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No Fault is Now No Problem in New York

On August 15, New York Governor David Paterson signed into law A.9753A/S.3890 (text available on the New York State Assembly's website), and yesterday, the major changes to New York's divorce laws took effect. Prior to this, New York was the last remaining state without a no-fault divorce option available to those wishing to end their marriages.

Instead, section 170 of its Domestic Relations Law stipulated that an action for divorce required one of these grounds: "cruel and inhuman treatment" of one spouse by the other that "endangers the [spouse's] physical or mental well-being"; abandonment for at least one year; one spouse being in prison for "three or more consecutive years" after being married; adultery; 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".
This required one spouse to be considered responsible for causing the end of the marriage, even if both of them wanted to get divorced.

The new law amends section 170 to add the option of the relationship between the spouses having "broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months, provided that one party has so stated under oath." The parties will first need to also settle any issues relating to property, support, and visitation, or else the judgment will not be granted.

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