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Five Things to Know Before You File for Divorce in New York State

As a New Yorker, you have options when divorcing. You can file for no-fault divorce by asserting that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage for at least six months. You can also assert misconduct on grounds such as adultery, abandonment, cruel and inhuman treatment, and a legal separation of more than a year. Once you know that you or your spouse wants to file for divorce, you can start preparing right away. The best first step is to contact a local attorney whose area of practice includes divorce. The next is to educate yourself on some of the basics of the divorce process in New York, including these aspects:

  1. New York State residency requirements — Generally, in order to file for divorce in New York State, both you and your spouse need to be living in the state at the time of divorce and the grounds for divorce need to have happened in New York, with some exceptions. If only one of you is living in the state or you moved from another state recently, you may need to meet other criteria. You can also file for divorce in New York even if you were married in a different state, provided other residency requirements are met.
  2. Properly serving your spouse — It’s critically important that you hire a process server or have someone else serve (give) papers to your spouse within 120 days from the date you filed with the court. You cannot be the person who hands your spouse the court filings. Other rules apply, so it’s best to consult with an attorney to ensure your spouse is properly served.
  3. Knowing the court system and your county — In New York, the state Supreme Court grants divorces. Family court handles child custody, child support and other family law matters. But you must file with the County Clerk of the county where you reside. Know that each county works a little differently—some with longer waits and busier dockets than others.
  4. Knowing your financials — Do you know all the financial accounts that exist in your and your spouse’s names? If you have access to financial statements, passwords to online accounts and other financial information, make sure you collect it all before you and your spouse separate. It’s important to know what is in the marital estate — your home, your checking accounts, your investment accounts — and to be able to produce evidence in court if any of your findings are disputed.
  5. Taking inventory — It’s important to have a clear picture of what items are in the marital estate other than those listed above. Anything you acquired after your marriage will be subject to an equitable distribution between you and your spouse. Assign a value to each asset so your attorney has a good starting point to helping you reach a fair settlement.

An attorney with experience in family law can help explain all of these details, the court process, and any questions you may have about child custody and visitation if you have children. Even in the most amicable breakup, it’s important to have legal counsel so that your rights are protected.

Meth Law Offices, PC represents clients in the Chester area in divorce, in other family law cases, and in personal injury and civil rights matters. Please call 845-610-6595 or contact us online for a free initial consultation at our office.