What Are the Grounds for Divorce in NY State?

What Are the Grounds for Divorce in NY State?

Couples choose to get divorced for a variety of reasons, and in most states, spouses have the option of choosing a “no-fault” divorce. In the state of New York, residents didn’t have this option until recently. Before 2010, divorces would only be granted if you could prove that you and your spouse had separated, or that your spouse engaged in misconduct that caused the marriage to end.

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Now, couples have the option of choosing a “no-fault” divorce, but there are other grounds for divorce as well – seven in total.

The 7 grounds for divorce in New York include the following:


If your spouse “abandons,” or leaves, you for at least a year, this is grounds for divorce. Your spouse must have left you without any intentions of returning home, or kicked you out of your marital home for this grounds to be valid.

Irretrievable Breakdown

Irretrievable breakdown is the no-fault grounds in New York State. In this case, the relationship between you and your spouse must have been irretrievably broken down for at least six months. Before the courts will grant a divorce on these grounds, all spousal support, custody, property, visitation and child support issues must be settled.

Cruel and Inhuman Treatment

The courts may grant on a divorce on these grounds if your physical and/or mental health is at risk by living with your spouse. If the abuse or mistreatment occurred more than five years ago, these grounds cannot be used if your spouse objects to the divorce.


If your spouse has been incarcerated for at least three years, a divorce may be granted on grounds of imprisonment. However, you can’t divorce for this reason if your spouse was released over 5 years ago.

Judgment of Separation

An uncommon reason, but still a valid one. In this case, you and your spouse must not be living together because of a “Judgment of Separation” or “Decree of Separation” given by the court. Both you and your spouse must follow all conditions of judgment or decree in order to use this reason.

Because a Judgment of Separation requires similar proof to what you would need to obtain a divorce, most couples skip this step and head straight for divorce. Judgment of Separation is rarely used as a grounds for divorce in the state.


If your spouse commits adultery, it’s grounds for divorce in New York. That being said, it’s not always easy to prove that your spouse cheated, and there are a number of things that may render this reason invalid. You cannot:

  • Encourage your spouse to cheat.
  • Commit adultery yourself.
  • Forgive your partner by having sexual relations with them after discovering the adultery.

Also, this reason cannot be used if it has been five or more years since you discovered the adultery. A witness is also required to testify that your spouse cheated.

Separation Agreement

You and your spouse have written an Agreement of Separation and have not lived together for at least one year. This agreement must be signed by both you and your spouse in front of a notary. All conditions of the agreement must be met if you choose to use this reason for your divorce.

New York City Divorce Lawyer

Proceeding with divorce can be an overwhelming time for you and your family. To speak with a dedicated divorce attorney in New York, New York, call Scheichet & Davis, P.C., today by dialing (888) 373-0163 or visit us today online.