N.Y. May Finally Get No-Fault Divorce

Aug 8, 2012 by

New York has been the lone hold-out among U.S. states allowing no-fault divorce. As the only state remaining without no-fault divorce on the books, New York has always required someone take the blame for a split even if both spouses have mutually agreed to the divorce.  One spouse or the other had to allege a fault such as cruel and inhuman treatment, adultery, abandonment, or the couple must have been legally separated for at least one year before they could file. Critics of the New York divorce laws claim the lack of no-fault divorce encouraged divorce attorneys to engage in unnecessary litigation and lengthy custody battles.

Now, New York seems ready to be the last state to implement no-fault divorce as the State Senate recently approved legislation that would allow both spouses to separate by simple mutual consent. The change in law will likely both reduce costs for divorcing couples as well as having the effect of reducing the lucrative attorney-driven, divorce case marketplace in the state. Advocates of the change said they believed the measure has a high likelihood of gaining final approval in the State Assembly.

For years, efforts to change New York’s divorce laws have been thwarted as all of the other states liberalized their divorce laws to allow no-fault divorce. The Roman Catholic Church has been a staunch opponent of no-fault divorce, claiming it makes divorce too easy. Some women’s rights groups have also fought the change saying that no-fault divorce would prevent women from obtaining fair alimony and child support agreements. Supporters of no-fault divorce say the lack of no-fault caused couples to “invent” incidents of false abandonment.

The new bill passed in the State Senate by a margin of 32 to 27. However, similar legislation must still be approved in the New York State Assembly before no-fault divorce becomes law in the state.


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