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Don't delay your divorce filing; the NY courts are already behind

Once you begin your divorce, you want it to complete as soon as possible. You do not want to have to live in a limbo of no longer being a couple, but not being fully separate. You know, even if you have a low-conflict, uncontested divorce, there will be some time for the administrative process your settlement and grant you your divorce, but you hope it will be done quickly so you can get on with your life.

Unfortunately, for many in New York, their hopes for a quick end to their divorce are unlikely to be met. Two events have occurred recently that have slowed the process. This, in turn, has led to backlogs in many parts of New York, with Manhattan and Queens seeing the largest delays. Last year, Manhattan alone had 1,082 marriage dissolution cases awaiting resolution. Queens was close behind with 1,077.

The first change that led to the increase in cases was the implementing of no-fault divorce in New York back in 2010. This has made it easier to file a divorce, because parties no long need to prove grounds for the divorce, such as adultery or cruelty. That evidence often required testimony from family members and the general acrimony of the process may have led to some people not filing.

The no-fault law change also occurred in the aftermath of the Great Recession and the economic slowdown that followed meant government, including the courts, were faced with budget cuts and loss of resources.

Fewer judges and leaner courts mean there are fewer people to do the work, and so it backs up. It will likely take the addition of more judges and more support staff to clear out the backlog and move the cases along more quickly.

While uncontested cases may be given the lowest priority, the less contentious your case and the more quickly you can reach a settlement with the other party, the faster you will be able to receive your final divorce order. If you have to return to court repeatedly for hearings to resolve disputes, your delay will only become worse.

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Phillip J. Jusino & Associates, P.c.

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Divorce: a Practical Guide

Divorce: A Practical Guide

Attorney Jusino’s new book on divorce is an easy read and full of valuable information. Learn More