Residency Requirements

There are a few ways to meet the residency requirement for divorce in New York State:


  • Either you or your spouse have been living in New York State continuously for at least two years before the divorce case is started;
  • Either you or your spouse have been living in New York State continuously for at least one year before the divorce case is started and (1) you got married in New York State, or (2) you lived in New York State as a married couple, or (3) the grounds for your divorce happened in New York State;
  • Both you and your spouse are residents of New York State on the day the divorce is started and the grounds for your divorce happened in New York State.

Residing "continuously" in the state does not mean that the party can not have left the state during the period of residency nor does it mean that the party does not have another residence elsewhere outside New York.

Personal Jurisdiction

It is important to realize that even if one of the above residency requirements is met it may still not be possible to get the relief you are seeking in a New York Court. Meeting one of the residency requirements merely means that you can file an action for and get divorced. Usually, a party to a divorce is seeking other relief as well, including support and maintenance. To get this additional relief, such as division of marital assets, etc., it is necessary that the New York court also have personal jurisdiction over the non-resident spouse. A New York court can acquire personal jurisdiction in any one of the following ways:

  • By serving process, usually meaning proper hand delivery of the summons with notice or a summons and complaint by a process server, upon the non-resident defendant while he or she is in New York.
  • By consent, either express or implied. Thus, the non-resident spouse can agree to appear for a divorce action in New York or can sufficiently imply that agreement and the Court will acquire jurisdiction.
  • If the defendant spouse lives in New York but has left the State and is properly served process wherever they happen to be.
  • If the defendant spouse lives in New York they can also be served through substituted service or publication. This is done when the spouse lives in New York but refuses to open the door; the summons and complaint can be taped to their door; or, if they cannot be found, in some instances, a notice can be published in the newspaper.
  • If the defendant spouse has had recent substantial connections to New York, or if this State was the matrimonial residence or if the defendant spouse abandoned the plaintiff in New York, the Court may acquire what is called “long-arm” personal jurisdiction over the defendant, under section 302(b) of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules, through proper service out of state.