The Supreme Court of the State of New York is the only court that handles divorce cases, and a Supreme Court judge is the only person who can legally grant a divorce. You cannot get a divorce in Family Court.

Although Family Court cannot give you a divorce, you can go to your local Family Court for help with child support, child custody, child visitation, spousal support (also known as spousal maintenance), and paternity matters. Family Court in New York is where unmarried persons with issues pertaining to child support, custody, paternity, and child visitation can go to seek relief. Family Court can also in some cases have the ability to modify/enforce Orders and Judgments from the Divorce.

A few more facts about attaining a Divorce in New York State from the New York State Unified Court System

New York State does not recognize common law marriage except in certain situations.

If you think you have a common law marriage, get more information from a lawyer or the court before filing for a divorce.

Divorces can be uncontested or contested.

An uncontested divorce is one where the spouse (the husband or wife) doesn’t argue with any aspect of the divorce. In some cases, the two spouses have a settlement agreement with the details of what was worked out.

If the spouse does not agree to the divorce, the divorce is a contested divorce. The spouse could disagree with how the property will be divided, child custody, or even the divorce itself. These kind of divorce cases can be very complicated so get more information from a lawyer or the court before filing for a divorce.

Before a Judge will sign the Judgment, all financial and parenting issues must be worked out.

If you have financial or parenting issues to work out with your spouse, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) may be a way to do it. ADR refers to a variety of processes where the two side work together to find a solution.

ADR takes place out of court and can help you save time and money and is less stressful that traditional court proceedings. There are different kinds of ADR processes. Divorce mediationand collaborative family law are two kinds of ADR processes.

ADR may not be an option for you if there is a history or fear of domestic violence or abuse.

You must meet the residency requirement and have a legally acceptable reason to get divorced in New York State.

In New York, there are residency requirements that shows that you or your spouse have lived in New York State for a certain amount of time.

You must also prove that you have grounds, a legally acceptable reason, to get divorced.

You must know where your spouse is.

New York State requires that the court papers for the divorce are personally delivered to the Defendant, your husband or wife. If you don’t know where your spouse is, ask the Supreme Court Clerk’s Office for more information about alternative service.

For more information or to speak with an attorney specializing in Family and Divorce Law and Child Custody, contact Vanessa Gabriele at  or call 716.856.1344.