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What are the New York Divorce Residency Requirements?

You thought your marriage would last. There was every hope, every promise that you and your spouse would make a joyous and pleasant life together. But things did not work out that way. Since your move to New York the love and partnership has gone into a steady and irrevocable decline. All attempts to reconcile, resolve the stark differences between you, and re-build what you once had have failed. The only option left is divorce.

Dissolving is costly financially and emotionally. The latter is especially hard to deal with. However, you cannot allow your frustrations and the intensity of your feelings to interfere with the monitoring of your interests. It is important to gather the facts about divorce law in New York State before making any decisive move toward this action.

If you know that your marriage is over, and you are aware that your spouse holds the same view, you proceed very carefully in your dealings with them—until the divorce settlement has actually gone through. Anything that you say or do can be used against you when it comes down to the division of assets and the custody of your children. So, the first thing you ought to find out is whether you meet the New York residency requirement for getting a divorce.

This is not a minor issue, and many married persons not born in New York assume, wrongfully, that they can get a divorce at any time and for any reason after they moved to the state.

To get a divorce in the state of New York a couple must meet one of three general residency requirements. These requirements have been established to ensure the persons involved in the matrimonial action have sufficient ties to the state.

Please note that the following requirements are guidelines as to whether you have a valid course of action. There are exceptions and special circumstances that may also allow you to initiate a divorce. It is best to speak with an attorney in order to get a fuller picture of your legal options.
The requirements are:

1. The parties were married in New York, and either party lived in New York for one year prior to filing.

Residency is met under this section if either party has resided in New York one year prior to filing for divorce. It may be the case that your partner moved to New York, and that you and your children moved some time later to join them. If your spouse has lived in New York for a year or more and you have lived in the state for less than a year, then you meet the residency requirement and you can initiate the divorce.

You should also keep in mind that you need not have lived together in the same home during the time you have been in the state. The fact that you are married counts toward the residency requirement.

2. The cause of action occurred in New York, and both parties live in New York at the time of filing.

This requirement does not demand a specific length of residency. Its primary stipulation is that both parties live in New York at the time of filing and that the cause of action for divorce be one that occurred in New York. The main purpose of the law is to allow divorce on the grounds of adultery, cruel and inhumane treatment, and other such violations of the marriage contract.

3. Either party has lived in New York for two years or more prior to filing.

This allows for a divorce action when the marriage took place outside of New York, the couple never lived in New York, and the cause for the dissolution of the marriage occurred outside of the state. If you or your spouse has lived in New York for two years, whether still married or legally separated, you can file for divorce in the state of New York under this section.

It must also be noted that few New York divorce laws have been updated to reflect the extension of marriage rights to same-sex couples. Laws and regulations that contain the words “husband and wife” do not apply exclusively to heterosexual couples. If you are in a same-sex marriage, with or without children or other dependents, and are looking at options for divorce you should know that the law as currently written applies to you in every way.

The importance of consulting with a divorce lawyer should also be stressed. Among the many purposes of law is a systematic attempt to bring clarity to confused, ambiguous, and uncertain situations. You may be in circumstances that are not covered in any of the residency requirements described in this article. A lawyer will possess the knowledge, insight, and experience to delve deeper into the various sub-sections of these requirements to give you a better understanding of where you stand and what your options are.