Divorce How Long It Take In NY

Last Updated on April 2024

Uncontested divorces in New York typically resolve within four to six months. Realistically, however, it might take a bit longer due to the court’s caseload and the schedules of all the parties involved. A contested divorce takes between six months to a year to come to a resolution.

Different factors impact the duration of marriage dissolution in the state. In this article, we will discuss the most important aspects so that anybody starting a divorce can better understand what awaits them in the process. 

How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take? 

The uncontested divorce timeline in New York can vary based on the case’s specifics, but usually, the process may be completed within 4-6 months. In fact, some cases can even be resolved within 3 months. 

An uncontested divorce is the quickest, cheapest, and most efficient way to end a marriage. When applying for an uncontested marriage dissolution, spouses demonstrate that they agree on all the divorce terms, including property and debt division, child custody and support, alimony, and any other relevant matters. Therefore, they only need the judge to review and approve their decisions and sign a Judgment of Divorce.

couple discussing the length of divorce

Some spouses decide on an uncontested divorce straight away, aiming to minimize emotional and financial toll along the way. However, it is possible only if partners know how to communicate openly and are ready to compromise during discussions. Others are willing to apply for an amicable marriage ending after several sessions with a skilled mediator. No matter how you reach an agreed-upon dissolution, it is still more advantageous in terms of speed than a contested divorce.

How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take?

The average divorce time frame in contested cases ranges from 6 months to a year. However, some extremely adversary litigations may last several years, depleting the parties’ finances and causing distress. 

Some couples can’t reach a consensus on several matters, while others argue about a single issue, like child custody. The common thing about such situations is that spouses aren’t willing to negotiate debatable aspects of splitting and have to wait longer than in uncontested cases to officially terminate their marriage. 

Usually, when spouses opt for a contested marriage dissolution, each of them hires a lawyer. The expert oversees all divorce-related matters, prepares documents, collects evidence, looks for witnesses if needed, and represents the parties in court. 

How Long Does It Take for Divorce to Be Final?

Defining the exact period for a divorce to be final in New York is impossible, but the time frame is usually much shorter for uncontested cases than for contested litigations. Generally, marriage is officially over when spouses receive a signed Judgment of Divorce, often referred to as a divorce decree. For a judge to sign a divorce decree in New York, a couple or their lawyers have to prepare and file the needed forms, comply with serving and answering procedures, and participate in court hearings if required. 

couple finalizing a divorce in ny

Surely, there may be more stages in disputed marriage termination, considering the obligatory discovery process, trial hearings, etc. Besides, when a petitioner applies for a fault-based contested divorce, the overall time required to finalize it extends as they must collect evidence and prove the partner’s wrongdoing. In no-fault cases, when the main reason for divorce is irreconcilable differences, spouses still have to confirm that their marriage has been irretrievably broken for at least 6 months. New York State laws do not set any pre-defined waiting period. 

So, when does a divorce become final? It happens after a judge reviews the case and signs a Judgment of Divorce, and it is filed with the clerk’s office and served on the defendant. In an uncontested divorce, a settlement agreement can become the basis for a final divorce decree. In contested cases, the judge makes final decisions on all relevant matters.

Time Frame for a Divorce in New York

The unique nature of the case directly affects the time the divorce process takes in New York. The important thing to consider before starting the process is residency requirements

The average divorce procedure evolves in the following way:

  • Pre-filing stage (a couple of weeks). Spouses need to decide whether they want to apply for divorce. If yes, they must prepare to file themselves or find a lawyer to help them. 
  • Filing a Summons and a Verified Complaint or a Summons with Notice in the county clerk’s office to start a divorce case and paying a filing fee of approximately $335 (1-2 days).
  • Serving the papers on the other party (several days or weeks, depending on the method chosen). After filing for divorce, a petitioner must notify a defendant about the initiated procedure.
  • Waiting for a defendant’s response. This task must be completed within 20 days if papers are served within the state or 30 days if a defendant lives outside New York State.
  • Discovery when going through a contested divorce (a few weeks, on average).
  • Mediation is an optional procedure (from a few days to several weeks).
  • Divorce hearings (from one day to several months, depending on how many hearings are required).

Factors that Can Impact the Length of a Divorce 

lawyer discussing factors that can impact the length of a divorce 

No wonder most spouses are interested in a speedy divorce. The good news is that they can control some aspects of a process. Let’s consider the main factors that impact the duration of a divorce.

1. Contested vs Uncontested

Uncontested divorces, when all important disputes are resolved outside the court, are generally finalized faster than contested proceedings. So, if you want to end your marriage promptly, try to reach an agreement before filing your documents.

2. No-Fault vs Fault-Based

When choosing a fault-based divorce, a petitioner must collect and present proof of the partner’s misconduct, potentially prolonging the marriage dissolution.

3. Involvement of Minor Kids

If divorcing spouses have dependent children, their divorce may take longer due to the additional paperwork related to their custodial responsibilities. Besides, they may have to take parenting classes, which expands the process.

4. Property Division

If spouses have a lot of joint property that requires professional evaluation for fair splitting, they may need to wait longer until certified experts assess their assets and prepare the necessary papers.

5. Mediation

Mediation is a helpful service that allows couples to settle their disputes and eventually end up with an amicable divorce. However, it will add some time to the total process duration. 

6. Court’s Caseload

Couples questioning “Why does divorce take so long?” should consider the court workload as an important factor affecting the timeline. If the court handling their divorce has many other cases to deal with, spouses must wait for their turn. 

Considering Filing for Divorce?

Start by creating a free account on our website to see if you qualify for an online divorce in New York. Prepare all the paperwork needed for filing an uncontested divorce online without lawyers.

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