Until recently, if you wanted to get a divorce in New York you had no choice but either to prove adultery, abandonment, or cruel and inhuman treatment by your spouse or to be legally separated from him or her for at least a year. Under New York’s no-fault divorce law, which went into effect in October 2010, you can now procure a divorce by stating, under oath, that the marital relationship has “broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months.” This means that neither spouse is assigned the blame for causing the marriage to end.
In theory, this should make for smoother separations and less expensive divorces. There is, however, one catch: under the new law a court cannot grant a no-fault divorce until the economic issues of equitable distribution of marital property, the payment of spousal support, child support, counsel and experts’ fees and expenses, as well as the custody of and visitation with the children of the marriage have been finally resolved.
In the real world of divorce litigation, the grounds for divorce usually are not what couples end up fighting over. Most of the time, both parties want out of the marriage and they find a way to agree on the grounds. It is usually the economic and child-related issues that cause divorces to become contentious, lengthy, expensive and emotionally debilitating for the parties. Unfortunately, this will not change under the new law.