1. How do I file for an uncontested divorce and how much does it cost?
If you would like to file for divorce and your spouse does not intend to contest the divorce, you may pick up an Uncontested Divorce Packet from the Office of the Self Represented in Room 121. There is no fee for the packet. Uncontested divorce forms are also available on the court’s website at www.nycourts.gov. The total court fees for an uncontested divorce will be a minimum of $335.00. This includes the $210.00 index # filing fee required to commence the divorce, and the $125.00 Note of Issue fee. In addition, if any motions are made, there is a $45.00 fee for each motion. Once the divorce is finalized there is an $8.00 fee for each certified copy of the judgment of divorce.
2. I would like to file for a divorce; however, I am currently unemployed and I cannot afford to pay the filing fees. What can I do?
If you cannot afford to pay the filing fees you may request that the costs, fees, and expenses associated with the divorce proceeding be waived. You may make this request by completing the "Affidavit in Support of Application to Proceed as Poor Person" and the "Poor Person Order" contained in the Uncontested Divorce Packet. You must bring these forms along with a completed summons and verified complaint, and proof of any and all sources of income to the Matrimonial Clerk’s Office in room 217.
3. My spouse resides outside of this state. Can I still file for divorce in New York?
In order to maintain an action for divorce in New York State, one of the following conditions of New York residency must be met:
(i) You and your spouse were married in New York, and either of you is a resident of New York when the divorce action is started and has been a resident of New York for a continuous period of one year immediately before the commencement of the divorce action
(ii) You and your spouse have resided in New York as husband and wife, and either of you is a resident of New York when the divorce action is started and has been a resident of New York for a continuous period of one year immediately preceding the beginning of the divorce action
(iii) The grounds for divorce occurred in New York, and either you or your spouse has been a resident of New York for a continuous period of at least one year immediately before the beginning of the divorce action
(iv) The grounds for divorce occurred in New York, and both you and your spouse are residents of New York at the time of the commencement of the divorce action
(v) Either you or your spouse has been a resident of New York for a continuous period of at least two years immediately preceding the commencement of the divorce action
4. I want to file for divorce but I don’t know where my spouse is. What can I do?
New York state law requires that the defendant in a divorce action be personally served with the Summons with Notice or Summons and Complaint. In order to effectuate service on your spouse in any other way, you must get permission from the court. You can apply for such permission by filing an application for alternate service with the Motion Support Office in room 217.
5. Does my spouse have to sign papers consenting to the divorce in order for the divorce to be considered uncontested?
Your spouse does not have to sign papers consenting to the divorce in order for the divorce to be considered uncontested. As long as your spouse does not contest the divorce in any way, the divorce is considered uncontested. If your spouse does nothing after being served, you must wait forty (40) days after service before filing the Note of Issue and the balance of your divorce documents. If your spouse specifically consents to the divorce by signing the Affidavit of Defendant that is contained in the Uncontested Divorce Packet, you may file the Note of Issue and the balance of your divorce documents immediately.
6. I received a postcard from the court indicating that my papers are defective. What is my next step?
If you have received a postcard indicating that your papers are defective, you must come to the Matrimonial Clerk’s Office in room 217 to pick up your papers. You may come in on any Tuesday or Thursday between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., and you must have valid photo identification and your index number.
7. Can someone pick up my defective papers for me?
Matrimonial files are confidential and without a court order, they are available only to the parties or their attorneys. While the clerk is prohibited from returning any actual divorce documents to anyone other than the parties or their attorneys, a copy of the list of defects will be given to any person that has your written and notarized authorization. The authorization must reflect the name of the person picking up the defect list, and the person picking up the list must have valid photo identification.
8. When is my divorce final?
A divorce is considered final when the signed judgment of divorce is entered in the County Clerk's Office. Once the judgment is entered, the County Clerk will mail you the postcard that you filed with your divorce papers. The postcard will contain a "filed" stamp and will indicate the filing date. Once you receive this postcard, you may go to the County Clerk's Office to obtain a certified copy of the judgment. You must bring valid photo identification with you, because matrimonial files are confidential and information will be released only to a party or his or her attorney. The cost for each certified copy is $8.00 but the fee will be waived if you obtained a poor person waiver.
9. My spouse and I would like a separation agreement. What can we do?
A Separation Agreement is a contract between you and your spouse in which you agree to live separate and apart. A Separation Agreement may also address matters including but not limited to the rights of the parties, division of marital property, maintenance, custody, and child support. A Separation Agreement is not something the court grants and the court does not assist parties with the preparation of Separation Agreements. A Separation Agreement must be acknowledged by the parties before a notary and the acknowledgment must be in the form required to entitle a deed to be recorded. The preparation of a Separation Agreement can be a complex task. If you do not know how to prepare a Separation Agreement you should seriously consider getting advice from an attorney and / or having an attorney prepare the Separation Agreement for you.
10. What is the difference between divorce and annulment and can I use the forms in the Uncontested Divorce Packet for an annulment?
A divorce is the legal dissolution of a marriage by a court. An annulment is a judicial declaration that a marriage is invalid. Unlike a divorce that dissolves a valid marriage, an annulment establishes that the marriage is not legally valid.
The Uncontested Divorce Packet is not designed for use in annulment actions. The court does not provide forms for annulment. If you want more information about annulments or if you would like to file for an annulment, you should seriously consider speaking to an attorney.
11. I think I’m going to need an attorney. Can you refer one to me?
Court employees are prohibited from referring litigants to attorneys. If you are unsure how to find a lawyer, these resources can help you:
• Call the New York State Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service (toll free) at 1-800-342-3661
• Go to www.lawhelp.org/ny if you cannot afford a lawyer