Everything About Uncontested Divorce In New York

Last Updated on April 2024

For many people, making the decision to divorce can be difficult, even though both spouses agree that the marriage cannot be saved. They may have many reasons for delaying the divorce, such as not wanting to devote much time to the process, upset children, attend court hearings, spend much money on lawyers, etc.

However, if you and your spouse can find common ground, you can start the New York uncontested divorce which is a relatively simple procedure. It is recognized as the fastest and least stressful way to end a marriage for the divorcing couple and their children, if any.

What Is an Uncontested Divorce?

The couple shake hands as they came to an agreement in the process of their divorce.
Obtaining an uncontested divorce requires mutual agreement between spouses on all relevant issues, which can streamline the process.

A divorce is uncontested if both parties agree on the division of property, parental rights, financial support, family debt distribution, etc. This way, the process will not require multiple court hearings. Nevertheless, you still should meet the residency requirements and have grounds for divorce, properly fill out and file all the paperwork with the court, serve your spouse, and put your case on the court calendar. After that, the judge can consider your case and sign the Judgment of Divorce. Once you deliver this Judgment to your spouse and file it with the clerk’s office, the case will be finalized.

There are several scenarios when an uncontested divorce is possible:

  • spouses are able to reach a compromise on the divorce terms, compose and sign a Settlement Agreement, and file it with the court along with the rest of the forms necessary to initiate a divorce.
  • one party files for divorce and serves the documents to the other party, who, in turn, fully agrees to all the specified terms by signing an Affidavit of Defendant.
  • the filing spouse has served the defendant with the papers, but they fail to respond within 20 days if they live in New York or 30 days if they reside out of state. It means that the responding party defaulted. In that case, after 40 days from the date of filing, the plaintiff can file the remaining paperwork, requesting the court to review the case. There may be no hearings if all documents are in order, and the judge can grant a divorce based on the relief requested by the plaintiff.

Who Qualifies for an Uncontested Divorce in New York?

An image of the New York State flag, in which only residents can file for divorce.
To file for divorce, one spouse must meet the residency requirement of having lived in the state continuously for a specific period.

To be able to begin an uncontested marriage dissolution, you must meet the residency requirement for divorce and have a legally acceptable ground for it.

If you fit at least one of these points, the state will have jurisdiction over your divorce case:

  1. Both or one party have been New York residents for at least two years when the dissolution of marriage begins.
  2. Both spouses are residents of the state when the case is filed and the reasons for divorce occurred in New York.
  3. Both or one of the partners have lived in the state for at least one year and the reasons for divorce happened in New York, or the marriage was registered in the state, or you resided in the state as a married couple.

Legally acceptable reasons for divorce can be:

  1. Irretrievable Breakdown of the Relationship. It is a no-fault reason for divorce that can be used if partners have ended their relationship at least six months ago and have reached an agreement on all divorce-related issues.
  2. Cruel and Inhuman Treatment. It can be both physical and psychological violence that endangers the life or health of one of the spouses or kids. You can use it if the acts of violence occurred during the last five years of marriage, and you are able to prove it.
  3. Abandonment. If one partner abandons the other for at least one year, it is grounds for divorce. Abandonment can take several forms, like leaving the spouse without the intent to come back.
  4. Imprisonment. You can file for divorce specifying this reason if, after the marriage, your spouse got a jail term of at least three years. Also, it is possible to cite it during the next five years after release.
  5. Adultery. It means one partner cheated on the other during the marriage, and a witness statement or irrefutable evidence can be presented to the court to prove it.
  6. Divorce After a Legal Separation Agreement. Spouses must prepare, sign, and file a separation agreement stating that they will live separately for at least one year and fulfill this obligation.
  7. Divorce After a Judgment of Separation. This ground is also known as conversion; it is used when a couple resides separately after a judgment of separation ordered by the Supreme Court.

How Does Uncontested Divorce in New York Work?

Image of steps in the New York State divorce process.
Navigating through all the steps of divorce requires careful attention to detail, adherence to legal procedures, and professional guidance.

The procedure of uncontested divorce is more straightforward and simpler than a contested case. So, here’s how it works:

Step 1. Filing with the Court

The first step in starting a case is filing for an uncontested divorce in New York with the County Clerk’s Office. To do this, you must first find the necessary New York divorce forms and fill them out with information about you, your spouse, and the terms of divorce. You can obtain the forms from the official website of the New York courts or at the County Clerk’s Office. Typically, the list of papers to prepare includes:

  • Summons with Notice or Summons and Complaint
  • Notice of Automatic Orders
  • Notice Concerning Continuation of Health Care Coverage
  • Settlement Agreement, if you have already completed, signed, and notarized one, etc.

After that, you have two options for filing the forms. The first is to submit them online using the New York State Courts Electronic Filing system. The second is to come to the County Clerk’s Office and file paperwork in person. Remember that you will need to cover mandatory court fees of around $335. After that, your case will be assigned an index number.

If you find yourself in a difficult financial position and do not have enough money to pay the fees, you may contact the County Clerk’s Office to get information on obtaining a fee waiver.

Step 2. Serving the Spouse

The next step is to provide your spouse with the divorce papers within 120 days after filing and receive a response from them. If you know where they live and are confident they agree to an uncontested divorce, you can serve them with the papers on your own. All they have to do is sign the Affidavit of Defendant.

In case you are not sure whether the process will be uncontested, you may entrust one of your adult acquaintances, who is a resident of New York, to handle the documents. Also, you can use the services of professional process servers. If the partner is located out of state, they will need to be served according to local rules. When the third party delivers the forms, the defendant can proceed in several ways:

  • Sign the Affidavit of Defendant and agree to the uncontested divorce.
  • File a Notice of Appearance with the court, meaning they do not agree to divorce terms.
  • Fail to answer the papers, meaning they “defaulted.”

If the location of your spouse is unknown, and your attempts to find them have not been successful, go to the court and ask about alternative methods of service.

After the other party has received the divorce forms, you must file an Affidavit of Service with the County Clerk’s Office as evidence that you served the papers. From that date, the defendant will have 20 or 30 days to review the paperwork and reply.

Step 3 – Calendaring and Finalizing the Case

After receiving or not receiving a response, you should go to the County Clerk’s Office and file the remaining paperwork. It will mean that you request the court to place your case on the court calendar. On a designated date, a judge will review your case and make a final decision, signing a Judgment of Divorce.

Afterward, you will have to serve your partner with this paper and submit it to the clerk’s office so that the case is officially finalized.

How Long Does the Process Take?

The uncontested divorce process in New York can take from a few weeks to 3 months or more, on average. It depends on how soon you serve the spouse, how much time it takes them to respond, the workload of the court, etc.

There is no mandatory waiting period in the state from filing till the judge can review your case. Still, you need to wait 20 or 30 days for your spouse’s response, which may delay the process. Also, if the defendant is out of state, the process may take longer.

How Much Does an Uncontested Divorce Cost?

Figures of spouses standing on the money they spent during the divorce process.
Obtaining a divorce in NY can incur various expenses, including court fees and legal costs.

The cost of an uncontested case can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. It all depends on whether you will go through the process yourself, take advantage of special services for document preparation, or involve a lawyer.

If you are ready for filing for uncontested divorce in New York on your own, you only need to cover the mandatory court fees of $335, as well as the cost of notary services and copying of documents. It is possible to spend up to $500 on your case if you can deal with the documents and each step of the process independently.

As an option for those who may have difficulty completing all the legal forms, assistance from online services for paperwork preparation can be a wise choice. They typically offer a filled-out set of forms for the case and instructions on how to file them with the court. Prices for obtaining such services can range from $100 to $300, on average.

Also, if you want to delegate your case to a professional, you can hire an attorney with average fees ranging from $250 to $500 per hour in the state. So, depending on the scope of representation, you may spend a few thousand dollars for legal assistance in the uncontested process.

How Are Assets Divided in an Uncontested Divorce?

House and money on the scale when dividing assets during divorce.
Dividing assets in a NY divorce is a necessary legal process to ensure equitable distribution of property.

According to state law, during the division of assets in divorce, the courts base their decision on the equitable distribution principle, which does not always mean a 50/50 split. Typically, only marital property is to be divided, which includes the assets obtained during the marriage.

Anything that the spouses had before the marriage or got as a gift or inheritance will likely remain their separate property. There are also cases when separate property may become marital if, for example, your spouse increases the value of your personal assets. Also, the presence of prenuptial or postnuptial agreements can affect the distribution of property into separate and marital.

If the case is uncontested, spouses can decide on the split on their own, specifying the terms in the settlement agreement. If the judge finds it fair and justified, they will approve such distribution request.

Uncontested Divorce in New York With Children

The procedure of an uncontested divorce with children does not differ significantly from the one without kids involved. However, for cases with kids, more papers should be prepared. Also, all decisions should be made in their best interest. Spouses should determine with whom the children will live, who will have legal custody, when non-custodial parent can visit and spend time with them, who will cover each part of expenses, and so on.

Also, parties may be ordered to attend parenting classes. It is necessary to ensure spouses are prepared to take care of kids after the divorce, know the potential emotional consequences for children, and study how to deal with them. This way, spouses can reduce the emotional burden on their minor children when getting divorced in New York.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Get an Uncontested Divorce in New York?

A lawyer advises his client before starting a divorce.
Seeking legal representation for a divorce in NY is highly recommended to ensure adherence to complex legal procedures.

Whether to hire a lawyer is entirely your decision because the law does not oblige you to do so. In case you decide to involve an attorney, some of the main advantages you’ll get are an expert approach to the case and the ability to delegate some of your legal duties. However, at the same time, the price of lawyer’s assistance can vary from $250 to $500 or more per hour, which can be a significant financial disadvantage, leading to thousands spent on the divorce case.

If you need an attorney only to help with the documents, you can use online document preparation service as an alternative. The prices for such help are usually moderate, and you can get the full set of divorce papers within just a few days. Some companies also provide convenient filing guide to make the process more efficient for you.

Is Uncontested Divorce Right for Me?

Since every situation is unique, it is impossible to say for sure what choice is right for you. Still, if you can agree with your spouse on all divorce terms and they will cooperate in the process, you may start an uncontested case. The fact that uncontested divorce is typically faster and cheaper than contested one is true. It will allow you to deal with the case on your own, saving much money on legal representation. If you think managing paperwork can be challenging, you can always contact the online service and get affordable assistance.

A Better Way to Divorce

If your case is uncontested, the quick divorce in NY at a moderate fee becomes a reality. It has a lot of advantages, such as:

  • A quick and less stressful process of getting a Judgment of Divorce since all the issues are settled and there is no need for multiple court hearings to finalize the case.
  • Online filing. Apart from physically attending court, you can get an easy divorce online. You can file all the necessary forms and view the status of your case through an online profile in
  • Help with paperwork. If you need help completing the forms or don’t know which ones are required in your case, you can use our online service. After taking a convenient online questionnaire, you will be able to receive a set of forms for your case in just a few days without the need to search for and fill out all the papers on your own.
  • More cost-effective process. Due to the fact that uncontested divorce doesn’t mandatory require legal representation, it is possible to go through the process without a lawyer, significantly reducing your potential expenses.
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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