What is a No-Fault Divorce in New York?


When it comes to divorces, emotions run high for everyone involved. Sometimes, a spouse may believe the other is at fault for the marriage ending. However, there are many reasons why a marriage may fail and sometimes no one to blame—the marriage may have fallen apart for a number of reasons and the relationship is now beyond repair. New York Domestic Relations Law § 170(7) provides for just that—a party seeking a divorce does not need to place blame on the other spouse to legally dissolve the marriage.


Commonly referred to as the “no-fault” ground for divorce, the New York Domestic Relations Law recognizes an “irretrievable breakdown” of the marriage as a legal ground to obtain a divorce. In order to be granted a divorce under the “no-fault” ground, the party seeking the divorce does not need to prove that their spouse did anything wrong. Rather, they must swear under oath that the reason they are seeking divorce is because the marriage has been “irretrievably broken for a period of six months or more.”


Prior to 2010, in order to get a divorce in New York, it had to be shown that one of the parties did something wrong which caused the marital relationship to end. Fault had to be shown based on one or more of six grounds—adultery, cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment, imprisonment, divorce after legal separation, or divorce after judgment of separation. While these grounds are still available to file for divorce in New York, they must be proven, which can involve lengthy litigation.


Regardless of whether the divorce was filed for under no-fault, or fault grounds, it may be uncontested or contested by the other party. Uncontested means that the parties agree on all major issues in the divorce action including the grounds to dissolve the marriage, and issues concerning custody and property distribution. If a party opposes the divorce, or the couple cannot agree on the major issues, the action is contested. Any contested issues in the action need to be resolved before the court will issue a judgment of divorce.


It is best to speak with a matrimonial attorney who can advise you of the best course of action concerning your specific circumstances. A matrimonial attorney can explain the pros and cons with you of filing under no-fault or fault grounds after discussing the facts of your situation.


When facing divorce, you don’t have to go through it alone. The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins can help you move forward. The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins is available to handle matrimonial matters throughout New York City, Long Island, and Westchester and is dedicated to providing compassionate counsel and aggressive representation to each client. Consultations are by appointment only and can be scheduled in Manhattan or Melville for the convenience of clients. Call today (646) 397-6844.


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Attorney Advertising.  The content contained herein is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor form an attorney-client relationship. (c) 2019 The Law Office of Jessica M. Semins, Jessica M. Semins, Esq.