20 Jun Divorce 101, Part 6: New York is a No-Fault Divorce State
Since 2010, New York has been a “no-fault” divorce state–the last state in the country to embrace this type of divorce. A no-fault divorce is one where a court may dissolve the marital union without requiring one spouse to prove that the other did something wrong. Instead, a spouse must simply show that the couple has “irreconcilable differences.”.
What is the difference between a fault and no-fault divorce?
In a “fault” divorce, the spouse bringing the action for divorce must offer proof of specific grounds for divorce, based on one of the following:
• cruel and inhumane treatment, including physical or mental abuse
• abandonment (for at least 12 months)
• incarceration (for at least 3 consecutive years)
• legal separation for over a year.
By contrast, in a no-fault divorce, a spouse only has to attest under oath that the marriage has been “irretrievably broken” for at least six months. The court will not grant a no-fault divorce, however, unless the divorcing couple has resolved all issues relating to child custody, visitation, child and spousal support, legal fees, and equitable distribution of the assets. Depending on the nature of the divorce, the couple may decide upon these issues, or the court may decide for them after a hearing or trial.
What are the benefits of a no-fault divorce?
No-fault divorce offers a range of benefits, including reduced costs and a potentially faster pace. Because fault-based divorce requires evidence of wrongdoing, the party bringing the divorce action often has to spend substantial time and money collecting proof of misconduct to satisfy the court. No-fault divorce’s simplified procedure eliminates this expense and allows the spouses to get to the process of dissolution faster.
Moreover, because spouses no longer have to accuse and blame each other for the deterioration of the marriage, the divorce may have a less acrimonious atmosphere. When the divorce proceeds with less animosity, the parties are more likely to address the dissolution issues, such as custody and maintenance, faster and with less disharmony–a better situation for everyone involved.