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Ending a relationship is already hard enough but dealing with a divorce can be extremely painful, especially if you don’t know how to proceed. For that reason, I have decided to make a little guide to help your case:


1. In what circumstances can you ask for a divorce?

Before starting any process, you need to know the circumstances that can be recognized as cause for divorce. For any petition you need to have grounds (or legally acceptable reason, or reasons) to get divorced in New York. Not only that, but you need to prove (at least) one of the following grounds:


Cruel and Inhuman treatment.



Spouse is in prison for 3 or more consecutive years

Living separate and apart pursuant to a separation judgement or decree.

Living separate and apart pursuant to a separation agreement

Irretrievable breakdown in the relationship for a period of at least 6 months. What is commonly known in the movies as irreconcilable differences.

2. Where to start?

First, and I can’t stress this enough, you need a lawyer. Even if the case is uncontested, the process is hard enough to try it by yourself.

You need to file a complaint against your spouse (this is what is called a summon) and serve a copy of the complaint to the spouse.

A lawyer will prepare a complaint in the form that is required and present it for you to the court.

3. What should I do next?


After presenting a copy of the summons to the spouse you need to wait for his or her response. After this, there are 2 possibilities:

-Your spouse does not answer. If the spouse does not respond within 30 days, we can go ahead and file the case.

-Your spouse does answer. When your spouse answers he or she may agree or disagree. If your spouse agrees to the terms, the next step will be to wait for the judge. If your spouse doesn’t agree to the terms, you might need some mediation and the process will take longer.

4. What does uncontested or contested mean?


When any of the parts (you, your spouse or both) disagrees, we call it contested and it will require extra action to reach an agreement.

When both parts agree we call it uncontested. The file will be processed and the next step will be to wait for the judge.

5. What if I can’t find my spouse?


New York law establishes that you can’t file for divorce if you can’t serve the summon to your spouse. To have your spouse served in any other way, you must get permission from the court. You can file an application for alternate service with the Supreme Court Clerk’s Office in the county where you filed your divorce case.

6. How long does it normally take?


It depends on many circumstances: the volume of cases the court handles, your own circumstances, if all the required papers have been presented…

Normally if there are no issues with the documents, judgement would come out in about 6 to 8 months. But, again, depending on the circumstances it could take longer than that.


If you want to know more, please contact our Law Firm at contact@cadelacerna.com to set up an appointment. We also offer phone consultations.

We are here to help you.

Best wishes, Claudette Delacerna.