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What You Need to Know About Getting Divorced In New York

Divorce is hard. It can be painful emotionally, socially and financially. Having the right attorney can help you navigate the divorce process and protect yourself from unnecessary pitfalls.

How does the divorce process work in Brooklyn, Manhattan and the rest of New York City? Is there anything special about the city's family courts? Will your divorce take longer than it would in, say, Long Island or Westchester? Is custody or support handled differently here? These are important issues to discuss with a knowledgeable lawyer.

New York Divorce Basics

In general, divorce or marital dissolution is governed by state law, not municipal (city) law. Legally, a divorce in Brooklyn is very similar to a divorce in Albany or Buffalo.

In the state of New York, grounds for divorce include (since 2010) irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. Whereas criteria like separation or adultery were necessary in the past, New York is now considered a "no-fault divorce" state. These are basics you should know:

  • "No-fault divorce" can mean that property is not divided according to who may be responsible for the divorce. The principle of "equitable distribution," rather than 50-50 division, is used by a court in a multifactorial analysis of assets.
  • In New York, child custody is determined by a court or agreed upon outside of court based on the child's best interest. Visitation is ordered to nearly all non-custodial parents.
  • In New York, child support is determined based on state guidelines that take into account incomes and the number of children.

How Long Will The Divorce Take? Do I Have To Go To Court?

The duration of the divorce process (and often the cost of it) will depend in part on whether your divorce is contested or uncontested. If a contested divorce is filed in New York County (Manhattan) or Kings County (Brooklyn), for example, it may take time to get a court date.

Contested divorce usually requires a court appearance. If your divorce is uncontested -- generally speaking, if all matters are agreed upon by both parties and there are no children of the marriage -- you may not have to go to court at all.

Get Your Questions Answered

No two divorces are the same. If you have important questions about your divorce, talk to an experienced family law attorney.

It is very important to have support if you are experiencing marriage problems. But be careful about getting legal advice from family members or well-meaning friends. Divorce is complicated, and you want to make it as easy as possible for yourself and your loved ones.

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