11/09/2010 09:19 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Moving New York State Forward With the No-Fault Divorce Bill

Under previous New York State divorce law, one spouse must have alleged one of the
enumerated grounds set forth by the state legislature to obtain a divorce. However, on August
16th, Governor Paterson signed the "No Fault" divorce bill into law. This means New York
finally joins the other 49 states that already allow people to end a marriage without having
to establish their spouse was at fault. The 'No Fault' divorce law ends years of antiquity in a
progressive state.

Previous divorce law in New York State was complicated. Even if both sides agreed the
marriage could not be saved, one spouse had to take the blame by admitting to one of the

  • Cruel and inhuman treatment of one spouse by the other
  • Abandonment for more than one year
  • Adultery
  • Confinement in prison for more than three years after the parties were married

The only grounds that could be considered "No Fault" were as follows:

  • Living separate and apart for more than one year pursuant to a Judgment of
  • Separation
  • Living separate and apart for more than one year pursuant to a Separation
  • Agreement.

However, separation requires parties to remain separated for more than one year. Now, with
the passage of the new law, parties no longer have to wait more than one year pursuant to a
Judgment of Separation or Separation Agreement then file for conversion of said Judgment or

Now, with the new legislation passed into New York State law, spouses can terminate their
marriage after six months by stating under oath that the marriage is "irretrievably" broken.
Governor Paterson stated, "Finally, New York has brought its divorce laws into the 21st

Many people argued and continue to voice concerns that this 'No Fault' divorce bill is really
a "Pro-Divorce" bill, reminding New Yorkers that unnecessary divorce hurts children and also
costs U.S. taxpayers more money due to increased welfare and other social services to help
contain the damages of family fragmentation. But, according to UC Berkeley researchers Phil
and Carolyn Cowan, staying in a marriage for the sake of children does not help kids at all.

"Studies of two-parent families have consistently found that when a couple's relationship
is characterized by unresolved conflict and unhappiness, their children tend to have more
acting out aggressive behavior problems, more shy withdrawn behavior, and fewer social and
academic skills."

Opponents to this law also cried out that the 'No Fault' divorce bill would be an injustice
for those spouses that do not wish to dissolve their marriage. But, it really comes down to
common sense. No one wants to be married to someone that doesn't want to be married to