The only requirement is that the marriage has been irretrievably broken for at least six months. This type of divorce is usually less contentious and can be less time-consuming and less expensive than a fault-based divorce.
  2. Fault-Based Divorce: In a fault-based divorce, one spouse must prove that the other has engaged in specific misconduct that has caused the breakdown of the marriage. The grounds for a fault-based divorce in New York include adultery, cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment, imprisonment, and living apart pursuant to a separation agreement or judgment of separation. A fault-based divorce can be more contentious and may take longer to resolve than a no-fault divorce.

Uncontested Divorce in NY

To file for an uncontested divorce in New York, both spouses must agree on all aspects of the divorce, such as the division of assets, spousal support, child custody, and child support.

The spouses must submit a signed separation agreement, which the NY court will review. If approved, the spouses will attend a final hearing, where a judge will ensure that both parties understand and agree to the terms. If satisfied, the family court judge will issue a final divorce decree.

Divorce rate in New York

As of 2021, the divorce rate in New York is approximately 9%, which is slightly higher than the national average of 7.7%. This rate has fluctuated over the years and is affected by various factors, including economic conditions, changes in societal attitudes towards marriage and divorce, and demographic changes such as age and education level.

How to File for Divorce in NY

Filing for divorce in New York State can be a complicated process, involving various legal requirements and procedures. In general, the process involves filing the necessary paperwork with the NY family court, serving the other spouse with the divorce papers, and attending court hearings as required. The specific steps involved can vary depending on the type of divorce, whether it is contested or uncontested, and other factors.

Divorce Process in New York

Here are the general steps to file for divorce in New York

  1. Meet the residency requirement: Either you or your spouse must have been living in New York State for at least two continuous years before filing for divorce.
  2. Choose the type of divorce: You must decide whether you will file for a contested or uncontested divorce. If it is a contested divorce, you will need to file a summons and a complaint with the NY court. If it is an uncontested divorce, you will need to file a summons, a complaint, and a signed separation agreement with the New York court.
  3. Fill out and file the necessary paperwork: You will need to fill out various forms as made available in NY, such as a summons, complaint, and notice of automatic orders, and file them with the court.
  4. Serve the other spouse: In New York, you must serve the other spouse with the divorce papers. This can be done through personal service, by mail, or by publication.
  5. Attend court hearings: Depending on the type of divorce and whether there are any contested issues, you may need to attend court hearings in NY, such as a preliminary conference or a trial.
  6. Finalize the divorce: If the divorce is uncontested, you will need to attend a final hearing where a New york judge will review and approve the separation agreement. If it is a contested divorce, the judge will issue a decision and judgment.

Online Divorce in New York

In New York State, it is not currently possible to obtain a divorce entirely online. However, there are some online services that can help simplify the process by providing assistance with providing and filling out and filing the necessary paperwork.

The process is almost similar to the one above once you have decided and chosen a New york online divorce service provider.

Cost of Divorce in New York

Divorce can be a costly process in New York State, with fees for legal representation, court fees, and other expenses adding up quickly. The cost of a divorce can vary depending on a number of factors, such as whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, the complexity of financial issues, and whether children are involved.

According to recent reports, the average cost of a divorce in New York State ranges from $15,000 to $20,000, but it can be much higher depending on the circumstances. However, there are also ways to reduce the cost of divorce, such as by choosing an uncontested divorce, negotiating a settlement agreement, or using alternative dispute resolution methods.

Divorce Papers and Forms NY

New York requires various forms and papers to be filed in order to initiate and complete a divorce. These papers and forms can vary depending on the circumstances of the divorce, such as whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, whether children are involved, and the assets and debts of the couple.

Some of the most common forms required in a New York State divorce include a Summons with Notice or Summons and Complaint, Verified Complaint, Affidavit of Service, and a Judgment of Divorce.

Grounds for Divorce in NY

In New York State, in order to file for divorce, the party seeking the divorce must have a legally recognized reason or “grounds” for the divorce. New York recognizes both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. The no-fault ground is the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage for a period of at least six months.

Fault grounds include cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment, imprisonment, adultery, and living separate and apart pursuant to a separation agreement or judgment of separation. Understanding the different grounds for divorce in New York is essential for filing a successful divorce case.

Requirement and Waiting Period

There are certain requirements and waiting periods that must be met before a NY divorce can be finalized. In order to file for divorce in New York, either spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least two years or have lived in the state continuously for one year immediately prior to filing for divorce.

Additionally, there is a mandatory waiting period of 30 days after service of process before a NY divorce can be granted. This waiting period allows the other spouse time to respond to the divorce papers and prepare a defense, if necessary.

How a NY Judge Will Divide Marital Property

New York judges use the principle of equitable distribution to divide marital property during a divorce. This means that property is divided fairly, but not necessarily equally, based on a variety of factors including the length of the marriage, the income and earning potential of each spouse, the contributions of each spouse to the marriage, and any other relevant factors.

In NY, the goal is to ensure that each spouse receives a fair share of the marital property, which includes assets such as real estate, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and other property acquired during the marriage.

Basics of New York Divorce

While we have discussed major points about NY divorce, there are still some other basics that you need to know when it comes to divorce in New York. Here are some of them:

Child Custody in New York

In New York, child custody is determined based on the best interests of the child. This means that the court will consider a variety of factors, including the child’s relationship with each parent, each parent’s ability to care for the child, the child’s preferences (if they are of sufficient age and maturity to express them), and any other relevant factors.

The court may award sole custody to one parent or joint custody to both parents, depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Custody orders may also include provisions for visitation, parenting time, and child support.

Divorce in NY Without Spouse Signature

Im NY, if one spouse wants a divorce and the other spouse does not want to sign the divorce papers, the process can still move forward. The spouse seeking the divorce can file a Summons with Notice or a Summons and Verified Complaint with the court, which the other spouse will be served with.

If the other spouse fails to respond to the court within a certain period of time, the NY court may enter a default judgment in favor of the spouse seeking the divorce. However, if the other spouse contests the divorce, the court may require a trial to determine the grounds for divorce and any related issues such as property division and child custody.

NY Child Support Guidelines

In NY, child support guidelines are used to determine the amount of financial support that a non-custodial parent must provide to the custodial parent after a divorce. The guidelines take into account various factors, including the number of children, the income of both parents, and any special needs of the children.

Child support payments are typically made until the child reaches the age of 21 or is otherwise emancipated. The court may also order additional expenses, such as medical expenses or childcare costs, to be split between the parents.

Divorce Records in NY

Divorce records are considered public records in New York and can be accessed by anyone. These records contain information about the divorce, including the names of the parties involved, the date and location of the divorce, and any agreements or rulings made during the divorce proceedings.

In New York, they are maintained by the New York State Department of Health, Vital Records Section, and can be requested online, by mail, or in person. The fee for obtaining a divorce record is $30, and additional fees may apply for expedited or certified copies.

These records are only available for divorces that occurred in the state of New York. If the divorce occurred in another state or country, you will need to contact the appropriate authority in that location to obtain the divorce record.

Additionally, some divorce records may be sealed by court order, which means they cannot be accessed by the public without a court order. This typically only occurs in cases where sensitive or confidential information is involved.

How to Hire a Divorce Attorney in NY

Hiring a divorce lawyer in New York can be a crucial decision for individuals going through a divorce. A divorce lawyer can provide legal advice and representation throughout the divorce process, ensuring that the individual’s rights and interests are protected.

When hiring a divorce lawyer in NY, you need to consider their experience, qualifications, and reputation. It is recommended to choose a lawyer who specializes in family law and has experience handling divorce cases similar to your own.

The cost of hiring a divorce lawyer in New York can vary depending on the lawyer’s experience and the complexity of the case. Some lawyers charge a flat fee for their services, while others charge an hourly rate. It is important to discuss the lawyer’s fees and payment options upfront to avoid any surprises later on.


Divorce in NY; Who Gets What?

In New York, property is divided fairly but not necessarily equally between spouses during a divorce based on the principle of equitable distribution. Marital property acquired during the marriage is subject to division, while some assets such as those acquired before the marriage or through inheritance or gifts may be exempt. The court will make a determination if the parties cannot agree on the division of property.

What is a Wife Entitled to in a Divorce in NY?

In a divorce in New York, a wife is entitled to a fair distribution of marital property acquired during the marriage and may also receive spousal support if she demonstrates financial need and if the court determines the other spouse has the ability to pay.

Divorce in NY with Child; How does it Work?

In a New York divorce with a child, the court considers the best interests of the child when making decisions about custody and support. Joint or sole custody may be awarded, and child support is determined based on a formula that considers each parent’s income and the child’s needs. A divorce lawyer can provide guidance and help ensure a fair outcome for the child.

How Long does it take to get a Divorce in NY?

The time it takes to get a divorce in New York varies depending on whether it is contested or uncontested. An uncontested divorce can be finalized in several months, while a contested divorce can take years. There is a mandatory waiting period of at least six months. It’s important to work with a divorce lawyer to ensure your rights are protected throughout the process.


New York divorce laws and guidelines are intricate and have a wide range of matters to be addressed. It is vital to have a good understanding of these laws in order to make informed decisions and ensure a fair outcome. By understanding these NY divorce laws, individuals can better prepare themselves for the process and take the necessary steps to protect their rights and interests. For more details about NY divorce, check out the NY court website.

New York Resource

- New York Child Adoption Guidelines
- New York Child Custody and Visitation Guidelines
- New York Child Support Guidelines
- New York Divorce Guidelines
- New York Marital Property Guidelines
- New York Spousal Support Guidelines
- How to Check New York Child Support Payment History
- New York Child Support Calculator
- New York Grants and Assistance for Single Mothers

Deborah Kelly

Deborah Kelly

As a proud single mom who has seen it all, I encourage others by sharing my experiences & curating content on divorce, adoption, child & spousal support. My passion also includes spending quality time with my kids and giving back to my community.

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