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Uncontested Divorce Overview

This is a general outline of what happens during an uncontested divorce case. Contact the Supreme Court in your county for more information.

An uncontested divorce is one where the spouse (the husband or wife) doesn't argue with any aspect of the divorce.

 

Before Starting

Before you file for a divorce in New York State, you must (1) meet the residency requirement, and (2) have a "ground" for the divorce; a legally acceptable reason for the divorce.

If you don't meet these requirements, you may not be able to get a divorce in New York State.

If you have children under the age of 21, the Family Court can help you with issues of custody, visitation, and child support before you file for a divorce.

 

STEP 1: Filing

A divorce case is started when a "Summons With Notice" or "Summons and Complaint" are filed with the County Clerk's Office. In some courts, the plaintiff can file the papers over the internet using NYSCEF, the New York State Courts Electronic Filing system. Check the e-filing County List.

  • The person who files for the divorce is the Plaintiff. The spouse (the husband or wife who the Plaintiff wants to divorce) is the Defendant.
  • There is a filing fee of $210 for an index number. The index number is the number for the case.
  • If you have an extreme financial hardship and can't file for a divorce without financial help, you can apply for a Fee Waiver of the court fees. Ask the clerk for more information.
  • If you have a Settlement Agreement, file it when you file for the divorce.
  • If you don't know where your spouse is, ask the Supreme Court Clerk's Office for more information about alternative service.
  • If your marriage has been over for at least 6 months and you have no children under the age of 21, you can use the DIY Uncontested Divorce Program to make your papers.

Learn more about Filing for an Uncontested Divorce.

 

STEP 2: Serving the Defendant

The Defendant (the husband or wife who the Plaintiff wants to divorce) must be told of the divorce case in person. This is done by delivering the "Summons With Notice" or the "Summons and Complaint" and other papers to the Defendant personally. This is called service.

If you don't know where your spouse is, ask the Supreme Court Clerk's Office for more information about alternative service.

  • The Plaintiff has 120 days from the day the "Summons With Notice" or "Summons and Complaint" were filed with the County Clerk to serve the Defendant.
  • The Plaintiff can't serve the Defendant. The Plaintiff must ask someone who is over 18 years old to do this for them.
  • The person who served the Defendant must complete an "Affidavit of Service." This is proof that the papers were delivered to the Defendant in the right way.

Learn more about Serving the Defendant in an Uncontested Divorce.

 

STEP 3: Defendant's Response

After the Defendant is served, he or she will respond in one of three ways:

  • The Defendant answers. This means that the Defendant has filed an "Answer" with the Supreme Court and will serve the Plaintiff with the "Answer." This divorce is now contested. You may want to speak to a lawyer at this point to get advice.
  • The Defendant signs the "Affidavit of Defendant." This is a form where the Defendant agrees to the divorce and does not argue with anything that is being asked for in the "Summons With Notice" or "Summons and Complaint." Go to Step 4: Calendaring.
  • The Defendant does not respond in any way. This means that the Defendant has defaulted. Go to Step 4: Calendaring.

Learn more about The Defendant's Response in an Uncontested Divorce.

 

STEP 4: Calendaring

If the Defendant signs the "Affidavit of Defendant" or defaults, then complete the rest of the uncontested divorce papers including the "Note of Issue" form.

  • Depending on the county, these papers are filed at the County Clerk's Office or at the Supreme Court Clerk's Office.
  • If the Defendant defaulted wait 40 days from the date the Defendant was served, then file the rest of the papers with the County Clerk.
  • If the Defendant signed the "Affidavit of Defendant" the remainder of the papers can be filed with the County Clerk immediately.
  • There is a total filing fee of $125.
  • You can use the DIY Uncontested Divorce Program to make the rest of the papers if you have no children under the age of 21 and the grounds for the divorce was "irretrievable breakdown in relationship" in the "Summons With Notice" or "Summons and Complaint."

Learn more about Calendaring an Uncontested Divorce Case.

 

STEP 5: Judgment

If the divorce is approved, the Judge will sign the Judgment of Divorce. The Defendant must be given a copy of the signed Judgment.

  • Depending on the county, the Judgment will be mailed to you or you will have to pick it up.
  • The Judgment must be filed with the County Clerk's Office. you may have to do this. Ask the Supreme Court for more information.
  • The Defendant must be served with a copy of the Judgment and another "Affidavit of Service" must be completed.

Learn more about The Judgment in an Uncontested Divorce.

** This is a general outline of what happens during an uncontested divorce case. Contact the Supreme Court in your county for more information.

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