Uncontested Divorce FAQs

Obtaining a divorce can be very stressful and complicated, as it involves the completion, filing and service of multiple legal forms.

Even if your divorce is “uncontested,” meaning your spouse agrees to the divorce, it’s always a good idea to consult with an attorney to ensure your legal rights are protected.

If you’d like to proceed without legal representation, the New York State Unified Court System offers DIY Forms and Instructions to help you navigate the process. 

NOTE: The Broome County Clerk’s Office does not have printed Divorce Packets for customer use.  They are available on NYCourts.gov for download – read on for direct links.

 

WHERE DO I BEGIN?

It depends on the circumstances of your case.  Is your divorce contested or uncontested?  Are their children involved?  Do you have a settlement agreement stipulating the terms of your divorce, such as the division of your marital property and debts, spousal support/maintenance, custody, visitation and child support?

If you and your spouse still have financial or parenting issues to work out, it’s recommended that you seek the services of a mediator to help you negotiate a settlement agreement prior to filing for divorce.   

The New York State Unified Court System partners with local non-profit organizations, known as Community Dispute Resolution Centers (CDRC) to provide mediation, arbitration and other dispute resolution options as an alternative to court.  The CDRC in Broome County is:

ACCORD, A Center for Dispute Resolution, Inc.
350 State St.
Binghamton, NY 13901
(607) 724-5153

A judge will not sign off on your divorce until these terms are established and agreed upon.

If your divorce is contested, please consult with a licensed attorney.  Low-income residents should call The Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York’s Binghamton Office at (607) 231-5900 to see if they qualify for their pro-bono legal services.

The following information only pertains to uncontested divorce matters.

 

Joint Uncontested Divorce Pilot Program Packet

Broome County is participating in a pilot program to streamline joint uncontested divorce matters.

If your relationship is irretrievably broken AND you and your spouse agree on all terms of the divorce and intend to file pro-se (without an attorney), you can now file your paperwork jointly, instead of one spouse filing for divorce against the other.

This is the quickest option and is best suited for uncomplicated matrimonial cases.

There are separate forms for parties with and without children.

For more info, forms and instructions, please visit www.nycourts.gov/LegacyPDFS/courts/9jd/Matrimonial/UncontestedDivorcePacketPilot.pdf.

 

Traditional Uncontested Divorce Packets:

If you’re filing for divorce against your spouse, you should use the NYS Unified Court System’s DIY Uncontested Divorce Forms and Instructions below: 

For more information, visit www.nycourts.gov/courthelp/family/divorceStarting.shtml.

 

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

When all is said and done, it will cost approximately $350 to file a divorce pro-se (without legal representation).  

           

WHAT IF I CAN’T AFFORD THE FILING FEES?

If you have extreme financial hardship and are unable to pay the filing fees, you can apply for a fee waiver by filing an Affidavit to Proceed as a Poor Person.  The Judge will determine if you meet the qualifications.  

Alternatively, you could try calling The Legal Aid Society of Mid-New York’s Binghamton Office at (607) 231-5900 to see if you qualify for their pro-bono legal services.

 

WHAT ARE GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE IN NEW YORK STATE?

To file for divorce in New York State you must have a legally acceptable reason.

Under §170 of the NYS Domestic Relations Law, there are 7 legally acceptable grounds for divorce in New York:

  • DRL §170 (7) irretrievable breakdown in relationship for a period at least 6 months (commonly known as “no-fault divorce”);
  • DRL §170 (1) cruel and inhuman treatment;
  • DRL §170 (2) abandonment;
  • DRL §170 (3) imprisonment;
  • DRL §170 (4) adultery;
  • DRL §170 (5) living separate and apart pursuant to a separation judgment or decree;
  • DRL §170 (6) living separate and apart pursuant to a separation agreement.

 

HOW DO I START THE DIVORCE ACTION?

To start the action, you need to file:

An Application for Index Number ($210 filing fee), along with Summons with Notice (Form UD-1) or a Summons and Verified Complaint (Form UD-1a and Form UD-2).

  • These are your initiating papers.
  • On the Application for Index Number, you will need to:
  1. Fill in the caption:

TITLE OF ACTION OR PROCEEDING

____________________________

                              Plaintiff’s Name (You)

                                            vs.

                       Defendant’s Name (Your Spouse)

 

  1. Check the box next to Matrimonial Matters.
  • Prepare 1 original + 2 copies of your Summons with Notice or Summons and Verified Complaint prior to visiting the Broome County Clerk’s Office.
    • We will Receive stamp your copies.  You should keep one for your records and you will need to serve one stamped copy to the Defendant. Be sure to write the Index Number on your copies as well.
  • The forms must be typed or legibly printed in BLACK ink.
  • You can file in the county where you or your spouse live.

After your Application for Index Number is filed, an “Index Number” will be assigned to your case. 

  • This number must be written on all of your divorce papers moving forward, including the stamped copies you serve to the Defendant.

 

HOW DO I SERVE THE DEFENDANT WITH DIVORCE PAPERS?

New York State law requires court papers for divorce to be personally handed delivered to the Defendant, but the Plaintiff can’t do this themselves. 

  • Someone else must hand-deliver the papers on the Plaintiff’s behalf.
  • The papers must be served within 120 days from the date the papers were filed in the Broome County Clerk's Office.
  • The person who serves the papers must be at least 18 years old.
  • If the papers are being served somewhere in New York State, the person who serves the papers must be a New York State resident.
  • If the papers are being served outside of New York State, the person can be a New York State resident or be able to serve papers according to the law of that state.

The Defendant should be served with 1 copy of the:

If the Defendant agrees to the Divorce, he or she should also be served with an Affidavit of Defendant (Form UD-7)

 

If the Defendant will not agree to complete and return the Affidavit of Defendant, the person who served the papers to the Defendant must fill out an Affidavit of Service (Form UD-3) attesting that the documents were served. 

The Plaintiff must then file the notarized Affidavit of Service in the Broome County Clerk’s Office.

 

If you don't know where your spouse resides, ask the Supreme Court Clerk's Office (607-240-5800) for more information about alternative service.

For more information, please follow the Court Administration’s step-by-step instructions at www.nycourts.gov/LegacyPDFS/courts/11jd/supreme/civilterm/CH-FORMS/Divorce-Packet-Instructions.pdf.   

 

 

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER I FILE MY INITIATING PAPERS AND SERVE THE DEFENDANT?

You must complete Forms UD-3 through UD-12 (if applicable) and file a completed Request for Judicial Intervention (Form UD-13) in the Broome County Clerk’s Office.

After the signed Judgment of Divorce is filed, you must also file a completed Certificate of Dissolution of Marriage (Form DOH 2168):

For more information, please follow the Court Administration’s step-by-step instructions at www.nycourts.gov/LegacyPDFS/courts/11jd/supreme/civilterm/CH-FORMS/Divorce-Packet-Instructions.pdf

Additional court forms are downloadable at www.nycourts.gov/LegacyPDFS/divorce/COMPOSITE-UNCONTESTED-DIVORCE-FORMS.pdf and http://ww2.nycourts.gov/divorce/divorce_withchildrenunder21.shtml

 

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO FINALIZE A DIVORCE?

It varies from case to case and judge to judge. 

Complicated, contested divorces can drag out for years.  It’s best to consult with a divorce attorney for help with these matters. 

On the flipside, we’ve seen some simpler cases move through the court system in less than 2 months. 

It really depends on how organized you are, how complicated your case is and the Judge’s caseload.