Until 2010, New York was a “fault” state. This meant that someone had to prove that their spouse did something wrong, which was limited to the categories of abandonment (leaving for 1 year); adultery (engaging in a sexual relationship with another person); “cruel and inhuman treatment” (making it unsafe or improper to cohabit).

The only way to obtain a “no fault” divorce in New York was to live separate and apart according to the terms of a signed Separation Agreement, which could then be “converted” into a divorce after a one year period. However, on August 13, 2010, Governor Patterson signed the “no-fault divorce” bill into law, which amended Section 170 of the Domestic Relations Law.

Section 170(7) of the Domestic Relations Law now permits someone to obtain a divorce from his/her spouse where “the relationship between husband and wife has broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months, provided that one [spouse] has so stated under oath.”D.R.L. Section 170(7). This means that someone is no longer required to prove that his/her spouse did something wrong in order to obtain a divorce in New York.