In order to get a divorce, you have to show that there is a valid reason for it, under law. Every state gets to set its own divorce laws, though, so each and every state has their own unique listing of what is a “valid” reason for a divorce. If you are the spouse that is trying to initiate the divorce, then the burden of proof is on you to show that there is a valid reason.
In the state of New York, there are specific grounds for divorce. If you want to split from your partner and dissolve your marriage, then you will have to show that one of these grounds applies to your situation.
If your spouse has subjected you to treatment that endangers your physical, mental, or emotional well-being to such an extent that it is asking too much to continue to live with them, then you have a valid reason for filing for a divorce from them. However, your spouse’s abusive conduct must have happened relatively recently, and the longer that you have been married, the more extreme you will have to show that the abuse has been.
If your spouse has voluntarily left you for more than one year, then you will have a valid reason for a divorce in New York. This abandonment, however, cannot be justified on your spouse’s part, and your spouse cannot have an intent to ever move back in with you. Lastly, you cannot have consented to your spouse leaving, in the first place, or else there was not a true abandonment in the eyes of New York’s divorce law.
If your spouse is put in jail for three or more years after the two of you have been married, it will provide you a grounds for divorce. This means actual confinement in a jail, though, so suspended sentences or probation terms are not enough to satisfy this grounds for divorce. Additionally, the three years of incarceration must be consecutive – if your spouse spends one year behind bars for a crime, gets released and stays out for six months, and then spends two and a half years behind bars for another crime, you will not have grounds for divorce because the prison time was not consecutive.
If your spouse commits an act of adultery during your marriage, then you have grounds for a divorce. Adultery in an act of sexual intercourse, not just flirting or kissing, with someone other than who the person is married to. However, there are a handful of defenses that your spouse can raise, if you accuse him or her of adultery as your grounds for divorce. Among these defenses are that you forgave the offense, or that you also committed adultery.
Two other ways to show that you have grounds for divorce is by showing that you and your spouse have lived separately for a year or more. There are two ways to do this. The first is to show that there was a court-issued decree of separation and that this decree has been fulfilled. The second is to show that there was a valid separation agreement between you and your spouse and that the terms of this agreement were substantially complied with. Each of these basically turns a separation into an actual divorce.
The final way to show that you have grounds for divorce is the only one that does not require you to prove that you spouse was somehow at fault for the breakup. New York was actually the last state in the U.S. to recognize no-fault divorces, and did not do so until 2010, so this grounds for divorce still has a lot of uncertainties in it, because it is so new and has had so few cases in it. However, what is clear about New York’s no-fault divorce is that all that it takes is for you to state, under oath, that your relationship with your spouse has broken down over the past six months, and that the value of your relationship has become irretrievable.
Getting a divorce from your spouse can be one of the most gut-wrenching times of your life, because of how it so drastically changes your future. Having a family law attorney at your side during the process can be a huge benefit. Call the Law Offices of Joseph S. Gulino, Jr., Esq., PLLC at (914) 292-9272 for a consultation.