New York County Supreme Court Justice Matthew F. Cooper reports in a May, 2012 decision that for 2010, 23% of New York State’s divorce action were commenced in Manhattan, although it is home to only 8% of the state’s population. For 2011, 49.6% of the New York City divorce actions were filed in Manhattan (New York County), although Manhattan, with some 19% of the city’s population, ranks a distant third in population to Kings and Queens Counties.
Justice Cooper in Castaneda v. Castaneda tried to explain why 75 to 80% of the New York County filings involve divorces where both spouses reside outside the county. He speculates that perhaps it is because New York has a reputation for processing divorce actions more expeditiously than elsewhere. Perhaps it is because it is more convenient for attorneys and divorce mills who have their offices in Manhattan. Perhaps it is because the chances of a party obtaining an uncontested divorce on default increase if the action is brought in a venue far removed from where the defendant actually lives. [Note: It also may because New York County may be thought to be more favorable for awarding interim or permanent awards of support or counsel fees.]
It has become the accepted practice for attorneys and non-attorney divorce processing services, the so-called divorce mills, to commence divorce proceedings in New York County despite the fact that neither spouse lives here.
Justice Cooper’s comments came as he granted a motion to change venue under C.P.L.R. 511. Despite the fact that not one aspect of the marriage or the parties’ lives was remotely connected to Manhattan, the plaintiff-husband nevertheless chose to file in New York County Supreme Court, seeking a divorce upon the grounds of living apart pursuant to a separation agreement. D.R.L. §170(6).