Not all divorces need to be long, expensive, and painful affairs. If both spouses can resolve their issues amicably and without the need for court intervention, a more streamlined process is available. Divorcing spouses can save time, money, and emotional energy by pursuing an uncontested divorce where possible. Read on to learn about the uncontested divorce process in New York. If you are considering divorce or are dealing with other family law issues, call a seasoned New York divorce lawyer at the Kohn Law Firm in The Bronx.
Uncontested is Different from “No-Fault”
New York, like all states, offers a form of “no-fault” divorce. No-fault divorce means either party can file for divorce without alleging that the other spouse committed some wrongdoing, such as adultery or abuse. Uncontested divorce is an entirely different legal concept.
Uncontested divorce refers to whether the parties agree on all the issues pertinent to the divorce–alimony, property division, custody, etc. The divorce is “uncontested” when there are no issues, including the divorce itself, in dispute between the parties. In New York, parties seeking an uncontested divorce can benefit from a more simplified legal process, limited court proceedings, and a much quicker divorce timeline.
Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce
To file for an uncontested divorce, the parties must first satisfy the baseline residency requirements. That means that either:
- At least one spouse has resided in New York for two continuous years immediately prior to divorce, or
- At least one spouse has resided in New York for one continuous year immediately prior to divorce, and either: the parties married in New York; the parties lived together in New York; or the grounds for divorce arose in New York.
In addition to the residency requirement, an uncontested divorce requires that the parties have already resolved all issues pertinent to the divorce. That means the parties must come prepared with papers fully resolving matters including:
- Plans to divorce and the grounds for doing so (typically, “irretrievable breakdown in the relationship,” New York’s standard no-fault ground)
- How to apportion marital property and debt
- Child custody and parenting time arrangements
- Child support and alimony (spousal support)
If there are any issues on which the parties have not come to a full agreement, or if a party changes their mind upon receiving the divorce papers and decides to contest one or more issues, then the divorce becomes “contested” and the dispute will be resolved in typical fashion. That means settlement negotiations, mediation, and arguments before the court, where necessary.
The Uncontested Divorce Process
Uncontested divorce requires the parties to file all appropriate divorce papers and go through the appropriate legal motions to obtain a divorce. One party will file a divorce summons and complaint, properly serve the other party (now the “defendant”) who will be required to file an answer, etc. Each party will need to file an affidavit stating and agreeing to the facts of the divorce. Child support and other special forms (such as forms pertaining to special religious requirements for divorce) must be filled out and filed. Talk to your family law attorney to assist in preparing and filing all of the requisite documentation.
The terms of the divorce, as agreed upon by the parties, should be memorialized in a settlement agreement. The settlement must be specially notarized and then submitted to the court. Ultimately, the court will certify a “findings of fact and conclusion of law” and issue a final judgment of divorce. If the matter is entirely uncontested, the proceedings will move much more quickly than if there are matters in dispute. The parties might not even need to appear in court if all goes well.
Get Experienced Help With Your Uncontested Divorce in New York
If you are considering divorce in New York, or if you are dealing with New York family law issues including child custody, property division, or support, reach out to the seasoned and dedicated New York divorce lawyers at the Bronx offices of the Kohn Law Firm for a free consultation, at 718-409-1200.