What is no fault divorce?

In New York State, we have seven grounds for divorce. Five of them are really fault based. One is not. The most recent amendment took place in October 2010, which is known as a no-fault divorce.

A no-fault divorce requires that one party feels as though the marriage has been irretrievably broken for six or more months. There’s actually no defense to that. However, for a judge to render a judgment of divorce on that ground, all the other ancillary issues must be resolved. What I’m talking about is custody, child support, maintenance, equitable distribution, payment of counsel fees and expenses. Those are the ancillary issues typically in a divorce that must be resolved for the judge to sign off on a no-fault divorce.

The other grounds, which, quite frankly, since the advent of the new law you rarely see, are cruel and inhuman treatment, adultery, abandonment, which means for our purposes for divorce that one party without the consent of the other party leaves the marital residence with the intent never to return and has been gone for a year or more. The other ground is constructive abandonment. One party is ready, willing, and able to engage in sexual relations with his or her spouse, and that spouse unreasonably refuses to engage in sexual relations with his or her spouse, and that unreasonable refusal lasts for a year or more.

The other grounds are parties have entered into a valid separation agreement and are living separate and apart pursuant to that agreement for a year or more. The party seeking the divorce on that ground has, what we call, substantially complied with all the obligations incumbent upon him or her under that agreement.

We do still have grounds for divorce in New York, but like I said, with the advent of no-fault divorce, rarely do you see fault grounds alleged in a complaint for divorce.

If you require experienced legal representation for divorce and family law matters, contact the Law Offices of Mark S. Paige, P.C. today to schedule a consultation.