(650) 735-2436   (209) 643-2436

Grounds for Divorce in New York (NY Domestic Relations Law section 170)

Previously, I blogged about the residency requirements one has to satisfy in order to file a divorce, separation, or annulment case in the state of New York. Today, I’m going to go over another requirement you have to satisfy when filing a divorce case in New York, namely the grounds or reasons for divorce.

New York’s residency requirement is described in New York Domestic Relations Law section 230 and is termed a “residency requirements” because, in most states, the requirement generally relates to living in the state in some way. The grounds requirement, though, for divorce in New York relates more to what occurred between the couple and generally involves more complicated questions than just ‘Did the parties live in New York?’

The grounds requirement for divorce in New York is described in New York Domestic Relations Law section 170. There are seven possible grounds. The plaintiff is the spouse filing for divorce. As with a generic “residency requirement”, a plaintiff need only satisfy one of the seven, but each one of the seven may have several components that all need to be met before the ground itself can be invoked. As with my residency requirement post, I’ll indicate each of the components with a letter (e.g. (a), (b), etc).

  1. (a) The defendant spouse has treated the plaintiff spouse in a cruel and inhuman way such that (b) this treatment endangers the physical and mental well being of the plaintiff so much that it (c) makes it unsafe or improper for plaintiff to continue cohabiting with defendant;
  2. (a) The abandonment of the plaintiff by the defendant for a period of one or more years;
  3. (a) Defendant has been confined in prison for three or more years (b) after the marriage of plaintiff and defendant;
  4. (a) Commission of an act of adultery by defendant (b) after the marriage of plaintiff and defendant;
  5. (a) The spouses have lived apart (b) under a decree or judgment of separation for (c) one or more years (d) after the granting of the decree or judgment of separation and (e) plaintiff has provided proof that he or she has substantially performed all the terms required of him or her under said decree or judgment of separation.
  6. (a) The spouses have lived (b) separate and apart (c) pursuant to a written agreement of separation (d) signed by the parties and proved in the form required for a deed to be recorded, (e) for one or more years after signing said agreement, (f) this agreement to be filed with the clerk of the county, and (g) plaintiff provides proof he or she has substantially complied with all requirements the agreement imposes. In lieu of the filing described in (f), a memorandum may be filed instead. See the specific requirements for this memorandum in Domestic Relations Law section 170(6).
  7. (a) The relationship between the spouses has broken down irretrievably (b) for a period of at least 6 months and (c) at least one spouse has stated so under oath. Using this ground, however, requires that all economic issues in the case be resolved before a judgment of divorce can be granted.

As I explain in all my blog posts related to New York, I’ve been licensed to practice law in New York since 2012. I do not, however, maintain a physical office in New York. Under New York Judiciary Law section 470, I cannot practice law in New York. All of the information I describe in my blog posts on New York law are entirely factual and consist of information you can easily look up yourself. Depending on when you’re reading this post, it’s entirely possible that the information I described above has changed so please absolutely do your own research. Relying on outdated or incorrect information is, obviously, not a formula for success.

My hope is that after reading this post or any of my posts related to New York that you get an idea about what to conduct research on so that you can help yourself.

Good luck!

The following two tabs change content below.

Andy Chen

Andy I. Chen is a lawyer licensed to practice law in California and New York. Andy maintains offices in Los Altos, California and Modesto, California. Under the New York Court of Appeals' 2015 decision in Schoenefeld v. State of New York, Andy does not accept cases from those in New York state. He does, however, know many lawyers in New York state and would be happy to make a referral.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *