divorce proceedings

How Do I Begin Uncontested Divorce Proceedings?

By David Hammond

Whether contested or uncontested, preparing for divorce can be critical to ensuring your best interests are protected and that the process goes as smoothly as possible. Do what you can to get your finances in order. Divorce marks a major financial transition for many couples, going from a double to a single income household. Furthermore, you should gather all available financial records in preparation for divorce proceedings as the financial holdings of both you and your spouse will play a central role in the process. You should also consult with a knowledgeable family law attorney. This is a good idea even if you are just considering divorce as you can get legal counsel on your options and what to consider going forward.

How Do I Begin Uncontested Divorce Proceedings?

Whether your divorce is amicable, or not so amicable, working with your former spouse to reach an agreement on all issues central to divorce can make the process much easier for both of you. Should this be the case, you may be able to proceed in filing for an uncontested divorce. There are, however, several requirements you must meet in order to file for an uncontested divorce.

First, you must meet the residency requirements for filing for a divorce in New York. This will require showing that you or your spouse have lived in the state for a minimum of one year prior to filing for divorce. You must also assert grounds for the divorce. New York does offer no fault divorce grounds by asserting that the relationship has been irretrievably broken for at least 6 months. There are also fault-based grounds that may be asserted such as abandonment, adultery, or separation for at least a year.

An uncontested divorce is an option if you and your spouse agree to all key terms incident to divorce. This includes financial issues such as alimony and division of marital debts and assets. If you have children, issues to be resolved will also include child custody and child support. An uncontested divorce is also available should your spouse fail to respond to the divorce complaint. In any case, to file for an uncontested divorce, you will need to fill out the appropriate forms.

To fill out the necessary forms, you will need to provide your name and address, as well as a copy of the marriage certificate and any agreement you have reached with your spouse, such as a settlement agreement. You will also need a list of the joint and separate property owned by you and your spouse as well as any debts held by you or your spouse. There will be different forms if there are children involved. You will need to file both the complaint and the summons with the County Clerk’s Office. You may be able to e-file your papers depending on the rules of your local court.

The next step is to have your forms served on your spouse. This is to ensure that your spouse is notified of the divorce. Services must be accomplished within 120 days of the divorce filing date. You are not permitted to personally serve your spouse and must assign the task to another person. This person must be a New York resident of at least 18 years of age. Once served, your spouse will need to file a response. If a response is not filed, this is referred to as your spouse “defaulting.”

Syracuse Divorce Attorneys

Even uncontested divorces involve complicated legal issues that can have serious repercussions far into the future. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for an uncontested divorce to quickly turn to a contested divorce. Make sure you are protecting yourself. The trusted team at CDH Law is here for you. Contact us today.


About the Author
David is a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer with over a decade of experience fighting for service members and their families. He served nine years and two combat tours as an active duty US Army officer, then joined the Reserves and settled down in Syracuse to be near family. Now representing people across Central New York charged with serious felonies, misdemeanors, DWIs, and traffic offenses, he puts the same level of commitment into his civilian law practice. If you have any questions regarding this article, you can contact David here.