Before New York adopted a no-fault divorce policy in 2010, one party to a divorce would have to take fault, or essentially the blame, for the dissolution of their marriage, even when both sides agreed that divorce was necessary. Under this former policy of "fault" divorce, someone who wanted to end their marriage would have to show that the other spouse was at fault for causing his or her marriage to fall apart.
Now, under "no-fault" divorce, rather than placing the blame on one spouse, parties to a divorce can show the court that they have "irreconcilable difference" or that their relationship has suffered an "irremediable breakdown." New York became the last state to adopt a no-fault divorce policy in the U.S. in when it was signed into law in 2010.
In order to get a no-fault divorce, one spouse must provide a reason for the divorce that is recognized by the state, or declare grounds for the divorce. In New York State, grounds for divorce can include any one of the following:
- Cruel and inhuman treatment
- Abandonment for at least 1 year
- Imprisonment for at least 3 years
- Being separated for at least 1 year
- Irretrievable breakdown of the relationship for at least six months
There are pros and cons to no-fault divorce. On the positive side, allowing no-fault divorces increases couples' ability to divorce if they choose to do so. Proponents of no-fault divorce have said that this has caused a decrease in domestic violence, by enabling unhealthy couples to dissolve their marriages before they become abusive. Opponents have argued that it has increased divorce rates by making the divorce process easier to pursue. They have further claimed that because over 80% of all no-fault divorces are desired by only one side, it inhibits the other spouse's ability to try to save the marriage.
Some also say that no-fault divorce is less favorable for women, because if an abusive couple gets a no-fault divorce, for instance, the wife would be entitled to less spousal support than she would be if she had divorced him based on his abusive behavior. However, it is also argued to be positive for women because it increases their ability to file for divorce too. Ultimately, like any complex policy, there are two sides to the no-fault divorce story. For more information on fault or no fault divorce, contact an attorney from Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C.