For years, New York residents could only file for dissolution if they could prove some kind of fault. They have to prove marital misconduct by the other party. However, since then, the laws have changed, and now New York residents can also get a divorce by simply claiming irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. When you claim irretrievable breakdown, what you are saying is that you and your spouse do not find it possible to live together anymore in a marital relationship, and want to end the marriage.

New York residents can file for a no-fault divorce, where you do not have to prove that the other person was at fault. However, you must resolve issues like child support, child custody, spousal support as well as division of assets in the divorce. Apart from a no-fault dissolution, you can also seek a dissolution based on any one of the following grounds.

  • One spouse must have abandoned the marriage for a period of at least one year
  • You have been subjected to cruel and inhuman treatment by your spouse
  • Your spouse has committed adultery
  • One spouse has been incarcerated for at least three years after the marriage

However, the laws are different when it is a foreign divorce. Divorce laws are different not only in every country but in almost every local and regional jurisdiction around the globe. In some regions, local customs and cultures govern divorce in ways that may not be formalized by official statutes. With a hodgepodge of laws, treaties, and cultures and utterly no uniformity, how do New York state courts deal with foreign divorces? When a New Yorker divorces in a foreign country, will New York law honor that dissolution? If a dispute emerges, a number of issues will need to be considered, and because no two situations are alike, it’s imperative to have the sound advice and legal guidance of an experienced Peekskill family law attorney.

A number of nations allow their overseas citizens to obtain a dissolution without being physically present. These are called “mail-order” divorces because they can be arranged inexpensively by mail without anyone having to leave the United States. Many states honor mail-order divorces. In New York, however, mail-order divorces are not automatically honored. New York courts will recognize a dissolution granted by a foreign country only if these requirements are met:

  • Each spouse must have adequate notice.
  • At least one spouse must have physically visited the jurisdiction granting the divorce (and usually for a reason related to the divorce proceeding).
  • The responding spouse (that is, the spouse who is not seeking to divorce) must have physically appeared before the court granting the dissolution or else must have signed documents affirming or at least implying recognition of that court’s authority.

New York courts will not validate a foreign dissolution unless all three requirements are satisfied. If you need to have your foreign divorce legally recognized in New York, or if you have any questions or concerns regarding divorce and family law in New York, discuss those matters right away with an experienced Peekskill divorce attorney.

By: Kimberly Pelesz

Family law and criminal defense attorney Kimberly A. Pelesz received a B.S. degree magna cum laude and an M.P.A. degree summa cum laude from Binghamton University. She earned her J.D. from Pace University School of Law in White Plains, where she was selected for Phi Alpha Delta. Her charitable activities include work with My Sisters’ Place in White Plains and the Westchester County District Attorney’s Humane Education Taskforce.

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