Determining the reason behind a couple’s decision to split used to be an important factor in the divorce process. There could have been any number of reasons, but often one spouse or the other was considered at fault. Today, however, that is no longer the case. Changes to the legislation in New York in 2010 introduced a new option for divorcing couples: no-fault divorce. In fact, no-fault divorce is an option in all 50 states. In Western New York, divorce rates have seen a rise in recent years in what has been termed the no-fault era.

No-fault divorce allows couples to attribute their divorce to an irretrievable breakdown of their marriage rather than placing blame with one spouse. This breakdown needs to have been ongoing for at least six months. Since the introduction of this ground, the number of divorces in Western New York has increased significantly within that category.

Interestingly, the number of annulments in this region has fallen since no-fault divorce became an option, according to statistics collected by the New York State Department of Health. This suggests that many couples have chosen no-fault divorce where they may have previously sought to annul the marriage before the new legislation. In 2012, almost 80 percent of divorces in Western New York cite an irretrievable breakdown in the marriage. In 2002, no-fault grounds were stated in less than 2 percent of divorces.

For couples in New York, no-fault divorce may ease the divorce process, allowing them to make a fresh start without laying blame on anyone. Sometimes marriages don’t work out, but this doesn’t mean that starting again needs to be difficult. A knowledgeable attorney can help you understand the relevant legislation and guide you through divorce negotiations. By making yourself aware of the options available, you will have the best chance of finding an arrangement that suits both you and your spouse.


Buffalo Business First, “OPINION: The ‘new normal’ for divorce,” Barbara King, March 26, 2014