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Meeting the No-Fault Divorce Criteria in New York

New York became the last state in the country to adopt a no-fault ground for divorce in October, 2010.  Irretrievable breakdown is now the divorce ground of choice for couples seeking a low-conflict, lower cost avenue toward divorce.

That said, divorce based on irretrievable breakdown still has requirements. You must resolve related marital issues before the granting of a divorce.  Criteria for granting divorce under the no-fault ground include:

  • Irretrievable breakdown of the marital relationship for six months
  • Statement under oath by one party as to the breakdown
  • Judgment of divorce granted only after resolution by the parties, or the court, of issues of equitable distribution of property, spousal maintenance, child custody and support, and payment of legal fees

In interpreting the no-fault standard so far, New York case law continues to examine the unilateral right of a spouse to swear to the breakdown of marriage.  A recent case, Sorrentino v Sorrentino, granted divorce to the plaintiff based on her statement of the unsalvageable nature of her marriage for the prescribed period of six months, and because agreement on economic issues had been reached.

Although the ground itself was not well-defined by the legislature, irretrievable breakdown gives my clients an easier, less stressful path toward divorce when the marriage relationship has clearly ended.

Nonetheless, issues might arise, especially if the divorce is unwanted by one party.  If considering divorce, get experienced legal advice to make sure your marriage ends on the right ground.

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