Uncontested Divorce

What Is an Uncontested Divorce?


An uncontested divorce is one where there are no significant disagreements between the couple on almost all issues. This includes child support, custody, debt allocation, division of property, and spousal maintenance. The divorcing spouses can typically navigate the process relatively quickly and seamlessly. Since they avoid litigating in court, they can move on with their lives sooner and with having spent less money.

The divorce process can be quite lengthy, often resulting in serious stress, huge expenses, and tarnished relationships. For this reason, when dealing with a divorce, it’s in your best interest to have a White Plains, NY Uncontested Divorce Lawyer by your side to help you navigate this difficult period of your life.

If you and your partner are looking to divorce amicably and avoid drawn-out divorce proceedings, you should get in touch with our law office to talk to an experienced lawyer about an uncontested divorce . Just as with all family law matters, an uncontested divorce can be complex, which is why working with an experienced divorce lawyer is critical.


At Douglas Family Law Group, we have a team of accomplished divorce attorneys who can guide and advise you on your best options. Our team is highly experienced in all areas of New York Family law and is committed to making sure you get the best possible results from your divorce.

An uncontested divorce is a divorce process where both partners come to a mutual agreement on nearly all matters regarding the separation of marital assets, responsibilities, and obligations. In other words, both parties have agreed to end the marriage and have settled all of the major issues of the case such as, child custody, property division, and financial support.

Since these issues have been settled, there’s no need to litigate them in court. This makes the divorce process much faster and much less expensive when compared to a contested divorce. In most uncontested divorce cases, a judge will simply sign off on the agreed terms of the divorce and then issue a final decree of divorce.




What Are the Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce?

To be granted an uncontested divorce in New York, you and your spouse have to agree on the “grounds” or the reason for filing a divorce. New York state laws now allow for a “no-fault” divorce. This means you don’t have to claim “fault-based” grounds like abandonment or adultery for divorce.


Agreement on No-Fault Grounds

Previously, New York followed a fault-based system as grounds for divorce. In 2010, new legislation was enacted to allow for no-fault grounds for the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage for at least 6 months before filing for a divorce.

The “irretrievable breakdown of the marriage” refers to a situation where you and your spouse no longer want to be married to each other and there’s no feasible way to work things out.

As long as you have been separated from your spouse for 6 or more months, you can request your White Plains, NY uncontested divorce attorney to claim this basis for a no-fault divorce. This is the most common ground for divorce used in New York. It’s also the most cost-effective approach.



Other Grounds for Divorce

At-fault divorce usually means that one spouse files for divorce alleging that the other partner engaged in one or more of the grounds that would justify the legal dissolution of the marriage under New York Law. Some examples are:

  • Abandonment : A spouse may file for divorce if the other spouse has abandoned him/her for a period of one or more years.
  • Adultery : This is the most common ground for an at-fault divorce, and it involves the claim that a spouse has engaged in sexual contact with another person other than the wife or husband.
  • Imprisonment : Imprisonment is grounds for a divorce if one spouse has been imprisoned for a period of 3 or more consecutive years after the marriage.
  • Inhuman treatment : A spouse may file for divorce on the grounds of inhuman treatment when emotional abuse, physical abuse, and other gross misconduct that negatively impacts the mental or physical well-being of the other spouse has occurred during the marriage.
  • Separation : Spouses can file for divorce on the grounds of a written separation agreement or a separation judgement if they have been staying separate and apart for at least a year. The spouses may have to prove that they have been fulfilling all the terms and condidtions of their separation agreement.

Agreement on Major Issues

You can file for an uncontested divorce in New York when you and your spouse qualify some of the following elements:

  • You or your partner must have been living in New York for at least 2 continuous years immediately before you filed for divorce.
  • You and your spouse were married in New York or lived in New York as a married couple following the outlines set by the “residency requirements” law in New York.
  • The grounds for your divorce took place in New York

Our experienced attorneys can help determine if you qualify for a New York divorce during your consultation. Even if you do not qualify for a divorce in NY or CT, you will receive valuable legal insight from the top authorities in divorce and family law.

Uncontested divorce proceedings work for spouses that can agree on the major issues that will be included in the settlement. Some of these main points are:

  • Spousal maintenance
  • Child custody schedules
  • Child support
  • Allocation of assets
  • Allocation of debts


How Do You Get an Uncontested Divorce?

While an uncontested divorce in New York tends to be quicker and less expensive than a contested divorce, it can still be a long and tedious process. It involves a lot of paperwork, negotiations, and complications. Fortunately, a lawyer can help guide you through filing the necessary paperwork, negotiations, and all the proper steps.

You and your partner must sign the agreement in front of a notary, file it in the proper court, and then live apart according to the terms of the agreement for at least a year before filing for the divorce. If you’re filing for a no-fault divorce, you don’t have to write a separation agreement.



Fill and Submit the Proper Paperwork

For uncontested divorces in New York, you need to file forms such as the Uniform Uncontested Divorce Packet. Many of these forms can be quite complex, and we believe working with an attorney is your best bet to be properly prepared.

If you choose to file the forms on your own, remember to ask the court to keep your address confidential. This is particularly important if handling domestic violence. The County Clerk office should be able to help you with this. 

It is important to remember that filing for divorce comes with some filing fees. For instance, you will have to buy an “index number” at your local county clerk’s office. If you cannot afford the fees, speak with the County Clerk’s office to understand your options. You may be able to waive the fees.



Send the Forms to Your Spouse

You have to send copies of the completed paperwork to your ex-spouse, as well as an Affidavit of the Defendant. Once your ex-spouse signs this Affidavit, the case will move forward.

File With the County Clerk


The next step is to file the completed paperwork, including the Affidavit of Defendant and the Affidavit of Service at your local County Clerk’s office. This should ideally be the same county where you bought the index number. In some counties, you get the option to file online.



If your spouse fails to return the signed Affidavit of Defendant to you, then you may have to serve them, which means that someone other than you will have to hand over the papers to the spouse. The person who serves your spouse will also have to fill out an Affidavit of Service.



Finalize the Divorce

If you and your spouse remain in agreement, there will most likely be minimal back and forth between each side and their representation. Once the details are ironed out and agreed upon, the parties will sign off on the proposed settlement.

The judge will then review your documents, and if they are approved, he/she will sign the Judgement of Divorce. Once the judge has signed the Judgment of Divorce, you will have to enter and file it with the County Clerk’s Office. This process will differ based on the county where you file, so be sure to ask the County Clerk in your county for specific instructions.

The first step is establishing that you have a legally acceptable reason (grounds) to file for divorce. For instance, if you’re filing for divorce following a separation agreement, you must ensure that you have a written agreement that meets the legal requirements.


Finally, you need to serve a copy of the signed Judgment of Divorce to your ex-partner, as well as a completed Notice of Entry.

It’s worth noting that if you are served with divorce papers by your partner and you don’t agree with the terms that they are asking for in the divorce, you can contest the divorce by filing a Notice of Appearance in court within 20 days of the service. You can also hire a lawyer to do this for you. The Notice of Appearance essentially informs the court that you intend to participate in the divorce proceedings.




What Are the Differences Between a Contested and an Uncontested Divorce?

Time to Finalize

Perhaps the most significant difference between a contested and an uncontested divorce is the cost and time involved in the legal process. Those going through a contested divorce will be more likely to spend more money and time on attorney fees and expert witnesses. This is because the court will be required to evaluate evidence and make decisions for the parties. The court appearances and collection of materials for a trial involve large amounts of preparation and appearance time from each attorney.

Time is a key difference between contested and uncontested divorces. Uncontested divorces typically have a shorter lifespan than contested divorces. Regardless, the term “quick” should not be associated with any divorce. Even “simple” matters can quickly become complicated, bringing extended negotiations and settlement proposals. An uncontested divorce will most-likely not require discovery, a trial, or other time-consuming legal processes, unlike a Contested Divorce. This means that the legal fees will be much less in comparison. There are also some factors outside of a litigator’s control. The courthouses and counties in which the divorce actions are occurring can play a factor in the speed of resolving a divorce matter.



Another major difference between the two types of divorces is the extent to which an outcome is appealable. In uncontested divorces, both parties consent to the arrangement, meaning that the divorce settlement terms are not appealable. Since both parties will have come to an agreement on the terms of their divorce, it is more likely that both sides will be comfortable with the outcome of the proceedings. Nevertheless, this does not necessarily mean the parties get stuck with the agreement forever.


When case circumstances change significantly, or a given period of time has passed, you may be allowed to modify the agreement. 




In contested divorces, the spouses have failed to come to an agreement. Therefore, the judge will be ultimately responsible for making the decisions for the couple. This means that the judge may prioritize some matters over others, and this will not necessarily align with your priorities as a couple.


For instance, it might be important for one spouse to keep their house, while the other prefers to keep their car. But the judge can order the house to be sold and the car to go to the other spouse, if they deem it appropriate. Therefore, the more control the couple has over the divorce process, the more likely they will reach an agreement that aligns more with their interests.


Although there are major benefits to an uncontested divorce, it may not always be possible to reach an agreement on important matters with your spouse. Spouses are not required to come to agreements on their own. Therefore, it is imperative that you hire an experienced attorney who can push for an agreement on your terms, even when it is in the hands of the judge.




Do I Need an Attorney for an Uncontested Divorce?


An uncontested divorce generally works well when couples can communicate with each other and negotiate in good faith. Nonetheless, it’s never a good idea to sit down at the kitchen table and draw up your divorce settlement, or to trust your partner’s attorney to draw up a fair agreement without an independent review by your lawyer.


Don’t forget that the divorce judgement will be permanent and enforceable by law. For this reason, you should ensure that all interests are well represented throughout the divorce process. Don’t assume that if the agreement proves unworkable or unfair, you can simply revise is whenever you want.


Courts will not make changes or annul a finalized divorce agreement unless you can prove extreme measures, such as duress, fraud, or mistake of fact. A lawyer can help you prevent needing to go back and revise your divorce judgement by accurately defending your wants and needs throughout the settlement process of an uncontested divorce.


If you choose to work with the team at Douglas Family Law Group, you can be certain that you will be getting superior advice on your proposed settlement. You will have a clear understanding of exactly what you are signing off on. We will also ensure that you complete the required paperwork correctly and submit all documentation on time.




Litigation vs. Mediation


If you are having trouble communicating with your ex-partner or are yet to iron out some issues, you can participate in mediation to resolve these issues.


Mediation is a voluntary process in which a neutral third party facilitates communication between both parties in the hopes of reaching an agreement.


It is a common method for amicable spouses to reach an agreement without having to retain separate attorneys. While our attorneys are experienced litigators, we also have certified mediators that can help facilitate a smooth uncontested divorce settlement.


Once the spouses agree on the terms of the divorce, the mediator will essentially draft an agreement that will be presented to the court. The judge will then sign it into a divorce order. In case either party disagrees with a contested issue, the mediator will then step out and advise the parties to seek representation in court. In the event this occurs, the parties will have to start their settlement proposal over.




Talk to a White Plains, NY Divorce Lawyer About Your Divorce


If you and your spouse are in alignment and are looking to get relatively quick and convenient results, an uncontested lawyer can help. We understand that New York divorce laws can seem intimidating even when you are on the same page about key divorce issues, but we are here to help.


The decision to file for divorce is life-changing and emotionally draining. All aspects of your family and personal life will be affected. This makes it imperative to find excellent representation to help you write the next chapter of your life on your terms.


Douglas Family Law Group is here to help you as you embark on this journey. Our expert lawyers and support staff will deliver you the best possible advice and results for your matter. We also have a strong network of resources to help you rebuild/start over.


Call us at 914.615.9058 today to schedule your initial consultation and get started on creating your new future.




50 Main Street Suite 935

White Plains, New York


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