In 2010, New York became the last state to enact a no-fault divorce statute, streamlining the divorce process into a few mandatory steps. Spouses no longer needed to point out the other partner’s misconduct to initiate a divorce.
In addition, it made it easier for couples to file for an uncontested divorce. They can start it online with as little time and money as the couple’s amicability affords.
Let’s see what you should know about divorce proceedings in New York.
What Goes into the Cost of Divorce?
Although divorce has a reputation as a pricey solution to end one’s marriage, the total will depend on three main things.
Contested Divorce / Uncontested Divorce
For one, if you have no intention to accuse your spouse of infidelity, abandonment, or cruelty, you can claim “irreconcilable differences” as a reason for getting a divorce and have an uncontested divorce, which is the least expensive in any state. Those claimants who choose fault-based grounds for divorce are responsible for presenting evidence to prove the case.
Divorce discovery usually doesn’t come cheap. And each spouse has to hire legal counsel and pay an hourly fee which generally starts at $300 per hour in New York.
The Complexity of Arrangements
Suppose you both opt for an uncontested divorce, now you are in the middle of settling your estate and family arrangements. If you have children and property, you have to decide on the child custody split, child support payments, and property division.
There are several options, and each has its price tag. The zero-cost option is for you and your spouse to draft an agreement on custody, support, and distribution of property and debts on your own without an attorney. The judge will review it and sign a divorce decree if it’s fair.
If you don’t want to risk agreeing on something that can potentially turn out detrimental for you or your children in the long term, have an attorney review your settlement agreement (and pay for an hour or two of their time).
Another variant is to let an attorney do the paperwork for you. The price for a flat-fee divorce package depends on whether a couple has minor children and property. In New York, flat fee divorces cost $500 to $1,400.
Legal Assistance or Web Divorce
By agreeing to decide on the divorce-related issues amicably, spouses can consider self-representation, mediation, or using a web-based company to help with the paperwork.
Mediators assist spouses in reaching an agreement on divorce-related issues and drafting a settlement agreement. Internet divorce services help spouses prepare the divorce papers, memorialize their decisions in a settlement agreement, and provide instructions to file the paperwork with the court. In New York, preparing an application for divorce online will cost you $139 to $500.
What Are the Steps for Filing for Divorce in New York?
Here’s a standard divorce procedure for an uncontested divorce in New York.
Step 0. Ensure your eligibility.
Meet the residency requirements: (1) either both spouses are residents of New York State when they apply for divorce, or either spouse has lived in the state for at least two years; or if the spouses were married in the state, they have lived in New York State for at least one year. (2) In case of “irretrievable breakdown of a marriage,” spouses must have lived separate and apart for at least 6 months before filing for divorce.
Step 1. Prepare the forms. Obtain and complete the divorce forms. The necessary forms are available through the New York State courts website, along with DIY divorce instructions.
Or, use a Do-It-Yourself service to help you complete your divorce online. You answer questions on the online divorce service’s website and receive the completed forms in a matter of days. What’s more, you can use such platforms without leaving your home.
The forms are to be notarized and duplicated so that you have the originals and two copies.
Step 2. File the completed forms. File the originals and copies of the divorce paperwork with the court clerk. Check the e-filing County List to see whether your county supports e-filing through NYSCEF (the New York State Courts Electronic Filing system).
According to the New York State Courts website, the petitioner (or the plaintiff) will need to pay a filing fee of $210 when they file their divorce application with the court. Low-income families can submit a waiver of the court fees.
Step 3. Serve the respondent. The petitioner must inform the other spouse (referred to as the defendant in New York) of the impending divorce by handing over the divorce papers within 120 days after filing for divorce. The respondent confirms consent by signing an Affidavit of Service. The petitioner files the affidavit with the court.
Step 4. Wait for the Respondent’s response. In an uncontested divorce, the responding spouse must file the Affidavit of Defendant agreeing to the information in the paperwork submitted by the petitioner to the court. The respondent has 40 days to do so.
Step 5. File the rest of the paperwork. In case of an uncontested divorce, right after the respondent files the affidavit, the petitioner submits the rest of the papers and learns the final court hearing date.
Step 6. Wait for a judgment. In most NY courts, petitioners receive the judgment of divorce by mail. It’s their responsibility to mail the respondent a copy of the judgment and complete another affidavit of service.
Divorce over the Internet in New York
If both spouses agree on their divorce and sort out the terms related to property, money, and children, the odds of them having a quick and affordable divorce are considerably higher than in a contested divorce with a legal team. They will also have the option of preparing and filing the papers over the Internet. Keep in mind that it can radically cut down the cost of dissolution of marriage.
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