Do I need grounds to file for divorce in New York?

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Luis Andrew Penichet - Family Law - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Luis Andrew Penichet

Located in White Plains, NYPenichet & Alberga LLP

Phone: 914-997-7600
Fax: 914-997-8155

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After years of insisting that a person filing for divorce have grounds (such as infidelity, cruelty, etc.) to dissolve their marriage, the state of New York became the country’s last “no-fault” state in 2010. What this means is that you or your spouse can file for divorce without alleging acts that would prove fault during the marriage. The only requirement is that you affirm that the marriage has suffered an “irretrievable breakdown” that has lasted for at least six months.

One of the advantages of filing a no-fault divorce is that it can facilitate a negotiated settlement, rather than making it likely that your divorce agreement will be decided in court by a judge. Litigated divorce trials can take between 12 to 14 months. A divorce that is settled out of court can be finished in as little as four months. In either situation, the speed of the process will depend strongly on whether the divorcing couple can come to an agreement on key issues such as child support, child custody, spousal support (alimony) and property division.

If you are thinking about filing a no-fault divorce, even if you are certain you and your ex do not have significant differences of opinion on the terms of the divorce, it is important to hire a family law attorney who can provide assertive representation if you do end up litigating. A divorce lawyer with extensive trial experience or previous work as a prosecutor can help you see your case through the eyes of your ex’s attorney, and help you decide on a strategy with the greatest chance of protecting your family and your best interests.

The diplomacy used during the negotiation of a no-fault divorce is only as effective as the firepower behind it. Your attorney should be ready to litigate even if the possibility seems unlikely. They should prepare your case for court, even if that proves unnecessary. Although no-fault divorces free both members of a couple of the burden of defending their actions during a marriage, you are in a better position to negotiate if you have a confident, competent and well-prepared lawyer by your side. When you speak to potential divorce attorneys to represent you, ask questions about their legal background, how many divorces they have litigated and how successful they have been in obtaining divorce agreements that provided their client with what they needed to move forward with their lives.

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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