Grounds for Divorce in New York State
If you are seeking to obtain a divorce, there are plenty of legalities that you should be aware of. Our experienced divorce lawyer explains important things you should know about the process, including grounds for divorce in New York State.
Grounds for Divorce in New York State | No-Fault Divorce
Historically, one could only obtain a divorce in New York State because of some demonstrable fault on behalf of one party. These grounds for a “fault” divorce included abandonment, imprisonment, cruel and inhuman treatment, and adultery. All states in the Union now recognize some form of “no-fault” divorce, meaning that the relationship between spouses has broken down and remained essentially unfixable for at least six months prior to one party filing. In 2010, the New York State Legislature added a provision for “no-fault” divorce. This has done much to reduce litigation in the state. Most litigants and attorneys now choose to file for divorce on a no-fault basis. There is a much lower burden of proof: the claim need rest only on one party’s sworn statement that the relationship has deteriorated.
Grounds for Divorce in New York State | Legal Separation
Couples who find it impossible to live in the same household but have an interest in maintaining their married status can file for legal separation. A separation agreement is a contract between spouses settling the same issues a divorce would cover: separate living arrangements, the division of assets, alimony, child custody, and child support. The difference is that the separation agreement avoids a court judgment, and it doesn’t end the marriage. After signing a separation agreement, the spouses remain married and cannot legally remarry. There are also consequences worth considering before filing taxes as “married but separate.”
There are several reasons to consider legal separation as an alternative to divorce. Legal separation:
- Provides spouses with time apart, to decide whether divorce is appropriate.
- Allows spouses to remain covered under family health plans.
- Provides a remedy to marital discord for people whose religious views reject divorce.
- May permit military spouses to remain married long enough to qualify for benefits under the Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act.
- May allow spouses to remain married for the 10 years or more necessary to qualify for certain Social Security benefits.
- Allows a spouse to file for New York no-fault divorce after a year of separation.
Grounds for Divorce in New York State | Separation Agreement
You do not need a separation agreement to obtain a no-fault or uncontested divorce, but, one year after filing the separation agreement, either spouse may use that document to request a no-fault divorce.
A separation may not be the best route to this no-fault divorce, though, especially if you’re concerned about protecting your assets. The clock has been effectively “running” from the date of the separation to the date one spouse files for divorce. Any income earned, assets acquired, or investments appreciated during that year will go into the marriage “pot” and be subject to distribution.
If you are seeking divorce in New York State, contact our experienced Saratoga Divorce Attorneys today.