New York changing Divorce Laws for Simpler Divorce
Updated: Oct 17, 2022
An article that was recently in the Queens Chronicle says that New York might be making divorce as easy as marriage.
Lawyers, divorcees, judges and professors urged the Senate to pass legislation that would allow for no-fault divorce. Current law in New York requires spouses to give the court a reason for the dissolution of their marriage, California has a no-fault divorce law. New York is the only state that lacks no-fault divorce. In New York, to obtain a divorce one spouse must prove that he or she was the victim of cruel and inhuman treatment, abandonment or adultery. One may also obtain a divorce if his or her spouse is sent to prison for three or more years, as long as the motion is filed within five years of the spouse’s release.
The article’s author claims that New York’s law was a throwback to the days when it was assumed that divorces were filed by men who abandoned their unskilled wives and kids without providing for them. This is in contrast to today’s divorces where plaintiffs are often made up of women. Legislators wanted to protect women who today, make up a large portion of divorce plaintiffs in the state. Female speakers at the hearing said current divorce law is not in the best interest of most women.
One woman said that she spent seven years trying to prove that she deserved a divorce. Her husband had been verbally abusive to her, but since he did not leave marks, she couldn’t prove it to the judge’s satisfaction. “I found myself at times wishing he had physically abused me — something that you could document with a photo, only because it would have been a little easier to prove.”
But not everyone is in favor of allowing no-fault divorce. The National Organization for Women New York State and the New York State Catholic Conference both submitted testimony against enacting a no-fault law, but for different reasons. The New York State Catholic Conference is against no-fault divorce because it “opposes all measures that further break down the institution of marriage.” The National Organization for Women New York State opposes no-fault divorce because it “takes away any bargaining power the non-monied spouse has.” The organization also contends that one spouse should be provided with notice that the other wants a divorce and given an opportunity to negotiate. In response to speakers who cited domestic violence situations as ones in which no-fault divorce would be useful, National Organization for Women New York State stated that judges refusing to grant women divorces in these cases need to be reformed, rather than the state’s divorce law.
In 1970, California became the first state to implement “no-fault divorce.” The concept of no-fault divorce has largely evolved into what most people refer to as “irreconcilable differences.” California currently is a no fault divorce state. What this means is that no reason need be cited to dissolve a marriage. The most common cited reason is irreconcileable breakdown of the marriage.
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