What’s A No-Fault Divorce NYC

Important Things To Know About A No-Fault Divorce

When a married couple wants to get a divorce without going through the process of proving which spouse did something wrong, they can have a no-fault divorce. Reasons such as adultery, abandonment, cruelty, abuse and others are not necessary to prove. All states permit married couples to get a no-fault divorce.


Many states mandate that a couple live separately for a period of time before they are able to file a no-fault divorce. Other states require a couple to be physically separated for a specified number of months. In some states, a couple must have a physical separation for a minimum of two years. These laws often change. Couples seeking a no-fault divorce are advised to contact an attorney so they will know their state’s current separation period requirements.

Divorce Filing

Should only one spouse want a divorce, a no-fault divorce can still be granted. The spouse wanting a no-fault divorce will be able to file for it using forms available at a family court website in their state. Should the spouse not wanting the divorce fail to reply, or not attend a court hearing, the court’s judge is able to still grant a judgment of divorce by default.

Settlement Agreement

If both marriage partners agree to a no-fault divorce, they can create a settlement agreement. It is advised this be done by an attorney. They will know what important elements should be included in such an agreement. These agreements can cover important things such as division of debt, assets, and property. Child support, visitation, custody and more can be included in the agreement.

Grounds for No-Fault Divorce NYC

You will be able to get a “no-fault” divorce if, according to either spouse, the marriage has “broken down irretrievably” for a period of at least six months.

You didn’t have to be separated over those 6 months.  You can simply allege that the marriage has been in a completely broken down state for at least the past 6 months. 

Take Note: A judgment of divorce will not be given under this ground until the following issues are resolved by you and your spouses, or decided by the court and incorporated into your judgment of divorce:

  • equitable distribution (division) of the marital estate;
  • the payment or waiver of spousal maintenance;
  • child support payments;
  • the payment of fees and expenses for counsel and experts; and
  • the custody and visitation orders over any minor children of the marriage

No-Fault Contested Divorce

This is a situation where the two marriage partners are not able to agree to the terms of their divorce. Family attorneys will recommend the couple sit down and do their to work things out and create an acceptable agreement. In some cases, couples have used mediators when in a state that permits it.

Residency Requirements

In order for couples to get a no-fault divorce, it will be necessary for them to have resided in a particular state for a specified time. This is known as residency requirements. There are few states that do not have residency requirements for granting a no-fault divorce. The only way a couple can get around this requirement is if they were married in the state where they are seeking a divorce.

New Terminology: “Irretrievable Breakdown” vs. “Irreconcilable Differences”

It may have occurred to you that the language conspicuously absent from the statute— “irreconcilable differences”.  Perhaps this is the language you may have heard before.  The new phrase used in our statute is “broken down irretrievably.” While there is no official definition of this vague language crafted by Albany legislators, the intent was likely to make it possible for either party to allege that the marriage has been dead for at least six months for whatever reason or, more importantly, for no reason.

Prior to no-fault divorce in NY, the law compelled people to exaggerate truths or tell untruths in so they can get a divorce. With the new terminology, it is no longer necessary to air your dirty laundry in Court to be able to divorce your spouse. Also, if a person wants a divorce and their spouse has not treated them badly, they won’t feel compelled to falsely allege otherwise. Divorce can simply be a decision by one or both spouses who wish to dissolve their marriage, regardless of the reason for their decision.

Advantages Of No-Fault Divorce

It can eliminate a long, bitter divorce process. There is no need to produce evidence of a spouse’s wrongdoing. The court proceedings can be done in a quick, easy and streamlined way. Even if one spouse is guilty of abuse, adultery and worse, a no-fault divorce avoids having the behavior of both couples become part of public record. Time is not spent determining who is responsible for ending the marriage. Both people are focused on completing the divorce process. Many issues in a traditional divorce are resolved by couples on their own. It also requires much less court time to complete than a traditional divorce.

Disadvantage Of A No-Fault Divorce

The majority of no-fault divorces are filed by a spouse who is unhappy, often leading to a contested divorce if the other spouse does not want the divorce. Nonetheless, in uncontested cases, no-fault divorce is often much simpler and is the preferred option.

Also, a spouse who wants a judge to hear about the circumstances, behaviors and more that caused the marriage to break-up will not have this opportunity. They won’t have a chance to be heard and validated in court. In some cases, it can cause problems with child rearing abilities and lead to an unfair distribution of the marital resources. A person will not have the chance to debate the facts of the marriage with a judge. Some believe a no-fault divorce hurts marriage because this makes ending it too easy. There are states that require custody and financial settlements be in place and agreed to by both spouses prior to a no-fault divorce being granted. This may require a lot of time prior to filing for a no-fault divorce.


Need more information? Speak to one of our top NYC divorce lawyers today for a risk free consultation.