What Are the Grounds for Divorce in New York?

court gavel deciding on grounds for divorce ny

Marriages often fall apart because of serious acts committed by one of the spouses, and in New York, as in many other states, divorce can be filed based on such grounds. There are 4 fault grounds for divorce in NY: cruelty, abandonment, imprisonment, and adultery. There are also reasons for divorce in NY that allow the couple to file for a no-fault marriage dissolution. These are irretrievable breakdown and a 1-year separation after filing either the Separation Agreement or a Judgement of Separation was granted.

Fault Grounds for Divorce in New York

Getting a fault-based divorce means filing on the basis of wrongdoing committed by one of the spouses. “Fault” is a reason which must be proven by the affected party in court so that the judge can end a marriage based on such a reason and make custody, financial, and asset-related decisions taking the wrongdoing into account.

Fault-based cases usually last longer than no-fault ones and require lots of money and effort from each spouse to finalize. Therefore, unless the family situation is highly problematic, divorcees prefer no-fault options.

Here are the grounds for divorce in New York the spouses can claim if they want a fault-based dissolutio

1) Physical or Mental Abuse

If one of the spouses has been abused by their partner, they can file on the basis of cruel treatment. In a NY fault-based divorce, emotional abuse is also regarded by the court as cruel treatment. It may include spousal verbal abuse, threats to the spouse or children, intimidation, etc.

During the trials, the judge must be provided with evidence of physical or mental abuse. Overall, it should be proven that the respondent’s actions pose a real danger to the petitioner’s health, life, or mental well-being and that continuing to live together in a marriage is not possible from the point of view of safety.

Moreover, this ground has constrained timeframes. For instance, if a series of abuse took place more than five years ago, the petitioner cannot file based on this reason.

2) Abandonment Divorce

The petitioner has the right to seek divorce due to abandonment in NY if the second party has abandoned them for more than 1 year. It would be necessary to prove that the spouse had left home without any intentions of coming back. Also, this ground works for situations when the second spouse had kicked the petitioner out of their family home.

When one of the spouses continuously refuses to have sex with the petitioner, they can seek a dissolution based on constructive abandonment. This generally becomes valid when spouses have no intimacy for a period of over a year.

3) Incarceration for at Least Three Consecutive Years After the Marriage

Divorce while incarcerated will be finalized based on this ground if one of the spouses has been imprisoned for at least 3 years. However, this reason is only considered valid if the spouse was imprisoned when the couple was already in a legal marriage. The spouse who wants to divorce a prisoner can do so on incarceration grounds in no more than 5 years after the release of the inmate. With an incarcerated spouse, divorce filing forms might potentially differ, and it’s best that a lawyer handles your case.

4) Adultery Divorce

If you wonder, “does adultery affect divorce in NY?” the answer is “yes” if this is a ground you choose to file based on. According to the adultery laws in NY, the petitioner cannot testify that their spouse cheated and may have to find a witness who will be ready to do it. They can also prove the infidelity using physical evidence, such as screenshots of messages, photos, videos, etc.

Finally, one cannot file based on this reason if they have cheated too, encouraged the spouse to be intimate with someone, or had sexual relations with the spouse after finding out about the adultery. Also, if the infidelity took place more than 5 years ago and the case has only been initiated now, the court will not consider adultery as a valid ground.

No-Fault Divorce in New York

A no-fault marriage dissolution presupposes that spouses do not need to claim any wrongdoing to end their union. It is possible to file for a no-fault divorce in New York on the basis that the marriage has been “irretrievably broken” for at least 6 months. This reason is considered the most common in New York state since it makes a divorce faster, easier, and considerably cheaper than a fault-based one.

Before you decide to file on this ground, it’s crucial that you and your spouse make joint decisions concerning finances, division of assets, custody, child support, and any other aspects of your marriage. When it comes to any type of divorce, the more issues you and your spouse reach an agreement on prior to going to court, the better.

A no-fault divorce in NYC can also be obtained based on a Decree or Judgment of Separation. If it has been a year since this document was issued and both parties have fulfilled all the conditions, they can proceed to get a no-fault divorce. This ground is rather uncommon, and spouses are more likely to divorce under similar conditions but just after filing a Separation Agreement.