Thursday, July 15, 2010

New York Considers "No-Fault Divorce"

A recent article in the New York Times reflects that New York is considering legislation to end the fault-based divorce system, and move to a system of “No-Fault Divorce.” What exactly does that mean?

New York is one of the states that requires “fault” to be proven in order for a divorce to be granted. This means essentially that the person filing for divorce must state specifically the reason they are seeking a divorce, and the allowable reasons are confined to adultery, cruelty, imprisonment or abandonment. The spouse filing for divorce must prove one of those reasons to the Court, or the divorce will not be granted.

Michigan has been a “No-Fault Divorce” state since 1971, when the legislature abolished the fault system for obtaining a divorce. In Michigan, the person filing for a divorce does not have to state a reason for the divorce, nor do they have to prove adultery, cruelty, imprisonment or abandonment to the Court in order to get divorced.

Essentially, in Michigan, this means that if a person wants to get divorced, the divorce will happen unless both people decide to reconcile.

Does this mean that “fault” is never discussed? Not at all. The underlying reasons leading up to the divorce, particularly “fault,” become relevant in issues of property division, spousal support (alimony), custody and parenting time. However, “fault”, in Michigan, becomes more a cursory issue, and not one that has to be proven in order to get divorced in the first place.

You can read the New York Times article here: Change to Divorce Law Could Recall a TV Quiz Show: ‘To Tell the Truth’

If you are interested in learning more about divorce or family law, please call Wendy Alton at 248-380-9976 or email her at

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