New York’s No-Fault Divorce Bill

June 26, 2010 | Divorce, Legal Perspective

Icon for author Brian Vertz Brian Vertz

The advance sheets have been cold lately, so let’s take a brief look at New York’s recent effort to pass a no-fault divorce law. New York is the fiftieth and last state to consider no-fault divorce, which was first enacted in California in 1969. Both supporters and opponents of n0-fault divorce have blamed divorce lawyers for the push to enact the law and the delays the bill has encountered in the legislature.  (It seems that divorce lawyers will profit either way, depending on whom you listen to.)  Yours truly received a call recently to provide information about spousal support guidelines, one of the features that some New York legislators want to build into the law.

Does no-fault divorce cause the divorce rate to increase? I don’t know. What I do know is that New York’s fault-based divorce law has not prevented or diminished the frequency of divorce in that state.  Arcane strategies have developed to get around the fault-based divorce law in New York, which would not be necessary under a no-fault regime. A more straightforward law might make it easier, and in the long run, cheaper, for divorcing spouses to settle their differences. If estranged couples can break up and divide their money and property more efficiently, and with less stress to their children, then no-fault divorce will have served its purpose.

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