How to File an Uncontested Divorce in New York without a Lawyer

Jane B. Freidson

Written by

Mediation Attorney - New York, NY

Posted August 07, 2008

Make Sure You and Your Partner Are in Full Agreement about Everything, Including Grounds for Divorce

Both you and your partner will have to sign the divorce papers, so if you have no agreement, you will have no uncontested divorce. One of you will be the "Plaintiff," who is the person who initiates the divorce and states a legal ground for obtaining it; the other of you will be the "Defendant" who is the person who may either consent to the divorce or defend against it in court. The more complicated your financial picture is, the more likely it is that you would benefit from legal advice or mediation with a trained divorce mediator to help you identify all legal issues raised by your separation. But if you and your partner have already agreed about how to divide everything, and if you have already divided all that there is to divide, you don't need a formal agreement. Be sure to close all joint bank accounts and credit card accounts so that there are no loose ends. Remember, that if you have children or real property, you should not try to file for divorce without legal advice.

Make a Plan for Health Insurance after the Divorce

If you and your partner have both been covered under a family plan which one of you purchased or is provided through an employer, the other person will not be able to continue on that plan as a family member after a divorce. New York law now requires a specific statement in the divorce papers that both of you understand this consequence of a legal divorce. Many insurance plans allow the option of buying continued coverage (COBRA) after the divorce. The time to find out about the rules of your insurance plan and the cost of purchasing health insurance privately or through COBRA is before a divorce.

Visit the New York State Court Web site and Download the Uncontested Divorce Packet

Here is the link: http://www.courts.state.ny.us/ip/matrimonial-matters/forms.shtml. These forms come with detailed instructions and many people find them relatively simple to complete. If you have difficulty with the forms, you could consult a lawyer who might charge you only for reviewing your forms, which is much less expensive than hiring a lawyer to generate the forms for you. When your forms are all filled out, and each of you has signed where you need to sign, you will need to file your forms with the clerk of the court in the county where you live. You will need to file the papers in two stages and pay fees to the court to purchase an index number ($210.00) and then to file a Note of Issue ($125.00). You should bring a stamped, self-addressed postcard with your papers so that the clerk can notify you when the judgment is signed.

Wait Until Your Divorce Judgment is Signed and Then File "Notice of Entry"

In New York City, the average time for your divorce judgment to be finalized is about 60 to 90 days from the time when you filed it. After you receive the postcard from the clerk, you must return to the court to pick up a signed copy of the divorce judgment. For a fee of $8.00, you may purchase a certified copy of the judgment from the clerk. You will then have to fill out another form in the uncontested divorce packet, the "notice of entry" form and mail that form and the judgment to your partner. When you file proof that you have complied with the notice of entry requirement, your divorce is final. Congratulations, you did it yourself.

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