After weeks of heated debate and some tense moments over the past few days, the New York State Senate has passed a bill endorsing no-fault divorce as an option for New Yorkers — a mere 41 years after the concept was introduced onto the legal landscape by then-California governor Ronald Reagan. All that remains now is for the State Assembly to approve the bill and it will become law.
No-fault divorce allows either spouse to claim “irreconcilable differences” as a grounds for divorce. Or in other words, it prevents either party from having to prove that their spouse caused the break-up. Currently, New Yorkers must separate for a year before applying for a divorce. Furthermore, issues surrounding who caused the divorce are not taken into consideration by the courts in weighing settlements.
If New York adopts no-fault divorce, it will be the last of 50 states to make the change — something that those in favor of it feel is massively overdue. They claim that forcing spouses — particularly women — to endure a prolonged separation in a dysfunctional marriage is inhumane and unjust.
However, those opposed to no-fault divorce point to much higher divorce rates in nearby no-fault states like New Jersey and Connecticut (just to name two) as evidence for the fact that instead of empowering individuals, no-fault undermines marriages. Ironically, some rights groups also allege that no-fault divorce weakens a woman’s rights in court, since issues like adultery or abuse are not considered by the judge when it comes to alimony and other settlement issues.
Divorce Magazine will follow this issue and publish an update if and when no-fault divorce becomes law in New York.
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