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Navigating Divorce in New York

Divorce is a challenging and often emotional process that affects individuals and families across the United States. If you’re considering or going through a divorce in the state of New York, it’s important to understand the specific laws, procedures, and resources available to help you through this difficult time.

Legal Grounds for Divorce

In New York, there are several legal grounds on which you can file for divorce. Understanding these grounds is essential for initiating the process. The primary grounds for divorce in the state include:

  1. No-Fault Divorce: New York introduced no-fault divorce in 2010, making it possible to divorce without assigning blame to either spouse. This is the most common and straightforward way to get divorced.
  2. Fault-Based Divorce: In addition to no-fault divorce, you can still file for divorce based on fault grounds, such as cruelty, abandonment, adultery, or imprisonment. However, these cases can be more complex and contentious.

The choice between no-fault and fault-based divorce depends on your specific situation, and it’s important to consult with an experienced divorce attorney to determine the best approach for your case.

Property Division

New York follows the principle of equitable distribution when it comes to dividing marital property. This means that the court aims to distribute assets and debts fairly but not necessarily equally. The process involves:

  1. Identifying all marital property, which generally includes assets acquired during the marriage.
  2. Assessing the value of the assets, which can be a complex task for certain assets like real estate, businesses, or investments.
  3. Determining how to distribute the assets based on factors such as the length of the marriage, each spouse’s financial contributions, and the well-being of any children involved.

It’s important to note that separate property, which includes assets acquired before the marriage, inheritances, and gifts to one spouse, is typically not subject to division.

Child Custody and Support

If you have children, child custody and support are some of the most crucial aspects of your divorce. New York courts make decisions based on the best interests of the child. There are two main types of custody:

  1. Legal Custody: This involves decision-making authority over important aspects of the child’s life, such as education, healthcare, and religion. It can be joint (shared by both parents) or sole (granted to one parent).
  2. Physical Custody: This relates to where the child will reside. Like legal custody, it can be joint or sole.

Child support is typically calculated based on the Child Support Standards Act (CSSA) formula, which considers factors like each parent’s income, the number of children, and custody arrangements.

Divorce Process

The divorce process in New York can be complex and involves several steps, including:

  1. Filing a Summons and Complaint or a Joint Petition for divorce.
  2. Serving the divorce papers to your spouse.
  3. Discovery, during which both parties exchange information about assets, liabilities, and other relevant details.
  4. Negotiation or mediation to reach agreements on property division, child custody, and support.
  5. If agreements are not reached, the case goes to trial for the court to make decisions.

It’s advisable to consult with an experienced divorce attorney to guide you through this process, as each case is unique.


Divorce is a significant life event that can be emotionally and legally complex. In New York, understanding the legal grounds, property division, child custody, and the divorce process is crucial for a smoother transition through this challenging time. Seeking the guidance of a knowledgeable divorce attorney can help you navigate the intricacies of divorce in the Empire State and work towards a fair and equitable resolution. Remember, you’re not alone in this journey, and there are resources and professionals available to support you through the process.