two rings over the word divorce

Grounds for Divorce: Legally Acceptable Reasons for Divorce in New York

By Michael DiFalco

Until about a decade ago, New York required grounds for divorce which meant that the party seeking a divorce had to establish a valid reason for the divorce. Now, New York offers “no fault” divorce, which makes getting a divorce much easier and also avoids the need to address abandonment, an adulterous affair, or cruel behavior during the marriage.

The best way to protect yourself during a New York divorce and ensure your proceedings go as planned is to know the legally valid reasons for divorce and consult with an experienced NY divorce attorney. 

Grounds for Divorce in New York State

New York State recognizes seven different valid grounds for divorce. 

Some of these grounds require proof, which may mean there are more efficient ways to get divorced.

1. Cruel and Inhuman Treatment

Cruel and inhuman treatment as a reason for divorce is granted when one spouse can show that their physical or mental health is at risk by continuing in the marriage. 

2. Abandonment

A New York divorce can be granted on the grounds of infidelity if one spouse has either left or turned out the other for at least a year and has no intention of continuing the marriage.

Prior to “no fault” divorce being an option, most couples agreed to divorce based on “constructive abandonment” which was based on the end of the sexual relations between the parties. 

3. Adultery

New York recognizes adultery as grounds for divorce. The other spouse must not have played a role in inciting the adultery, and it must have happened within the past five years. The divorcing spouse must also present either physical proof or witness testimony from a third party.

4. Imprisonment 

Divorce can be granted if one spouse is imprisoned for three or more years. However, the divorcing spouse must seek divorce within five years of the prison release date. 

5. Judgment of Separation

The parties have lived pursuant to a judgment of separation for more than one year.

6. Separation Agreement

To pursue a divorce based on a separation agreement, couples must sign a notarized separation agreement, abide by all terms set forth in the agreement, and live in separate households for at least one year. A separation agreement is effectively the same as a divorce agreement and will deal with property, spousal maintenance, custody and child support. 

7. Irretrievable Breakdown

Irretrievable breakdown is New York’s version of no-fault divorce. A party seeking a divorce must simply swear under oath that the marriage has broken down past the point of repair for a minimum of the past six months. 

To be granted a divorce on these grounds, couples must come to an agreement or the court must determine all legal matters, such as child custody, alimony, and division of assets before officially granting the divorce. 

Consult a Seasoned NY Divorce Lawyer Today

When you need to establish reasons for divorce in Garden City, New York, Aiello & DiFalco can help. Our experienced team has a long practice history of defending clients and helping them achieve the best possible outcomes during divorce proceedings in New York State. 

Protect your future today. Before you move forward with a New York divorce, call Aiello & DiFalco to consult an experienced divorce attorney.

About the Author
I am a partner at Aiello & DiFalco LLP, and my priority for my clients is to guide them through an arduous court case to provide them with the opportunity to write the next chapter in their life. I tailor my approach to each client’s priorities and positions, and to the extent that matters can be predicted, I will always provide a realistic perspective of how the law could be applied to the particular facts and circumstances of a case. Since I thrive on helping people and solving problems, I bring an optimistic and positive approach to practicing in a very difficult area of law. With more than a decade of experience handling hundreds of cases, I have the ability to get results on the issues my clients view as priorities. When cases or certain issues cannot be settled, I have a solid record of success at trials, hearings, and on appeals. Feel free to contact me for a free initial consultation, I am always available to help.