Uncontested Divorce Lawyers
This is called an uncontested divorce and it is generally the most sought-after outcome by divorcing couples. Unfortunately, couples that part amicably and harbor the best intentions for an uncontested divorce sometimes run into problems. So, while there is no legal requirement to hire a lawyer and you may sit around the kitchen table with your spouse to make key decisions, you will likely still need legal assistance at some stage. Even if no court hearing is required before a divorce is granted, it is a good idea for an experienced divorce lawyer like Jonathan D. Katz to draft the separation agreement. He has been helping divorcing couples in Saugerties, Highland, Kingston, New Paltz, New York, and around upstate New York for almost four decades.
Uncontested vs. contested divorce
The main issues to resolve when a couple separates in New York state are generally the following:
- Child custody
- Parenting and visitation rights
- Child support
- Property and debt division
- Spousal support (alimony)
These are the “big-ticket items” that married couples or common-law partners (with children) must address. During divorces, emotions run high and because of the high stakes involved in making the right custodial and financial decisions, couples often become stressed and adversarial. This leads to contested divorce where one or all of the above matters remain unresolved. Even with mediation, no resolution is possible and the matter ends up with court hearings and a judge deciding on what constitutes a fair settlement. With uncontested divorces, the same issues are on the table but the couple can resolve each one and both parties are prepared to put the agreement in writing (a separation agreement). Providing the decisions are in the best interests of the children from the marriage (if applicable), the judge should ratify the agreement in court and sign the final divorce decree. Your divorce will then be finalized and you can move ahead with your lives. Family lawyers are almost always needed for contested divorces – whether resolved through collaboration, mediation, arbitration, or litigation. Some couples manage uncontested divorces with a “DIY” approach but most still hire lawyers to help with the paperwork.
What are the requirements for an uncontested divorce in New York?
Before you and your spouse considering filing for divorce, bear in mind that there are some basic residency requirements that you must first meet:
- You or your spouse must have been living in New York for at least two continuous years immediately before filing, or
- You or your spouse have been living in New York for at least one continuous year immediately before filing, and
- You were married in New York, or
- You lived in New York as a married couple, or
- The grounds for your divorce happened in New York
To file for an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse must first agree to divorce and also see eye-to-eye on the following:
- The grounds for divorce
- How to divide marital property and debt
- Legal and physical custody of the children (and parenting time for the other parent)
- The amount and duration of child support payable
- The amount of spousal support (if applicable)
New York is a no-fault divorce state. This means that you can file for divorce based upon the irretrievable breakdown of your marriage rather than having to apportion blame for the breakdown due to the behavior of your spouse.
What is the uncontested divorce process in New York?
An uncontested divorce is generally simpler, less expensive, and less time-consuming than a contested divorce but the process still involves a lot of paperwork. The Supreme Court handles all divorce cases in New York state. The person who initiates the process is called the plaintiff and the other spouse is the defendant. All forms are available online from the New York State courts but you may require some assistance to complete them. The general process for uncontested divorces in New York state is as follows:
Obtain and prepare the correct documents
Different sets of forms must be completed for an uncontested divorce, depending on if there are children under the age of 21 from the marriage:
- For couples with no children under 21 and a marriage that has been over for at least six months, use the DIY Uncontested Divorce Program.
- If you have children under 21, use the paper Uncontested Divorce Packet.
Whether or not you have children, you will need to complete the following forms at least:
- Verified Complaints, and
- Settlement Agreement
Purchase an index number
You will then need to purchase an "index number" at the county clerk's office in the county where you or your spouse lives. This is the main filing fee you will pay to the court. The index number must be added to your Summons and Verified Complaint forms.
Send the forms to your spouse
Copies of all documents filed must be sent to your spouse to provide an opportunity to respond. Also, send them an Affidavit of the Defendant form. Providing your spouse signs the affidavit, your uncontested divorce can proceed. If this is not possible, you will need to serve papers on your spouse and your spouse must fill out an Affidavit of Service to confirm receipt.
File the papers with the county clerk
Once you and your spouse have completed the necessary forms and had them notarized, make a copy of all forms. Then, file the originals at the county clerk’s office. This is where the case files will be kept for the Supreme Court. The county clerk may request more forms to be completed depending on your circumstances. This may slow down the process a little but is a necessary step to ensure delays do not occur later on. It may be possible to use the New York State Courts Electronic Filing system (NYSCF) to file your papers, depending on which county you file in.
The divorce is finalized
No divorce is finalized until the judge has reviewed the documents and signed the Judgment of Divorce. Once it is signed, file and enter it in the county clerk's office. Also, serve a copy of this document on your ex-spouse with a completed Notice of Entry form.
Uncontested divorces in New York: How long and how much?
The time it takes to finalize an uncontested divorce depends on two main factors:
- How busy the court is
- How quickly your spouse can return the necessary documents
The minimum time for an uncontested divorce from the date of filing is six weeks. There is no mandatory waiting period in New York. More typically, an uncontested divorce takes a few months and some take six months or more. Either way, they are generally quicker and less expensive than contested divorces.
How much is an uncontested divorce in NY?
The standard filing fee for a New York divorce is currently $210, payable when you get the index number. When other court costs are added, you will end up paying at least $335 in total. The bulk of the costs in most divorces are usually lawyer fees. While these are far lower in uncontested divorces than in most contested ones, the costs of copying and notarizing documents, transportation, mailing, process server fees, and so on should be factored in.
Statewide representation for uncontested divorces in New York
Jonathan D. Katz has been helping to divorce couples across New York state for almost four decades. He knows many of the county courts and understands the local procedures with divorces. For an uncontested divorce, our team will ensure that all paperwork is completed and filed correctly, to prevent delays. We’ll also ensure that you won’t face the inconvenience of a court appearance. We pride our firm on not using recorded messages and make sure that you’ve looked after from the first conversation to the last by a real human being. You will receive regular updates as your case passes through the New York court system.
After a free case evaluation on our toll-free number 866-912-1385, we’ll know your situation and you’ll understand more about the recommended next steps.