The New York Law Journal reports that Governor David Paterson signed into law no-fault divorce. New York is the last state to pass such a law. In my opinion, this measure was long overdue.
A spouse can receive a divorce by declaring under oath that a marriage has been “irretrievably” broken for at least six months. According to the Law Journal, you should be aware that 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.
Below is the text of the law:
BILL NUMBER:A9753A REVISED 7/26/10 TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the domestic relations law, in relation to no fault divorce PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF THE BILL: This bill would allow a judgment of divorce to be granted to either party to a divorce action without assigning fault to the other party. However, a divorce could only be granted after the major ancillary issues have been resolved. SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section 1. Section 170 of the Domestic Relations Law is amended by adding subdivision 7 allowing divorce when a marriage is irretrievably broker, for a period of at least six months, provided that one party has so stated under oath. This judgment can only be granted after the following ancillary issues have been resolved: the equitable distribution of marital property, the payment or waiver of spousal support, the payment of child support, the payment of counsel and expert fees and expenses, and custody and visita- tion with the infant children of the marriage. A judgment of divorce under this subdivision could not be issued until all these issues are resolved. Section 2 establishes that this act shall take effect on the sixtieth day after it shall have become law. JUSTIFICATION: New York is the only state that does not have a no-fault divorce provision. Currently, a divorce can only be procured by alleging fault such as cruel and inhuman treatment, adultery, abandonment or confinement of the defendant in prison (in addition to the parties living apart pursuant to a separation agreement or judicial decree for more than one year). Yet many people divorce for valid reasons that do not fall under these clas- sifications. They are forced to invent false justifications to legally dissolve their marriages. False accusations and the necessity to hold one partner at fault often result in conflict within the family. The conflict is harmful to the partners and destructive to the emotional well-being of children. Prolonging the divorce process adds additional stress to an already difficult situation. A study cited at the 2007 Forum on the Need for No-Fault Divorce presented by the NYS Office of Court Administration's Office of Matrimo- nial and Family Law Study and Reform showed a large decline in domestic violence in states with no-fault divorce. The 27 states studied that have adopted no-fault divorce statutes have seen female suicide rates decline approximately 20 while reports of domestic violence committed by husbands against wives were reduced by more than one-third. This legislation enables parties to legally end a marriage which is, in reality, already over and cannot be salvaged. Its intent is to lessen the disputes that often arise between the parties and to mitigate the potential harm to them and their children caused by the current process. Because a resolution of all the major issues must be reached before a divorce judgment is granted, this legislation safeguards the parties' rights and economic interests. It is the intent of this legislation to grant full recognition and respect to valid marriages of same-sex couples to obtain relief under New York State laws and in New York's courts. While the Domestic Relations Law uses the terms "husband and wife" in some places and "plaintiff and defendant" in others, in using the terms "husband and wife", it is not the intent of this legislation to preclude access to relief under the Domestic Relations Law by same-sex couples with valid marriages performed outside the state. Current New York law, written to apply to "husband and wife," has been properly interpreted by New York courts to allow relief for same-sex couples with valid marriages. It is not the intent of this legislation to alter the interpretations of this case law including Martinez v. County of Monroe. 50 A.D.3d 189, 850 N.Y.S.2d 740 (4th Dep't 2008), Beth R. V. Donna M., 19 Misc. 3d 724, (Sup. Ct., N.Y. County 2008), and C.M. v. C.C., 867 N.Y.S.2d 884, (Sup. Ct., N.Y. County 2008), nor is it the intent of this legislation to alter New York State's policy to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: A9398A of 2007-2008. FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None. EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect on the sixtieth day after it shall have become law.