When it comes to divorce, New York is, in some respects a dinosaur; New York is the only state in the United States that does not have a true “No Fault” divorce. That is, in New York in order to obtain a divorce, a party must allege, and if contested, prove, a legal basis for the divorce – a grounds for divorce, i.e., adultery, cruel and inhuman treatment or abandonment. The absence of a true no fault divorce has often resulted in costly legal proceedings and bitter custody fights even in cases where both sides want a divorce
A panel appointed by Chief Judge Judith Kaye and some legislatures are fortunately seeking to remedy the situation. Panel Asks New York to Join the Era of No-Fault Divorce
Legislation is now pending which would allow for a no fault divorce in situations where the parties agree that the marriage has irretrievably broken down and is no longer viable. More importantly, as Judge Kaye pointed out: “Divorce takes much too long and costs much too much — too much money, too much agony, too hard on the children," Judge Kaye said in her annual address on the state of the judiciary. She said afterward that no-fault divorces would mean that spouses "don’t have to invent charges against each other."
The change in law should be welcome to all. It will, hopefully, streamline the divorce process, save the parties the expense of needless and avoidable litigation, and allow the court to conserve its limited resources. While I am desirous of modernizing New York’s divorce law, I am not optimistic that it will change anytime soon. As the movement gains some steam, this blog will comment on the various proposals.