Grounds for Divorce in New York: A Bare Bones Guide

New York is a particularly difficult state in which to get a divorce.  Traditionally there were about 6 grounds under which couples were allowed to terminate their legal union and they were all designed to try to protect the sanctity of the marriage.  The divorce laws were created to try to force couples to stay in the marriage by making the prospect of a divorce a daunting task.  As a result, couples were forced to pretend to have marital issues to fit the legal grounds for divorce when the real impetus behind the split was relatively simple.  Couples would be rigorously examined about the intimate details about their relationship in open court before a judge would release them from the unwanted relationship.   As recently as 2010, however, lawmakers recognized the issue and enacted a seventh ground to get a divorce which makes it easier for parties who are in agreement that the relationship should come to an end.  Following is a brief explanation of the grounds under which a couple can file for divorce in New York.

The first, and newest, ground under which a couple can get a divorce is irretrievable breakdown.  Under this theory for divorce, you and your spouse must have a relationship that has broken down despite efforts to reconcile and the relationship has to have been broken down for at least 6 months.  Because this is a new ground for divorce, if you filed before October 12, 2010 it is not an option for you.  Additionally the court cannot grant a divorce using this theory until after all other matters in terms of property, custody and visitation of children, spousal support and child support have been sorted out.
The second ground for divorce a couple may use is cruel and inhuman treatment.  If you can demonstrate that your physical or mental health is in danger if you continue to live together then you may be granted a divorce under this theory.  If your spouse objects and the abuse happened more than 5  years ago then the court will not grant you a divorce on this ground.
The third ground for divorce is abandonment.  If your spouse leaves the household, or kicks you out , and does not intend to return to the relationship then you may have grounds to divorce under this theory.  The period of abandonment must have happened for at least a year.
The fourth ground for divorce is imprisonment.  If your spouse is in jail for at least three years then you may be granted a divorce under this theory.  If it has been more than five years since your spouse has been released from jail you may not be granted a divorce under this ground.
The fifth ground for divorce is adultery which means that your spouse was unfaithful to you.  A divorce under this ground will not be granted if you do or have done any of the following: encourage your spouse to commit adultery, forgive your spouse by having sexual relations with them after discovering the adultery or commit adultery yourself.  You may not be granted a divorce under this theory if it has been more than five years since the discovery of the adultery.
The sixth ground for divorce is a judgement of separation.  If you and your spouse have not lived together because of a decree of separation, also known as a judgement of separation, given by the court for at least one year.
Seventh ground for divorce is under a separation agreement and it requires that you and your spouse have not lived together for at least a year.  Additionally you have to have an executed separation agreement that had been signed before a notary.  All of the conditions of the separation agreement must be obeyed in order to be granted a divorce on these grounds.