Judges Seek Support to Curb Divorce 'Tsunami'
A victim of its own success, the Manhattan Supreme Court, in the words of one judge, has turned into a "Mecca" for New Yorkers seeking divorces.
And the great majority of the couples who file in Manhattan don't even live in the borough.
For years, attorneys and large-volume divorce preparers—called "divorce mills" by some judges— have flocked to 60 Centre St., attracted by the court's convenience to their offices and its reputation for ending marriages more quickly than anywhere else.
Now, however, Manhattan divorce judges are seeking support for a change in state law that would allow them to turn away couples who have no ties to the borough.
Although Manhattan had only an estimated 8.3 percent of the state's population last year, its 13,519 uncontested divorces were 29.3 percent of the statewide total.
Within the city, Manhattan had 55.3 percent of all uncontested divorces according to the Office of Court Administration, but had only 19.4 percent of its population.
The great majority of divorces in New York City—87.9 percent last year—are uncontested, but Manhattan's 911 contested divorces, representing 26.9 percent of the total, also set the pace for the city.
Many lawyers with offices in Manhattan in close proximity to the courthouse naturally gravitate there. But even attorneys who are based elsewhere send their divorce business to Manhattan.
"We know what they want in Manhattan," said Jayson Lutzky, an attorney who has an office in the Bronx but files many divorces in Manhattan. "It's a matter of trust and familiarity."