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Must one first be legally separated to be granted a divorce in New York State?

Kahn and Richardson - Monday, March 25, 2013
It is a common misconception that married couples must be legally separated before they may be granted a divorce from the New York State Supreme Court.  Although living apart from your spouse for one or more years pursuant to either a Judgment of Separation or a valid Separation Agreement are two grounds for divorce in New York State, there are other grounds for divorce that do not require that a couple first be legally separated by a Judgment of Separation or a valid Separation Agreement.  These grounds are Abandonment, Cruel and Inhuman Treatment, Confinement in Prison, Adultery, and Irretrievable Breakdown of the Relationship.

Three of these other grounds for divorce require certain time periods, as well as other elements:

Abandonment, as a ground for divorce, requires that the complaining party have been abandoned by his or her spouse for a period of one or more years.

Confinement in Prison, as a ground for divorce, requires that one spouse be confined in prison for three or more consecutive years after the marriage.

Irretrievable breakdown of the relationship, as a ground for divorce, requires that the breakdown have persisted for at least six months.

Each of the grounds for divorce in New York State has different legal requirements.  To determine and understand which ground fits your marital situation, you should consult a divorce lawyer experienced in divorce law in New York State.


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