Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Chief Judge: No-fault divorce in NY.

My original idea was an Enquirer-style "Judge Kaye: I want a no fault divorce!" tease, but I decided that my already dwindling bank accounts wouldn't survive the inevitable lawsuit and disbarment.

What the story is actually about it, following a series of statewide hearings, Judge Kaye has adopted a committee report that recommends the creation of no fault divorce in NY. If you're not familiar with it, in NY you can't get one of those "irreconcilable differences" divorces based on the fact husband and wife no longer want to be married. In NY, someone has to be at fault--adultery, cruel & inhuman treatment, abandonment -for a marriage to be severed. Alternatively, the couple can negotiate a separation agreement and live apart for a year, then file to have the separation made into a divorce. The fact that one party has to be at fault can cause problems--even if taking the blame won't have an effect on custody or support, many people just don't want to be the one forever named as the "bad person" who ended the marriage.

Certain groups have opposed no-fault divorce for some time. Some religious groups feel making divorce easier is incompatible with their teachings. Some womens' rights groups have also expressed concern, as the current system can be effective in levelling unequal social/economic/education/etc. situations between the parties.

Personally, I'm all in favor of the change and I hope the State legislature takes action. I do some matrimonial/family work and quite often it's too emotional due to the fault issues. While family matters will always be laden with emotion and strife, creating new grounds or removing the need to lay blame solely on one person seems like a change that would make the process more efficient and easier on all involved.


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