The Residency Requirement for Divorce and Family Court Actions

Despite the impression that some high profile cases make, no one can choose which jurisdiction they want their case to be heard without having a significant tie to it. New York, like other states, has enough of its own matters to deal with and does not want to deal with cases in which the parties do not have a significant connection to the state. The practice called ‘Forum Shopping’ is frowned upon. 

Even county shopping, especially between the boroughs of New York City, will not be tolerated. A judge once told my opposing counsel, ‘Brookyn does not want this case, go back to Manhattan.’ The court culture between the different boroughs is so different that when you have started a family court case in one borough you should not be starting a divorce case in another borough. The case must be initiated in the county where the children reside. 

For Divorce Cases, pursuant to Domestic Relations Law Section 230, the following requirements must be met to meet the residency requirements for initiating case in New York: 

  • 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.

For Family Court Proceedings in general the parties and their children should have some significant connection to the State of New York. The child’s last habitual residence should be New York. The child’s permanent residence should be New York. Generally, to establish residence in New York, one must be living in the State for at least one year. 

Despite these rules, certain exigent circumstances could allow a parent to bring family court proceedings in New York regardless. If you are considering whether New York is the proper state in which to bring a divorce or family court action, call Diana Mohyi Attorney at Law to get a proper consultation on the matter.