Nassau County Family Law Attorney

Understanding New York State's Grounds for Divorce

New York has traditionally been a conservative state regarding divorce laws. It was not until 2010 the state legalized access to no-fault divorce. Until 1966, the only way a divorce was granted in the state was if a spouse committed adultery. Divorce laws in the state are becoming more liberal, but still have a way to go to catch up with many other states.

Today, there are several grounds under which a person can file for at-fault divorce in New York. An at-fault divorce is one in which a spouse is accused of wrong-doing. New York grants at-fault divorces for the following reasons:

Adultery
• Abandonment for a period of one year or more
• Cruel and inhuman treatment
• Imprisonment for more than three years subsequent to the marriage

The other grounds for divorce in New York are no-fault. The specific legal language regarding no-fault divorce in New York is as follows:

“The relationship between husband and wife has broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months, provided that one party has so stated under oath. No judgment of divorce shall be granted under this subdivision unless and until the economic issues of equitable distribution of marital property, the payment or waiver of spousal support, the payment of child support, the payment of counsel and experts’ fees and expenses as well as the custody and visitation with the infant children of the marriage have been resolved by the parties, or determined by the court and incorporated into the judgment of divorce.”

The final reason divorce is granted in New York is by conversion of separation. This occurs after a Judgment of Separation or an Agreement of Separation has been in place for at least one year and both parties decide to move forward with divorce.

Some common grounds for divorce in other states, such as irreconcilable differences, incompatibility, and mutual consent, are not official options in New York.

Contested vs. Uncontested

In a contested divorce a judge or jury can determine the grounds. The grounds are listed in the initial complaint and often determine future aspects of the divorce

No-fault divorces are often uncontested. Issues regarding the divorce proceedings are agreed upon by the two parties before paperwork is submitted to the court. In many cases, no-fault divorce is sought by couples that had a short marriage and/or have limited assets and no children.

If you are considering divorce or you have been served with a petition for divorce, contact the Law Office of Anthony J. LoPresti at (516) 252-0223 for more information.

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