What Are Fault Grounds in a New York Divorce?

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Most people enter into a marriage with the best of intentions. They imagine spending the rest of their life with their spouse, growing old together, maybe having children. However, even the best laid plans can go awry. It is widely accepted that about half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce. But why? “Grounds” for divorce refer to legally accepted reasons for a person to file for divorce. Fault grounds for divorce can vary depending on the couple and the details of their relationship. For more information on your options and representation in your divorce case, reach out to a skilled Nassau County divorce lawyer.

Is New York a Fault State?

You might hear that certain states are categorized as fault or no-fault states regarding divorce. In actuality, all states accept no-fault divorces, and only a few states do not allow fault-based divorces. Most offer the couple an option to file for either one and are considered mixed states. New York is a mixed state and allows couples to file for either fault-based or no-fault divorce depending on the circumstances of their relationship.

What’s the Difference Between Fault-Based and No-Fault Divorce?

It has been established that in New York you can file for a no-fault or a fault divorce. But what is the difference?

In a no-fault divorce, the spouse who files does not need to prove that the other spouse is at fault or did anything wrong. The qualifications for a no-fault divorce are that the marriage has to have been broken beyond repair for six months or longer. You can claim irreconcilable differences or just that the marriage does not work anymore, and your spouse cannot object. A court will typically require that you separate for a period before going through with the divorce.

In a fault-based divorce, the filing spouse must include the grounds for divorce, usually a matrimonial offense. A person may choose this path for various reasons, but the offense needs to be proven in court and your spouse is within their rights to object. If a fault-based divorce is granted there is no required separation period.

What are the Grounds for a Fault-Based Divorce?

As stated, the grounds for a fault-based divorce are most commonly found in the form of matrimonial offenses – misbehavior by a spouse that infringes upon the vows of marriage. There are a multitude of grounds that can be presented to the court to prove a need for a fault-based divorce, including the following.

  • Adultery
  • Abandonment
  • Imprisonment
  • Emotional or physical abuse or cruelty
  • Inability to have sexual intercourse

Certain grounds such as abandonment or imprisonment must be continuous or for a specific amount of time to be considered a valid reason for divorce. Impotence or physical inability to participate in sexual intercourse may only be valid if the inability existed at the time of the marriage but was hidden or concealed.

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