No-Fault, Finally?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

New York is the only state without no-fault divorce. Liz Krueger, New York State Senator (D-Manhattan, 26th district), talks about her support of the State Senate's passage of no-fault divorce legislation.  Plus, Andrew Eliot, a matrimonial attorney at Chemtob, Moss, Foreman, & Talbert, LLP, discusses how a no-fault system would affect how divorces are settled and how the practice of matrimonial law will be affected. 


Andrew Eliot and Liz Krueger

Comments [36]

Peter from Brooklyn

It is important to note that these new rules do not apply to credit transactions on your debit card. If you make a purchase on your debit card, but the store or restaurant runs it as credit where you sign and do not enter your pin number, then you will still overdraw and rack up fees. It is us vs. them, and we must be vigilant

Jun. 18 2010 10:38 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

I’m not sure what’s so hard to understand about telling married people they need to honor the commitments rights and responsibilities they’ve fought so hard to deny others instead of plotting easier and easier ways to walk away and jump into bed with someone else or whatever senator Kruger plan was.

Jun. 18 2010 10:04 AM
Swili from Manhattan

Voter from Brooklyn--it appears you may have too much time on your hands...and you don't make much sense in most of your posts, which makes them unpleasant to read.

Jun. 17 2010 08:15 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

Yvonne from Park Slope:
First, the now obsolete pre-17th century meaning of “sanctimonious” did in fact mean holiness of character. It meant that back in the days when both women and children were the property of the man; the traditional meaning of marriage.
Second, boohoo! Since the “sacred” institution of civil marriage needed to be “defended” by the federal government to prevent me from marrying, it truly offends the senses that New York state would move to further dilute the bond. The very bond the majority of state senators voted to “defend” 365 odd days ago. Don’t tell me something is sacred and the linchpin of American society and treat it with short shrift.
Third, I’m atheists, but the fantasies of others are the actual, albeit un-Constitutional, reason I cannot marry. So, if God rules the day, you made your vows before God, break them and you deserve every bit of suffering you’ll be damned to on judgment day. You think your failure to be a good spouse is bad, it doesn’t compare to what God will do to you. What’s more important, your “feelings” or your sworn duty to God?

Jun. 17 2010 04:40 PM
Yvonne from Park Slope

To: Voter from Brooklyn
Well, first of all, "sanctimonious" does not mean "holy" but means to feign piety, to pretend a holiness that one does not really have. Its root is the Latin word for "holy" but that has never been the meaning.

Second, the implication of what you are saying is that, perhaps, people get married too easily and, perhaps, that is true but people are not always the best judge of their own maturity, readiness for marriage or their ability to assess the other person no matter how seriously they think they value marriage ... and, sometimes, people change in unexpected ways. Some couples do all the things you list and still find themselves in a marriage that does not work.

Third, you seem to feel that America loses unless children remain in marriages in which it is obvious to them that everyone is unhappy .. or unsafe! You seem to assume that if the couple, at the time of the marriage, did not make the most intelligent decision that their God was equally stupid and can not see a better path. Is your God incapable of seeing more than you can?? If only death should terminate a marriage but the marriage does not work and we are, increasingly, living longer, are you saying that continued marriage is the proper punishment for all involved including the children. Most of these children grow up and recreate unhappy marriages. I fail to see how this strengthens the marriage bond!!

Jun. 17 2010 03:31 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

Adam from West Harlem,
If what you’re saying is the case, why not take jgarbuz up on his suggestion and force federal, state, and local government out of the civil marriage business completely, including all rights, protections and responsibilities involved? With government being completely divorced, if you will, from marriage and prohibited from making any laws for or against, billions of taxpayer dollars will be saved.

Jun. 17 2010 02:10 PM
Adam from West Harlem

...and where I said "prone to failure" I should have said, "prone to natural change and development."

Jun. 17 2010 01:26 PM
Adam from West Harlem

Thank goodness people who feel compelled to comment on websites are not the ones making and altering laws.

Boy oh boy, wow, do some of the comments here seem frightening, terrifying and irrational.

Relationships are hard. People are human and prone to failure. Every single culture has a way to dissolve "official" relationships which both partners feel are not working out. Some make it easier or harder.

New York is an outlier in how hard it makes it, and it causes a lot of unnecessary trouble. It's easier to get divorced in some bible-belt areas than New York. It just doesn't make sense.

It's time to loosen the laws a little and I'm glad this is in the works.

Jun. 17 2010 01:24 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

Karen from Upstate,
By "sanctimonious" I meant the traditional definition, holy or sacred.

Jun. 17 2010 12:37 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

Karen from Upstate,
This is going to sound cold, but:
Are you a Christian, Jewish, or Muslim woman?
Was this marriage arranged or did you agree to marry him?
How long was the courting process before you married him?
Did you cohabitate before marriage?
Were you aware of the marriage laws of the state before you decided to marry and live here? If you were not, why did you not educate yourself beforehand?
Did the marriage ceremony happen in a public building or before the eyes of your god or gods?
See where I’m going? After 10 years of hearing how precious, fragile and sanctimonious traditional marriage is (you remember, the man’s God given right to protect his property) I’ve become a strong believer in strengthening the marriage bond, if that’s what we say we’re doing by amending state constitutions.
If heterosexual marriage is so fragile and precious, it should not be entered into lightly and should only be broken by the actual death of one of the partners. Eighty percent of Americans believe in the same god; this is God’s will.
Regardless what you might think after reading what I wrote, I do sympathize with you and I’m happy you’re out of that toxic situation, but you can’t have it both ways.

Jun. 17 2010 12:35 PM
Karen from Upstate

I have been working toward passage of a no-fault bill for several years. Let me tell you why. I was married to an abusive, controlling, manipulative man. In New York the only way to get a "no fault" divorce is to agree to separation terms. His non-negotiable terms included visitation with my niece and nephew, $20,000 payment in cash (I was working in public radio making $26,000 per year), half my annual salary, an interest in my parent's property on Cape Cod -- you get the picture. Terms I could never agree to. I moved to Vermont and got a divorce there. I was lucky to have that ability. Should I have been held hostage in an abusive marriage because of my abuser's completely unreasonable demands? Currently New York State says yes. Let's hope this changes soon.

Jun. 17 2010 12:16 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

The State should get out of the business of marriage altogether. People shouldn't need some state license to live together and fornicate. If they want children, they should be forced to file some agreed upon pre-natal plan in advance in case they choose to split up in the future, that will predetermine issues of "child custody" and property division of present and future wealth acquired when they lived together.

Don't see why marriage has to be another bureaucratic state function. Same for all marriage, including "gay" marriage. No state marriage, period. Live together, make agreements amongst yourselves, and leave the state alone.

Jun. 17 2010 12:08 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

JP from JP,
The other question I’d have to senator Krueger is if she’s so flip about entering into then breaking a contract with only one other person, then why should any of her constituents (or any divorced senators constituents ) believe they’d be any more committed to them.
(If you’re sensing I have absolutely no sympathy for any senator who entered into these contracts under the current climate in this country, you’re correct. Take your vows seriously or don’t make them.)

Jun. 17 2010 11:41 AM
RBC from Lower Manhattan

Its time no-fault divorce was passed by the NY legislature. It would prevent long, nasty, drawn out divorce battles. People could amicably leave marriages and get on with their lives. I guess the only people who want to keep fault divorce is the churches and the attorney lobby (the decrease in legal fees would be amazing)

Jun. 17 2010 11:40 AM
Judith from Brooklyn

I can't believe the commentor who said that people would "rush" to get a divorce if the law was changed. No one "rushes" to get a divorce - it is painful and disruptive. Divorcing people do not need the state to force them (for their "own good" of course) to wait. (This is the same pateralism that says that if abortion is available, women will "rush" to get abortions.)

Jun. 17 2010 11:36 AM

As a child I watched my parents go through a miserable divorce. The marriage wasn't terrible before the separation. The accusations, the fights, I wonder if all the drama could have been avoided if they were given the option to just get away from each other!

Jun. 17 2010 11:35 AM

What's wrong with getting a one year separation then filing for, an essentially no- fault, divorce? Why do we need no-fault? It makes me sick how many people get/are getting divorced, especially couples with kids.

Divorce is incredibly HORRIBLE for children, if the couple has any. Believe me, I know... For the sake of children couples REALLY should try to work out their problems, put their selfish needs aside, and work hard build their marriage if at all possible

Jun. 17 2010 11:33 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

JP from JP,

I was using a few rhetorical devices there, I thought it was obvious.
Thirty states nationwide have amended their constitutions to prevent same-sex couples from having civilly recognized marriages on the premise that doing so protects the sanctity and institution of marriage. The New York state senate, last year, voted down legislation that would have prevented same-sex marriage under the same premise. Regardless how she actually voted, quitters like senator Krueger denied a significant population of the state something they throw away like facial tissues. Maybe the same facial tissues they use to clean up the blood after slashing their opposite-sexed partners in the face with a broken glass.
My point is the NY senate is full of hypocrites who cheat on and beat on their partners and now they want to further water down the contracts they enter into while denying it to others.

Jun. 17 2010 11:33 AM
Marielle from Brooklyn

So crazy. I have no plans and hopefully no intention to ever get divorced, but just in case I ever need to, thank goodness I got married in Massachusetts!

Jun. 17 2010 11:32 AM
Janine from Manhattan

I went through a divorce and being the party that was called "cruel and inhumane" I was hurt unecessarily. His attorney snuck something into my affidavit that I would not get copies of the divorce documents - most likely because of the false accusations. By the time I saw what he wrote I was furious! I was told that because of the current system, all divorce proceeding records are sealed. If there is no fault, will this change?

Jun. 17 2010 11:31 AM
Jennifer from Midtown

Getting married is serious decision that effects the rest of your life. There's a reason it's called "tying the knot"--it shouldn't be easy to untie!

Jun. 17 2010 11:27 AM
Alison from manhattan

I think the no fault decision is a great one! NY is so behind the times! Question to the matrimonial lawyer - what percent of the divorce cases he works on are "contentious", like really "nasty"? Are most of the cases easy?? (would like a percentage!)

Jun. 17 2010 11:26 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Marriage - initially invented by men to protect their rights to their children and property- has become a license for women and lawyers to rob men. The whole purpose of marriage, which is a patriarchal system to the core, has been set on its head, and which is why it is a half-dead institution in westernized (e.g., feminized) societies.

Aldous Huxley in Brave New World had it right. Marriage should be abolished and children should be created in test tubes and raised according to the needs of the state. Child creation and rearing, as a cottage industry, is dying, which is why western societies are losing populations and must import immigrants from third world countries now. Or adopt children from over there.

Jun. 17 2010 11:26 AM
JP from JP

Voter from Brooklyn

New York is the last state to “protect the values of marriage” and has been for several years now. Last time I checked, New York is anything but a Mecca of good marriage and family values…. Marriage seems just as screwed up here as in any other state. What kind of fantasy land New York do you live in?

Jun. 17 2010 11:25 AM

Thank god my spouse's and my separation opened the door for her to move back to the State we got married in so she could file and get us legally divorced within, as I recall, 90 days. Our options in NYC were appalling. Having to be separated for a year before even filing for divorce, which desire then could be refused us by a judge, presumes that the decision to separate/divorce in the first place hasn't been arrived at after a long, emotionally fraught process, even when there's no "fault" involved.

Jun. 17 2010 11:24 AM
Karen Slade from Brooklyn

The wait time is also a problem!!!
Due to NY's 2 year wait time, my former husband moved to Utah with terrible child support and alimony norms -- far inferior to NY's -- but only with a 3 month wait time. I wound up stuck with this ruling from Utah, with a huge loss of support, loss of shared educational expenses, etc. Other states have different expectations of education for children, cost of education and/or summer camps, as well as differences in how educated women are treated, alimony etc. Due to NY's laws, I was forced into a far inferior divorce decree.

Jun. 17 2010 11:22 AM

this is huge. the current system of accusation is antiquated and inefficient and puts people (in an already stressful, emotional situation) in the position of perjuring themselves. divorce can be an empowering step for a person attempting to free themselves from an unwanted relationship. it should NOT be such an impossible process to navigate.
welcome to 2010, NYS!

Jun. 17 2010 11:22 AM
Marielle from Brooklyn

Yes, the Catholic Church is opposed to divorce, but if you pay them enough money, they will happily give you an annulment. I've seen several people go through it and it is a racket.

Jun. 17 2010 11:17 AM
Patricia from Forest Hills

There is a way for two people who want to amicably part, that's doing a separation agreement and then a year later converting it to a divorce. My ex-husband and I went that route and it just gave us time to really think about what we were doing. At the end we still decided to part ways.

Jun. 17 2010 11:16 AM
Carolyn Blackburn from Manhattan

I went through the NY divorce system 18 years ago ... ended up having to go to Santo Domingo (which, apparently, is no longer available as an option). It's a shame.

Jun. 17 2010 11:14 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Sounds like the guest is a quitter who just wanted to jump into bed with someone else. Please her ask if she went into her contract lightly, didn’t take her vows seriously, or just wanted to change her husbands like she changes her socks?

Jun. 17 2010 11:13 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

I don’t know who’ll gain if this becomes law, but I know who loses… America.
Americans in the plurality of states have changed their constitutions to buttress and protect so-called traditional marriage and now the adulterers, drug fiends and whoremongers in the New York State senate have voted to further destroy traditional marriage threatening traditional values, family stability and the children. The NY state senate voted last summer to protect the women they're slicing, dicing and cheating on. Won’t some of these heathens think of the children!!!

Jun. 17 2010 11:10 AM

This is sooooo important in the case of domestic abuse! It's way passed time.

Jun. 17 2010 11:09 AM
stephen from Prospect Heights

No fault is only a small part of what is wring with the out dated divorce laws. The other is the issue of custody. Although not explicitly defined, the local legal institutions do not support joint custody by default and assume that women will receive custody because of a coalition of conservative elements in Albany. The custodial parent receives the child support from the other parent and although the 'father' typically makes a better income, the assumption ultimately protects the state's interests from a potential ground-swell of welfare moms at the expense of the father's access to his children.

Jun. 17 2010 10:06 AM

The blame game is bad enough in the midst of a divorce. It would be nice if New York got out of the business of formalizing and institutionalizing blame.

Jun. 17 2010 10:01 AM

shouldn't they be working on a budget

Jun. 17 2010 09:19 AM

Leave a Comment

Email addresses are required but never displayed.

Get the WNYC Morning Brief in your inbox.
We'll send you our top 5 stories every day, plus breaking news and weather.