New York Divorce Procedures

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The divorce rates in New York is among the lowest in the United States. Various independent research study reveal that the Southern states rank among the highest rates while the northeast states have a relatively lower rate. In 2009, around 23,700 New York City divorces were reported by the New York Department of Health. This state has its own statute pertaining to divorce and all couples have to abide by the laws if they want to file for a case in New York. Often couples get confused regarding the process and proceedings and make wrong decisions. In this situation it is better to possess a good know-how of the various New York divorce procedures.

Here we present to you a brief discussion of the New York divorce laws and procedures. You have to understand all of these so that you can prepare your defenses and legal documents accordingly. For example, you must know the laws regarding an uncontested divorce. You may choose to stay away from long court room proceedings and hence apply for an uncontested one. But the court will grant you such divorce if you agree on all terms and have no minor children from this marriage. Thus it is extremely important to maintain a record of the prevalent procedures and latest changes.

Like many cases, a divorce procedure in New York is begun when a Complaint and Summons or a Summons with Notice are filed. When these documents are filed, a unique index number is allocated to the divorce case and a filing fee is charged. All the papers associated with this case have this index number. As per the law in this state, the Petitioner must personally serve the divorce papers to the Defendant, except when the court permits other modes of service.

New York Divorce Procedure about Pleadings

A pleading comprises of the following 2 or 3 documents.

  • A Verified Complaint: The Plaintiff prepares and files this document. It comprises of the ground for divorce and any ancillary relief like expert fees, legal fees, equitable distribution exclusive occupancy, maintenance, child support, visitation, child custody or other relevant relief as applicable.

  • A Verified Answer: The Defendant responds to the Complaint through this document. It comprises of admittance or denial of the allegation included in the Complaint. Along with this Answer, there may also be a Counter Claim. The Defendant can counter sue the Petitioner using this document.

  • A Verified Reply: If a Defendant makes a counterclaim, the Plaintiff responds through this document.

It must be noted that the Verified Answer and the Verified Reply may contain Affirmative Defenses. An affirmative defense is a type of defense which if proven will prevent the Plaintiff from succeeding on the given topic on which the Plaintiff would have succeeded if the affirmative defense would not have been proved.

Consider that the Plaintiff has stated adultery as the ground for divorce, then the Defendant makes an affirmative defense that the Plaintiff has also committed adultery. Further, the Plaintiff proves that the Defendant has committed adultery. The Defendant also proves the affirmative defense. Then, the court does not grant the divorce on the basis of Defendant's adultery.

New York Divorce Procedure about Discovery

Generally, the discovery schedule is decided in course of the preliminary conference or might be initiated before this conference.

The Preliminary Conference

During the early phase of the divorce, the preliminary conference takes place. It is used for the following purposes.

  • To set a timeline for the divorce case
  • To handle any preliminary issues
  • To set up any preliminary orders
  • To locate the issues that can be settled at an early stage

The dates for the exchange of the below mentioned information are also decided in this conference.

  • Interrogatories (written questions)
  • Document Requests
  • Appraisals of Real Estate
  • Appraisal of Pensions
  • Net Worth Statements
  • Oral questions and answers recorded by a court reporter (Depositions)

Compliance Conference

At this conference, both the divorcing parties confirm that they have all the essential data regarding self and others that is essential for the trial. Both the divorcing partners either accede with each other that the discovery process is completed or they request additional period for its fulfillment. The court grants or negates this request on the basis of the reason as to why the discovery process is not complete.

The New York procedures provided here do not cover each and every aspect of New York divorce. We have tried to focus on some important issues and the related procedures. You should do some research on your own regarding the processes before proceeding with your case.

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