The Law Office of Crystal R. Villasenor, PLLC

Divorce FAQ


What is the difference between a Contested & Uncontested Divorce? 

An uncontested divorce occurs when: (a) there are no disagreements between you and your spouse over any financial or marital-related issues, (i.e., child custody and support, division of martial property, and/or spousal support) and (b) your spouse agrees to the divorce.

If there are issues that need to be resolved between you and your spouse or if your spouse refuses to sign the necessary documentation to execute a divorce, then the matter will be considered a contested divorce. 

It is likely, that you may sue for divorce thinking that the proceeding will be uncontested, only later you discover that your spouse has decided to contest the case. If this occurs, you may wish to consult with an attorney or you may proceed on your own without an attorney. 

What are the residency requirements for a New York Divorce? 

In order to obtain a divorce in New York, the parties must comply with New York's fairly strict residency requirements outlined in Domestic Relations Law 230. 

In order to file for a divorce in New York, either spouse must live in New York for at least one year, if: (a) the marriage took place in New York, (b) the parties lived as a married couple in New York, (c) the grounds for divorce occurred in New York, and (d) the grounds occurred in New York and both parties lived in New York when the divorce is filed. 

A divorce may also be filed in New York if either spouse lives in New York for at least two years. 

What are the grounds for a New York  Divorce? 

Pursuant to Domestic Relations Law 170, New York has seven grounds for divorce. You must provide one of the following grounds in order to obtain a divorce in New York: (1) Cruel and Inhumane treatment, (2) Abandonment for one year or more, (3) Adultery, (4) Imprisonment for three years or more, (5) Living apart pursuant to a judicial separation for one year or more, (6) Living apart pursuant to a written separation for one year or more, (7) Irretrievable breakdown of the marriage for six months or more. 

How long will my divorce take?

In New York City, uncontested divorce can take approximately three to nine months depending on the County and the Judge. A contested divorce can take longer depending on the outstanding issues and the complexity of the case. 

What is the process for an Uncontested Divorce in New York City?

  1. At your initial consultation, The Law Office of Crystal R. Villasenor, PLLC will discuss the various issues regarding your divorce, explain the divorce process and answer any questions you may have. 
  2. Once you have retained, The Law Office of Crystal R. Villasenor, PLLC to represent you in your divorce, an attorney will meet with you to prepare a Summons & Complaint, this meeting will take approximately 45 mins. 
  3. Once the Summons & Complaint is prepared my firm will file it with the New York County Clerk's office. A Supreme Court index number will then be assigned to your file, initiating your divorce proceedings. 
  4. A copy of the Summons & Complaint will be sent to your spouse for review and signature. (Your spouse is free to have an attorney review the documents and explain their rights and responsibilities under the agreement.) Once Your spouse signs the documents and returns them to our office, we will schedule an appointment for you to come in and sign additional documents. 
  5. Once all documents are fully executed by you and your spouse, our office will prepare all required divorce documents and submit them to the court for a Judgment of Divorce. 
  6. Once your papers are submitted to the Court, they will be reviewed and signed by a Judge, this can take approximately three to nine months depending on the County and the Judge. 
  7. Once my office receives notice of the Final Judgment of Divorce, you will be immediately notified that you are legally divorced. 

What happens to the marital home if I get divorced?

In New York, if the marital home was purchased after the parties were married, normally each party would be entitled to fifty percent of the equity of the marital property. However, there are some rare instances when a party may be entitled to a credit for paying the mortgage, maintenance, and taxed for the property after a divorce is filed. 

Often times, one spouse may choose to buy out the other spouses share of the equity and remain in the marital. Some parties, decide to sell the marital home and split the equity. 

In New York and under certain circumstances, Judges may be inclined to allow the custodial parent to remain in the marital home until the minor children graduate High School or for a certain time period. 


What is the difference between "Spousal Support" and "Maintenance"?

In New York, "Spousal Support" is the money paid to one spouse from the other as long as they are married. In New York, you have a duty to support your spouse. If you are married and living apart or separated, you are still obligated to pay spousal support. Claims for spousal support are generally made in the Family Court.

"Maintenance" is the money paid to the ex-spouse once the parties are divorced pursuant to a court order or written agreement. 


What does equitable distribution mean?

New York is an equitable distribution distribution State. This means when a couple divorces, the court must divide their marital property equitably or fairly. This does not necessarily require an equal split of the couple's assets. 

How do I serve my spouse in a divorce action?

In New York, the defendant in the divorce action must be served personally with the Summons & Complaint or the Summons with Notice. To have your spouse served by an alternate method you must have permission from the court. You cannot serve your spouse yourself, you must have another person, over the age of eighteen (18) or a licensed process server serve your spouse with divorce papers. 

Where do I file for a Divorce?

In New York, the Supreme Court of the State of New York is the only court that handles divorce cases. The Supreme Court is located in each county throughout New York City. Generally, parties file in the County in which one or both parties reside.