Brian D. Perskin & Associates

Is New York State Ready for No Fault Divorce?

A matrimonial commission established by the state's chief judge, Judith Kaye, has recommended that New York join with the rest of the nation and enact a no-fault divorce law.

In my opinion forcing parties to admit or be found at fault is time consuming and costly, and generates bitterness during the divorce process. In New York, couples who agree to a divorce have two options. They can sign a separation agreement and live apart for a year, at which time a divorce becomes final. Or, if they want to sever ties more quickly, they can cite one of four grounds under which a divorce can be granted in New York -- adultery, cruelty, abandonment for a year or more, or imprisonment for three years or more. Not surprisingly, many couples who want to end their relationship quickly agree to lie about one of these grounds in order to obtain a divorce. Thus, they end their marriage on a mutual note of perjury. Judges through the State of New York regularly tell litigants to agree on a ground for divorce. The most common agreement is constructive abandonment.

It is ridiculous that during the course of a contested litigation in New York over issues of custody, visitation and equitable distribution that Lawyers and Judges have to persuade the parties to swear to grounds that they are not comfortable with. Unfortunately, this is the system we have in New York