Where to File For Divorce In New York

December 10, 2013
Louis Sternberg

In New York State, divorce actions are heard by the Supreme Court.  The term “venue” refers to the county in which the divorce will be heard.

CPLR 503 says that the divorce can be brought in the county in which either the Plaintiff or the Defendant resides.  As the Plaintiff is the one who starts the divorce action, the Plaintiff initially chooses the venue.  If a party has residences in multiple counties, that party is deemed to be a resident of all such counties for purposes of determining venue.

In addition to CPLR 503’s right to bring an action for divorce in the county where either the Plaintiff or Defendant resides, CPLR 509 allows for venue in any county chosen by the Plaintiff unless the Defendant objects.

This venue determination is subject to a motion pursuant to CPLR 510 and CPLR 511 seeking a change of venue to some other county.

In 2012, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper criticized the practice of bringing a divorce action in a county other than that of the Plaintiff or Defendant.  In his decision of Castaneda v. Castaneda, Justice Cooper strongly requested that the New York State legislature rewrite these statutes to prevent abuse of CPLR 509.

It is important to understand that when determining venue, the Plaintiff must be very careful.  A wrong decision can result in increased litigation and greatly delay the divorce.