New York now has a no-fault divorce option. New York is the last state in the United States to pass
no-fault divorce laws. Until now, a spouse who filed for divorce had to allege grounds for divorce including adultery, abandonment, imprisonment or cruelty.
While signing the new legislation into law on Sunday, August 15th, Governor Paterson noted "finally, New York has brought its divorce laws into the 21st century. . . These bills fix a broken process that produced extended and contentious litigation, poisoned feelings between the parties and harmed the interests of those persons -- too often women -- who did not have sufficient financial wherewithal to protect their legal rights."
New Yorkers can now divorce alleging that their marriage has been irretrievably broken down for six months or more. Simultaneous with enactment of no-fault divorce, laws for providing guidelines for fixing temporary
spousal support (or maintenance) and attorney's fees were enacted. The legislation created a formula and list of factors to govern such awards. The purpose of these new laws, according to Governor Patterson, would be to. . .
" .. . allow for speedy resolution of the maintenance issue, and prevent less well-off parties to divorce proceedings from falling into poverty during litigation, because they lack the resources to obtain a temporary maintenance order."
Legislation was enacted that would award attorney fees for the "less monied" spouse in a divorce case. "This will even out the financial playing field in Court. Hopefully, the elimination of negative allegations concerning marital fault will encourage parties to consider resolving issues, rather than engaging in protracted litigation." states Jacqueline Harounian, a matrimonial and family law partner at
The Law Firm of Wisselman, Harounian & Associates, P.C. The law will go into effect in 60 days and will only govern divorces that are filed then or after.
As stated by Wisselman, Harounian & Associates, P.C. attorney Lloyd C. Rosen, "Rarely did grounds for divorce become a contested issue of its own in the divorce proceeding. Hopefully, enactment of the no-fault divorce provision will eliminate the tactic of withholding consent to a divorce in an otherwise dead marriage."
Our law firm has been getting calls about the pending changes in the law and what it would mean for them. We host complimentary Fathers' Rights Presentations, "How To Have a Smart Divorce" workshops and
support group/legal clinic meetings on an ongoing basis. We have seen an increase in attendance at these meetings lately and one possible reason is interest in the changing landscape of the divorce laws in New York. If you are interested in learning more about the new no-fault divorce law and its implications, please
contact our office to schedule an appointment.