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The documents provided by LegalZoom.com are the approved forms promulgated by the New York State Unified Court System.
APPEARANCE IN COURT
Generally, you do not have to appear in front of a Judge to finalize your divorce. You will need to go the clerk’s office, or have someone deliver documents to the clerk’s office for you, in order to get a case number and to file your documents. However, once the documents are filed and the fees paid, there is usually no appearance in front of a judge.
To file for a divorce in New York you must satisfy one of the following residency requirements. Any one will do, you do not have meet all of the requirements:
1) The marriage ceremony was performed in New York State and either spouse is a resident of the state at the time of the commencement of the action for divorce and resided in the state for a continuous period of one year immediately before the action began [In other words: you got married here and at least one of you has lived here for the last year]; OR
2) The couple lived as husband and wife in New York State and either spouse is a resident of the state at the time of the commencement of the action for divorce and resided in this state for a continuous period of one year immediately before the action began [In other words: you lived in New York together and at least one of you has lived here for the last year]; OR
3) The grounds for divorce occurred in New York State and either spouse is a resident of the state at the time of the commencement of the action for divorce and resided in this state for a continuous period of one year immediately before the action began [In other words: the basis for the divorce (see below) occurred in New York and at least one of you lived here for the last year]; OR
4) The grounds for divorce occurred in New York State and both spouses are New York residents at the time the action is commenced [In other words: the basis for the divorce (see below) occurred in New York and you both live here now, not necessarily for a whole year] ; OR
5) If you and your spouse were married outside of New York State and you never lived together as husband and wife in this state and the grounds for divorce did not occur in this state -- either you or your spouse must presently be a resident of New York State and have resided continuously in the state for at least two years prior to bringing this action for divorce [In other words, you weren’t married here, the basis for the divorce didn’t occur here, you never lived here together, then at least one of you has to have lived here for at least the last two years].
GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE
In order to file for a divorce in New York State you must have a ground (a legally acceptable reason) for the granting of a divorce by the New York courts. The legally acceptable reasons, or grounds for divorce, in New York are described in Domestic Relations Law §170. They are:
(1) The cruel and inhuman treatment of the plaintiff by the defendant such that the conduct of the defendant so endangers the physical or mental well being of the plaintiff as renders it unsafe or improper for the plaintiff to cohabit with the defendant.
(2) The abandonment of the plaintiff by the defendant for a period of one or more years.
(3) The confinement of the defendant in prison for a period of three or more consecutive years after the marriage of plaintiff and defendant.
(4) The commission of an act of adultery, provided that adultery for the purposes of articles ten, eleven, and eleven-A of this chapter, is hereby defined as the commission of an act of sexual intercourse, oral sexual conduct or anal sexual conduct, voluntarily performed by the defendant, with a person other than the plaintiff after the marriage of plaintiff and defendant. Oral sexual conduct and anal sexual conduct include, but are not limited to, sexual conduct as defined in subdivision two of section 130.00 and subdivision three of section 130.20 of the penal law.
(5) The husband and wife have lived apart pursuant to a decree or judgment of separation for a period of one or more years after the granting of such decree or judgment, and satisfactory proof has been submitted by the plaintiff that he or she has substantially performed all the terms and conditions of such decree or judgment.
(6) The husband and wife have lived separate and apart pursuant to a written agreement of separation, subscribed by the parties thereto and acknowledged or proved in the form required to entitle a deed to be recorded, for a period of one or more years after the execution of such agreement and satisfactory proof has been submitted by the plaintiff that he or she has substantially performed all the terms and conditions of such agreement. Such agreement shall be filed in the office of the clerk of the county wherein either party resides. In lieu of filing such agreement, either party to such agreement may file a memorandum of such agreement, which memorandum shall be similarly subscribed and acknowledged or proved as was the agreement of separation and shall contain the following information: (a) the names and addresses of each of the parties, (b) the date of marriage of the parties, (c) the date of the agreement of separation and (d) the date of this subscription and acknowledgment or proof of such agreement of separation.
(7) The relationship between husband and wife has broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months, provided that one party has so stated under oath. No judgment of divorce shall be granted under this subdivision unless and until the economic issues of equitable distribution of marital property, the payment or waiver of spousal support, the payment of child support, the payment of counsel and experts' fees and expenses as well as the custody and visitation with the infant children of the marriage have been resolved by the parties, or determined by the court and incorporated into the judgment of divorce.
Grounds 1 and 4 do not require any time period to pass, you may complete your divorce without a waiting period; Ground 2 requires that the abandonment occurred one year or longer prior to filing for divorce; Ground 3 requires that the imprisonment be for a period of three or more consecutive years or longer prior to filing for divorce; and Grounds 5 and 6 require you to wait one year after the document (separation judgment, separation decree or separation agreement) is filed with the Court. [note that a valid and enforceable judgement/decree or agreement is entered without a waiting period, with only the actual divorce requiring a waiting period.]
Summary explanations are provided in the instruction list that you will receive upon completing your case. Further definitions are provided in the questions you will be presented by LegalZoom.com . LegalZoom.com can be used based on any of the six grounds.
New York State is very particular regarding the basis for a divorce. While other states may allow couples to file for divorce because they simply don't get along (irreconcilable differences), New York requires a ground for the divorce (see above). The mandatory waiting period will vary based on the ground that you choose. Regardless of what ground you choose, LegalZoom.com will assist you in completing an amicable uncontested dissolution . Whether using LegalZoom.com or using an attorney, you will have to designate a ground and the applicable waiting period will apply.
New York court filing fees are in addition to the cost of using LegalZoom.com. This cost may vary by county. Please check with your local courthouse to determine the exact amount.
LOWER INCOME STATUS
Where an individual lacks the financial resources to pay the costs associated with a divorce action, an application may be made to have these fees waived or forgiven by the court. This refers to the fees listed above (not to the fee for using LegalZoom.com). LegalZoom.com DOES provide the forms for applying to have the fees waived.