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How to File for Divorce in New York

by | Jun 11, 2024 | Divorce Long Island, NY

Navigating Divorce in Nassau and Suffolk County, Long Island, NY

No one enters a marriage expecting it to end in divorce. Sadly, this is all too often the case as spouses grow apart and determine that they want different things in their lives. If you find yourself contemplating divorce in Nassau or Suffolk County, Long Island, understanding the process can empower you to move forward. This blog post provides an overview of how to file for divorce in New York, focusing on the Long Island counties of Nassau and Suffolk. It’s important to remember that every couple and every divorce situation is unique, and therefore it’s crucial to have experienced legal guidance to navigate the complexities involved in your specific divorce case.

Free New York Divorce Lawyer Consultation
Free New York Divorce Lawyer Consultation

Grounds for Divorce in New York State

New York state is a no-fault divorce state, meaning you don’t need to prove your spouse’s wrongdoing to obtain a divorce. You can file for divorce based on what is known as irretrievable breakdown of the marriage for at least six months. However, if you feel the need to divorce your spouse on grounds, there are seven grounds for divorce in New York, including:

  • adultery
  • cruel and inhuman treatment
  • abandonment
  • imprisonment
  • divorce after a legal separation agreement
  • divorce after a judgement of separation
  • irretrievable breakdown of the marriage for at least six months (No Fault Divorce)

While the first six grounds are rarely used since New York became the last state in the U.S. to enact true “no-fault” divorce in 2010, they can be relevant to certain couples in specific situations.

Residency Requirements in New York

To file for divorce in New York, the state has specific residency requirements, including:

  • At least one spouse must have been living in the state continuously for the past two years before the divorce case is started
  • At least one spouse has been living in the state continuously for at least one year
  • You were married in New York state
  • You lived in New York state as a married couple
  • The grounds for your divorce happened in New York state
  • Both you and your spouse are residents of New York state on the day the divorce is started and the grounds for your divorce happened in New York state.

This residency requirement ensures that New York courts have legal jurisdiction over your case.

Uncontested vs. Contested Divorce

An uncontested divorce occurs when both spouses agree on all aspects of the settlement, including child custody, property division, and alimony. This streamlined process is generally faster and less expensive. In contrast, a contested divorce arises when spouses cannot reach agreements, requiring the court to intervene and decide on disputed issues. Contested divorces can be lengthy, expensive and emotionally draining. In between the two are when the spouses agree on most of the aspects of the divorce settlement, but need help negotiating on a few issues. In these cases, if the spouses are on speaking terms and can have an amicable relationship, methods such as divorce mediation or collaborative divorce can help them get over the few remaining issues and resolve the divorce uncontested.

How to File for Divorce in Nassau County or Suffolk County, NY

Initial Steps

The initial steps in filing for divorce in Nassau County or Suffolk County involve gathering essential documents like your marriage certificate, proof of residency, and financial records. Consulting with a qualified and experienced Long Island divorce lawyer at this stage is highly recommended. An experienced divorce attorney can guide you through the process, discuss your specific circumstances, and develop a personalized strategy to protect your interests.

Filing the Petition

The divorce process formally begins with filing a petition, usually a Summons with Notice or Summons and Complaint, with the Suffolk County or Nassau County Clerk’s Office. This petition outlines the grounds for divorce and requests the court to dissolve the marriage. You can find more information and resources for filing for divorce on the New York State Unified Court System’s website.

Serving Your Spouse

Once the petition is filed, it’s crucial to serve your spouse with the divorce papers within 120 days in New York state. This can be done personally or through alternative methods if their whereabouts are unknown.

Negotiation or Trial

Uncontested divorces involve negotiation between spouses and/or their lawyers to reach a divorce settlement agreement. In contested divorces, the court may order a discovery process where spouses exchange information and documents to build their cases. Ultimately, contested divorces may require a court trial to resolve outstanding issues.

Reaching a Settlement Agreement

A comprehensive settlement agreement is vital in any divorce. This agreement outlines all divorce-related issues, including child custody and visitation arrangements, division of marital property and debt, and spousal maintenance (alimony). An experienced Long Island divorce lawyer can ensure your settlement agreement is fair, protects your rights, and addresses all necessary details. Your settlement agreement is a very important legal document that will have ramifications on your future for years to come. It is critically important that, even if you believe you and your spouse agree on all the terms of your divorce from the outset, that you have an experienced divorce attorney review this document before you sign it. There are issues that may come up years down the road you cannot possibly foresee now, but that an experienced divorce attorney will have seen hundreds of times. This is the best way to protect your future self and enable you to move on with your life after your divorce.

Final Hearing and Judgment

For uncontested divorces, a final court hearing is typically scheduled to finalize the divorce decree. The judge will review the settlement agreement and grant the divorce if everything is in order.

Considerations for Your Long Island, NY Divorce

Several crucial issues require careful consideration in a divorce settlement:

  • Child Custody and Visitation: If you have children, determining custody and visitation schedules is essential. An experienced Long Island divorce lawyer can help you navigate child custody arrangements that prioritize your children’s well-being and protect your right to be involved in your child’s life going forward.
  • Division of Marital Property and Debt: New York follows “equitable distribution” principles in dividing marital property and debt. In New York, marital property and debt are divided fairly, not necessarily equally. An experienced divorce lawyer can ensure a fair division based on your specific circumstances.
  • Spousal Maintenance (Alimony): In some cases, one spouse may be entitled to financial support from the other. A qualified divorce attorney can advise you on your eligibility for alimony and negotiate a fair support agreement on both sides. Whether you are the payor or the payee, it’s important to have an experienced divorce attorney help you with your spousal maintenance agreement. You want to be sure you receive everything to which you are entitled or not pay more than you should.

Benefits of Hiring an Experienced Long Island, NY Divorce Lawyer

Divorce is a complex legal process with significant emotional and financial implications. Hiring a skilled, experienced and compassionate Long Island, NY divorce lawyer from Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. offers numerous advantages:

  • Expert Guidance: We have extensive experience handling divorces in Nassau County and Suffolk County. We can guide you through each step, ensuring you understand your rights and options. We will protect your rights to your property and your children every step of the way.
  • Strategic Representation: We will develop a personalized strategy tailored to your unique circumstances. Our goal is to achieve a favorable outcome that protects your assets, minimizes financial burdens, and prioritizes your well-being.
  • Negotiation and Advocacy: Our attorneys are skilled negotiators who will advocate fiercely on your behalf. We will fight to secure a fair settlement agreement that reflects your interests.
  • Legal Expertise: We possess in-depth knowledge of New York divorce law, including child custody statutes, property division guidelines, and alimony regulations. This expertise allows us to navigate complex legal issues effectively.
  • Emotional Support: Divorce can be a highly emotional experience. Our compassionate team will provide support and guidance throughout the process, helping you navigate this challenging time.
  • Efficiency and Cost-Effectiveness: While the cost of divorce will vary depending on the complexity of your case, our experienced divorce and family law lawyers can help streamline the process, potentially saving you time and money in the long run.

Schedule a Free Consultation with an Experienced Long Island, NY Divorce Lawyer

At Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C., we understand the emotional and financial challenges associated with divorce. We are committed to providing compassionate, effective and aggressive legal representation to clients throughout Nassau County and Suffolk County. Contact us today at 631-923-1910 or fill out the form on this page to schedule a free consultation and case evaluation and discuss your divorce options. We are here to help you navigate the path forward with confidence.

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About the Author

Robert E. Hornberger, Esq., Founding Partner, Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.

  • Over 20 years practicing matrimonial law
  • Over 1,000 cases successfully resolved
  • Founder and Partner of Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C.
  • Experienced and compassionate Long Island Divorce Attorney, Family Law Attorney, and Divorce Mediator
  • Licensed to practice law in the State of New York
  • New York State Bar Association member
  • Nassau County Bar Association member
  • Suffolk County Bar Association member
  • “Super Lawyer” Metro Rising Star
  • Nominated Best of Long Island Divorce Attorney four consecutive years
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee Contributor
  • Collaborative Law Association of New York – Former Director
  • Martindale Hubbell Distinguished Designation
  • America’s Most Honored Professionals – Top 5%
  • Lead Counsel Rated – Divorce Law
  • American Institute of Family Law Attorneys 10 Best
  • International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
  • Graduate of Hofstra University School of Law
  • Double Bachelor’s degrees in Philosophy, Politics & Law and History from SUNY Binghamton University
Divorce Lawyer Long Island New York
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Melissa Rappa
Melissa Rappa
18:09 08 Feb 24
At one of the hardest and most stressful times of my life, it was so comforting to have a team at Hornberger and Verbitsky who ALWAYS responded in record speed to my questions, phone calls, emails or texts and who I felt really cared about helping me through this difficult time. It was a long few years and I am grateful to all of you. Thank you so much Rob, AnneMarie, Christine, Patty, Joan and Lawrence. Your guidance, professionalism and expertise is appreciated beyond measure.
Paul Carmichael
Paul Carmichael
16:21 11 Dec 23
I would give 6 stars if I could. I can't say enough good things about Robert and his firm. We were in a situation for over 2 years and I could have never made it through without Robert's experience and knowledge. He guided me through tough times when needed and his expertise could "read" the situation and make the next best move for me. He was tough when he needed to be tough (thankfully) and at the same time guided me through the process to make me feel comfortable in an uncomfortable situation. I would not want to go through this process without Robert and his team having my back. he helped move the case along and not waste any time or money. One last time, I 100% endorse Robert and his expertise.

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