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Divorce rate climbs with New York no-fault, improved economy

When no-fault divorce became state law in 2010, spouses no longer needed to blame a marital partner for wrongdoing to end a marriage. Divorces still may be obtained on grounds like cruel treatment, adultery or abandonment, but some New York divorce attorneys say grounds divorces rapidly are becoming passe.

Few couples want to expose their marital woes to a court or the public, even when spouses are embroiled in a contested divorce. Spouses may obtain a no-fault divorce by showing a marriage has been "irretrievably broken" for a minimum of six months. A marriage that simply did not work out is proof enough for divorce.

Central New York lawyers have been tracking the regional divorce rate. Three of five counties experienced a marked increase in divorces from 2010 to 2011. Attorneys believe the enactment of the no-fault law was a strong contributor to the 2,500 divorces in 2011, the largest number of filings in nearly a decade.

The spike in divorces is also attributed to positive changes in the national economy. Attorneys speculated the post-recession years may have loosened tight finances for spouses hesitating to divorce.

The New York no-fault law allows a spouse with less income to receive temporary economic support from an ex-marriage partner. The maintenance order helps spouses adapt to financial changes during but not after the divorce process.

Divorce lawyers noted that couples frequently delayed divorce when marital finances were uncertain. The improving economy seems to have given couples confidence that they would be able to afford divorce costs and separate lifestyles.

The sudden rise in the Central New York divorce rate could be a short-term response to legal changes and the country's economic outlook. Interviewed matrimonial attorneys think the number of divorce actions will level off in time.

While no divorce is easy, contested divorces are much harder to reconcile without a good attorney. Sometimes a good attorney can turn a contested divorce into a "non-contested" divorce making it easier on everyone.

Source:, "CNY sees highest divorce numbers in nine years," Sarah Blazonis, March 7, 2013

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