The last few months have been tough. Over the Holidays, the constant bickering and fighting with your spouse put additional strain on your already rocky relationship. The calm of January may have lulled you into believing you were back on solid ground. But then the verbal blow-up at the restaurant over Valentine’s Day dinner led to the big talk – that dreaded conversation about divorce.

The foundation of your family is crumbing. Both you and your spouse agree it will be best for everyone to file for divorce.

As small a comfort as it may be, please understand you are not alone. According to a recent study, there is a huge spike in divorce filings from January to March with a 40 percent increase in divorce filings the first few days after Valentine’s Day.

So, how does one begin the divorce process? How do you file for divorce in New York? Let’s take a look.

You will need to satisfy the State’s residency requirement for divorce. This could require that:

  • You and your spouse were married in New York State, and
  • You and your spouse lived in New York State while you were married, and
  • You and your spouse were residents of New York State the day the divorce was initiated, and
  • The grounds for your divorce occurred in New York State

A divorce dissolves your marriage and the financial rights and obligations of you and your spouse will be decided by equitable means. Also, custody and access schedules for your minor children will need to be resolved. This means you will need to prepare the documentation necessary to:

  • Divide your property, real estate, finances and valuables
  • Divide your debts, loans, credit card and tax debts
  • Determine your parenting, support and custody obligations (if you have minor children)

If you meet all of the grounds and residency requirements, you can pursue a divorce in New York State. Your divorce may be able to proceed uncontested if both parties are in agreement about how to divide everything, or if one spouse is absent and defaults. However, if you have disagreements concerning your rights, obligations or children, it might be better to pursue a contested divorce that goes to a judge – a neutral third person, not caught in the emotional tangles.

No matter what your situation is, no matter how you feel about it right now, facing facts is courageous. You may consider consulting an attorney with experience in divorces to help you navigate the divorce process. They can help you understand your options as you take the first step toward rebuilding your life.

And remember, although it may be the end of your marriage, it can also be the beginning of your own happily ever after.