Long Island Divorce Lawyers Discuss Grounds for Divorce in New York

Should your divorce strategy involve citing grounds or filing no-fault?

Since New York has made no-fault divorce available to parties who assert that their marital relationships are irretrievably broken, you may be wondering why you or any other petitioner for divorce should cite grounds when filing. For more than 29 years, attorneys at Simonetti & Associates have advised Long Island clients pursuing divorce about effective strategies for their circumstances. We want you to know the likely costs and benefits of any tactics you might employ when seeking a fair and timely dissolution of your marriage.

What are the legal grounds for divorce in New York State?

New York law requires that people suing for divorce must set forth their reasons:

  • Marital relationship has been irretrievably broken for more than six months: This is known as no-fault grounds, because it does not allege or require proof of a spouse’s destructive behavior. Even under this no-fault claim, a court cannot finalize your divorce until property, custody, visitation, spousal support and child support issues have been decided. In this way, no-fault divorces are similar to uncontested divorces, because they cannot be finalized until all matters are settled.
  • Cruel and inhuman treatment: This alleges intolerable behavior, such as domineering control, constructive abandonment (withholding physical intimacy), name-calling or other verbal abuse, humiliation, physical violence or threats, and emotional abuse, which may be linked to alcohol or drug abuse. However, if the abuse happened more than five years ago, you may not file for divorce on this basis if your spouse objects.
  • Abandonment: If your spouse moves out and stays separated from you for at least one year, then you may have a claim for divorce based on abandonment.
  • Imprisonment: If your spouse is incarcerated for a term of three years or more, you have grounds for divorce.
  • Adultery: In New York, adultery is grounds for divorce unless you encouraged your spouse to commit adultery, reconciled after discovering the adultery or committed adultery yourself. Filing for divorce on an adultery claim is not an option if it has been more than five years since the affair took place. You must be prepared to prove your claim with evidence other than your own testimony.
  • Living under a separation agreement or judgment of separation: If you have lived apart from your spouse for a least one year pursuant to legal separation, you may have grounds for a conversion divorce, which would finalize the dissolution of your marriage.

What are the pros and cons to filing for divorce on grounds in New York?

Filing no-fault has many advantages: It takes a contentious issue off the table and allows couples a greater level of privacy. This often sets an amicable tone for the divorce proceedings that allows for a swifter resolution on the remaining issues. However, petitioners may have personal or pragmatic reasons for citing grounds. An abused spouse may want vindication. A member of a community that disfavors divorce may feel the need to put certain justifications on record. Some parties may also choose to bring a spouse’s destructive behavior before the court in the hopes of influencing decisions on property distribution, child custody or spousal maintenance. What works in some cases may not work in others, so you should be sure to consult an experienced divorce lawyer before deciding to make grounds part of your divorce strategy.

Call Simonetti & Associates for a free consultation regarding an effective strategy for your divorce

Simonetti & Associates can advise you about grounds for divorce based on your personal circumstances. At our offices in Woodbury and downtown New York, we offer flexible hours for your convenience. Call today at 877-385-2560 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.