No-fault Divorce in New York
New York is the last state of the fifty to adopt "no-fault divorce," a significant reform of the NY divorce laws. Under the new no-fault law a spouse seeking a divorce in New York, is no longer required to claim reasons as the basis for the divorce, a rule that had prolonged and aggravated the painful divorce process.
The new NY matrimonial laws also revised the process for awards of temporary maintenance (spousal support) while a divorce in New York is pending. This revision includes a formula and list of factors for such awards, which would allow for a speedy resolution of the maintenance (spousal support) issue, and prevent less well-off spouses in divorce proceedings in New York from falling into poverty during litigation.
The new laws also created a presumption that a less-monied spouse in a New York divorce case is entitled to payment of divorce attorneys' legal fees. Under current law, a spouse who cannot afford legal representation in a divorce proceeding must make an application to the court for fees at the end of the process. This can force a poor spouse to proceed without a lawyer, or to give up important legal rights due to lack of resources.
On July 1, 2010 the bill passed the New York State Assembly. It was signed it into law on August 15 by Governor Paterson. The measure is supposed to take effect 60 days from that date and affect all divorces filed at or after that time. After signing the bill, Governor Paterson said that the new laws would, "fix a broken process that produced extended and contentious litigation (and) poisoned feelings between the parties..."
Laws end a rule that forced spouses to invent false justifications for divorce
Previous to the no-fault law, if spouses wanted to divorce in New York, one would have to claim and prove that the other committed an act such as adultery, abandonment, or cruelty. One spouse would have to assign blame to the other in order for the NY court to grant a divorce. This legal criterion would often impel false claims for a marriage to be dissolved.
Frequently the consequence would be long drawn-out, painful and expensive trials in the New York court system in which each spouse would claim grounds against the other. Last year alone there were 13,212 contested divorces in New York, accounting for about one quarter of all divorces.
Responding to the new no-fault divorce laws in a recent statement, Stephen Younger, President of the New York Bar Association said, "By removing the requirement to prove fault, divorcing couples and the courts will no longer have to waste resources litigating on whether a marriage should end, but will be able to better focus on issues such as the welfare of the children, fair division of marital assets and other economic concerns."
New York divorce law lagged behind other states. From 1787 to 1966 adultery was the only ground for divorce in New York State. The 1966 Divorce Reform Law in New York expanded the grounds for divorce. California passed the first no-fault divorce bill in 1969 and many other states quickly followed. Upon signing the bill allowing for no-fault divorce, New York Governor Paterson declared, "Finally, New York has brought its divorce laws into the 21st century."
Ingrid Gherman, P.C.
225 Broadway, Suite 1405
New York, New York 10007
Attorney Ingrid Gherman, Esq. – divorce and matrimonial lawyer in New York, NY, NYC, Manhattan and greater New York City area
©2002 Ingrid Gherman, Esq.