Understanding New York’s Divorce Laws: What You Need to Know

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Divorce is a challenging and emotional journey that many couples find themselves embarking upon. In the case of New York, understanding the state’s unique divorce laws is essential for navigating the process successfully. Whether you’re considering filing for divorce or just want to be informed on this topic, this blog post will provide you with a comprehensive overview of New York’s divorce laws.

Grounds for Divorce

New York is one of the few states that still recognizes fault-based divorce, meaning there are specific grounds upon which a couple can base their divorce on. These grounds include:

  1. Cruel and Inhuman Treatment: This pertains to physical, verbal, or emotional abuse that endangers the physical or mental well-being of the spouse filing for divorce.
  2. Abandonment: If one spouse abandons the other for at least one year continuously, it can serve as a ground for divorce.
  3. Imprisonment: If your spouse has been incarcerated for at least three consecutive years, you have the option to file for divorce.
  4. Adultery: If it can be proven that a spouse committed adultery, it can be cited as a ground for divorce.
  5. Separation: New York also recognizes a “no-fault” ground for divorce, based on a couple living apart for at least one year pursuant to a separation agreement. This ground does not require proving any wrongdoing.

Residency Requirements

To file for divorce in New York, you or your spouse must satisfy certain residency requirements. Either spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least two continuous years preceding the divorce filing. However, if both spouses are New York residents, the requirement is reduced to one continuous year.

Equitable Distribution of Marital Property

New York adheres to the principle of equitable distribution when dividing marital property during a divorce. Equitable distribution does not necessarily mean equal, but rather what the court deems fair considering various factors such as the duration of the marriage, individual contributions, and the respective financial situations of each spouse.

Child Custody and Support

When it comes to child custody and support, New York prioritizes the best interests of the child. Courts encourage joint custody arrangements whenever possible, but they ultimately decide based on factors like the child’s preferences, each parent’s ability to provide adequate care, and the child’s overall well-being. Child support payments are determined using statutory guidelines that consider both parents’ income, the number of children, and various other factors.

Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance, often referred to as alimony, is another crucial aspect of divorces in New York. Unlike child support, it is not determined by established guidelines but rather through various factors like the length of the marriage, the income and earning capacity of each spouse, and their respective contributions throughout the marriage.


Navigating New York divorce laws can be complex, but understanding the grounds for divorce, residency requirements, property division, child custody and support, and spousal maintenance will provide you with a solid foundation. Should you find yourself contemplating a divorce, it is always advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the process and protect your rights and interests. Remember, every divorce case is unique, and seeking appropriate legal counsel is crucial to ensure a smooth and fair resolution.

Yonatan Levoritz
ByYonatan Levoritz

With his commitment to sharing knowledge and empowering individuals, Yonatan Levoritz serves as a valuable resource for anyone seeking to understand legal matters more deeply. In addition to his informative blog posts, he also produces educational videos on YouTube, where he shares valuable insights and expertise.

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If you are considering a divorce from your spouse, or have questions about your divorce process, contact the knowledgeable and experienced attorneys at the Levoritz Law Firm.