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Requirements for a Divorce in New York if You’re Married Abroad

married abroad divorce long island

New York is one of the states in the US that allows couples to file for divorce if they were married abroad. Not just anyone can get divorced in the Big Apple, however. Only couples who meet the residency requirement and can establish grounds can file a divorce petition. As long as you have been married for six months you will able to use the no fault ground.

Requirements for Divorce in Long Island

Couples who married abroad, regardless of their nationality or immigration status, can file for divorce in Long Island, New York if they meet these conditions:

  1. Residency

One or both parties must be a resident of New York in order to file for divorce. The court acknowledges this requirement as fulfilled if:

  • One spouse lived in NY continuously for at least two years before starting the divorce proceedings.
  • One spouse lived in NY continuously for at least one year before starting the divorce proceedings, and any of these is met:
    • The marriage must be a legal and valid marriage.
    • The couple was married in NY.
    • The couple lived in NY as a married couple.
    • The grounds for divorce occurred in NY.
    • Both are residents of NY on the day the divorce proceedings started, and the grounds for divorce occurred in NY.
  1. Grounds

New York Supreme Court, the only court that hears divorce cases, accepts any of these seven grounds or legally acceptable reasons for filing a divorce:

  • Irretrievable breakdown of the relationship – The marriage has ended, for all intents and purposes, for at least six months. All agreements regarding wealth, custody, and debts are already settled.
  • Cruel and inhumane treatment – This refers to acts of cruelty that put a spouse in physical or mental danger and must have happened in the last five years of marriage.
  • Abandonment – The spouse has physically abandoned the plaintiff (the one who files the divorce) for at least one year. There are also other forms of abandonment about which an experienced New York divorce attorney can discuss in-depth with the plaintiff.
  • Imprisonment – If a spouse has been in jail three or more consecutive years after the marriage started. Plaintiffs can file for divorce while the defendant is incarcerated, or up to five years after the latter’s release.
  • Adultery – The plaintiff must present evidence provided by a third-party that the defendant committed adultery during their marriage.
  • Divorce after a legal separation – This requires a signed separation agreement and for both parties to live apart for one year.
  • Divorce after a judgment of separation – This requires a judgment of separation from the Supreme Court and for both parties to live apart for one year.

On Nationalities, Domiciles, and Comity

To reiterate, as long as the requirements on residency and grounds are met, people may file for divorce in NY State even if they were married abroad. This includes couples wherein:

  • Both are American citizens.
  • Both are foreign nationals.
  • Only one is an American citizen.

The qualifications for residency also means that these couples may file for divorce in NY State if:

  • Both are currently living in NY.
  • Both are living abroad (at least one of the couple must be domiciled in NY, i.e., maintains a house, owns properties, has bank accounts and credit cards, is a registered voter, and has close family members in New York).
  • Only one is currently living in NY.

Keep in mind that residency is a key requirement. Even if both parties are Americans and had their marriage registered in New York (e.g., had an out-of-town wedding or got married while on vacation in NY), they cannot file for divorce in the state if neither had ever lived in the state.

Lastly, divorcing couples, wherein one or both are foreign nationals, must first find out if their home country will recognize a foreign judgment of divorce (in this case, an New York divorce judgment). Otherwise, their efforts in filing for divorce in New York will be for nothing.