Understanding No Fault Divorce in New York

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Despite its reluctance to pass laws permitting no fault divorce, no fault divorce in New York was legalized in 2010.  However, there is still lot of confusion regarding no fault divorce in New York.  For example, no fault divorce does not take the place of fault grounds, which are still permitted.  Instead, no fault grounds are simply another option to add to the list of those available.

Prior to 2010, the spouse who wanted the divorce had to establish that the other spouse committed some wrong that justified a divorce, such as adultery, incarceration, abandonment or mental illness.

The no fault divorce rule allows spouses to get divorced without establishing who or under what circumstances caused the marriage to fail.  However, one of the parties must state under oath that their relationship has irretrievably broken down for at least six months.  This allows spouses to pursue divorce without the need of establishing grievances that the other has committed.  However, the spouse who is pursuing the divorce must still state the reason for petitioning the court for the divorce in the divorce pleading.

Filing under no fault grounds does not mean that the spouses agree on important matters.  If they do not agree on such matters as distribution of property, child custody, spousal support or child support, they will proceed with a contested divorce case.  However, if they do reach an agreement on these issues, their agreement can be incorporated into the final judgment of divorce, usually at a substantial savings when compared to a contested case.

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