What Are the Grounds for Divorce in New York

I have written a lot on this blog, about the fact that New York does not have a “No Fault” grounds for divorce. What that means is that in New York, in order to obtain a divorce, a party has to allege and prove grounds in order to obtain a divorce.

So, what are the grounds for divorce in New York  Domestic Relations Law §170 sets forth the six grounds for divorce. Of the six grounds, four are fault based. This means meaning that one of the spouses has done something wrong. The four fault based grounds for divorce are:

  1. The cruel and inhuman treatment of the plaintiff by the defendant such that the conduct of the defendant so endangers the physical or mental well being of the plaintiff as renders it unsafe or improper for the plaintiff to cohabit with the defendant.
  2. The abandonment of the plaintiff by the defendant for a period of one or more years.
  3. The confinement of the defendant in prison for a period of three or more consecutive years after the marriage of plaintiff and defendant.
  4. The commission of an act of adultery.

Perhaps the most common fault based ground for divorce is “constructive abandonment.” A constructive abandonment occurs when one spouse refuses to have sexual relations with the other, without excuse or justification, for a period of one year preceding the filing of the action for divorce.

The two non-fault grounds are based upon a separation of, at least, one year, pursuant to a judgment of separation or written separation agreement. It is important to note that a separation in the absence of a judgment or an agreement executed with the required formalities will not be a basis for a divorce.

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