No-fault divorce law's anniversary sees rise in divorce cases

New York's no-fault divorce law allows couples to split without a need to prove blame on either side for the dissolution of the marriage. Since its introduction two years ago, the law has allowed speedier divorces. During this period, however, the divorce rate has risen, leading some to believe that the no-fault divorce law may provide an incentive for couples to separate.

In 2011, the first year after the no-fault divorce law took effect, divorce filings rose by 8 percent. The outlook looks similar for 2012, with the number of divorce filings up to September rivaling those in 2011. Before the passage of the no-fault law on Oct. 12, 2010, New York was the only state without a no-fault recourse.

Many people in the New York legal field expected a jump in divorce rates after the passage of the new law. But the actual rise was less than anticipated. One lawyer has stated her belief that the lower-than-expected rise was due primarily to doubts about the financial feasibility of divorcing during a period of overall economic difficulties.

The no-fault divorce law added a new option for New York couples considering whether to divorce. Before its passage, couples typically needed to hash out a determination of fault based on specified grounds. The only other option was for both spouses to agree to a comprehensive settlement agreement and live separately for a full year.

While residents may still file on fault-based grounds if they choose to do so, the no-fault option bypasses much of that expensive and time consuming process. If couples do choose the no-fault route, they will still have to confront how they want to approach such issues as property division, spousal support and, if they are parents, child custody.

Source: The Business Review, "NY divorces rising on law's anniversary-but why?" Adam Sichko, Oct. 12, 2012

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