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Co-Respondent as Party

As we all know, one reason that many people get divorced is due to infidelity, also known as adultery. In fact, New York law recognizes adultery as one of 7 legal grounds for divorce. When a divorce is based on adultery, the law allows the plaintiff or defendant to serve the co-respondent. The co-respondent is the individual who the spouse committed adultery with. The co-respondent has the right to appear to defend himself or herself against the allegations in the divorce action. If you have been named as a co-respondent in a divorce proceeding, it is important that you immediately contact an experienced New York divorce lawyer who can ensure that your interests are protected in this sensitive matter.

Adultery as a grounds for divorce

According to NY Dom. Rel. Law §170 (4) adultery is a grounds for divorce. It is defined as voluntarily having any type of sex with a person who is not your spouse including sexual intercourse, oral sex, or anal sex. However, a divorce will not be granted on the grounds of adultery if the spouse was complicit in the adulterous act, if the spouse continues to live with the adulterous spouse after learning of the adultery, or the adultery occurred over 5 years prior to the divorce action.

When filing the petition for divorce, the petitioner can name as a co-respondent the person with whom his or her spouse committed adultery. The co-respondent has the right to appear in court to defend such action so far as the issues affect him. If during the action for divorce the allegations against the co-respondents are not proven, the co-respondent is entitled to fees related to defending the accusation from the person who named him or her as co-respondent.

Related Statutory Provisions
  1. Action for divorce: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 170
  2. Special action: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 170-a
  3. When divorce denied, although adultery proved: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 171
  4. Jury trial: New York Domestic Relations Law, section 173
Domestic Relations Law, section 172: Co-respondent as party
  1.  In an action brought to obtain a divorce on the ground of adultery the plaintiff or defendant may serve a copy of his pleading on a co-respondent named therein. At any time within twenty days after such service, the co-respondent may appear to defend such action so far as the issues affect him. If no such service be made, then at any time before the entry of judgment a co-respondent named in any of the pleadings may make a written demand on any party for a copy of a summons and a pleading served by such party, which must be served within ten days thereafter, and he may appear to defend such action so far as the issues affect him.
  2.  In an action for divorce where a co-respondent has appeared and defended, in case no one of the allegations of adultery controverted by such co-respondent shall be proven, such co-respondent shall be entitled to a bill of costs against the person naming him as such co-respondent, which bill of costs shall consist only of the sum now allowed by law as a trial fee, and disbursements.
Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you have been named as a co-respondent in a divorce petition, seek the guidance of an experienced New York divorce lawyer at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates. With over 20 years of experience we can handle divorce litigation with skill and sensitivity. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: Nassau County, Queens, Suffolk County, Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Staten Island, and Westchester County.

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