Is New York Fault or No-Fault State?

NY Divorce Cases: Should You Identify Fault?

In 2010, New York became the last state to legalize no-fault divorces. But what does that mean?

It may sound self-explanatory, but no-fault divorces essentially mean that no one has to prove fault for a failed marriage to be granted a divorce. Prior to this, spouses spent lots of time and money going to trials to prove the grounds for their divorce, such as adultery or domestic abuse.

However, once New York transitioned to include no-fault divorces, countless spouses could file for divorce more efficiently and seamlessly. It’s important to note that New York is not solely a no-fault state. Instead, no-fault divorces are one of seven grounds, or legally accepted reasons, for spouses.

7 Grounds for Divorce in NY

The seven lawful reasons for a divorce in New York, according to the New York State Unified Court System, include:

  1. Irretrievable breakdown in relationship for a period of at least 6 months: This ground is usually called a no-fault divorce. To use this ground, the marriage must be over for at least 6 months, and all economic issues, including debt, how the marital property will be divided, and custody and support of the children have been settled.
  2. Cruel and inhuman treatment: The judge will be looking for specific acts of cruelty that happened in the last five years. It is not enough that you and your spouse had arguments or did not get along. The cruelty must rise to the level that the Plaintiff is physically or mentally in danger and it is unsafe or improper for the Plaintiff to continue living with the Defendant.
  3. Abandonment: The spouse must have abandoned the Plaintiff for at least one year or more. Two examples of abandonment: where the spouse physically leaves the home without any intention of returning or where the spouse refuses to have sex with the other spouse, this is called "constructive" abandonment.
  4. Imprisonment: The spouse must have been in prison for 3 or more years in a row. The spouse must have been put into prison after the marriage began. The Plaintiff can use this ground while the spouse is in prison or up to 5 years after the spouse was released from prison.
  5. Adultery: The Plaintiff must show that the spouse committed adultery during the marriage. This ground can be hard to prove because evidence from someone besides the Plaintiff and spouse is needed.
  6. Divorce after a legal separation agreement: The Plaintiff and Defendant sign and file a valid separation agreement and live apart for one year. The separation agreement must have specific requirements included to be valid.
  7. Divorce after a judgment of separation: This ground is not used very often. To use this ground, the Supreme Court draws up a judgment of separation and the married couple lives apart for one year.

Filing for divorce is no straightforward matter, which is why you need lawyers who can help you navigate the complex details and processes involved in New York family courts. Selecting a ground for divorce may determine the course of your entire case, meaning it is among the most important decisions you will make in your case.

Please don’t make this decision alone, as it may produce adverse consequences, which are the last thing you need during your divorce. Allow our Dutchess County divorce attorneys to help make your life easier. Contact (845) 605-4330 to learn more!

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