The divorce process can be tricky. It involves multiple steps that might be confusing. Reviewing the requirements for filing, drafting the necessary documents, and negotiating the divorce terms with your spouse is overwhelming.
With an experienced legal team by your side, you can navigate the complexities of legal proceedings effectively and efficiently. Below are the most critical steps you must take if you want to file for divorce.
Hire a Divorce Lawyer
When you or your spouse decide to file for divorce, you should first hire a lawyer. Although you might be on good terms, anything can happen that derails your plans and creates issues between you and your spouse.
Your divorce attorney can make a plan to protect your interests and work to get you what you want when the divorce is finalized. You should never proceed with a divorce unless you seek legal representation first.
You’re vulnerable if you try to handle the process yourself. Your spouse can hire an aggressive lawyer who takes everything you own, leaving you with nothing.
Get Your Finances in Order
If you have money and assets you want to protect, you should complete these steps with your lawyer:
- Make a list of all joint assets and debt, including business interests, retirement accounts, and real estate
- Obtain copies of your bank statements, loan agreements, credit score, and other financial documents
- Consider how changing jobs, going back to school, or other major decisions might affect the outcome of the divorce
- Show your attorney your prenuptial agreement or another agreement you and your spouse made before or during the marriage
Confirm You Meet the Residency Requirements
You and your spouse must meet at least one of the residency requirements to file for divorce in New York:
- You got married in New York, and one of you is a resident at the time of filing for divorce and has lived in the state for at least one year prior
- Both of you have resided in New York as husband and wife, and either of you is a resident and has been a resident for at least one year before filing for divorce
- Either of you has lived in the state continuously for at least one year before filing, and the cause of the divorce occurred in New York
- The cause of the divorce happened in the state, and both of you are residents when you file for divorce
- Either of you has resided in the state for at least two years before filing
Determine the Grounds for Divorce
New York is a no-fault divorce state. That means you do not have to cite exceptional circumstances as the reason for divorce, such as adultery. You can file if a natural breakdown in the relationship occurred at least six months before filing.
However, you can file for a fault-based divorce if your spouse subjected you to any of the fault-based grounds below:
- Abandonment for at least one year
- Domestic violence
- Cruel and inhuman treatment
Create a Separation Agreement
You and your spouse should discuss the terms of a separation agreement. The agreement is a legal document both of you can sign without involving the court. It outlines various aspects of the period before the divorce is final.
A separation agreement allows you to decide on arrangements, such as who will stay in the marital home during the separation. You can also create a schedule for child custody and visitation. One of you might be financially dependent on the other. The agreement could include a clause stating that the employed spouse should pay for the other’s living expenses during the separation period.
Contact a New York City Family Law Attorney
The Mandel Law Firm knows how to preserve the rights and interests of our clients during divorce proceedings. We can represent you during every step and fight to try to resolve the matter favorably.
If you want to file for divorce and learn about what we can do for you, call us at (646) 770-3868 for a confidential consultation.