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Is No Fault Divorce in New York Really No Fault?

If you have been contemplating getting divorced in New York, you are probably aware that a new law took effect on October 15, 2010, which has been deemed "No Fault".
Specifically, the new law added an additional ground for divorce to Domestic Relations Law Section 170, which requires that the parties' marriage has irretrievably broken for more than six months before the action for divorce was filed in court. The law requires one of the spouses to state this fact. 

Many legal scholars have deemed this no fault and there have been numerous commentaries on the internet, some against and some in favor of the new 'no fault' law. Experience matrimonial attorneys and legal experts have stated that the law no longer requires any proof of fault other than this breakdown of the marriage for the requisite time period before the action for divorce was commenced. 

However, an article appears on the front page of the New York Law Journal on Friday, February 4, 2011, that briefly outlines the possible muddying of the waters of no fault divorce in New York. An upstate New York Judge has scheduled a trial (before a jury) on the grounds for divorce - the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage. If this law permits a divorce without any fault, then why is there a trial scheduled to determine if the marriage is indeed irretrievably broken?

Perhaps the party seeking divorce will have to offer some testimony in court showing how the marriage is broken, when the marriage broke, and why the marriage is broken irretrievably. 

People in New York contemplating a divorce, those currently embroiled in a divorce in which they have claimed the irretrievable breakdown as their ground for divorce, and matrimonial attorneys and legal scholars will be watching this case in upstate New York in the near future. 

I will keep you posted. 


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