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The 4 Steps to Filing for Divorce in New York

Woman looking distraught holding wedding ring - representing the process for filing for divorce in New York

Not only can divorce be one of the most emotional and heartbreaking experiences of your life, it can also be one of the most confusing. As questions surrounding the future of your family flood your mind, it can be difficult to sort through the associated legalese and procedures of ending your marriage.

How Do You Start the Divorce Process in NY?

Where do you even begin? To help make sense of your situation, our the experienced New York City family law attorneys at the Law Office of Deana Balahtsis has broken down the divorce process into four simple-to-understand steps.

1. Prepare and File Your Divorce Packet:

Filing for divorce in New York involves filling out various court forms, even if your separation is uncontested. The first form you will need to complete is a UD-1 “Summons With Notice,” or a UD-1a “Summons” and UD-2 “Verified Complaint.” This summons will commence your divorce action, naming you as the plaintiff and your spouse as the defendant. Whether you choose to file a UD-1 or a UD-1a and UD-2 will mostly be a simple matter of detail, with the latter option requiring more information about you, your spouse, and your children. Once you have chosen and completed an option, make two additional photocopies and file them with the county clerk’s office in the county where either you or your spouse resides. After paying a fee (or having it waived through a “Poor Person’s Waiver” form), you will be issued a case index number, which will be included on your forms with the filing date.

2. Serve Your Forms:

A copy of your summons and complaint must be served to your spouse within 120 days of being filed, along with a UD-7 Affidavit of Defendant form. These papers must be personally handed to your spouse by anyone other than you who is at least 18 years of age and is a resident of New York. If you and your spouse share children, a copy of the Child Support Standards Chart must also be served. Your spouse must fill out the served UD-7 form and send it back to you within 40 days if they agree to the divorce. If your spouse does not return this affidavit, whoever served the divorce papers to your spouse must then fill out either a UD-3 or UD-4 form and send them a copy by mail. If your spouse disagrees with any aspect of your divorce filing, they may file a “Notice of Appearance,” thereby making your divorce contested.

3. The Court Calendar:

If your spouse completed and returned the affidavit, you may then schedule your divorce on the court calendar. If your spouse did not sign and return the affidavit, you must wait at least 40 days before attempting to place your case on the calendar. Instructions for placing your divorce on the calendar may be found at nycourts.gov, which involves filling out roughly a dozen different forms. Different forms will be required depending on whether or not you have children and where you are filing for divorce.

4. Disclosures and Negotiations:

To avoid a trial, you and your spouse must come to an agreement on all issues, including property distribution, spousal support, child custody, visitation and child support. These issues can be negotiated either through communication between you and your spouse or through mediation. During this step, both you and your spouse will need to disclose all pertinent financial information and exchange statements of net worth. If an agreement cannot be reached, the courts may step in and issue a decision on your behalf. Once all issues have been decided, either through out-of-court negotiations or court intervention, a judge will review your agreement and issue a final judgment.

How Long Does it Take for a Divorce to Be Finalized in New York?

Every divorce is different and will take a different length of time to be finalized. It is not an immediate process. You must compile the information, obtain the paperwork, complete the forms, file them with the court, serve the other part, request a court date, go to court, all before a judge can finalize your divorce. Uncontested divorce cases can be resolved in as little as 6 weeks or so, but most cases take several months. In contested cases, a divorce can take a year or more before it is finalized in New York.

How Much Does it Cost to Get a Divorce in New York?

The cost of divorce in NY depends on a number of factors. The court and filing fees for an uncontested divorce in NY is $335, but this does not include attorney fees and other costs. Contested divorces cost much more because of the additional time, court fees, and attorney fees. Research by Lawyers.com claims that the total cost of divorce in New York ranges from $5,000 to $37,000.

Have You and Your Spouse Decided to Pursue a Divorce?

There is no need to put yourself through the stress of pursing a divorce on your own! Let the Law Office of Deana Balahtsis take care of the work while you focus on your family. With nearly 20 years of experience, we are ready to fight for you and your family's best interest.

We can help you find an effective and efficient solution to your separation with ease through:

  • Mediation
  • Negotiations
  • Possible litigation

Having helped families and individuals with complex family law matters for nearly two decades, our seasoned family lawyers can help take the guesswork out of your divorce and guard your best interests during this time.

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