Family Lawyer Explains New York No-Fault Divorce

What is a no-fault divorce?

Traditionally, a spouse who wanted a New York divorce had to claim and prove that the other spouse had done something blameworthy to destroy the marriage. Because fault was a necessary element of divorce, spouses had to square off against each other in every divorce case.

Under New York’s modern no-fault divorce laws; however, a spouse can establish a legal basis for divorce by simply pleading that the marriage has irretrievably broken down for at least six months prior to the filing of a divorce. No one is blamed; hence the name no-fault divorce. Lauren B. Abramson, Esq. reviews your situation and helps you determine if a no-fault divorce is right for you.

How does a no-fault divorce work?

Under New York law, there must be grounds for every divorce. The Domestic Relations Law identifies seven possible grounds:

  1. The cruel and inhuman treatment of the plaintiff by the defendant such that the conduct of the defendant so endangers the physical or mental wellbeing of the plaintiff as renders it unsafe or improper for the plaintiff to cohabit with the defendant
  2. The abandonment of the plaintiff by the defendant for a period of one or more years
  3. The confinement of the defendant in prison for a period of three or more consecutive years after the marriage
  4. The commission of an act of adultery
  5. The husband and wife have lived apart pursuant to a decree or judgment of separation for a period of one or more years
  6. The husband and wife have lived separate and apart pursuant to a written agreement of separation for a period of one or more years
  7. 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

The first four grounds — cruelty, abandonment, imprisonment and adultery — are the bases for fault-based divorces. The last three grounds — separation decree, separation agreement and irretrievable breakdown — are the grounds for no-fault divorces.

A New York court will not grant a no-fault divorce on the basis of irretrievable breakdown of the marriage until there’s a resolution of all of the following issues:

  • Equitable distribution of marital property
  • Payment or waiver of alimony
  • Payment of child support
  • Child custody and visitation
  • Payment of fees for attorneys and experts

How do we divide our property in a no-fault divorce?

Divorcing spouses can divide their property by agreement, so long as the agreement was fairly arrived at and the result isn’t shockingly unfair. When spouses can’t agree how to divide their property, or can’t agree on child custody, support or parenting time, mediation often helps them overcome his or her differences and reach an agreement. In mediation, a third-party neutral who is usually a lawyer with family law experience guides parties through the negotiations. Lauren B. Abramson is a trained mediator with more than 25 years of family law experience.

Schedule a consultation to decide if a no-fault divorce is right for you

Lauren B. Abramson, Esq. helps families transform. Our office is across from Saxon Woods Park, between the Hutchinson River Parkway and the New England Thruway, in Harrison. Call us today at 914-908-6829 or contact us online to schedule a meeting. We serve clients throughout Westchester and Putnam counties, including White Plains, Harrison, New Rochelle, Bedford, Armonk, Bronxville, Larchmont, Mamaroneck, Somers, Croton-on-Hudson, Carmel, Peekskill and Rye.