How to Apply for a Divorce in New York

A divorce is typically considered when a marriage has permanently fallen apart. If you choose to get a divorce in New York State, you must follow several steps, complete many forms, and dedicate a significant amount of time to see the process through and ultimately finalize the divorce.


  1. Image titled Apply for a Divorce in New York Step 1
    Establish the grounds for divorce. In order to apply for a divorce in New York State, one of seven possible grounds must be met.
    • Irretrievable Breakdown -- If communication between you and your spouse have broken down completely for over 6 months. This is one of the most common grounds for divorce within New York State.
    • Cruel and inhuman treatment -- If there have been incidents of physical and/or mental abuse or if you feel your life may be in physical danger by remaining in the marriage. This abuse must have occurred less than 5 years ago to be a valid ground for divorce.
    • Abandonment-- If your spouse has left your residence for over a year and will not be returning or if your spouse has asked you to leave the residence permanently.
    • Imprisonment-- If your spouse has been confined in a prison facility for over 3 years. You cannot exercise this option if your spouse was released over 5 years ago.
    • Adultery-- If your spouse has an extramarital affair and you learn of it less than 5 years after it occurred.
    • Judgment of Separation-- A "Judgment of Separation" -� also called a "Decree of Separation"-- has similar requirements to filing for a divorce. Separate residences must be maintained for at least a year and conditions set forth by the judgment must be followed.
    • Separation Agreement-- A formal, notarized "Agreement of Separation" provides that you and your spouse must live in separate residences for a minimum of a year and all conditions within the agreement must be followed. A Separation Agreement is also known as a "Conversion Divorce" because once the terms of the separation have been met for a year, you can "convert" the separation into a divorce.
  2. Image titled Apply for a Divorce in New York Step 2
    Go to your county clerk's office to purchase an Index Number to begin the divorce process. This is an exclusive number that will be assigned to your case.
  3. Image titled Apply for a Divorce in New York Step 3
    File for a "Summons with Notice" with your county's Supreme Court office. This summons will contain your grounds for divorce and additional settlement information.
  4. Image titled Apply for a Divorce in New York Step 4
    Enlist a third party representative over the age of 18 to serve your spouse with the summons.


  • A Separation Agreement is one of the easiest and quickest ways to facilitate a divorce.
  • By working with your spouse to split up assets, pay debts, and resolve support payments, you can avoid going to trial. This will shorten the duration of the divorce proceedings significantly.
  • If you and your spouse choose to move forward without an attorney and you have both agreed to settlement terms, Uncontested Divorce Forms are available for free through the New York State Supreme Court.


  • You cannot use adultery as grounds for divorce if any of the following have occurred: you engage in sexual relations with your spouse after learning of the infidelity, you are also unfaithful, or if you prompt your spouse to be unfaithful.

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Categories: Divorce | New York