What are the Grounds for Divorce in New York?

A person signing a divorce decree document with a golden pen, finalizing the legal proceedings of a same-sex marriage dissolution in New York.

If you are facing a fault-based divorce, it is important to understand the grounds you may cite in New York. Continue reading and reach out to our Nassau County divorce lawyer for assistance with your upcoming divorce. We are here to help.

What are the grounds for divorce?

In New York, there are no-fault divorce grounds and fault-based divorce grounds. No-fault grounds are used when either party states that the marriage has “broken down irretrievably” for at least six months time. In New York, you do not have to be separated for six months. Instead, you will have to allege that the marriage has been broken down for at least half a year. It is important to note that a judgment of divorce will not be granted until the following issues are resolved or determined by the court and incorporated into the judgment of divorce:

  • Visitation and custody of minor children
  • Equitable distribution of marital property
  • Spousal support payment or waiver
  • Counsel and experts’ fees and expenses payments
  • Child support payment

Spouses can file for a fault-based divorce by citing the following reasons for divorce:

  • Cruel and inhuman treatment: This fault ground includes verbal, physical, and emotional abuse that endangers your mental or physical well-being. You will be required to prove that it is unsafe or improper to live with the abuser by supplying specific instances of cruelty.
  • Abandonment: This fault ground must be proven that your spouse has abandoned you for at least one year. Abandonment can include a physical move, locking you out of your home, or refusing to engage in sexual relations for at least one year (known as constructive abandonment).
  • Imprisonment for three consecutive years: You may file for divorce once your spouse has been in prison for three or more years in a row. You may file while they are still in prison or up to five years after they are released.
  • Adultery: You will require evidence from a third party to show that your spouse committed adultery during your marriage.
  • Divorce after a legal separation agreement: This fault ground requires you and your spouse to have filed a valid separation agreement or one spouse file for a court-ordered judicial separation. After the agreement or judicial order is filed, you must live separately and apart for one year before you can be divorced.


Barrows Levy PLLC is a dedicated New York law firm focused on providing quality legal services to clients in New York City and Long Island. If you require a lawyer who has notable experience handling family and estate planning matters, we are available to help. Contact Barrows Levy PLLC to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today. 

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