No-Fault? No Problem in NY

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From the New York Law Journal, this news of significant changes to New York’s divorce law. Previously, New York was a “fault” jurisdiction, requiring a finding of adultery, abandonment, cruelty or a 1-year separation pursuant to a written instrument (that, from bar review memory — thanks, prep course!).

The law, A9753/S3890, which applies to all divorce filings from now on, provides that one spouse can receive a divorce by declaring under oath that a marriage has been “irretrievably” broken for at least six months.

However, other issues related to divorce, such as child custody and distribution of property, must first be resolved by the parties or determined by the court before a marriage can be dissolved.

A 2003 survey by the Family Law Section of the state Bar Association of about 3,000 of section members indicated three-quarters favored a no-fault option in New York. However, the change has been fought by the Roman Catholic Church and the National Organization for Women. * * *

[Governor David] Paterson also signed another bill favored by no-fault divorce advocates, A7569/4532, which requires payment of counsel and experts’ fees to the “non-monied” party in a divorce action. Bill sponsors said the measure would level the playing field and allow the spouses—generally the wife—who has made little or no money during a marriage to protect their interests during a divorce.

Finally, Mr. Paterson also indicated that he had signed A10984/S8390, which will establish a schedule for temporary maintenance payments to non-monied spouses as their divorce proceedings move toward finality. 

The full article is here.  

No-fault divorce is a topic on which intelligent feminist opinion is divided.

-Bridget Crawford

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