Filing for divorce in NY?
Here’s how to file in NY, Queens, Kings or Bronx Counties (NYC)
The New York city courts have not accepted new divorce filings since Gov. Cuomo issued his first “Pause” order back in March. Presently, no new cases can be commenced until May 15. This date will likely be pushed back again, making this an ever-changing landscape in a time of great uncertainty.
If you were already in the divorce process your lawyer can file non-emergency motions (as of April 16), but the courts have discretion on whether the judge will hear them. Emergencies like custody/access disputes, domestic violence, and abuse and neglect are still being given priority. Judges are also able to decide fully-submitted motions (depending on the individual judge – remember judges are people too and they are dealing with their own work/life issues). If you have a court appearance scheduled this week or later, courts are emailing attorneys to schedule virtual appearances. I have three appearances this week! So things are shifting for the better, but we are still slowly moving towards that progress.
My best advice right now is to either have your attorney start aggressively preparing for litigation that will happen once the court restrictions start lifting, or otherwise pursuing ways to settle the issues in your case. If you are able to get into a full settlement right now, that will still be valid once courts are able to receive the agreement – and that could be a fast-track to ending your divorce once the courts are fully open.
If you are starting or wanting to start a case right now, use the time to prepare by getting familiar with all the finances, gathering financial documents, and having some preliminary discussions with your spouse about things you may be able to agree on. It is entirely possible to “start” a divorce by virtually seeing a mediator with your spouse, working out the issues of the marriage and coming to a full settlement, at which point getting the divorce judgment is more a ministerial act (a mere formality).