Dissolution of Marriage in New York
There are two ways to end a marriage in New York: Divorce and Annulment. Though divorce and annulment produce the same result-- the ending of the marriage is different. To file for either a divorce or an annulment you'll need to do the following:
2: Go to a Clerk of Court office in person
There are two ways to end a marriage in New York: Divorce and Annulment. Though divorce and annulment produce the same result the ending of the marriage is different.Divorce is the legal issuance acknowledging that the marriage is dissolved. Annulment is a legal decree that states that the marriage is null and void; an annulment treats the involved parties as though the marriage never happened. Dissolution form.
Procedures in New York for Divorce
In New York, to end a marriage, you must file an action for divorce. The procedure for a divorce is as follows:
- As in all civil lawsuits, the filing spouse, now called the plaintiff, or her attorney, must draft a "summons and complaint" and file it with the court clerk in the county where she resides. At that time, a $210 fee must be paid for an index number, the number that identifies the case and should be placed on all subsequent documents.
- Under New York law, the non-filing spouse, now called the defendant, must be personally served with the summons and complaint.
- The plaintiff's complaint must state the grounds for divorce and request relief. The only grounds for divorce recognized by the state of New York are found in DRL section 170. They are: cruel treatment of the plaintiff, by the defendant, causing physical and mental harm to the plaintiff, making cohabitation unsafe; abandonment by the defendant, for more than one year; the defendant being in prison for three or more consecutive years after the marriage; the defendant has committed adultery; plaintiff and defendant have lived apart for more than a year, under a judgment of separation; plaintiff and defendant have lived apart for more than a year, under a separation agreement.
- The defendant is given time to respond, by answer, admitting or denying the plaintiff's allegations, and also, if desired, filing a counterclaim. At this time, the defendant must assert any affirmative defenses or be barred from using such defenses at trial. For example, if the plaintiff has alleged that the defendant committed adultery, the defendant has an affirmative defense if he can show the plaintiff also has committed adultery.
- The next step is discovery, where parties exchange net worth statements and all real estate and pensions are appraised. Depositions of both spouses and any relevant third parties will take place. If there are any children from the marriage, the court will decide if the children request independent counsel, and, if so, the court will appoint a guardian who will represent the children's interests.
- Eventually, a trial date is set. At a pretrial conference, any issues that can be settled are handled. At trial, the plaintiff presents her case by testifying, calling witnesses and submitting any documented evidence. The defense then has the opportunity to do the same. The court then issues a decision. A "judgment of divorce" is drafted by one party, addressing all the issues in the court's decision. It is not until the court signs the judgment and the document is filed with the county clerk that the parties actually are officially divorced.
Procedures in New York for an Annulment
An annulment is a court-rendered nullification of a marriage based on reasons such as bigamy or underage marriage. According to New York State Domestic Relations Laws -- Sections 5, 6, 7 and 140 -- you have grounds to file for an annulment if your spouse has a disability that affects your sex life, or has suffered from insanity for at least five years of your marriage. Annulments are possible if you were married when under 18 years of age, forced into marriage, entered into a bigamous marriage or if your spouse misrepresented himself or his intentions within the marriage.
Contact a New York City civil court division handling annulments. These include Bronx County Supreme Court, Kings County Supreme Court in Brooklyn, New York County Supreme Court, Queens County Supreme Court or the Richmond County Supreme Court in Staten Island. (See Resources.) Ask which forms, identification and documentation you need for an annulment.
Contact a lawyer in New York City who specializes in annulments. Meet with the lawyer to discuss your reasons for wanting an annulment. Your lawyer typically advises on your situation, and assists you in determining whether or not you have legal grounds to file and win an annulment case in accordance with New York state law. Ask your lawyer about court proceedings, necessary documentation and associated court and legal fees.
To learn more, download the new Marriage License Packet to assist you with the State of New York marriage license process, as well as offer you helpful information on popular marriage topics.