Is a No-Fault Divorce the Same as an Uncontested Divorce?
Though New York trailed behind most states in adopting no-fault divorce, it has been the law here for about a decade. Giving husbands and wives the chance to dissolve their marriage without alleging misconduct on their spouse’s part relieves the legal burden associated with an already difficult process. It’s important to understand that you can file for a no-fault divorce even if issues such as custody, alimony and property division are hotly contested.
Under New York law, a legal ground must exist for dissolving a marriage. This does not have anything to do with whether the parties are in agreement on the terms of their divorce. The state’s instructions for uncontested divorce explicitly provide for both fault-based and no-fault dissolutions. Here are a few things you should know about the distinction:
- No-fault and fault-based grounds — When a spouse declares that their marital relationship has been “irretrievably broken” for at least six months, the marriage can be dissolved without a finding of misconduct. Traditional fault grounds like adultery, abandonment and cruel treatment remain available as well. You can also file for divorce based on a previously executed separation agreement.
- Legal process when a divorce is uncontested — Even if neither spouse is alleging fault and everyone has consented to a settlement agreement, there are still legal processes that must be followed. One spouse has to serve the other with a Summons with Notice or Summons and Verified Complaint. Each spouse is required to submit affidavits declaring that there are no contested divorce issues between them.
- Terms to be included within a divorce agreement — To qualify as an uncontested divorce, the parties must sign a marital settlement agreement stating the specific terms for property distribution, spousal maintenance (alimony), child support, custody and visitation. In many cases, mediation is the best way for parties to achieve a consensus on these matters either before or after filing for divorce.
Though no-fault and uncontested divorces are not the same and many no-fault divorces are highly disputed, usually parties who agree on divorce terms don’t want to go through the unnecessary hassle of proving fault. If you know or believe that you can come to mutually agreeable arrangements with your spouse, mediation can save you time and money in a no-fault divorce.
Solutions Divorce Mediation has a successful track record working with Long Island couples who seek a healthier way to end their marriage. To schedule a free consultation at our Melville office, please call 1.631.683.8172 or contact us online.