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Divorce can be a challenging and emotionally draining process. If you are considering filing for divorce in New York, it is important to have a clear understanding of the legal steps involved. This article provides an overview of the divorce process in New York, highlighting key points to help you navigate through this difficult time.

Grounds for Divorce

In New York, there are both fault and no-fault grounds for divorce. No-fault divorce is the most common, where the marriage is irretrievably broken for at least six months. Fault grounds include adultery, cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment for at least one year, imprisonment for three or more consecutive years, or the spouses living apart pursuant to a separation judgment or decree.

Filing the Divorce Petition

The first step in the divorce process is filing a divorce petition. The spouse initiating the divorce, known as the plaintiff, files the petition with the Supreme Court in the county where they or their spouse resides. The petition outlines the grounds for divorce and other relevant information, such as child custody and support, spousal maintenance, and property division.

Serving the Divorce Papers

After filing the divorce petition, the plaintiff must serve the divorce papers to the other spouse, known as the defendant. This can be done through personal service, where the papers are physically delivered to the defendant, or by using a process server or a sheriff. The defendant then has a specific period to respond to the petition.

Response and Counterclaim

The defendant has the option to respond to the divorce petition within a specified time frame. They can either agree or disagree with the grounds for divorce and the terms proposed by the plaintiff. If the defendant disagrees, they can file a counterclaim, outlining their own grounds for divorce and proposed terms for child custody, support, spousal maintenance, and property division.

Discovery and Negotiation

Once the divorce petition and response have been filed, both parties engage in the discovery process. This involves exchanging relevant documents and information related to finances, assets, and liabilities. It is important to be thorough and transparent during this stage to ensure an equitable division of property and fair support arrangements.

During the negotiation phase, the spouses, along with their respective attorneys, attempt to reach a settlement agreement. This agreement addresses all aspects of the divorce, including child custody and support, spousal maintenance, and property division. If both parties can come to an agreement, the divorce can proceed uncontested.

Court Proceedings and Trial

If the spouses are unable to reach a settlement agreement, the divorce case may proceed to court. Each party presents their case, including evidence and witnesses, before a judge. The judge then makes a decision on the unresolved issues. It is important to note that going to trial can be a lengthy and costly process, so it is generally advisable to try to reach a settlement agreement beforehand.

Finalizing the Divorce

Once the court has made a decision or the spouses have reached a settlement agreement, the divorce can be finalized. The final judgment of divorce is issued by the court, officially ending the marriage. It is important to ensure that all necessary documents are filed and any required waiting periods have been met before obtaining the final judgment.


The divorce process in New York can be complex and emotionally challenging. Understanding the legal steps involved can help you navigate through this difficult time. It is recommended to consult with an experienced divorce attorney who can guide you through the process and protect your rights and interests.

Remember, divorce is a personal and unique experience, and the specific details of your case may vary. It is important to seek legal advice tailored to your individual circumstances.