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How long does a divorce take in NY?

Wondering how long a divorce takes in NY? We cover what you can expect and which factors will impact the timetable of a divorce in New York.

evident Editorial Team
published
June 3, 2022
Sand passing through an hourglass

Obtaining a divorce can be a stressful and, at times, complicated process. This article provides a general timetable for finalizing a divorce in New York and the different factors that affect how long a divorce in NY takes.

Key Takeaways

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorces in New York state

One of the biggest factors that determines how long a divorce will take in NY is whether the divorce is contested or uncontested. Generally speaking, uncontested divorces typically take less time than contested divorces, and the length of contested divorces can vary greatly. 

Let’s take a closer look at these two types of divorce and how they impact the timeline for a divorce in New York state. 

How long does an uncontested divorce take in NY?

An uncontested divorce is when both spouses agree to end their marriage and agree on all of the terms in the divorce, which include the division of assets, child support, alimony, and child custody. Uncontested divorces require minimal court involvement since both spouses already agree on everything. 

Generally, an uncontested divorce in New York will take about three months. The process may take longer if the couple discovers that they don’t agree on all the terms of the divorce and need to go to court.

Late filings or incorrect paperwork may also lengthen the timeline. 

How long does a contested divorce take in NY? 

A contested divorce is when the spouses do not agree on the terms of the divorce, or when one spouse may even oppose the divorce altogether. Generally, a contested divorce requires far more oversight and involvement from the court.

Because each contested divorce is different, it’s difficult to estimate how long a contested divorce typically takes. A contested divorce in New York can take as few as nine months, but the complexity of the couple’s affairs will ultimately dictate how long it will take. If the divorce is particularly complicated or contentious, it may take years. Cooperation between spouses is key to ensuring a contested divorce moves quickly. 

What other factors affect how long a divorce will take in New York?

Here are some other factors that are likely to impact how long a divorce will take in NY.

Whether your divorce involves children

Divorces involving children require an agreement on child custody and child support, both of which can lengthen the divorce process. The couple will have to work together to form a parenting plan that is in the best interest of their children, which can be time-consuming and may introduce new disagreements.

The number of shared assets the couple possesses  

Generally, couples with more shared assets will have to undergo a longer divorce process. Divorce agreements must state the division of assets, meaning decisions must be made on who gets to keep which assets for the divorce to progress. This means the couple will have to decide how property like homes or vehicles will be divided. 

The complexity of the couple’s assets

Divorces with complex assets often take longer than those without. For example, the following situations would be considered complex if one or both spouses: 

  • Own their own business or have a significant ownership interest in a business. 
  • Have a wide range of investments. (For example, if one spouse has invested a large portion of their income in real estate, stocks, or various commodities.)
  • Are in significant debt. 
  • Receives income from a business not based in the United States. 

Whether one spouse is financially dependent on the other 

If one spouse has not worked for a large portion of the marriage, the divorce process will likely include a discussion on how this spouse should be financially supported after divorce. Determining this support -- called spousal maintenance in New York and more commonly referred to as alimony -- can extend divorce proceedings. 

When determining spousal maintenance, the court will consider factors including the dependent spouse’s employment history, the earnings they could’ve accumulated had they not exited the workforce, and how difficult it would be for them to reenter the workforce.

Whether this is a fault or no-fault divorce 

When a couple files for divorce in New York, they must state the “grounds” for their divorce, which are essentially legally acceptable reasons for the separation. New York courts recognize seven grounds for divorce, including everything from cruel and inhumane treatment to adultery. 

Most grounds for divorce in New York are “fault-based,” meaning the actions of one spouse caused the marriage to fail. During a fault-based divorce, the spouse who files for divorce must prove that the other spouse’s actions caused the marriage to end. The need to prove that the opposing spouse caused the divorce to end can extend the time it takes for the divorce to be finalized. 

On the other hand, no-fault divorces occur when neither spouse is to blame for the end of the marriage because the marriage ended due to irreconcilable differences. There is no need for either spouse to prove fault in no-fault divorces, meaning no-fault divorces are usually faster. 

How contentious the divorce is

And last but not least, whether or not the couple can cooperate will have a huge impact on the timeline of a divorce.

Not all contested divorces are created equal, and not all contested divorces are scorched earth legal battles. But the more contentious your divorce is, the longer it is likely to take.

Other frequently asked questions

Is there a waiting period for divorce in New York? 

There is no formal waiting period for divorce in New York. 

Is divorce mediation faster? 

Divorce mediation is a collaborative process that addresses each individual’s (and their children’s) specific interests, concerns, and needs regarding the divorce. A neutral divorce mediator assists the couple in communicating in order to create a mutually beneficial agreement. 

Mediation is often referred to as a party-driven process, and the parties shape the outcome. Divorce mediation can be cost-effective, save time and save unwanted emotional turmoil for all members of the family, typically making it a faster process than a normal divorce proceeding. 

The bottom line on how long a divorce takes in NY

Every divorce has different circumstances, which makes it difficult to prescribe a single timeline. In general, however, it’s likely that uncontested no-fault divorces will move the fastest. Consider speaking with a New York family law attorney to get a more accurate estimate of how long your divorce will take.