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DivorceIs No-Fault Divorce Bad for Women and Children?

September 25, 2008

The Divorce Blog highlights the raging debate over “No-Fault” divorce; is no-fault divorce good or bad idea?   As I discussed before, New York is the only state without a no-fault grounds for divorce and proposals for it  are again before the state legislature.

Quoting a Newsday feature, the article voices the concern that no fault divorce is somehow “dangerous to women and children.”

No-fault divorce allows couples to end a marriage without assessing blame.   Neither spouse has to prove or accuse the other of marital fault.   Likewise, no-fault divorce prevents one spouse from seeking to take advantage of the other in cases where neither party has a cognizable grounds for divorce.

In the end, divorces become less acrimonious and less expensive as marital fault need not be considered.

The criticism of no fault divorce is that it would, somehow, put victims of domestic violence at a disadvantage. However, the criticism misses the point. The abused victim would no longer have to prove (at a needless and costly trial) that they are vcitims of  “cruel and inhuman treatment” in order to terminate the marriage. Iff, after trial, marital fault has not been established, the abusive relationship is not terminated. Doesn’t this put the abused spouse at far greater risk?

The other concern, that the moneyed spouse could seek a no fault divorce, leaving the dependent spouse to fend for his or herself, is also unfounded. The current proposals for no fault divorce require all issues (i.e., grounds, equitable distribution, and child support) to be resolved prior to the entry of a judgment of divorce. If a trial is necessary, the parties could focus all of their resources on issues other than fault.


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