Divorces are rarely easy. However, not every marriage ends in hostility. When both spouses agree that separation is in their best interests, they can file for an uncontested divorce. While an uncontested divorce is typically less expensive and time-consuming than a contested divorce, its outcome is still contingent on careful adherence to the court’s filing expectations and deadlines.
Uncontested Divorces in New York
To file for an uncontested divorce in New York, you must meet the following three requirements:
- Agreement on the no-fault reason for divorce
- Agreement on the issues in your case
New Yorkers seeking an uncontested divorce must meet at least one of the following residency requirements:
- You, or your spouse, have lived in New York for at least two continuous years prior to filing for divorce.
- You, and your spouse, both live in New York, and the reason for your divorce occurred in the Empire State.
- You, or your spouse, have lived in New York for at least one continuous year before filing for divorce, you married in New York, and you lived in New York as a married couple.
Agreement on the No-fault Reason for Divorce
People who file for divorce in New York must request either of the following:
- Fault divorce. A fault divorce involves misconduct on the part of one or both spouses. For example, adultery, domestic violence, or substance abuse may lead a spouse to claim that their partner’s actions caused the marriage to fail.
- No-fault divorce. A “no-fault reason for divorce” means that the divorce is predicated on incompatibility, irreconcilable differences, or an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
When you file your petition for an uncontested, no-fault divorce in New York, you must simply inform the court that your marriage cannot be salvaged. You do not necessarily need to explain why you are seeking a divorce. After all: in a no-fault, uncontested divorce, the courts will not consider either spouse’s misconduct when deciding whether to grant the request for separation.
Agreement on the Issues in Your Divorce
An uncontested divorce means that both spouses have agreed on every aspect of their separation and do not need the court to issue its judgment. Before filing for an uncontested divorce, you should ensure that you and your spouse have determined:
- How to divide your personal assets, finances, and real properties
- How to divide marital debts
- If either spouse will pay alimony
- If either spouse will pay child support
- Who will have custody of any dependent children
- Parental visitation rights
What to Consider Before Filing for an Uncontested Divorce
Even if you and your spouse meet New York’s requirements for filing for an uncontested divorce, the process of separation is still painstaking. While an uncontested divorce may spare you from having to appear in court, you must still ensure that the terms of your separation are mutually agreed upon. Unfortunately, any disagreement—such as one spouse challenging their visitation rights, or lack thereof—could force the case before a judge.
Before submitting your petition for divorce, you should consult an attorney to check your paperwork, review the terms of your divorce settlement, and make certain that your documents are submitted before the court’s filing deadlines. If you miss any of these critical deadlines, your case may be dismissed and you could lose the entirety of your filing fee.