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No Fault Divorce
No Fault Divorce in New YorkThe Challenge of Divorce in New York
Divorce is perhaps one of the most difficult areas of the law. The law itself is not difficult to understand, as its goals are basically to reach a fair and equitable financial settlement between the divorcing spouses, and to provide for the welfare of any children according to their best interests. This is all well and good, sound and reasonable, but the application of the law to a divorce, which is an “undoing” of a family, with all its attendant emotional impact, can be one of the greatest challenges to the attorney, the divorcing client, and even the Court as it struggles to make a decision which is both fair and in compliance with the law. The difficulties inherent in a divorce are exacerbated when the parties no longer have a civil relationship. Resentments, anger, and hostility, which are all too common features of a divorce, usually vastly complicate any divorce proceeding.
Even the most amicable divorces present emotional challenges. For both husband and wife, the emotional toll of divorce is often felt for years. There is first the breakdown of the marriage, usually months of marriage misery, leading to the decision to seek a divorce, followed by the actual legal proceedings to dissolve the family. Legal proceedings can take months or even years to conclude, and then, in many cases, especially those involving children, many more years of post-divorce legal involvement with its attendant emotional, psychological and financial impact on the parties.
An Alternative: The Uncontested Divorce
An attractive alternative to the contested divorce is the uncontested divorce. In an uncontested divorce the parties mutually agree to all the terms of the divorce. Uncontested divorces are faster and generate far fewer legal fees. If it is at all possible to quickly reach a full agreement with your spouse on all the terms of the divorce, an uncontested proceeding is a very attractive option. But even uncontested divorces are complicated in New York. New York State has one of the nation’s most rigorous set of statutes governing the requirements of a divorce. It is essential that you obtain competent counsel for either a contested or uncontested divorce. Keep in mind that many divorce cases ultimately settle, though they may begin as contested proceedings. A fair settlement is often good for both parties as it spares the spouses from a trial, with its attendant uncertainties.
Finally, “No Fault” Divorce is Available in New York State
Unlike other states, New York procedural divorce law is quite complicated. This problem was eased somewhat when, on August 15, 2010, Governor David Paterson signed no fault divorce into law in New York state, allowing New York to finally join the vast majority of states that do not require a “cause” for divorce. In practice, New York courts for years have largely disregarded cause when deciding divorce cases, and have focused almost exclusively on setting up an equitable financial settlement between the former spouses. It goes without saying, however, that courts are not perfect and there have been many miscarriages of justice in the divorce arena. This is why it is crucial for parties to obtain competent legal counsel to advocate for them, to protect them, and to ensure that they receive the maximum financial benefits available to them under the law.