Release: Immediate, January 21, 1998

Court System Makes Uncontested Divorces Easier

NEW YORK—Uncontested divorces will be dramatically simplified with a new 24-page booklet that helps the average citizen file for and obtain an uncontested divorce without the assistance of a lawyer. Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye and Chief Administrative Judge Jonathan Lippman today announced that the Administrative Board of the Courts has approved use of the Uniform Uncontested Divorce Packet, which both simplifies and reduces the number of forms that must be filed and makes them uniform throughout the state. Justice Jacqueline W. Silbermann, Administrative Judge for Matrimonial Matters, spearheaded this effort after determining that virtually every county in the state required litigants to submit different forms and that the process was unnecessarily confusing and complex.

Approximately 50,000 uncontested divorces are filed each year in New York.

Chief Judge Kaye said, "The Uncontested Divorce Packet ensures that no litigant seeking an uncontested divorce will be denied access to justice or be forced to proceed at a disadvantage due to an inability to comprehend or complete the required legal forms. Court rules and procedures should be as simple as possible from county to county and from court to court. The Uncontested Divorce Packet accomplishes this goal by improving the user-friendliness of the forms, streamlining the number of forms and standardizing those that must be used. Perhaps the most dramatic achievement is the 24-page instruction booklet, which makes the uncontested divorce process less bewildering to the average citizen."

Judge Lippman added, "The forms previously required to obtain an uncontested divorce were so complicated and the requirements so different from county to county that even long-time practitioners were often confused and frustrated. The standardization and simplification achieved by the Uncontested Divorce Packet result in a much more efficient and cost-effective process, both for the courts and the public we serve. I thank Justice Silbermann for her leadership in this important project, which promises to make the uncontested divorce process much simpler in New York."

Created in collaboration with representatives of the bench, the bar, court clerks, local legal services programs, academics, court administrators and family law practitioners, the Uniform Uncontested Divorce Packet brings statewide uniformity to an area of the law that affects a high volume of litigants many of whom are self-represented. Uncontested divorces usually require no court appearances and are granted solely on the legal papers submitted.

Highlights of the Uniform Uncontested Divorce Packet include:

The Uniform Uncontested Divorce Packet will be available in the clerk's office in every Supreme Court in the state.