It’s not my fault we’re irreconcilably different!

September 28, 2010

On October 12th, New York’s new “no fault” divorce statute will become effective. New York is the last state to adopt such a measure. The new language can be found on Westlaw in NY LEGIS 384 (2010):

The relationship between husband and wife has broken down irretrievably for a period of at least six months, provided that one party has so stated under oath.

In “no fault” systems, petitioners are not required to plead fault, but can substantiate grounds for divorce typically consisting of an allegation that reconciliation is impossible. Like New York’s new language, “irretrievable” breakdown is common among state laws, along with similar language like “irreconcilable differences,” “incompatibility” or “insupportability.”

To find a particular state’s statutes regarding divorce, I recommend using the Statutory Index for the state. Westlaw has statutory indices for all 50 states and they are linked from search pages and state tabs. I like the indices, because the standardization of language allows you to find the right statutes whether you search for “dissolution,” “divorce,” or even “marriage.”

Some other good reference pieces on Westlaw include:

– Validity, construction, and effect of “no-fault” divorce statute providing for dissolution of marriage upon finding that relationship is no longer viable (55 A.L.R.3d 581)

– 50 State Statutory Survey on Grounds of Divorce

And don’t worry – you can still allege “fault” in many jurisdictions. Some interesting grounds include:

– “habitual intemperance” & “commission of any infamous crime involving a violation of conjugal duty” (Connecticut – C.G.S.A. 46b-40)

– “indignities rendering life burdensome” (Alaska – A.S. 25.24.050)

– “when one spouse has sufficient pecuniary or physical ability to provide suitable maintenance for the other and, without cause, persistently refuses or neglects so to do” (Virginia – 15 V.S.A. 551)