New York law allows couples to divorce if there is an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage that lasts a minimum of six months. This change was enacted in 2010. Before the advent of no-fault divorce, couples needed to spend more time in court litigating issues of fault.
This more neutral reason for filing for divorce may help couples avoid having to disparage or make harsh accusations against the other spouse. No-fault divorce allows the parties to not have to specify a particular reason for why a divorce is justified in order to obtain a divorce.
While New York law allows for no-fault divorce, couples can still file for divorce based on reasons of fault. Some of the reasons for fault divorce include allegations that the other spouse committed adultery; engaged in cruel and inhuman treatment rendering it unsafe for the parties to live together; or continuous abandonment by one spouse for at least a year. As mentioned previously, pursing these routes as grounds for divorce will prove more costly and will often involve a trial. For this reason, many choose to file for divorce based on no fault grounds.
It is important to note that, even if a divorce is filed on no fault grounds, the process of divorce may be prolonged if the divorce is contested—meaning that the parties disagree on important issues such as child custody and support, maintenance payments, among other issues. Thus, while no-fault divorce may remove one potentially long hurdle to divorce—proving fault—a divorce that is otherwise heavily contested can also be long and arduous. It will also be expensive.
The foregoing illustrates that litigating divorce can be a costly and arduous process regardless of the grounds upon which a divorce proceeding is filed.