How Long Does an Uncontested Divorce Take in NY?

In New York, an uncontested divorce is faster than a contested divorce. This is usually because couples going the uncontested route tend to reach an agreement on divorce terms more quickly, and there is no need to litigate divorce terms. However, the timeline for an uncontested divorce in NY can vary considerably based on several factors.

Depending on how quickly you and your former spouse move through the process, an uncontested divorce can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

Please read our blog to learn more about the differences between a contested and uncontested divorce.

Step-by-Step Uncontested Divorce Process in NY

Filing for Divorce

The initial step in an uncontested divorce is filing a Summons with Notice or Summons and Complaint with the County Clerk's Office. While some counties allow people to file online, Nassau County requires in-person filing. A filing fee is also required, although financial waivers may be available for those in hardship.

If you and your former spouse have a settlement agreement, you can submit it with your initial filing. This may help expedite the judicial process for an uncontested divorce.

Serving the Other Spouse

When filing for divorce, the person who files is referred to as the plaintiff, while the responding spouse is the defendant. When a plaintiff files for divorce, they must serve the defendant with the divorce papers within 120 days of filing.

NOTE: the plaintiff cannot serve these documents themselves and must enlist someone over 18 to complete this step. Proof of service is then documented through an "Affidavit of Service."

Options for the Defendant's Response

The outcome of the divorce process hinges significantly on how the defendant responds. The swiftest path to a resolution comes from the served spouse signing their Affidavit of Defendant immediately. This indicates that they agree to the divorce terms, and your divorce can proceed to the next step.

If the defendant doesn't respond, they are considered to have defaulted. This means that after 40 days of no response, the plaintiff can file the rest of their papers, and the divorce moves forward.

If the defendant files an Answer to your initial filing, this means that they dispute some aspect of your original filing. Your divorce is no longer uncontested, and you must transition to a contested divorce process.

Calendaring an Uncontested Divorce Case

Once the steps above are completed, your divorce case can be calendared, meaning you can file the rest of your paperwork, and your divorce is ready for the judge's review. Remember, in Nassau County, all paperwork must be filed in person. You will also need to pay a filing fee.

If your paperwork is in order, the judge will sign off on your divorce, and you will receive your Judgment of Divorce.

Factors Affecting the Timeline

While an uncontested divorce in NY provides a pathway to a relatively swift and less contentious resolution, a few variables can impact your timeline.

Aspects that can influence how long an uncontested divorce takes in NY include:

  • Promptness of the defendant's response: The speed with which the defendant reacts to the divorce summons directly affects the timeline. The case proceeds faster if the defendant promptly signs the Affidavit of Defendant and doesn't contest any aspect of the divorce.
  • Court's schedule: The court's docket can be a significant factor. High volumes of cases may lead to longer waiting times for a judge to review your case.
  • Accuracy of paperwork: Errors or incompleteness in the required documentation can cause delays. Ensuring accuracy and completion can help avoid such setbacks.

Understanding these components and preparing accordingly can contribute significantly to a smoother, faster process for those navigating an uncontested divorce. In particular, seeking legal advice can help you manage these factors and move through your uncontested divorce as swiftly as possible.

If you are considering divorce and want to pursue an uncontested divorce, we encourage you to schedule a consultation with our team. Law Office of Tzvi Y. Hagler, P.C. is standing by to help you.