What to Know About Filing for Divorce In New York

Rome visit, June 2008 - 57The sad truth about some marriages is that they just weren’t meant to last. However, in New York City, the divorce rate is actually lower than most other metropolitan cities. Of course, Las Vegas holds the title for the greatest number of divorces. In the Big Apple the rate is around 210,000 out of a population of over 18 million. Here in Westchester those rates are on par at around 6% of males and 9% of females filing for divorce. While it is true that there is emotional pain going through a divorce, there should be no shame. Staying in a situation which does more harm than good isn’t how you should be living. If you’ve reached the point in your marriage where divorce seems to be the only viable solution you’ll need to consider the guidelines set forth by the New York State legislature. Yes, the government tells you how to get a divorce.


When filing for a divorce in Westchester or anywhere else in New York you have to establish cause and residency. Residency requirements are actually being married in the state or living here for at least a year as husband and wife. If your spouse is living elsewhere then that standard goes up to two years for one of the partners to be a New York resident.

Grounds for Filing

In some ancient cultures, the way you got a divorce was simply to state, “I divorce you.”   In New York, it was never that simple. In the past, one had to work with a Westchester divorce attorney to help you come up with the grounds for filing or cause of action. Among the accepted grounds used to be:

•    ” The cruel and inhuman treatment of the plaintiff by the defendant such that the conduct of the defendant so endangers the physical or mental well being of the plaintiff as renders it unsafe or improper for the plaintiff to cohabit with the defendant.’

•    “The abandonment of the plaintiff by the defendant for a period of one or more years.”

•    “The confinement of the defendant in prison for a period of three or more consecutive years after the marriage of plaintiff and defendant.”

•     The commission of an act of adultery. (And yes, that includes any type of sex.)

•    ” The husband and wife have lived apart pursuant to a decree or judgment of separation for a period of one or more years after the granting of such decree or judgment, and satisfactory proof has been submitted by the plaintiff that he or she has substantially performed all the terms and conditions of such decree or judgment.”

•    “The husband and wife have lived separate and apart pursuant to a written agreement of separation, subscribed by the parties thereto and acknowledged or proved in the form required to entitle a deed to be recorded, for a period of one or more years after the execution of such agreement and satisfactory proof has been submitted by the plaintiff that he or she has substantially performed all the terms and conditions of such agreement.”

But finally, New York has enacted a “No Fault” divorce, meaning no longer must there be grounds.

•    “Irretrievable breakdown in relationship for a least six months.”

So now, New York has joined the majority of other states in recognizing that no good comes from forcing people to stay married.

Those are the exact legal phrasings for the New York divorce laws and it’s a perfect example of why you need a Westchester divorce attorney to help you navigate through the legal system and protect your interests. Not to mention all the help you’ll need with the filing of the appropriate documents. Securing the services of a qualified divorce lawyer will bring you peace of mind and help you move this process along so you can start to rebuild your life.

photo by: Ed Yourdon