Grounds For Divorce

Despite generally being considered a liberal state, New York has a history of being conservative on issues regarding marriage. New York was the last state to allow no-fault divorce and still maintains a law against adultery. Until 1966 adultery was the only grounds for divorce.

Today New York has seven grounds for divorce:

(1)     Cruel and inhuman treatment was one of the grounds established in 1966. The problem was that the injured spouse usually had a problem remembering the specific dates and events of the cruel and inhuman treatment. Many spouses asked about mental cruelty, but that required a mental health specialist to testify that the mental cruelty so endangered the mental well-being of the plaintiff as rendered it unsafe or improper for the parties to live together.

(2)     Abandonment, also established in 1966, was a favorite before no-fault was established in 2010. The basic definition of abandonment was that one party packed up his/her bags, moved out with no intention to return and stayed away for one year or more. The courts expanded the definition to include constructive abandonment, which meant that if either party refused the other marital relations for one year or more, there was grounds for divorce.

(3)     Confinement in prison for three or more years didn’t come up often, but the courts did rule that the statue of limitations for this could start from the time of release from prison.

(4)     Adultery was the only grounds for divorce in New York until 1966. Because of that people would to go to Nevada, where only six weeks of residency were required for divorce and where grounds were more liberal, or they would go to Mexico or the Caribbean for their divorces.

(5)     Living apart pursuant to a decree or judgment of separation for a period of one or more years after the granting of such decree or judgment, one of the so-called “conversion divorces,” never made much sense, because for about half the time, expense, and effort, the parties could use a separation agreement as grounds for divorce.

(6)     Living separate and apart pursuant to a written agreement of separation, subscribed by the parties and acknowledged or proved in the form required to entitle a deed to be recorded, for a period of one or more years after the execution of such agreement, the second of the two “conversion divorces,” enabled parties, effectively, to sign away a marriage. Once the agreement is written, properly executed, the parties have lived separate and part for one year or more, the parties have upheld the provision of the agreement, and it has been filed, either party may seek a divorce. In most cases, the parties would enter into an agreement to settle their difference and then seek an uncontested divorce for constructive abandonment.

(7)     The relationship between the parties has broken down irretrievable, provided one party has so stated under oath. All other issues, such as equitable distribution, child support, spousal  supports, counsel and experts’ fees, and custody and visitation must be resolved when using this grounds.

Call our office to see which grounds for divorce will solve your problem and how to resolve other details of your divorce. 516 319-2000.