Is a One-Day Divorce Possible in New York?

Is a One-Day Divorce Possible in New York?

We thought we’d start our year of blogging by sharing some information with you on a potential divorce trend: the one-day divorce.

There are many flat rate online divorce services in New York. You’ve probably seen the ads online: “Get your quick NY divorce for only $99.00!” At Keil & Siegel we are often called upon to correct the errors and omissions of companies in charge of preparing documents.  Largely, documents are drafted by paralegals without the requisite experience to understand the laws regarding child support and equitable distribution.  It is not unusual for these services to miss the mark on court requirements. The result? The divorce process takes twice as long as it should have, had it been done correctly from day one. The errors can produce frustration, delay and an increase in animosity between parties.

What “fast divorce” companies commonly fail to reveal is that absent an emergency sworn affidavit (no, the court does not consider remarriage and taxes an emergency) there really is no way to speed up the divorce process in New York.  Once accurate papers are filed with the court, from there, and depending on the county of filing, it can take several months to conclude the divorce in the court system. The delay occurs even under circumstances where the parties are in complete agreement!  How long it takes ultimately depends on how many other cases are on the docket and how many judges are available to review them. It’s really anybody’s guess.

But are these days of the “waiting game” in New York numbered? A new program has caught on in at least two California counties whereby pre-qualified litigants proceed to court in the morning and walk out with a divorce judgment in the afternoon that very same day. The couple first meets with a neutral coordinator (who offers no opinion on the merits or advice to either side) to confirm that the paperwork is in order, and then they go before a judge. Assuming all is in order, the day ends with a divorce judgment in each party’s hand.

The no-fault divorce trend started in California and has now been implemented in all fifty states, including New York in 2010.  Prior to that time New Yorkers often had to contrive a basis (e.g., cruelty or abandonment) in order to get divorced.  Further, couples had to submit sworn affidavits explaining the turn of events surrounding such behavior.  Prior to 2010, it was the attorney’s task to assist the client in deciding which of these fault grounds best applied.  Now, just five years later, thanks to the California legislature, this approach seems outdated and archaic. Could the one-day divorce be next?

At Keil & Siegel we do our best to file our clients’ papers expeditiously and to perfection.  Nevertheless, because of the court delays, we are forced to caution that once the paperwork is in the court’s hands, we can only estimate how long the processing will take.

In applicable cases, what a pleasure it would be to advise clients that they have the option of a one-day divorce program! Let’s hope 2015 is our year!

What do you think? Will one-day divorce take hold in New York? Leave your comment below.

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