In order to file for a divorce in the state of New York, there are some residency requirements that have been put in place that must be met for the court to be able to hear your case. This is to determine whether or not the court has the “jurisdiction” to hear the case. Here are the requirements that must be met. Note that you only need to satisfy one, not all, but for any requirement, one of the spouses must have had to live in the state for at least a year.

  • The initial marriage must have been done in the state in which you are filing for divorce
  • The two parties have lived as a married couple in this state
  • The reason that the couple is divorcing must have occurred in the state, although in this scenario, if both parties live in the state when applying for divorce, the one year requirement for just one party does not have to be met
  • Lastly, either party has lived in the state for at least two years before applying divorce

Next, you must decide under what grounds you are seeking a divorce. In the state of New York, there is a specific list from which you have to declare your reasons for getting a divorce.

Irretrievable Breakdown: The relationship has deteriorated to a point of no reconciliation, for at least six (6) months. Courts will only give you a divorce on this ground when custody, spousal support, visitation, property and child support payments must have been decided.

Cruel and inhuman treatment: Cruel and inhuman treatment by your spouse is defined as your spouse causing you physical and/or mental health issues, and you are at risk if you and your spouse continue being together. But, if this abusive treatment did not take place within the past five (5) years, you cannot use this as a ground for divorce.

Abandonment: This is when your spouse “leaves” you for at the very least one (1) year. This requires that your spouse abandoned you, or threw you out, or does not intend to return to you.

Imprisonment: This is when your spouse is sentenced to go to prison for three (3) or more years. But, if they were released more than five (5) years ago, you can’t file for divorce under this ground.

Adultery: If your spouse cheats on you, you may use this as a reason for divorce. But, if you do any of the following, the court may not accept this ground for divorce: incite them to commit infidelity, forgive your spouse by having intimate relations with them post discovery of the affair, or if you sleep with someone else. In addition, adultery cannot be a ground for divorce if it has been more than five (5) years since you discovered that your spouse has committed infidelity. You cannot testify on your own that your former partner was unfaithful, so you must be able to produce a reliable witness who can testify that there was adultery committed by your former spouse.

Judgment of Separation: You both have not lived together in the same household due to a Decree of Separation or Judgment of Separation, ordered by a Court, for at least one (1) year. You have to follow all of the stipulations of said judgment. It’s a bit uncommon to have a Judgment of Separation, only because of the fact that it needs similar proof needed in a termination of the marriage. Many clients don’t go through the Judgment of Separation and instead move directly to divorce.

Separation Agreement: In this situation, you have not resided in the same dwelling because of an approved Agreement of Separation for at least one (1) year. Both you and your spouse have to agree to this decision before a certified notary and you also have to follow all of the stipulations of said agreement.

From this point on, you must file the appropriate forms at the courthouse, and serve your spouse divorce papers. But these are the general requirements to start your divorce process.