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No-Fault Divorce Coming To New York

New York State’s senate cleared the last major obstacle this week to a bill that will allow no-fault divorce in the state.

New York is the last state to hold out on no-fault divorces. Every other state has long since allowed couples to split over “irreconcilable differences” or the like. New York requires one partner to be the bad guy: guilty of adultery, abandonment or “cruel and inhuman treatment”.

Allowing for no-fault divorce will make the process easier, and lesson the cost of litigation. Is that a good thing?

New York has one of the lowest divorce rates in the country. Will that go up when a divorce is easier and cheaper to come by?

If it does, that’s probably a good thing. I’d hate to think people were staying in marriages they wanted to leave because old-fashioned marriage laws forced them to stay together.

On the other hand, some opposition to the no-fault rule came from advocates for women, who are worried that women will have trouble getting appropriate alimony or child support from men who are divorcing them. The Women’s Bar Association says that position just isn’t supported by reality, though:

“We came to the realization that forcing one party to either admit or be found at fault in the deterioration of a marriage provides no economic or other advantage to either party,” said Annette G. Hasapidis, co-chairwoman of the association’s legislation committee. “And more importantly, it harms the children of the marriage.”

So here’s to New York catching up with the rest of the country in making it easier to get unhitched.

What do you think? Is no-fault divorce a good thing, or is New York giving up something precious in going with the crowd on this one.

Photo: Nick Schwietzer

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