New York family law provides for both fault-based and no fault divorces. In fault-based divorces, either or both parties make allegations of wrongdoing that broke down the marriage. In no-fault divorces, the parties simply wish to dissolve their marriage without assigning any blame. There are two no-fault grounds for divorce in New York: the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage, and legal separation for at least one year.
For a couple to plead the irretrievable breakdown of their marriage, they must state that the marriage has broken down beyond repair for at least six months. This requirement is usually met by providing a sworn affidavit to the court.
Additionally, before the divorce is approved, the couple must show that all marital issues have been resolved. These include the division of assets and debts and the creation of a custody and visitation plan, if the couple has children. These issues may be resolved by the creation of a settlement agreement or by a court order.
If the parties wish to legally separate before they divorce, they may create a separation agreement that lays out how marital issues proceed while the couple lives apart. They may establish how bills will be paid and how often the children will see each parent. After one year, the parties may seek a divorce based on their separation.