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Requirements for Legal Separation in New York

Requirements for Legal Separation in New York

To get a divorce in NY, the requirements for legal separation in New York hinge on length of state and county residency and also include waiting periods. In New York your divorce can be either fault, or no-fault” grounds, or you can base the dissolution on spouses being separated for at least 12 months (either through a judgment or mutual agreement).

New York added no-fault divorces for the first time in 2010 and was the last state to do this, prior to that, parties to an uncontested divorce would agree to choose a fault in order to finalize the process.

What are the Legal Grounds for Divorce in New York?

In addition to a no-fault divorce, New York also allows a divorce if one of the parties is able to prove one of the following causes (or faults) listed below:

  • Cruel and inhumane treatment
  • Abandonment for at least a year (continuously)
  • Three years or more of incarceration
  • Adultery

The following table outlines the basic requirements for legal separation in New York.

Code Section     Dom. Rel. §§170, 171, 202, 230, 231

Residency Requirements:

Were married in state or reside in state as husband and wife and either party has been resident 1 yr. before commencing suit; cause occurred in New York and both parties are resident at commencement of suit; either has been resident for 2 yrs.

  • Waiting Period –  none
  • ‘No Fault’ Grounds for Divorce – Separation (1 yr. or more).
  • Defenses to a Divorce Filing – Adultery: Offense committed with plaintiff’s connivance; offense forgiven (shown affirmatively, by voluntary cohabitation, or by no action commenced within 5 yrs. of discovery of offense); plaintiff also guilty of adultery; defendant may set up misconduct of plaintiff as justification.


Other Grounds for Divorce:

  • Adultery
  • Cruel and inhuman treatment.
  • Abandonment (for 1 or more years).
  • Imprisonment of defendant for 3 or more consecutive years.
  • Lived apart for 1 or more yrs.


If you have any specific questions please contact our New York office website at


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