The easiest way to get a divorce in New York

Going through the divorce can be a stressful time, especially if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse disagree about issues like divorce property division, child custody, etc. In such situation, you need to be prepared to fill out a huge amount of divorce papers and most likely to hire a divorce lawyer to do it for you.
On the other hand, if you are lucky to be on the same page with your wife or a husband about ending your marriage you can follow a relatively fast and uncomplicated path to reach a divorce. Divorce mediation can lead you to an uncontested divorce (also called a no-fault divorce in NY). You do not need to agree on every difficult issue to take this path. It is enough if you both are willing to work on reaching this agreement, which will also benefit you and your children.

Divorce mediation

Divorce mediation also known as Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a great starting point that leads you to getting the divorce. It is an out-of-court dispute resolution tool that helps settle the differences between you and your spouse with the judge only approving the settlement. Divorce mediation is likely to save you time and money.
If you decide divorce mediation is a way to go, you and your spouse meet with the „divorce mediator” for a number of sessions to review and discuss all of the issues that need to be decided for you and your children. The divorce mediator is responsible for facilitating the discussion, and you will be making your own decisions regarding all the important issues. Once all issues have been agreed upon, a written document detailing your agreement will be prepared. It is called a settlement agreement. It can be used as one of needed divorce papers.

Another possibility is to use an is e-negotiation platform,, which was developed to help divorcing couples deal with the most dispute prone issue, that is finances. It can be easily used during a divorce mediation process to facilitate agreement on property division. This way, you will spend less time with divorce mediator. If finances are the only issue you and your spouse disagree upon, platform may even replace the need for a divorce mediator.

Uncontested divorce

An uncontested divorce is a way to go with the divorce when both you and your spouse agree to divorce, and there is an agreement about what will happen to your finances and property after the divorce. Other divorce-related issues (e.g. child custody, maintenance) must be resolved as well. Be aware that it is not necessary that you both agree on every single issue at the beginning of the process since you can work it out before filing the divorce papers with the court. However, the willingness of both spouses to work on reaching an agreement before filing divorce papers is necessary. A divorce lawyer might be helpful in reaching an agreement on certain issues but you may also do it on your own and pay less. e-negotiation platform is a tool that in such situations can also help in facilitating an agreement about your finances (the most dispute prone issue) is e-negotiation platform. By using it, you can negotiate your property division without a need of a mediator. Thanks to you do not need to meet your spouse in person All negotiations can take place online. An on-line and asynchronous mode of communication can greatly speed up the whole process and calm down the emotions that often accompany the divorce.

Timeframe and costs in an uncontested divorce

An uncontested divorce will definitely save you time and money. Attorney’s fees are always lower for an uncontested divorce than for a contested one (starting as low as $99 to as high as $1,200). Simple reason is that there is much less paperwork and time commitment for this proceeding.

As to the timeframe, on average an uncontested divorce in New York State lasts about 3 months, whereas a contested one lasts about 9 months to a year. Of course, different cases can differ in duration for a variety of reasons.

Filing for an uncontested divorce without a lawyer. Law Help Interactive

A great tool you can use when you plan to file for an uncontested divorce in New York State without using a lawyer is Law Help Interactive. It is a platform that helps you fill out legal forms (divorce papers) necessary to start a divorce action in court.

Law Help Interactive has been created by nonprofit organizations and is available for free. It will help you bring the cost of your divorce to a minimum.

You can use this program if:

  • you and your spouse are over 18 years of age,
  • you and your spouse have no „children” under 21 years of age,
  • your marriage has been over for at least 6 months, and your relationship cannot be saved,
  • all marital property issues, including debt, have been settled between you and your spouse (Agreemount is here to help you reach an agreement in your financial disputes)

To create necessary divorce papers with Law Help Interactive you will fill out an online questionnaire. At the end ofi t, you will be able to request your finished document. Once the document comes up, you can download or print it from your computer and submit with your court.
Please note, that a signed marital settlement agreement is necessary to use Law Help Interactive. To be able to sign this settlement agreement you can use and negotiate property division with your spouse at

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Formal requirements to file for divorce in New York

If you consider filing for a divorce in New York, you need to meet two main formal requirements. Firstly, you need to meet residency requirement. Secondly, you need to have a „ground” for the divorce (a legally acceptable reason for the divorce). Useful information can be found here New York Courts.

Residency requirement for divorce

There are a few ways to meet the residency requirement of New York State:

  1. Either you or your spouse have been living in New York State continuously for at least two years before the divorce case is started;
  2. Either you or your spouse have been living in New York State continuously for at least one year before the divorce case is started and
    • you got married in New York State, or
    • you lived in New York State as a married couple, or
    • the grounds for your divorce happened in New York State;
  3. Both you and your spouse are residents of New York State on the day the divorce is started and the grounds for your divorce happened in New York State.

Grounds for a divorce

There are seven grounds, legally acceptable reasons, for a divorce in New York State:

  1. Irretrievable breakdown in relationship for a period of at least 6 months (a no-fault divorce)
    To use this ground, the marriage must be over for at least 6 months, and all economic issues, including debt, how the marital property will be divided, and custody and support of the children have been settled.
  2. Cruel and inhuman treatment
    To use this ground, the judge will be looking for specific acts of cruelty that happened in the last five years. It is not enough that you and your spouse had arguments or did not get along. Rather the plaintiff must have been physically or mentally in danger and it is unsafe for him/her to continue living with the defendant.
  3. Abandonment
    To use this ground, the spouse must have abandoned the plaintiff for at least one year or more. There are two examples of abandonment:

    • where the spouse physically leaves the home without any intention of returning or
    • where the spouse refuses to have sex with the other spouse, this is called „constructive” abandonment.
  4. Imprisonment
    To use this ground, the spouse must have been in prison for three or more years in a row and he/she must have been put into prison after the marriage began. The plaintiff can use this ground while the spouse is in prison or up to five years after the spouse was released from prison.
  5. Adultery
    To use this ground, the plaintiff must show that the spouse committed adultery during the marriage. This ground can be hard to prove because evidence from someone besides the plaintiff and spouse is needed.
  6. Divorce after a legal separation agreement
    To use this ground, a husband and a wife have to sign and file a separation agreement and live apart for one year.
  7. Divorce after a judgment of separation
    This ground is not used very often. To use this ground, the Supreme Court draws up a judgment of separation, and the married couple has to live apart for one year.

Important terms

Marital property
It includes all property that you and your husband acquired between the date you got married and the date your divorce case starts. It does not matter whose name is on the marital property. For example, if you bought a car sometime after you were married, even if the car is registered only in your name, it is considered marital property.

Examples of marital property: pension plans, other retirement plans, annuity, real estate like a house, condo or co-op, 401 (k), 403 (b), IRA, bank accounts, savings account, debt (credit cards, car payments, etc.), car, boat, etc.

Separate property
It is a property a spouse owned before the marriage, or any inheritance or personal injury payments or gifts from someone other than the spouse during the marriage. Other properties are called “community property.”

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR)
ADR is a formal name for processes like divorce mediation or collaborative family law. These out-of-court processes often save time and money.