How to File for an Uncontested Divorce in New York State
Proven Long Island lawyers guide clients through the steps needed for a simple divorce
In 2010, when New York became the last state in the country to offer no-fault divorce, it became much easier to obtain an uncontested divorce. However, there are still many potential obstacles that might prevent you from reaching a settlement, so it’s important to get trustworthy legal advice if you seek a simple, cost-effective marriage dissolution process. At Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C., our experienced Long Island attorneys can show you how to file for an uncontested divorce in New York. Whatever led to your breakup, we will make every effort to resolve your case without having to go to trial.
Eligibility for an uncontested divorce in New York
To divorce in New York, you must fulfill the residency requirement. If you’re filing no-fault, as you should when you want an uncontested divorce, you qualify if one of the following applies:
- Either spouse has lived in New York for at least two years
- Either spouse has lived in New York for at least one year and you got your marriage license in New York
Though New York still allows traditional fault-based divorce grounds, such as adultery and cruelty, proving those allegations requires the court to review evidence introduced by both sides. Therefore, most divorces where marital misconduct is alleged are contested.
Preparing and filing divorce papers in New York
The New York State Unified Court System has a complete uncontested divorce packet available for download on its website that contains all the forms you’ll need if you can get your spouse to agree to an uncontested divorce. So, to get started you need:
- Summons with Notice (Form UD-1) — This form combines your Verified Complaint and a Summons. In your complaint, you state your grounds for the divorce (or simply assert that the marriage is “irretrievably broken”) and your Prayer for Relief. The relief you seek is how you want the court to rule with regard to child custody, child support, division of property and maintenance (alimony).
- Child support worksheet — If you have children with your spouse, you must include this worksheet with the summons.
- Affidavit of Defendant (Form UD-7) — You serve this to your spouse to facilitate an uncontested divorce.
You must have three copies of each document: one to file with the clerk of the county court where you or your spouse resides; one for your records and one to serve on your spouse. You must pay a $210 filing fee, or, if you qualify, submit a poor person’s waiver form.
Documentation for an uncontested divorce in NY
Two keys to an uncontested divorce are transparency and cooperation. You should be open about your finances, which means presenting all pertinent documentation related to bank accounts, investments, real estate and other holdings. Likewise, you should also gather and provide any documents pertaining to your debts. These records will help your attorney prepare your filing and negotiate a marital settlement.
Serving your divorce papers on a spouse in New York
You cannot serve your spouse yourself, but if they reside in New York, you can arrange for any New York resident over 20 years of age to perform the service. You must complete service within 120 days of filing your complaint with the court. If your spouse signs the Affidavit of Defendant, you can move forward. If not, you have to wait 40 days before you can try to get your divorce case on the court calendar. There are about a dozen more forms you must file to make that happen. After that, each spouse must complete a detailed financial disclosure (Statement of Net Worth). Preparing these legal documents yourself is not a good way to save on divorce costs, because of the additional time you’ll need and the risk of making an expensive error. Our firm gives clients the chance to obtain a straightforward, cost-effective divorce with an experienced attorney handling each important legal task.
Responding to a divorce petition for an uncontested divorce
If you have been served divorce papers, how you respond to the petition depends on whether you wish to work out a marital settlement or continue toward a contested divorce. You might want to protect your rights, while also leaving the door open for a reasonable settlement. There might be situations where your spouse is not willing to agree to reasonable terms, so you do not respond with an Affidavit of Defendant in hopes that a better offer is forthcoming. One of our knowledgeable attorneys can help you determine what is the best path in your situation.
Timeline for an uncontested divorce in New York
If parties cooperate by serving divorce papers immediately after filing, and responding in a timely manner to the petition, they can shrink the timeframe of their divorce. The marriage will not be dissolved immediately due to the crowded court calendar, but your attorneys can use that time productively to negotiate your marital settlement agreement. Provided there are no major disagreements, a divorce can be finalized in about six months.
Drafting a marital settlement agreement
Your marital settlement agreement is the document containing the terms of your divorce that is submitted to the court for approval and incorporation into the final order. Within the signed agreement, you will include terms relating to child custody, visitation, child support, spousal maintenance and property division. Reaching consensus on these issues, through negotiations or mediation, is the true heart of the divorce process. Our attorneys provide strong advocacy in these proceedings while pursuing a settlement that averts a trial.
Speak with a Long Island lawyer who can guide you toward a simple divorce
Don’t suffer setbacks making beginner’s mistakes. Bryan L. Salamone & Associates, P.C. can deliver excellent results in a timely fashion while keeping costs low. Contact us for a free initial consultation at 1.631.479.3839 or click to contact our office online.