“No Fault” Divorces: What, Why & Who?

Divorce Scale in NYC

In 2010, New York introduced a “no-fault” ground for divorce, referred to as DRL Section 170.7. This addition allowed one spouse to request a divorce by swearing under oath that the marriage had irretrievably broken down for at least six months. It’s important to note that the terms “uncontested” and “no-fault” are often used interchangeably, but they have distinct meanings. Uncontested divorces occur when both parties have previously reached an agreement on economic and custody matters. These are a separate cause of action, as they once were in New York.

Before New York included “irretrievable breakdown” as a cause of divorce, separation grounds existed, requiring spouses to live apart for at least one year with an executed separation agreement. Many states, including New York, still have this provision. While uncontested divorces are available in all states, they demand a complete resolution of economic and custody issues through a written agreement before divorce is granted. If parties can’t agree, they might have to prove fault, which can be costly and emotionally draining, affecting any children involved.

Some states consider the breakdown of the relationship when determining spousal maintenance and property division, even in “no-fault” states. As New York moves away from fault-based divorce, the focus shifts to resolving economic and custody issues. In New York, the cause of the breakdown is taken into account concerning financial misconduct or the dissipation of marital assets. This approach offers protection to spouses facing financial abuse without delving into the fault aspect, promoting a more reasonable resolution.

1.1 What are the grounds for divorce proceedings’ jurisdiction, like residence, nationality, domicile, etc.?
To initiate divorce proceedings in New York, the parties must meet jurisdictional requirements, specified in New York Domestic Relations Law (“NY DRL”) §230. These requirements involve the location of the marriage, continuous residency, or the cause of action arising in New York.

1.2 What are the grounds for divorce? For example, is there a required period of separation; can the parties have an uncontested divorce?
Grounds for divorce in New York are detailed in NY DRL §170(1)-(7), covering various reasons like cruelty, abandonment, imprisonment, adultery, and irretrievable breakdown. Uncontested divorces are possible when parties agree on the grounds, typically following a settlement.

1.3 In the case of an uncontested divorce, do the parties need to attend court, and is it possible to have a “private” divorce, i.e., without any court involvement?
Parties in uncontested divorces don’t need to appear in court, provided all required documents are filed. However, a divorce can’t be finalized without a court’s Judgment of Divorce.

1.4 What is the procedure and timescale for a divorce?
There is no set timescale for divorce, and the duration of proceedings can vary depending on individual circumstances.

1.5 Can a divorce be finalized without resolving other associated matters? For example, children and finances.
In some cases, the divorce cause of action can be separated from ancillary relief, but this is uncommon. Typically, the court may address issues like child custody and support in Family Court.

1.6 Are foreign divorces recognized in your jurisdiction? If so, what are the procedural requirements, if any?
Foreign divorces can be recognized in New York, as long as they don’t violate public policy. To enforce provisions of a foreign divorce, an application for recognition and/or registration may be required.

1.7 Does your jurisdiction allow separation or nullity proceedings?
Yes, New York allows actions for marriage annulment or separation.

1.8 Can divorce proceedings be stayed if there are proceedings in another country?
Yes, they can be stayed if there are ongoing proceedings in another jurisdiction.

Aronov Esq Contested Divorce Lawyer 98-14 Queens Boulevard Rego Park, NY 11374 (718) 206-2050 https://aronovdivorcelawqueens.com