Communications Office:
David Bookstaver, Director
Mai Yee, Assistant Director
(212) 428-2500

Date: May 30, 2006

Seal of the Unified Court System
www.nycourts.gov
Divorce Process Made Easier
for New Yorkers without Attorneys

NEW YORK - With the Unified Court System’s new Uncontested Divorce Packet, New Yorkers seeking an uncontested divorce without the assistance of an attorney will have an innovative new tool to help them. The comprehensive new packet, announced today by Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman, is designed to simplify the complex legal process for self-represented litigants seeking uncontested divorces that do not involve children. It features user-friendly graphics and design with plain language step-by-step instructions and practice forms.

The Uncontested Divorce Packet was created by Administrative Judge for Matrimonial Matters Jacqueline W. Silbermann, in collaboration with Deputy Chief Administrative Judge for Justice Initiatives Juanita Bing Newton, after recognizing the need for a more user-friendly resource for the large number of self-represented litigants seeking uncontested divorces. Approximately 50,000 uncontested divorces are filed each year in New York, many by litigants without attorneys.

“We expect this new packet, with its user-friendly format and easy-to-read instructions to be a tremendous help to people without attorneys,” said Judge Lippman. “New York’s divorce process can be complicated, even when no children are involved, and self-represented litigants could easily become confused or feel overwhelmed. This new booklet leads litigants by the hand, step by step, through the whole process, preparing them to complete the required forms. In this way, the new uncontested divorce packet can hopefully help lessen the stress of what for many might already be a very trying period in their lives.”

“Clearly, given the complexity of the divorce process, it is always best to have legal representation and the packet indicates this throughout,” said Judge Newton. “However, for a large percentage of those seeking an uncontested divorce, this is not an option. The packet was designed for those litigants, the self-represented, with the goal to make the process easier to understand through user-friendly graphic designs and plain language instructions. In this regard, I am extremely grateful to Rick Ross, Executive Director of Strategic Planning Initiatives, who has devoted countless hours working tirelessly on this project.”

Justice Silbermann added, “Everyone benefits from simplicity and clarity, and that’s what we aimed for in the new packet—breaking down the complex into easy-to-follow steps for those unfamiliar with the courts. I want to thank the Committee on Matrimonial Practice and especially their Subcommittee for Uncontested Divorce Forms, which comprised many of the most experienced clerks from across New York State, for their labors and dedication.”

The packet, which includes the instruction booklet with practice forms, and a set of the official court forms for filing the divorce, are available at no charge in the New York Supreme Court in every county. The packet can also be accessed online from www.nycourts.gov/litigants/divorce or www.nycourthelp.gov. A packet for uncontested divorces that involve children is under development.

 
Web page updated: August 16, 2006