Grounds for Divorce in New York State
In contemplation of a divorce or in the event that your spouse commences
an action against you, it is important to determine whether there are sufficient grounds. If a divorce is denied, the Court has no authority to equitably distribute the assets of the marital estate. As a result, litigants at times may use grounds as leverage in settlement negotiations. In a contested matrimonial proceeding with a substantial estate, a party may seek to protect his/her assets by contesting the divorce in an attempt to obtain a more favorable settlement.
Frequently, a Court will seek to have the parties resolve the issue of grounds
for the divorce itself, or schedule an expedited grounds trial. If the divorce is denied, it will be unnecessary to expend time and money disclosing financial documentation concerning the valuation of assets of the parties for purposes of equitable distribution. The Court can, however, still make a determination of child support, maintenance, and custody.
Based upon the foregoing, whether you are seeking to commence an action for
divorce or are defending an action for divorce, it is important that you understand the grounds that are recognized in the State of New York. The following is a brief overview of the grounds for divorce in New York State.
(A) Cruel and Inhuman Treatment: The treatment of the Plaintiff by the Defendant
must rise to the level that the physical or mental well-being of the Plaintiff is endangered, making it unsafe or improper to continue to live with the Defendant. The acts demonstrating such treatment must have occurred within five (5) years of the date the summons for divorce is filed with the County Clerk. The allegations of cruel and inhuman treatment should be specific in terms of dates, times, locations. The allegations could be based upon acts of physical abuse or mental cruelty. In a long term marriage, a higher level of proof is required to obtain a divorce. A divorce will not be automatically granted simply because there is a “dead” marriage (i.e, the parties are no longer compatible or if there is a showing of strife or a lack of harmony).
(B) Abandonment: To obtain a divorce on the grounds of abandonment, the
Defendant must abandon the Plaintiff for a period of one (1) year or longer prior to the commencement of the action. There are two (2) …