The New York Divorce Law Waiting Period

woman waiting for divorce in new york

Couples who want to start the marriage dissolution process in New York wonder how long it takes to get a divorce. There is no simple answer to this question because the total duration of the divorce process depends on various factors. It is important to mention that under New York divorce law, the waiting period doesn’t exist as a legal requirement, and there is no minimum time needed for a divorce to be finalized with the court. However, it doesn’t mean that you can get a divorce the next day after you file the petition.

How Long Does a Divorce Take in New York?

The average divorce length in New York is two-three months for uncontested and nine months for contested cases. Let’s take a closer look at the factors that influence divorce duration.

1) The Grounds for Divorce

There are seven grounds that are legally accepted in New York. An irretrievable breakdown of the relationship for at least 6 months is the most common no-fault ground for dissolution of marriage. If the divorce is based on fault grounds such as cruelty, adultery, etc., it usually lasts longer since the petitioner should prove the other spouse’s fault in the marriage breakup and collect the necessary evidence. Besides, such cases typically result in lengthy litigation with many court hearings.

2) Marriage With or Without Minor Children

Child-related issues can often be the reason for a long divorce process. If parents cannot agree on child custody and support, it may lead to lengthy and costly court battles. Therefore, the dissolution of a marriage without minor children is generally a much faster procedure.

3) The Number of Shared Properties and Assets

Another factor that can significantly increase the divorce time frame is the amount of marital property to be divided. Even though marital property and assets should be distributed equitably under New York law, there is still a lot of room for disputes. The more disagreements the spouses have over the property division, the longer it will take to finalize the divorce.

4) An Ability of the Spouses To Reach a Mutual Agreement and Avoid Litigation

If a couple is looking for a quick divorce in New York, they should come to an agreement concerning divorce-related issues and file for an uncontested divorce which usually takes less time than contested cases.

woman meeting with divorce lawyer

How Long Does a Contested Divorce Take In NY

The average duration of contested divorce in New York is from nine to twelve months, while some complex cases may last several years. The lawyers need enough time to gather all the necessary information during the process of discovery related to finances, taxes, insurance, debts, and assets. Besides, several court hearings may be required to resolve disputes between spouses during the contested divorce in NY, leading to lengthy litigation. Fortunately, there are alternative methods for spouses to come to an agreement:

  • It involves a third-party mediator who helps a couple to resolve their divorce issues. Though a few sessions are usually required, mediation is much faster and cheaper than a trial.
  • Collaborative Law. During this process, both spouses discuss all the contested issues together with their attorneys to reach an amicable agreement. Some third-party experts, like financial analysts, child-related specialists, etc., may also be involved. It is important to remember that in case the agreement is not reached via collaborative law, the spouses will have to hire other lawyers to represent them in court. The duration of collaborative divorce in New York is approximately four to six months.
marking timeline for divorce in notebook

Timeline for Uncontested Divorce in New York

An uncontested dissolution of marriage is the fastest way to get divorced in New York. On average, it takes three months but can be finalized even within six weeks. One of the reasons why an uncontested divorce process may last for several months is a busy court schedule. Another factor that influences the total length of divorce is how quickly the respondent returns the signed documents to the court.  

When both spouses are cooperative, they can discuss all the divorce-related issues, complete the Settlement Agreement, and choose a DIY divorce, avoiding unnecessary expenses on the attorney’s service. Here is a typical NY uncontested divorce timeline:

1) Filing the Paperwork With the Clerk’s Office

A plaintiff must submit all the necessary forms to officially start the divorce process. Depending on the situation, the documents to file include Note of Issue, Summons with Notice, Affidavit of Plaintiff, Affidavit of Service, etc. A plaintiff should also pay the filing fee of approximately $300.

Completing the forms may be challenging and time-consuming for a person not familiar with the laws in the case of a DIY divorce. In such a situation, it is recommended to use our reliable online service to get the forms relevant to your specific case. All you have to do is register on the website and complete a comprehensive questionnaire. The accurate forms will be generated for you, and you will get the documents together with filing instructions.

2) Serving the Defendant With Copies of the Original Documents

After submitting the forms to the clerk’s office, the plaintiff is responsible for serving the other party within the 120-day period. Plaintiff cannot deliver the Summon of Notice personally. They should ask a person over 18 years who is a resident of New York state to do it. Once the defendant is served, they must sign the Affidavit of Service. 

3) Receiving the Defendant’s Response

In case of an uncontested divorce, a defendant should file an Affidavit of Defendant within 20 days after being served. It means they do not contest any statements listed in the Summons with Notice. Failure to do that can lead to a “default” divorce, which means that the plaintiff can address the court and ask for a Default Judgement. Under such circumstances, the court will issue the judgement based on conditions listed in the original petition.

4) Calendaring

The next step is to schedule the review of the documents with the court. It can be done either immediately after receiving the response from the defendant or after 40 days from serving the defendant if they choose not to respond.

5) Judgment

The judge will review the paperwork and sign the Judgment of Divorce if all the documents are accurate. The plaintiff should then file the Judgement with the clerk’s office and serve the defendant with the copy. Finally, the defendant must file an Affidavit of Service to confirm that they received the copies of the documents. 

How Long Does It Usually Take to Finalize a Divorce in New York?

Summarizing the previous information, the divorce process in New York may take from six weeks to several years, depending on the circumstances. Logically, most couples are looking for fast ways of getting divorced. Following all the steps of the NY uncontested divorce timeline makes it possible to quickly finalize a divorce in New York even without legal assistance. Couples who intend to avoid unnecessary expenses on a lawyer’s help but want to be sure of the accuracy of their paperwork should consider using an online service for completing the forms. This time-saving decision is an optimal solution for uncontested cases.