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The emotional toll of going through a divorce can be overwhelming enough, let alone figuring out the legal and financial logistics of it all. From the residency requirements and New York State grounds for filing for divorce to the costs and steps involved, we’re here to un-complicate the process so you can focus on what matters most: healing and moving on.
To get a divorce in New York, you or your spouse must meet one of the following residency requirements:
Once you meet one of these requirements, you can begin the process of filing a divorce petition with New York State. You can also divorce online to get the process moving faster.
Yes, it’s possible to get a divorce in New York State without going to court — no matter if your divorce is contested or uncontested.
In a contested divorce, you can avoid going to court by hiring an arbitrator or mediator to help you and your spouse come to an agreement on the terms of your divorce. Another option is to go through a collaborative divorce, in which you both hire lawyers to help you negotiate an agreement.
Already come to an agreement on the terms of your divorce? Then you’re going through an uncontested divorce, and it’s not necessary to appear in court to hash things out.
There are various ways to complete an uncontested divorce, including a DIY approach where you handle everything yourself, using an online service to guide you through the process or hiring lawyers to do the work for you.
The minimum cost of a divorce in New York is $335 for court and filing fees. However, that doesn’t include mailing fees, photocopies and notary services.
You’ll likely be on the hook for further costs, though these will vary depending on whether you decide to hire a lawyer, do it yourself or use an online service for help.
Online divorce services can cost anywhere from $150 to over $5,000 depending on which company you go with, how complex your case is and the amount of legal assistance you need.
Expect to pay more for professional review of your documents, help drafting spousal support or child custody agreements, and consultations with a private judge or divorce lawyer.
The average cost for a divorce in New York is $17,100 when hiring divorce attorneys, according to a study by Martindale Nolo Research.
If your divorce is relatively simple, the cost will be around a few thousand dollars at a minimum. For complicated divorces (for example, those involving child custody), the cost could be as high as $37,000.
Typically, lawyers will bill you hourly — $325 per hour on average. If you choose to hire divorce lawyers, consider negotiating a flat fee for your divorce.
While a DIY divorce can cost you less than $500 in New York, you’ll pay for it when it comes to the time commitment and work involved on your end.
Standard costs involved for a DIY divorce in New York State include:
While the process will vary slightly depending on the company you use, you’ll typically start by filling out a questionnaire about where you and your spouse live, the grounds for your divorce, whether you have children and if it’s contested or uncontested to see if you qualify to use its service.
If you’re eligible for an online divorce, it will walk you through the process — which will typically involve filling out the appropriate forms, getting them signed and notarized, and filing them with your local court. It should also spell out exactly how much the service will cost you so you won’t be hit with any surprises down the road.
Online divorce services are best for couples who can agree on the terms of the divorce, including division of assets, alimony and parental responsibilities if you have children.
The average divorce in New York takes 9.5 months to complete with divorce attorneys, according to a study by Martindale Nolo Research. Whether you have children with your spouse affects this timing: It takes about nine months if you don’t have children and about 18 months if children are involved.
Like with anything else, how long it takes you specifically comes down to the complexity of your case and how agreeable you and your spouse are during the proceedings.
If you agree on most issues and use an online service, your divorce could be finalized in as little as a month. But if there are lots of disagreements over terms like division of property or child custody, the process could drag on over a year.
If you pursue a no-fault divorce, you need to sign a settlement agreement and wait at least one year before you can file for divorce.
If you pursue a fault divorce and your spouse does not contest the grounds for fault, you’re not required to wait a year. There is no mandatory waiting period to get a divorce in New York.
New York State allows for both no-fault and fault divorce, with seven different legally acceptable reasons for filing:
Going through a divorce can be scary and overwhelming — but there are people and services out there to help. The first step is making sure you and your spouse meet the residency requirements to file in New York State. From there, it’s all about finding the most affordable option available for your unique situation. You can learn more with our step-by-step guide to filing for divorce.
Do my spouse and I need to live in New York to get a divorce?
This depends on which residency requirement you wish to meet before initiating a divorce. A divorce may require both you and your spouse to live in the state; you may also be able to get a divorce if just one of you lives in the state.
Can I still get a divorce if I can’t locate my spouse?
Yes. However, you first need to make an exhaustive good-faith effort to locate your spouse. For example, you might check telephone listings, use private investigators or look through property records.
If you still can’t find your spouse, and if a judge rules that you have searched as much as you were able, you can initiate service by publication. This means you publish a divorce summons in a newspaper. If your spouse doesn’t respond within 30 days, you can request to receive a “default” judgment on your divorce. Your divorce will be finalized six months after you first published the divorce summons.
Can I still get a divorce if my spouse doesn’t want to get one?
Yes. Your spouse cannot stop you from getting a divorce. If your spouse chooses not to work with you on the divorce, you will receive a default judgment — basically, the divorce will be completed along the terms you set.
Find more information about default cases at the New York Courts website.
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