How to File For Divorce in New York
Divorce laws are different in every state. New York is the last state in the nation to get no-fault divorces, and the procedure to file for divorce in New York has become significantly different in only the last few years. This overview can give you step-by-step guidance on filing so that you can understand the process better.
1. Check Your Eligibility
There are complicated residency rules about who can file for divorce in New York. Generally, at least one spouse will need to have lived in the state for over a year, and often both spouses will need to have lived in the state for longer than a year. You may wish to speak with a lawyer if you or your spouse has lived in the state for a shorter amount of time.
2. Fill Out the Divorce Forms
In order to file for divorce in New York, you will need to fill out the appropriate forms. These are available on the New York Courts website for contested or uncontested divorces. You will want to complete all the forms, which will ask you details about yourself, your spouse, your marriage, your children (if you have any), and your property and household goods.
You will also need to state grounds for your divorce. Almost all divorces in New York are now no-fault divorces, which only requires that you and your spouse say that the marriage is irretrievably broken. You can file divorce on fault grounds, but these divorces take substantially longer and usually do not generate meaningful increases in divorce settlements or judgments.
The last part of the divorce complaint will ask what terms you want in the divorce. You may ask for child support, a last name change, or anything else that you believe is fair when you file for divorce in New York.
3. File the Forms
You will need to file for divorce in New York in the county where you or your spouse live. The forms will need to be filed with the clerk of the court, who can advise you as to what filing fees you will need to pay. There are waivers for spouses who cannot afford to file for divorce in New York otherwise, but you will need financial information and this may delay your divorce.
4. Serve Your Spouse
After you file for divorce in New York, the next step is notifying your spouse about the divorce papers and officially giving them a copy. Generally, this is done by hiring either the sheriff's office in your spouse's county or a private process server to give the paperwork to your spouse at his or her workplace or home.
If your spouse lives outside of New York, you can send the paperwork by certified mail with a return receipt. You may also publish notice in a newspaper if your spouse cannot be found after a diligent search. For more information about serving process in these ways, you may wish to consult the court clerk or a divorce lawyer, because it can be difficult to file for divorce in New York using these methods.