Divorce & Separation

By NYSBA Lawyer Referral Service

December 19, 2022

Divorce & Separation


By NYSBA Lawyer Referral Service


Learn about the process of divorce and separation in New York.

What are the grounds for divorce?

Four of the “grounds” in this state are based on the fault of one of the parties:

(1) cruel and inhuman treatment;

(2) abandonment for one or more years;

(3) imprisonment for three or more years; and

(4) adultery.


The other (“no fault”) grounds are:

(1) one year of living apart under a separation agreement;

(2) one year of living apart under a separation decree granted by a court;

(3) an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage for a period of at least six months, provided that one spouse has so stated under oath.

These “no fault” grounds afford New Yorkers a basis to get a “no-fault” divorce, in which neither spouse is judged to be at fault. Unquestionably, the “no fault” laws will provide a disincentive for people who wish to challenge the basis for the divorce.

How can a marriage be dissolved if a spouse has been missing?

Where your spouse is absent and missing for five years or more, you may bring a special proceeding in Supreme Court to dissolve the marriage. You must prove that your spouse has been absent for five successive years, without being known to be alive; that you believe that your absent spouse is dead; and that you made efforts to discover that he or she is still living, but no evidence proving otherwise was found. After the dissolution becomes final, the reappearance of your absent spouse does not revive your marriage.

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