Getting divorced in New York City

Finding a compatible attorney can be a Godsend in one of life’s most grievous events

April  18, 2011

[Note: Also see “Divorce in New York State“]

By Mike Hinshaw

If you’re considering divorce, you need to consider retaining a trained, experienced attorney, even if you and your spouse are hoping for an uncontested divorce.

Although true that New York City residents may qualify for free or reduced-cost alternative dispute resolution, at the very least, the plaintiff (the one suing for divorce) needs to have the case handled by an attorney well versed in New York State law.

Mediation not available when domestic violence, child abuse, missing spouse involved

According to this page at New York courts’ Web site, “If you live in New York City, you may be eligible for a limited number of free or reduced-fee divorce mediation or collaborative family law sessions.  Please note that these processes are not appropriate in cases involving domestic violence, child abuse, or where one spouse cannot locate the other.  For more information, send an email to collablaw@courts.state.ny.us .”

That page also discusses free court-provided “Family Counseling and Case Analysts” who can help couples who already have an divorce case and need help sorting out parenting issue.

Variety of services, resources listed

According to this page, “New York City Family Court offers free mediation services in parenting issues in custody and visitation cases and child protective cases, and child permanency issues in child protective cases. For more information on these Family Court based mediation programs, contact Catherine Friedman, Esq., NYC Family Court Citywide ADR Coordinator.”

That same page also lists the contact info for the following:

  • Bronx Family Court
  • Kings Family Court
  • New York Family Court
  • Queens Family Court
  • Richmond Family Court

Attorney(s) can help resolve many complex, emotional issues

Unfortunately, many couples who begin the divorce process thinking they will have an “amiable divorce” often find that ending the marriage introduces too many emotional, painful questions for them to work through on their own. This  may be because children are involved or because the couple has acquired significantly valuable–or sentimentally valuable–assets during the course of the marriage. If infidelity is involved, trying to resolve all the possible concerns without legal help may transform the proceedings into a powder-keg situation.

Another painful problem can be that one member of the couple is ready to leave the marriage but the other partner is not. Counseling can help, certainly, but often the one who has conceded that the relationship is over may well have already “left the marriage” in emotional terms–while the other party has yet to begin grieving. Often, the former will have to be the one who seeks out the attorney, which may trigger the latter to follow suit.


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