As noted in a Divorce Magazine report late last month and confirmed yesterday by The Chronicle, the New York State Assembly has approved no-fault divorce legislation that it received from the State Senate in June. The bill passed by a margin of 113-19 in a vote that took place on 1 July. All that remains now is for Governor David Patterson to sign the bill into law; a move that New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver expects is imminent.
No-fault divorce allows either spouse to unilaterally file for divorce without having to allege and prove that the other is responsible for the marital breakdown, or after both have (through mutual agreement) separated for a year. New York is the only state that has not adopted no-fault divorce, which was first introduced in 1969 by California Governor Ronald Reagan.
Once signed into law by New York’s Governor Patterson, New Yorkers would be allowed to file for divorce by swearing under oath that their marriage had broken down beyond repair for at least six months. A related bill also authorizes judges to force wealthier spouses, early in the divorce process, to pay the other’s legal fees establish maintenance payment guidelines. Both of these are to prevent low-income or unemployed spouses from being forced to accept quick, unfair resolutions because they could not afford to participate in the divorce process.
Manhattan Democrat and Assemblyman Jonathan Bing, who sponsored the bill, expressed its purpose by saying: “Without having to go through the process of determining which party’s at fault, [the bill] will certainly reduce the cost of divorce to a number of people in the state.” Bing also commented that no-fault divorce in other states has reduced domestic violence and the suicide rate for women, because women don’t have to engage their spouse in an acrimonious, blame-filled court battle.
However, the New York Catholic Conference and the state chapter of the National Organization for Women condemn the bill. They allege that no-fault divorce makes marriage easy and “disposable.” They also claim that no-fault enables unscrupulous husbands who file for divorce to hide their assets, makes it harder for abused wives to have the courts recognize the abuse and adjust settlements accordingly, and potentially puts children at risk by placing them with abusive or unfit parents.
Read more informative and interesting divorce law and court case news here: https://www.divorcemag.com/articles/Divorce-Law-and-Court-Cases/