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Divorce actions in New York State are heard and decided by the New York State Supreme Court. The legal grounds (or reasons) for a divorce are set forth in the New York State Domestic Relations Law.

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Legal Grounds for Divorce in New York State

A divorce may be granted on either fault or no-fault grounds.

Fault Grounds for Divorce

To obtain a divorce on one of the fault grounds, a spouse must prove certain facts to the Court.

The fault grounds are:

  • Cruel and inhuman treatment, consisting of conduct that so endangers the physical or mental well-being of the complaining party as renders it unsafe or improper for that party to continue to cohabit with his or her spouse
  • Abandonment of the complaining party by his or her spouse for a period of one or more years
  • Confinement of one spouse in prison for a period of three or more consecutive years after the marriage; and
  • Commission of an act of adultery

No-Fault Grounds for Dissolution of Marriage

The no fault grounds do not require the complaining party to prove any misconduct by his or her spouse.

The no-fault grounds are:

  • The husband and wife have lived apart pursuant to a judgment of separation for one or more years after the judgment was granted, and the person seeking the divorce satisfactorily proves his or her substantial performance of all of the terms and conditions of the judgment.
  • The husband and wife have lived apart pursuant to a written Agreement of Separation for one or more years, provided the Agreement is signed with certain legal formalities and filed in the Office of the Clerk of the County where either the husband or wife resides; and
  • The relationship between the husband and wife has broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months, provided that either the husband or the wife so states under oath. This final no fault ground for divorce, which has been available in New York State since October 20l0, requires only that the husband or wife state under oath that the marriage has broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months. No defenses are available to the other spouse to prevent a divorce on that ground.
Within the context of an action for divorce, the Supreme Court will also determine all other marital issues, including custody; visitation; child support; spousal support or maintenance; Equitable Distribution of marital assets; and the responsibility of the parties for providing and paying for health insurance, uncovered medical expenses, life insurance, daycare expenses, children's educational expenses and attorney fees.

For a free evaluation, please call 518-465-3444

Contested Divorces in New York

Since the effective date of New York State’s “No-Fault Divorce” law in 2012, the issues that are most often contested in divorce actions are property division, custody and spousal and child support.


Ending your marriage can be stressful for the whole family. We encourage our clients to work with us to resolve issues in a cost-effective and reasonable manner. This will minimize expense and distress and maximize the benefits for you and your children.


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Practice Areas
  • Divorce
  • Separation Agreements
  • Custody & Visitation
  • Property Division
  • Spousal Maintenance
  • Child Support
  • Prenuptial Agreements

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