Grounds for Divorce in New York

When filing for divorce in New York, the Plaintiff must state a reason for the divorce. This is known as the “grounds for divorce”. There are two categories for divorce grounds: no-fault, and fault.


In 2010, NY became a no-fault state. This means that neither party will be at fault, or to blame, for a divorce. To obtain a no-fault divorce, the plaintiff will list the grounds for divorce as Irretrievable Breakdown. This is just a fancy term for saying that a marriage has been broken and beyond repair, for at least a period of six months. Uncontested divorces are usually no-fault.


Even though citing anything besides irretrievable breakdown was a reason for divorce isn’t required, some plaintiff’s choose to list a specific reason in their Summons. These grounds include:

  • Cruel and Inhumane Treatment;
  • Abandonment (Physical, Constructive, or Lockout Abandonment);
  • Imprisonment;
  • Adultery;

If a plaintiff chooses one of the fault grounds as their reason for divorce, they bear the burden of proving the reason to be true. It is important that a plaintiff retain experienced counsel prior to filing for divorce, especially if they plan to choose one of the above grounds for divorce. (For an in-depth look at fault grounds, click here.)


Some couples choose to separate prior to filing for divorce. A legal separation allows married couples to obtain their married status, while stipulating child custody, support, and the distribution of assets. Assuming each party has abided by the terms listed in the Separation Agreement for at least one year, then they can file for divorce without having to list one of NY’s grounds for divorce.

Hiring a Brooklyn Divorce Attorney

Brian D. Perskin & Associates P.C. is a full service divorce and family law firm, servicing the boroughs of New York City, and Long Island. Brian and his team have represented thousands of New Yorkers, throughout every step of their divorce or child custody cases. For more information, contact 212-355-0887, or schedule a free consultation online today!

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