If you want to learn how to file for divorce in New York, you should always start by consulting with a reputable divorce attorney. Your attorney will help ensure that your legal rights are protected, and they will be instrumental in helping you manage any issues that may arise throughout your divorce.
What Forms are Required to File for Divorce in New York?
When you file for divorce in New York, you will be required to fill out and file several court forms. These forms are required even if your divorce is uncontested. If your divorce is uncontested, then you can download all the required forms and their instructions in the Uncontested Divorce Packet at the New York Courts website.
The first two forms you will need to file include Form UD-1 (Summons With Notice) or Form UD-1a (Summons) and Form UD-2 (Verified Complaint). Both the Summons With Notice and Summons forms, depending on which you choose, officially name you as the plaintiff and the Verified Complaint form names your spouse as the defendant. Filing these two forms begins your divorce action.
While the result will not differ whether you choose to use the Summons With Notice or a Summons form with your Verified Complaint form, the amount of information required for each does. Both forms require you to provide extensive information, including the reason (or “grounds”) for your divorce and any “relief” you might be seeking, such as child custody, child support, division of property, and/or alimony, but the Summons form (UD-2) will require you to provide more information about you, your spouse, and your children.
Along with the Summons With Notice or Summons and Verified Complaint forms, you will also need to complete the following forms before your case can be added to the court calendar:
- Form UD-5 – Affirmation of Regularity (which requests that your case be put on the calendar)
- Form UD-6 – Affidavit of Plaintiff
- Form UD-7 – Affidavit of Defendant
- Form UD-9 – Note of Issue (three copies)
- Form UD-10 – Findings of Fact/Conclusions of Law
- Form UD-12 – Part 130 Certification
- Certificate of Dissolution of Marriage
- Form USC 111 – Divorce and Child Support Summary
If your spouse does not sign and return the Affidavit of Defendant form, then you must also file Form UD-3 (Affidavit of Service) and Form UD-4 (Sworn Statement of Removal of Barriers to Remarriage) if the marriage ceremony was religious.
If you and your spouse have children together, then you will also need to file the forms related to child support (Forms UD-8, UD-8a, and UD-8b).
Lastly, if you are filing in a court that is not located in one of New York City’s five Boroughs, then you must also file Form UD-13 (Request for Judicial Intervention).
Once the forms are completed, you should make two additional copies and file one copy with the county clerk’s office in the county where you live. At the clerk’s office your case will be assigned an “Index Number,” which you will need to include on all your forms, along with the filing date. You will also have to pay a filing fee to the court clerk at this time. If for whatever reason you cannot afford to pay the fee, you can request a waiver form and if you qualify, the fee will be waived. The clerk will submit your papers to the judge and if approved, you will receive Form UD-11 (Judgment of Divorce).
Serving Your Spouse the Divorce Papers
After filing your forms with the county clerk, you have 120 days to give, or “serve,” a copy of the divorce papers to your spouse. In most cases, you are not required to serve your spouse the papers yourself. If your spouse lives in New York, then anyone other than you who is a resident of the state, not a party to the divorce, and who is over 18 years old can serve your spouse the divorce forms on any day of the week except for Sundays. Regardless of who is serving, the papers must be personally handed to your spouse.
If your spouse lives in a state other than New York, then you will need to follow that state’s rules for serving divorce papers.
If your spouse disagrees with the divorce or any part of it and files a Notice of Appearance, then your divorce is no longer uncontested. If this happens, then you should consult your attorney.