Divorce in New York: The Basic Requirements
Divorce is a legal proceeding to terminate a marriage. If you are contemplating ending your marriage, there are two important things that you need to know. First, you need to meet the state’s residency requirements for divorce. Second, you must have at least one ground for terminating the marriage.
Residency Requirement for Divorce in New York
For a court in New York to have jurisdiction over the proceeding, there is a residency requirement. Residency can be established in a number of ways.
- The parties were married in New York, and either is a resident when the divorce is commenced. That resident must have lived in the state for at least one year immediately preceding filing.
- Either party is a resident of New York when the divorce is commenced, and the parties resided as a married couple in the state. That resident must have lived in the state for at least one year immediately preceding filing.
- The cause for the divorce occurred in New York, and either is a resident when the divorce is commenced. That resident must have lived in the state for at least one year immediately preceding filing.
- Both parties are residents of New York when the divorce is commenced, and the cause for the divorce occurred in New York.
- Either party is a resident of New York when the divorce is commenced. That resident must have lived in the state for at least two years immediately preceding filing.
Regarding venue, such proceedings are handled by the Supreme Court. This is usually in the county where at least one of the parties lives. As to child support or custody not involving the termination of a marriage, that is handled in family courts.
Grounds for Divorce in New York
It was only in 2010 that New York began to allow no-fault divorce. This is sometimes called “irreconcilable differences.” This means that the marriage has been irretrievably broken for at least six months. However, in order to pursue this ground, the parties must have resolved all marital issues. This includes debt, property, spousal support, and custody/support of children.
There are six additional grounds in New York.
- Cruel and inhuman treatment – The cruelty must rise to the level that the Plaintiff is physically or mentally in danger. This includes specific acts of cruelty which occurred in the last five years.
- Abandonment – A spouse must have abandoned the Plaintiff for at least one year. The abandonment must not be the fault of the Plaintiff and without the Plaintiff’s consent. There are also certain cases of “constructive abandonment,” such as when a spouse refuses to engage in sexual relations with the Plaintiff.
- Imprisonment – This can be grounds for divorce when the spouse goes to prison after the marriage begins for three or more years in a row.
- Adultery – If a spouse commits adultery during the marriage, the Plaintiff can use this ground. A single act of extra-marital relations will suffice to obtain a divorce. However, corroborating evidence of adultery is required.
- After a legal separation agreement – The parties sign and file a valid separation agreement. They then live apart for at least one year.
- After a judgment of separation – This occurs when the Supreme Court draws up a judgment of separation. The parties then live apart for at least one year.
Contact a Divorce Attorney
Divorce proceedings are complex and can be messy. If you’re contemplating a divorce or if your spouse has served you with papers, contact our office. We can assess your personal situation and provide you with legal advice.
- NY Court Help. “Residency and Grounds for Divorce in New York.” https://www.nycourts.gov/courthelp/Family/divorceRequirements.shtml (last accessed March 27, 2020).
- Domestic Relations Law § 170. Available at: https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/DOM/170 (last accessed March 27, 2020).
- Domestic Relations Law § 230. Available at: https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/DOM/230 (last accessed March 27, 2020).