New York Divorce Comes With Guidelines

Divorced in New York

Despite having among the lowest divorce rate in America, divorces in New York still happen. When they do, they tend to be messy. The occasional “wild west” feel of some high-profile cases notwithstanding, there are guidelines to divorce in The Empire State.

Filing for divorce in New York comes with caveats:

  1. Meet the residency mandate, and
  2. Have ‘grounds’ for the divorce

Residency Requirements

Either party in the divorce must have resided in New York, continuously, for at least twenty-four months before the divorce is started, or

Either party has been a resident New York for a minimum of twelve months before commencing the divorce AND:

1. You got married in The Empire State, or
2. You lived in New York as a married couple, or
3. New York is where the grounds for divorce arose.

The Grounds

New York recognizes seven legally acceptable reasons for divorce within the state:

  1. Irretrievable breakdown in the relationship,
  2. Cruel and inhuman treatment,
  3. Abandonment,
  4. Imprisonment
  5. Adultery
  6. Divorce following a legal separation
  7. Divorce following a judgment of separation

Irretrievable Breakdown In The Relationship

Also known as no-fault divorce, this criterion says the marriage must be over for at least six months and all issues settled.

Cruel And Inhuman Treatment

Specific acts of cruelty must have happened within the previous five years. It’s not enough just to have had arguments or fail to get along; the cruelty must include physical or mental danger.


The Plaintiff must have been abandoned by the spouse for twelve or more months.


The spouse must have been incarcerated for 36-months (or longer) consecutively, and the timeframe starts with the marriage — not prior.


The Plaintiff must be able to show the spouse committed adultery during the marriage.

Divorce Following A Legal Separation And Divorce Following A Judgment Of Separation

Not used often, this ground requires the Supreme Court write a judgment of separation verifying the couple has lived separately for twelve months or longer.

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