Where & How Do I File for Divorce in New York?

People looking to get divorced in New York often have no idea how to do so. Why would they? It’s unlikely something they’ve ever had to deal with. But it is important to understand the various requirements one must meet in order to file for divorce in New York State. There are also factors to consider that will affect the county in which a person chooses to file for divorce.

In order to file for divorce in New York State, one of the following residency requirements must be met (as prescribed in DRL 230):

1. The husband and/or wife has resided in New York State for a continuous period in excess of two years immediately preceding the commencement of the action (i.e. the filing for divorce).

OR

2. The husband and/or wife has resided in New York State for a continuous period in excess of one year immediately preceding the commencement of this action, and:

  • the parties were married in New York State, OR
  • the parties have lived as husband and wife in New York State, OR
  • the cause of action arose in New York State.

OR

3. The cause of action occurred in New York State and both parties were residents thereof at the time of the commencement of this action.

There are also various factors to consider that may affect your choice of county to file in. New York law allows you to file in the county of either party’s residency (the most common situation). You also have the option of filing in any county in the state (excluding Westchester County, unless of course you or your spouse meets the residency requirement in Westchester County). However, if you choose the second option and opt to file in a county where neither you nor your spouse resides, your spouse may oppose that venue, subject to review by the court. (For example, if you and your spouse both live in Manhattan, and you choose to file in Buffalo, your spouse may oppose Buffalo as the venue, and a court would likely agree because the more convenient option is obviously New York County.)

Some people’s situations will demand a more nuanced assessment to determine which county is strategically best for them to file for divorce in. For example: some courts are known to more commonly order parties to provide for college tuition for their children; some courts follow different precedents with regard to asset valuation dates or pension splitting; some courts are more likely than others to consider fault in awarding spousal support, and the list goes on.

These are only a few examples of the nuances of choosing where is best for you to file for divorce. It is important to discuss your entire situation with your attorney so he or she can best serve your interests. Consider contacting the New York divorce and family law attorneys at Peter L. Cedeño & Associates, P.C. to get the job done for you.

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