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What are The Grounds for Divorce in New York

What Are the Grounds for Divorce in New York? Exploring the Legal Foundations of Dissolution

Divorce, a challenging and life-altering process, involves legal grounds that form the basis for ending a marriage. In New York, these grounds provide the legal framework for individuals to seek a divorce. This comprehensive guide delves into the various grounds for divorce in New York, exploring both “no-fault” and “fault” options, and shedding light on the complexities of the state’s divorce laws.

Understanding "No-Fault" Grounds for Divorce

In 2010, New York introduced “no-fault” grounds for divorce, marking a significant shift in its legal landscape. These grounds acknowledge that marriages can irretrievably break down, leading to the conclusion that maintaining the marriage is no longer viable.

Irretrievable Breakdown

The cornerstone of “no-fault” grounds is acknowledging that the marriage has irretrievably broken down for at least six months. Both spouses must mutually agree to the divorce, paving the way for a more streamlined process. This option recognizes that marriages can reach a point where attempts at reconciliation are futile, and separation is in the best interest of both parties.

Exploring "Fault" Grounds for Divorce

Beyond “no-fault” grounds, New York also offers “fault” grounds for individuals seeking a divorce. These grounds involve specific allegations of misconduct or wrongdoing by one party, which can have implications for property division, support, and custody arrangements.

1. Adultery

One of the most recognized “fault” grounds, adultery involves one spouse engaging in a voluntary sexual relationship with someone other than their spouse. The aggrieved spouse must provide clear evidence of the infidelity to claim adultery as a ground for divorce.

2. Cruel and Inhuman Treatment

This “fault” ground encompasses physical, emotional, or psychological abuse that endangers the physical or mental well-being of the aggrieved spouse. Documentation, medical reports, and witness testimonies can play a significant role in substantiating this claim.

3. Abandonment

Abandonment as a ground for divorce refers to one spouse leaving the other without justification for at least one year. Desertion may involve physical absence or emotional neglect, demonstrating a breach of the marriage commitment.

4. Imprisonment

If one spouse is incarcerated for at least three consecutive years after the marriage, the other spouse can seek divorce on the grounds of imprisonment. However, this does not apply if the couple cohabitated during or after the imprisonment.

5. Living Apart Pursuant to Separation Judgment

This “fault” ground arises when the couple has lived apart pursuant to a legally sanctioned separation agreement or judgment for at least one year. The separation must be voluntary and agreed upon by both parties.

Balancing Legal Considerations and Emotional Realities

Choosing between “no-fault” and “fault” grounds is not solely a legal decision; it often reflects the emotional complexity of the marriage and the circumstances that led to its breakdown. While “no-fault” grounds offer a more amicable route, “fault” grounds may provide a sense of justice for the aggrieved party.

Navigating the Path Forward

When contemplating divorce, understanding the available grounds and their implications is crucial. Consultation with a qualified family law attorney is highly recommended to assess the specific circumstances, evaluate the best course of action, and navigate the complexities of divorce law in New York.

Final words:

The grounds for divorce in New York reflect the diversity of marital situations, acknowledging that no two marriages are alike. “No-fault” grounds prioritize the recognition of irretrievable breakdowns, while “fault” grounds address misconduct and wrongdoing. The choice between these grounds depends on the unique circumstances of each case, and seeking professional legal advice can empower individuals to make informed decisions that align with their best interests and the complexities of their relationships. Consult The Law Offices of SRIS.P.C., for your initial consultation regarding your divorce case in New York.


1. What are the grounds for divorce?

Grounds for divorce are the legal reasons or justifications for an individual to seek to end their marriage.

2. What is the primary distinction between "no-fault" and "fault" grounds for divorce in New York?

The primary distinction lies in the nature of the reasons. “No-fault” grounds focus on the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, while “fault” grounds point to specific misconduct or wrongdoing by one spouse.

3. What are the "no-fault" grounds for divorce in New York?

The “no-fault” ground in New York is when the marriage has irretrievably broken down for at least six months, and both parties agree to divorce.

4. Can you provide examples of "fault" grounds for divorce in New York?

Examples of “fault” grounds include adultery, cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment, imprisonment for three or more consecutive years, and living apart pursuant to a separation judgment or agreement.

5. Is choosing either "no-fault" or "fault" grounds for divorce mandatory?

No, it’s not mandatory. Depending on your circumstances, you can select either “no-fault” or “fault” grounds for your divorce case.

6. How do "fault" grounds affect property division and support in divorce?

“Fault” grounds can impact property division and support arrangements. For instance, specific “fault” grounds could influence the court’s decision on alimony (spousal support) or distribution of assets.

7. Can I claim both "no-fault" and "fault" grounds for divorce in my case?

You can claim both “no-fault” and “fault” grounds in your divorce case, provided the circumstances align with both claims.

8. What kind of evidence is required to prove "fault" grounds for divorce?

For “fault” grounds, you’ll need to provide evidence that supports the specific ground you’re claiming. This could involve documentation, witness testimonies, or other relevant proofs.

9. Can a "no-fault" divorce become contested later in the process?

Yes, even in a “no-fault” divorce, disagreements can arise later in the process, leading to a contested divorce if both parties can’t agree on terms.

10. How can I determine the grounds most appropriate for my divorce case?

Determining the appropriate grounds for your divorce case depends on the specifics of your situation. Consulting with a qualified family law attorney can provide valuable insight and help you make an informed decision.

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