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New York State's No Fault DivorceThe State hoped that with the implementation of the No Fault Divorce Law, that couples looking to dissolve their marriage would work harder to concentrate on a child custody financial issues rather than wasting countless hours and the court’s time in heavily litigated battles in a court room. To date, there has been a significant increase of divorce filings filed in Long Island, proving that the strategic move was enabling couples to move forward with their divorce in a more civil matter. Stephen Younger, the head of the New York State Bar Association was quoted after the bill became a law, “By removing the requirement to prove fault, divorcing couples and the courts will no longer have to waste resources litigating on whether a marriage should end, but will be able to better focus on issues such as the welfare of the children, fair division of marital assets and other economic concerns.”

The State Assembly passed the law in 2010, eliminating the need for specific grounds for divorce, although this new approach does not apply to all couples. Previously, couples would have to either wait after a 1 year separation, or prove that one of the partners was responsible for acts like cruelty, adultery or abandonment. New York was the last state to adopt irrevocable differences as a reason for divorce. Governor David Paterson was quoted after signing the bill, “Finally, New York has brought its divorce laws into the twenty-first century.”

Under the new law, a spouse can claim that the marriage has “irretrievably” disintegrated, at least 6 months before filing the papers for divorce. A subsequent law, signed at the same time of the No Fault Divorce Law, was set to provide guidelines for issuing temporary maintenance (commonly referred to in the past as alimony). This formula is expected to have revisions made in 2012, as it is simply based on the party’s incomes, without addressing household expenses such as mortgage payments, utilities, etc. which is commonly addressed in a pendent lite motion in a contested divorce.

This formula states that temporary maintenance should be the lesser of the following:

– Thirty percent of the higher-earning spouse’s income, minus 20 percent of the lower-earning spouse’s income.
– Forty percent of their joint income, minus the lower-earning spouse’s income.

Although it is widely agreed upon that this new formula provides consistency, allowing couples entering the No-Fault Divorce process, a greater understanding of what each party will have to pay/receive during the divorce process, it fails to take the length of the marriage into account.

At the end of the day, numbers of couples on Long Island filing for a No Fault Divorce have risen since the enactment of the law in August 2010. Currently, in Nassau County, the number of new cases has increased by 6 percent compared to 2009 before the law went into effect, and in Suffolk County, increased by 9 percent respectively. (LI Divorce Fillings up Under New No-Fault Law, March 11, 2012)