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What Legal Documents Do You Need When Filing for Divorce? October 4, 2018

Chelsea, Manhattan
What Legal Documents Do You Need When Filing for Divorce?, Manhattan, New York

Filing for divorce takes more than a single signature on a piece of paper. You and your spouse will have to provide the court with certain legal documents. Knowing the paperwork involved can streamline the process during this stressful time. Since the requirements differ between states, here is a brief guide to the topic for what New York residents.

Paperwork Needed When Filing for Divorce

The first step in filing for divorce is to petition the courts for a dissolution of marriage via a summons. The document includes the reasons for the separation, contact details for both parties, and any terms the petitioning spouse is requesting, like alimony.

The petitioning spouse is the one who fills out and files the summons and is referred to as the plaintiff in a divorce. Further, they must ensure it is “served” to the other spouse—the defendant—within 120 days of the court filing. 

filing for divorceIf you and your spouse have kids together, you must also supply the courts with a Child Support Standards Chart along with the initial summons. The document determines how much they should pay based on factors like the number of children you have and each spouse’s income. 

Legal Documents for a Contested Divorce

When serving the summons, the plaintiff should also provide the “Affidavit of Defendant” form. The defendant must complete this paperwork, signing and sending it back within 40 days—assuming they agree to the divorce.

If your spouse doesn’t want to divorce or disputes any claims—such as how much alimony you request—they need to return an “Affidavit of Service” which confirms they received the paperwork. They can then file a “Notice of Appearance” disagreeing with the divorce papers. At this point, both sides should enlist an attorney to protect their interests. 


Even in cases of an uncontested split, procuring the relevant paperwork and supporting documents when filing for divorce can be overwhelming. We The People of NY offers such document preparation services tailored to your needs and particular situation—for instance, whether you have kids or not. They guide you through the maze of paperwork, ensuring no detail are forgotten. Find out more about this service online. For questions, call (212) 633-2200.

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