A Guide to Filing for Divorce in New York
Divorce can be stressful and highly emotional, especially when someone does not understand how the process works. If you are contemplating divorce, or you have already made the decision to move forward, understanding what you will go through can help ease concerns that are sure to crop up.
Although every divorce is unique, there are certain things that all people in New York who get a divorce must go through. When you have a clear understanding of the issues that are common to all divorces, you can proceed with a higher degree of confidence allowing you to make better decisions from start to finish.
Here are some important things to know about the filing process for divorce in New York:
- Gathering Your Important Information
- What Type of Divorce is Right For You?
- Fill Out the Necessary Forms to Start the Process
- File Your Documents
- Serving Your Spouse With Divorce Papers
- FAQs About Filing for Divorce in New York
Gathering your important information
No matter your circumstances, you will benefit from being organized at the outset when it comes to tracking down the financial documentation that you’ll need.
Many parts of divorce can be overwhelming, so any steps you can take to save time and reduce stress and anxiety should be a priority for you early in the process.
What type of divorce is right for you?
Deciding on what divorce process to use (litigation, mediation, collaborative divorce, etc.) provides you with the framework to begin moving forward. That’s an important decision and not one that should be taken lightly.
It will drive how amicable or contentious your divorce will be and set the tone for your future co-parenting relationship if you have kids. With so much at stake, it’s imperative that you understand all of your options and how they will play upon your individual situation.
To learn more about your options and the pros and cons, be sure to check out our article on The Types of Divorce.
Fill Out the Required New York Divorce Forms to Start the Process
After you decide what kind of divorce you will pursue, you will need to fill out several forms and submit them to start your divorce. If you are working with an attorney, they will guide you through this process.
Although it will cost you more when you use an attorney, you will save time and stress in working with a professional who understands the system and who will ensure that your paperwork is filled out correctly.
If you decide to file on your own, you will need to complete all the necessary forms on your own. If you are the one initiating the divorce process, you will be known as the petitioner. If your spouse is the one who files the initial papers, then you will be known as the respondent.
The New York Courts website has specific instructions for filling out each of the following forms, all of which are required to place your case on the court calendar:
- Summons with Notice or Summons and Complaint
- Affirmation of Regularity (Form UD-5, which requests that your case be put on the calendar)
- Affidavit of Plaintiff (Form UD-6)
- three copies of the Note of Issue (Form UD-9)
- Findings of Fact/Conclusions of Law (Form UD-10)
- Judgment of Divorce (Form UD-11)
- Part 130 Certification (Form UD-12)
- Affidavit of Defendant (Form UD-7, if your spouse signed and returned it to you)
- Certificate of Dissolution of Marriage Postcard, and USC 111 – Divorce and Child Support Summary Form.
If your spouse did not sign and return the affidavit of defendant, then you must also file and Affidavit of Service (Form UD-3) and Sworn Statement of Barriers to Remarriage (Form UD-4).
If you and your spouse have children together, then you also have to file the forms related to child support (Forms UD-8, UD-8a, and UD-8b).
If you are filing in a court other than in one of the five New York City Boroughs, then you must also file the “Request for Judicial Intervention (Form UD-13).”
In addition to completing these forms, local county courthouses may have additional forms that they require to be filled out.
File Your Documents with the Court
If you are working with an attorney, they will make sure all the forms are correct and will file them for you at the appropriate court. This will either be in the county where you live or where your spouse lives.
You will need to pay $210 for an index number that needs to be put on all documents filed with the court. The total costs for court and filing fees in an uncontested divorce is $335 and does not include photocopies, notary fees, mailing, process server fees or attorney costs.
Serving Your Spouse With Divorce Papers
After you file your forms with the court, you must also serve your spouse with copies of the paperwork so that they are officially notified and have a chance to respond. In New York, the only way divorce papers can be served is in person. Any person who is 18 or older and a resident of New York can serve the papers for you. They cannot be mailed or served by publication.
You have 120 days to serve your spouse from the date you filed your paperwork with the courts. Your spouse can be served Monday through Saturday but may not be served on Sunday. If your spouse lives in another state, then you will need to follow the laws for service that apply for that state.
If your spouse agrees to the divorce, they will sign and return an affidavit of defendant form within 40 days. If they do not agree and will not return the affidavit, then the server must prepare and file an Affidavit of Service Form UD-3 stating that the spouse received copies of the divorce paperwork.
The spouse may file a Notice of Appearance which means the divorce is not uncontested and will result in several other possible options for resolution, up to and including a trial in front of a judge.
If your spouse signed the affidavit of defendant, then you can place your case on the court calendar at any time. If your spouse did not sign the form, then you have to wait 40 days after serving them with the papers.
Frequently Asked Questions About Filing for Divorce in New York
How much does it cost to file for a divorce in New York?
Total costs to file for a divorce in New York are $335, which includes $210 for an Index Number and $125 for a Note of Issue and Request for Judicial Intervention. Fees for photocopies, notary fees, mailing, process server fees or attorney costs are not included.
Can divorce fees be waived in New York?
Depending on your circumstances, it may be possible to ask a judge to waive your fees by filing of a fee waiver request. You may be able to get fees waived if you are receiving public benefits such as welfare, Food Stamps, or SSI benefits. You may also get a waiver if you can demonstrate you do not have enough money to support your family and pay the fees.
Can I file for a divorce online in New York?
You sure can. As a matter of fact, filing for divorce online in New York can be a great way to save time and money.
Online divorce isn’t right for everyone. It doesn’t work if you have a contested divorce (you can’t reach agreements with your spouse and need a judge to make decisions).
If you have a dispute over child custody or particularly complicated finances, you should consult with a lawyer. There’s simply too much on the line to cut corners.
But if you have an amicable divorce, you might be able to do it yourself.
I won’t sugarcoat it. The legal system is confusing. There’s a ton of paperwork and mistakes can be costly.
Fortunately, there are tools that can help. That’s where 3StepDivorce comes in. 3StepDivorce makes it easy to complete all your divorce papers and gives you clear step-by-step filing instructions. All you need to do is answer a series of questions, which shouldn’t take more than an hour.
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How long does it take to get a divorce in New York?
After you file papers, there is no formal waiting period before a divorce is granted in New York.
How long you have to wait will depend on court backlogs in the county where you file. It could take as little as four to six weeks for a judge to review the paperwork in an uncontested divorce.
However, when there are disagreements or when there are asset, custody or support issues and a judge must intervene, finalizing a divorce can take considerably longer.
It’s not uncommon for a litigated divorce to take one to two years.
What are the residency requirements to file for a divorce in New York?
Although there is no waiting period, there is a residency requirement for getting a divorce in New York. For divorce purposes according to New York state law, a couple must meet one of five criteria:
- The parties were married in New York, and either party lived in New York for one year prior to filing.
- The parties resided in New York as husband and wife, and either party lived in New York for one year or more prior to filing.
- The cause of action occurred in New York, and either party lived in New York for one year or more prior to filing.
- The cause of action occurred in New York, and both parties live in New York at the time of filing.
- Either party has lived in New York for two years or more prior to filing.
Can I file for divorce in New York without using a lawyer?
Yes. The New York State Unified Court System actually has an Uncontested Divorce Program that spouses can use to streamline and expedite the process.
It can be accessed if both parties are over 18 years old, the couple has no children under 21 years old, the marriage has been over for at least six months and cannot be saved, and all marital property issues have been resolved.
Can I get a divorce in New York if I am pregnant?
Unlike some other states that requires a baby to be born before a divorce is granted, pregnancy is not a limiting factor in New York. You can get a divorce at any time. However, it is smart to prove that a husband is the father of a child in a divorce so that there are no disputes regarding child support.
A child born while a person is married is presumed to be from that person’s husband. If a divorce is finalized before a child is born and there is no acknowledgment of paternity, then a paternity petition can be filed in family court to determine who the father is before any form of child support can be established.
How is my divorce affected if I am a member of the military in New York?
You or your spouse must be either live in New York or be stationed in the state to meet residence requirements under the laws governing military personnel who are seeking a divorce.
The grounds for a military divorce are the same as they are for a civilian divorce. You can either claim that a marriage is irretrievably broken, or you can cite more specific faults for seeking a divorce. These can include adultery, cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment for one year or more, or one spouse being incarcerated for three or more years following the marriage.
Once paperwork has been filed to begin a divorce, copies must be served on a spouse to give him or her a chance to respond. When that spouse is in the military, they have certain protections afforded to them by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This allows them to postpone the divorce while they are overseas or otherwise not able to adequately respond to the petition due to military service commitments.
The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act eases many legal and financial burdens of military personnel and their families who face the added challenges of active duty. A service member may choose to waive delaying the divorce by signing off on paperwork which will then allow the divorce to proceed uncontested.
In addition to New York property division laws, the federal government also protects military personnel through the Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act that governs how military benefits are calculated when a divorce takes place. Federal laws will not allow a military members retirement to be distributed to a spouse unless the couple has been married for 10 years or more while the service member was on active duty.
Child support and spousal support are determined by state guidelines, but federal law dictates that child and spousal support awards may not exceed 60% of a servicemember’s pay and allowances if they are single. That amount drops to 50% if the soldier remarries and has a new family that they must support.
Looking for more great tips about filing for divorce? Check out a few of our favorite resources:
- How to File for Divorce
- How Should I Prepare for Divorce
- What Are The Types of Divorce
- How Should I Prepare for Divorce