Q: Are grounds needed to obtain a divorce?
ANSWER: No, New York State, in 2010, finally joined the philosophy already employed by all other states allowing for a “No-Fault” divorce. Grounds for divorce, discussed below, still can form a basis for pursuing a divorce. However, more frequently, a party seeking a divorce asserts to the Court an affidavit pursuant to DRL § 170(7) that the marriage has broken down, irretrievably, for a period of at least six months prior to the commencement of the action for divorce.
In the past, commonly used default grounds were adultery, actual and constructive abandonment, and cruel and inhuman treatment.
Parties are also allowed under New York law to negotiate and sign a Separation/ Property Division Agreement, which meets certain legal requirements, and then commence an action for divorce thereafter. Parties used to have to wait one year to commence the action before the enactment of the “no-fault” statute. If you were to pursue an action via grounds, you also should know that defenses may exist to any such cause of action. It would be important to consult an attorney before assuming that you have a valid cause of action under one of the above grounds.