Thursday, March 29, 2007

New York's Outdated Divorce Laws

New York is the only state that does not have no-fault divorce. Couples in that state that want to divorce quickly without blame are out of luck.

From the Associated Press:

New York is the only state that won't allow the speedy dissolution of a marriage without proof that one spouse is somehow at fault, experts say. Adultery is sufficient grounds, but irreconcilable differences are not. "He beats me" (with proof) works, but "We grew apart" doesn't cut it.

The system has been ridiculed as hopelessly outdated, and sometimes results in endless litigation and spouses leaving the state to evade the law. This week, in what some see as more proof of the law's absurdity, a jury denied the bickering Taubs a divorce."I think it's an anachronistic, completely inefficient process," said Bernard Clair, a divorce lawyer.

"Today, divorce is really about dividing an economic partnership. The dirty laundry aspects play no role except to jazz up the clients and distract them from the real issues of the case."Under New York divorce law, couples can split up without either spouse being assigned blame, but only if they first sign a division-of-property agreement and live apart for a year.

Couples who want to end a marriage more quickly than that have been known to lie, move or tarnish their own reputations.If the desire for a divorce is mutual, but neither side wants to wait a year, one common ruse is to have one party take the blame.

A popular ground is "constructive abandonment," in which one spouse alleges the other won't have sex. The other spouse agrees not to contest the allegation.

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