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Grounds for Divorce Under New York Divorce Laws

In the Big Apple, there are several acceptable reasons to request a divorce. It’s pretty simple, really. A divorce may be granted in the State of New York upon any one of the following grounds:

  • Cruel and inhuman treatment
  • Abandonment
  • Imprisonment for 3 years or longer
  • Adultery
  • Living separate and apart for one year or longer under either a decree of separation or a separation agreement between the parties

Residency Requirements

If you want to get divorced in the state where Albert Einstein’s eyeballs are locked away in a safety deposit box, you must first be a resident of the State for at least one year. New York divorce laws establish residency requirements that are as follows:

  • The parties were married in the State of New York and either party is and has been a resident of New York for one continuous year immediately prior to filing for divorce
  • The parties resided in the State of New York as man and wife and either party is and has been a resident of New York for one continuous year immediately prior to filing for divorce
  • The cause of the divorce occurred in the State of New York and either party is and has been a resident of the State of New York for one continuous year immediately prior to filing for divorce
  • The cause of the divorce occurred in the State of New York and both parties are residents thereof

If none of these conditions are met, either party must have resided in the State of New York for two continuous years immediately prior to the onset of the action. 

Name of Court and Title of Action/Parties

An  action for divorce is filed in the state Supreme Court. Second, the name of the action initiating the divorce action is a Complaint for Divorce. And the title of the action granting the divorce is referred to as the Judgment of Divorce.  The party who files the action for divorce is the Plaintiff, and the other party to the action is referred to as the Defendant.

Legal Separation

A judgment of legal separation may be obtained in the State of New York on the following grounds:

  • Cruel and inhuman treatment
  • Abandonment
  • Neglect or refusal to provide support
  • Adultery
  • Imprisonment for three years or longer

Simplified Divorce Procedure

New York permits a summary divorce to be granted if the parties have lived separate and apart for a period of one year pursuant to a written agreement of separation. The plaintiff (remember from above, this is the person who is filing for divorce) must submit proof of substantial compliance with the terms and conditions of the separation agreement. 

Alimony

Either party to a divorce action may be ordered to pay alimony to the other spouse, without regard to marital fault, after consideration of the following factors:

  • The income and property of the parties
  • The duration of the marriage
  • The present and future earning capacity of both parties
  • The ability of the party seeking alimony to become self-sufficient and the length of time and training necessary to become so
  • Reduced or lost lifetime earning capacity as a result of having foregone or delayed education, training, employment or career opportunities during the marriage
  • Children of the marriage in the respective homes of the parties
  • Tax consequences
  • Any other factor the court deems relevant

Distribution of Property

Marital property shall be distributed equally between the parties after careful consideration of the following factors:

  • The income and property of each party
  • The duration of the marriage and the age and health of the parties
  • The need of the custodial parent to occupy the marital home
  • The loss of inheritance and pension rights upon divorce
  • Any award of alimony
  • Any contributions to the acquisition of marital property
  • The liquid or non-liquid character of marital assets
  • The probable future financial circumstances of the parties
  • Tax consequences
  • Any other factor the court deems relevant

Child Custody

The issue of custody of any minor children of the marriage will be decided by the court according to the best interests of the child.  There exists no presumption in favor of either parent regarding custody of the children.

Child Support

New York has established child support guidelines, which are presumed to be the correct amount of support due, absent a showing that application of the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate.  Some of the factors the court will consider in determining the correct amount of support to be awarded include:

  • The financial resources of the custodial and non-custodial parent, and those of the child
  • The physical and emotional health of the child and the child’s special needs and aptitudes
  • The standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the marriage not been dissolved
  • Tax consequences
  • The non-monetary contributions of the parents
  • The educational needs of either parent
  • A comparison of gross incomes of the parents
  • Any other relevant factor

Name Change

Upon request, the court will restore a party to the use of a former or maiden name in accordance with New York divorce laws.

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